Volume IV, Number 6, Section I
THE PEACOCK AND THE MOOG
by Roget Lockard
[Note: Xerox copy of this interview was included in the I'm the One press kit.]
Annette Peacock is going to make rock music soon, and I think it's going to be important. I've talked to her twice now, once at the Crawdaddy office and once at her home. While we were at the office I recorded our conversation, so I'm going to let Annette speak the way I did, and partly to tell you why I think she could become so influential:
AP: I'm married to Gary Peacock, but Paul Bley is the father of a very beautiful child of mine, and we're living together as a family unit now. Paul and the child and I. Gary is in Japan. He'll always be musical. everything ho does is music, whether be picks up his instrument or not. We did some tapes with him just before he left to Japan. He plays Fender bass, and it's beautiful...
>>>Paul has a kind of genius where he can lose whatever he's doing musically as far as he want to go, and always comes back. He's Scorpio, and I think Scorpions are very great improvisers. They're into that power thing; they like to control things all the time -- they like to come back and see how much power they have...
Annette is a very striking person. Her movement betray training in dance -- a liquid intensity and subtle purposefulness in each motion and gesture. She is tall and lovely, wearing dramatic clothing easily and naturally. When she talks to you her voice seems to be confiding in you, rather breathlessly while her dark eyes search your face for signs of understanding. When she feels that you've understood her, her eyes widen and her face breaks into a delighted smile, as though a very special thing has just happened. I felt awkward and without imagination next to her aura of freshness and grace, so I asked really clever questions like "What would you say has been the strongest influence on your music?"
AP: Drugs were probably my largest influence -- the music I make is a drug experience -- although I don't take drugs anymore because I can't work behind drugs; I can't produce the amount of I need to produce. I get distracted, you know? I decided I didn't want to take anymore because my body was dying -- dying on me, man. Like, my mind was racing and my body was just dormant. I'd had all kinds of groovy experiences, but I knew it wasn't a rehabilitating direction to go in.
>>>I went into electronics because that freed me again. Every once in while you get very aware of what you're doing and you start repeating it, see, and that's the danger. You have to always keep it fresh. Sometimes you have to provide artificial stimuli to keep yourself open.
Paul Bley is an experienced jazz pianist who has played with musicians like Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry and Albert Ayler. He is now playing, in addition to the piano, the keyboard of a Moog Synthesizer. The Synthesizer is an electronic sound machine, ordinarily triggered by a keyboard. Annette has modified the Synthesizer so that her the musicians are astronomical. A musician can't fall back on the predictable chord changes to bridge the gap between one burst of inspiration and the next; there aren't any necessarily predictable changes.
>>>Fortunately, a good number of musicians have proven themselves capable of handling these "demands of freedom." People like Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Charlie Mingus, Frank Smith, Burton Greene, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Tylor and recently Miles Davis, have shown that this kind of "anarchy" in music can be expressive in ways no other musical form can duplicate.
AP: I've spent five years in Avant-Garde music, and taken it as far as it will go for me, so I've gone backwards, now. In Avent-Garde music I'm dealing with no time and no changes; the melodies suggesting the hermonies instead of the hermonies suggesting the melodies. Now I'm going completely back to the bottom of music, which is Rock. I don't mean "bottom" in derogatory sense. It's the simplest, most direct way of expressing, so I'm going into it as a song form because I think that's where my genius lies at this point.
>>>I'm really fascinated by Rock, especially since I've become electrified. The thing that's groovy about Rock is that it's become electric. That gave it its unique sound. Rock is electrical music that deals with very simple levels, so the electricity can shine and become clear.
>>>I'm putting together a group now; I want them to be able to play both kinds of music [Rock and Free Jazz]. I want to be able to deal as much as possible with space and time. Space is Ying, expression, and time is Yang, contraction. When I was taking drugs, to give you an indication, I was very Ying, and spaced out, so free music was right where I lived. But the more macro-biotic I eat, the more Yang I become -- so the more Yang I become -- so the more attracted I am to time.
>>>I don't want to use Rock as it is; I want to do as an abstraction of it...
When I visited Annette in her lower-Manhattan apartment I climbed two or three flights of stairs and entered into the kitchen -- very clean, very sparse, with many white wooden cabinets containing tapes, promotional martial and I suppose, reams of music for the bands. (Annette does all the writing for present band; all the charts and arrangements, and is also composing for the proposed Rock band at the rate of two songs a day.)
>>>Four steps and a right turn brought me to the living room. I was immediately certain that I was going to trip over something. I didn't, because the room is in fact very well organized. But I was reacting to an impression of clutter; the feeling that the entire Columbia recording studios had been piled into this one rather small room.
>>>The room is dominated by a grand piano and, of cause, the Moog Synthesizer, both against the windowed wall at the far side of the room. All the other walls are lined with recording equipment, a mixing box, microphones, electric vibes, a smaller synthesizer, more tapes and records, everywhere a jungle of wires.
>>>Astonishingly, I was able to walk unobstructed to the corner where the Moog monster squatted, as Annette valiantly attempted to explain to me how and why it does what it does. Then to a chair beside a table. Sit me down and listen to a couple of tapes from past concerts. Very impressive music. Everybody in the group was very free and themselves, but really together. I was fascinated by Annette's voice It's low, very melodic and captivating.
>>>She sings words, but once they come through the synthesizer they're different somehow. I didn't usually understand them as words, but had the feeling that I could have if I'd anted to try. Maybe there was a subliminal perception, because the meaning seemed to be coning through anyway. The only words I was clearly and specifically aware of were there: "...it makes you want live forever..."
>>>Hazarding a definition, I would say that "Free" jazz, or "Avant-Garde" jazz, is the idea that music can be more expressive if the discipline springs from within the artists and their inter-action together, rather than being dictated by pre-determined "forms." Anything that expresses emotion well -- that makes you feel impassioned -- is acceptable.
>>>One of the features of this approach to music is that only the best can survive. he demands on the talent, technical powers. and demands on the talent, technical powers, and depth of spirit in voice, or any instrument, can be fed into it through a microphone. This signal is modified by the Synthesizer in ways which Annette has programmed in advance. The signal is additionally manipulated by nine pedals which Annette has also grafted on to the system. In the meantime this impressive combine of wires is still and also doing what Paul tells it to do from his keyboard controls.
AP: Knowledge is a very funny thing. You have been to live with some things before you truly understand them. I had to invent a way to sing through the Synthesizer because it wasn't originally built or set up that way. I just had to learn and collect all the information I could like on electronics, and figure it out myself.
>>>The instrument doesn't give you a conception. If you don't have a way to approach the music, it will not give you that. But if you do have a music that you already hear, then it's very easy to get it out of the instrument -- it's no problem. You're dealing with oscillators, you see, and oscillators are completely fresh source of sound. You can do anything.
>>>I sing words into the synthesizer, but I can distort them -- destroy them -- which I enjoy doing. I enjoy being a pioneer. I enjoy doing things there are no rules for... making them up myself.
For a part of a concert at Town Hall Annette appeared topless, contrasting her gently curving body with the harsh jumble of equipment on the stage, and emphasizing the intimately human quality of the music.
>>>Rock music is going through a period of self-examination. The best people are re-examining basic sources, or distilling their strongest material. This is fine, and makes for some really excellent music.
>>>But somehow none of this sophisticated expertise creates the excitement we experience when a truly new and legitimate element is successfully taken us by surprise, but seems to make so much sense immediately after we hear it. I suspect (and hope) that Annette Peacock will offer us something of this nature. Many things are brewing in the amorphous depths of Rock; I'm looking forward to a taste of Peacock soup.
I'm the One RCA Press Release
>>>The summer is probably the best time to go down there, to the far reaches of the west west village. It's really calm, quiet and serene, as the sun beats down on your head and the occasional traffic meanders on its way through the nearly deserted streets.
>>>It's nice to be in the streets where there are a few women pushing strollers, old man sitting on stoops, like it was 1941 or something. Well, it's just generally just nice.
>>>Annette Peacock lives down there, in that sedate, even quaint-at-times west west village. She lives on a building that you wouldn't know was habitated [sic]. You might think it was a storage place or one of the hundreds of forgotten places that dot New York like a visceral plague its spots at random. But no, she lives there, and the living is part of her life.
>>>Up the winding stairs, bellied by years of footsteps, past a creaking bannister worn smooth by who knows how many hands, into an apartment, an apartment as starkly opposed to its surroundings as a lunar landing module is to the surface of the moon (for who knows what's really under the moon's surface).
>>>Annette's place really is Annette's place. A community of tools of her craft. Four synthesizers, walls of tapes, several electric pianos, a stool at a rakish angle rests under a window, a grand piano buried and dripping with torn pieces of paper and music manuscripts of assorted size, microphones, various devices for treatment of sound, an exposed brick wall backs some amps, an electric vibraphone, tape recorders, sets of drums and strange cymbals all stand in their place.
>>>Underpinning the aforementioned apparatus are a myriad of wires, running their way across the floor like so many snakes leaving the dehydrating muddy bottom of a drying river delta.
>>>So framed against this swiftly painted portrait of the place, enter Annette Peacock. Annette is what you'd call a fetching woman. She's not beautiful, but she's very pretty. She's statuesque without being callow or fragile, and perhaps most interesting about the lady is that you never know what she'll do next.
>>>To try and paint a picture of the artist, like brush strokes, clear and defined. This is something that is impossible. If it were Gatsby we could point out his clothes, his manner, what those around him felt. But Gatsby is dead, buried in the sands of lost literature, and Peacock is here and now, and maybe just as confusing.
>>>For Annette is many things. She is first of all a person, and, as such, her life and its meaning are peculiar to her. But then she's a musician, and that lends itself to the creativity and aura of the professional dreamer, the ebullient one minute, and Bowery denizen the next. Add to this the woman, an example of the classic, the musk of a woman, the propensity to do and to be.
>>>It's hard. To put your finger on just what it is that makes this well defined place of the planet work, but then how interesting would she be if you could categorize her? Who would care if she were just like so and so? What would be the plus?
>>>For the purist who want to know all the mundane facts about A.P., suffice it to say she was born sometime in this century. She matured in you town. She lived in her mind and on the rush of cosmic being. She was and she is. Today she is music. It is feeling and power. It is awareness and solitude. It is personal and universal. So dig it, you may not be here forever.
Chapter I Chapter II Chapter III Chapter IV Chapter VI