Following his investigation into experimental music and sound recording in Records Ruin the Landscape, David Grubbs turns his attention to the live performance of improvised music with an altogether different form of writing. Now that the audience is assembled is a book-length prose poem that describes a fictional musical performance during which an unnamed musician improvises the construction of a series of invented instruments before an audience that is alternately contemplative, participatory, disputatious, and asleep. Over the course of this phantasmagorical all-night concert, repeated interruptions take the form of in-depth discussions and musical demonstrations. Both a work of literature and a study of music, Now that the audience is assembled explores the categories of improvised music, solo performance, text scores, instrument building, aesthetic deskilling and reskilling, and the odd fate of the composer in experimental music.
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“The three claps are sounded, and all hell breaks loose. In the band, in the orchestra, in the performer, in the gong bath, in the lifting piano, in the audience, in the concert hall, in the venue of the mind. David Grubbs's piece is a noisy page-turning hallucinatory rush. Join in!”
Caroline Bergvall, author of
“David Grubbs's tone poem on the vibratory consciousness betwixt performer and listener rings with an intellect both spiritual and Earth-activist. A sublime sense of provocation is at dance with the O-mind bliss of Kenneth Koch's The Pleasures of Peace, Pauline Oliveros' “The Collective Intelligence of Improvisation,” and Albert Ayler's Music is the Healing Force of the Universe. David's meditation joins hands with these critical, artful signals of love, mercy, hope, and beauty in an enlightened and welcome vision.”
"Primarily, in the beginning, this is a discourse on—and through—rhythm, on what it means to pause and to repeat, on all t he many shades of the same and its other, of noise and silence. That the book is able to make you pause and think about all these things while being itself rhythmically (and musically) interesting is no small feat. On top of that, it also manages to be very funny. And like all best comedy, now that the audience is assembled is ultimately a matter of ... timing."
“Now that the audience is assembled, a new book-length poem by musician David Grubbs, reminds us that listening can feel stranger than dreaming."
"A formally adventurous prose poem. . . . I've only read the 140-page book once, and I know I missed many of its nuances, but its audacity and provocation nonetheless moved me."
"Imaginative.... A work that combines the directness of an actual improvisation with the well-chosen language afforded by after-the-fact reflection."
Avant Music News