John Wall – Alterstill

Self-released, 1995
  1. Fragmenta
  2. Alterstill
  3. Belief Not
  4. Stunde Null I
  5. Stunde Null II

CD in printed card wallet with embossed letterpress titling.

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In the late 1920’s, Max Ernst re-defined the nature of collage with two “graphic novels” – Femme 100 Tetes and Une Semaine de Bonte, ou Les Sept Elements Capitaux. These books were made entirely from parts of old engravings and by using the memories and associations which attach to such “classical” source material he was able to produce, by vivid collision of reference and convention, and end product which is well beyond the sum of its parts……

Wall’s music shares with Ernst’s books a complete transcendence of its scavenger origins, as well as an acute instinct for the “weighting” of association and recollection induced by the elements of familiarity in the component parts. His method is more plastic than that employed by Ernst’s pictures and his tools allow more subtle manipulation of the fragmemts he uses, but there are fundamental similarities which make the work analogous. Wall’s pieces are unconcerned with their own construction and he in no way engages in debate musical or otherwise, as to the cultural baggage the process may carry. His pieces always have a total (and quite formal) musical idendity which belies their construction and the violence done to other work in order to give them form……..

Ironically, in Alterstill the author is most manifest at the precise point where the “authors” are effectively extinguished. John Wall’s compositions manage to assert the persona of the author over the machinery of both theory and of process, and that alone sets them apart from the work which is lost in the contemplation and process of its own birth and the mechanisms of its own meaning.

— Paul Shütze