Pauline Oliveros

The Wanderer

Important • 1984

Those who listened to the album »The Wanderer« by US composer Pauline Oliveros in 1984 were exposed to the antithesis of common listening patterns. Recorded on 27 January 1983 at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre, it features an orchestra of twenty accordions, two bass accordions and five percussion instruments – with Pauline Oliveros, who died in 2016, as soloist. Consisting of only two pieces, »The Wanderer« still mutates today into a tour de force of listening. This is due to the fact that the accordion is a rarely used instrument today – in pop culture as well as in avant-garde and classical music. Especially during the last minutes of the title track, The Springfield Accordion Orchestra tears at your nerves, turns listening into a physical experience. So why listen? Because it was and is precisely this antithesis that was directed against academic conventions, against the dusty and obdurate. These two pieces still carry an incomparable explosive power in them today. (Even if someone in the audience does cough from time to time.) Whereas the second piece, »Horse Sings From Cloud«, almost sounds pleasing in comparison, driven by a clear rhythm, more reduced in its instruments and possibilities (meaning: without a full accordion orchestra in use), and it carries a melody in front of it. »The Wanderer« should therefore not only be understood as a music-historical pearl in this new release. The album challenges and encourages the listener’s ear. And even today it provides a new and exciting understanding of what music, sounds, rhythm and melody can be.