The Text of Light group was formed in 1999 with the idea to perform improvised music to the films of Stan Brakhage and other members of the American Cinema avant-garde of the 1950s-60s (Brakhage’s film ‘Text of Light’ was the premiere performance and namesake of the group). The original premise was to improvise (not ‘illustrate’) to films from this under-known period of American filmic poetics.
Founded by Sonic Youth‘s Lee Ranaldo and Alan Licht (gtrs/devices), members of the group have included Ulrich Krieger (sax/electronics), Christian Marclay and DJ Olive (turntables), William Hooker and most recently Tim Barnes (drums/perc). Various combinations of these musicians have attended ToL gigs, so the group has taken on various permutations over the years. The group has performed with the following films: Brakhageʼs The Text of Light, Dog Star Man, Anticipation of the Night, Songs; Harry Smithʼs Mahagonny outtakes, Oz-The Approach to the Emerald City, and Late Superimpositions. The group has headlined the Victoriaville Music Festival, Canada (2002); Three Rivers Film Festival, Pittsburgh; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Whitney Museum, NYC; and have done several tours of Europe as well as performing in New York City and other USA club and cinema venues.
During the time of enforced global confinement – the ‘planetary pause’, as he has been calling it, Ranaldo’s been sorting thru some old releases, and came across his version of John Lennon’s ‘Isolation’, which was recorded back in 1991 and released on the 1998 album Amarillo Ramp (for Robert Smithson). He thought it could be timely to re-present this track as relevant to that strange moment. For video accompaniment he sent a request to friends far and wide around the globe, asking for brief personal video clips of the confinement from wherever they were – what they saw out on their streets, in their living spaces; whatever subjective view that situation they wanted to send. He cut them all together to the song as a sort of informal, intimate record of that specific moment.
Now Ranaldo and Licht have decided to score those videos live. For this Isolation A/V Live Show they have invited their friends and collaborators Swedish free jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and English saxophonist, improviser and composer John Butcher (depending on their availability) to join them.
“[Text of Light] …explode with a formidable combination of free jazz skronk, seismic percussion, tonal drone and searing guitar noise.” – The WIRE