MEV: United Patchwork LP
Alternative Fox present a reissue of Musica Elettronica Viva's United Patchwork, originally released in 1978. One of the most mythical experimental groups of all time, Musica Elettronica Viva was formed in 1966 by a group of American composers in Rome, its nucleus comprised of pianist Frederic Rzewski, sound improviser Alvin Curran, and the improvisatory keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum. Taking cues from John Cage and David Tudor, MEV employed open, limitless structures, using found instruments, toys, a homemade synthesizer, and the first Moog to reach mainland Europe. Improv and critical listening practices aimed to liberate listeners from the constraints of bourgeois capitalism and as their sound evolved, forms of Jewish mysticism and surrealist automaticism pointed to transcendent potential. An abortive US tour in 1970 split MEV into three units, but the Kabbalistic Dixieland band later reformed with Rzewski, Curran, and Teitelbaum joined by saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist Garrett List, and keyboardist Karl Berger. The resultant double album United Patchwork, recorded in November 1977 at Mama Dog for Horo Records, captures MEV in all of their discordant, improvisatory glory, from Teitelbaum's side-long opener, "Via Della Luce", to the honking noise of Lacy's "Fox", the excessive keyboard meanderings of Curran's "Psalm", Berger's vibraphone folly, "Cross Over One" and Rzewski's ponderous "What Is Freedom".