According to confirmed reports, avant garde American music and film pioneer Tony Conrad has died at age 76. A long rich career as sound artist, teacher, and writer Conrad is considered to be a pioneer of both drone music and structural film. Coincidentally just yesterday Superior Viaduct reissued his landmark 1972 recording collaboration with Faust (who are currently in US doing dates) Outside the Dream Syndicate in both CD and vinyl formats. Back in 2002 it was previously reissued to mark the then 30th anniversary. Hear sample of the music in YouTube clip below.
While the average person may not know Conrad's name, his impact on contemporary music and art is profound. "Tony Conrad is a pioneer, as seminal in his way to American music as Johnny Cash or Captain Beefheart or Ornette Coleman, one of those really savvy old guys whom all the kids want to emulate because their ideas, their style, are electric and new and somehow indivisible," wrote The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1998. The quote opens the excellent Amoeba Tony Conrad Bio that traces this important artist's career who for the past 40 years had been a faculty member in the State University of New York at Buffalo. The bio recalls how since the early 1960s, he has "utilized intense amplification, long duration, and precise pitch to forge an aggressively mesmerizing "Dream Music." Conrad articulated the Big Bang of minimalism and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Velvet Underground; he continues to exert a primal influence over succeeding generations with his ecstatic oscillations and hypnotic drones."