Tag Archives: experimental radio art Gregory Whitehead

The Respirator

and other outcasts (1989)

Another MINERVA EDITIONS release, mixing stories with purely invented sound beds such as In Malpais, with voice works like totenklage/lacrymosa and Twilight for Idols.

The title track takes an actual quotation from a magazine article about traumatic brain injury, which I then re-voiced and subjected to multigenerational entropy and eruption, in the style of Ziggurat and other earlier pieces.

If not strictly autobiographical, The Respirator certainly draws in spirit from my own experience in a near-fatal car crash at age sixteen, suffering injuries which rearranged my subjectivity in ways that took a very long time to get sorted.

Several of these pieces were also included in the 1993 Staalplaat CD, The Pleasure of Ruins, clickable below:

The Pleasure of Ruins


Inspired by the book with the same title (by Rose Macauley, with remarkable photographs by Roloff Beny), I set out to conjure an acoustic ruin through the poetic disintegration of a chanted list of global ruins, using the technique of rhythmic cyclical “eruptions” that I had developed in Disorder Speech.

At the time, there was a good deal of heavy cultural theory about libidinal flows and “economies of pleasure” in the air during the late 1980s, an irresistible invitation for humor; thus I proposed a sort of radiophonic archeology of pleasure, unfolding (or degenerating) in real time.

With the exception of a tour guide speleologist and a few other documentary scraps, the only voice used is my own, through a variety of personae.

Commissioned by the brave New American Radio series, under the direction of Helen Thorington and Regine Beyer, The Pleasure of Ruins has been broadcast throughout Europe, Australia and North America, in all of its ruined pleasures:

The Pleasure was resuscitated with a variety of other castaways on a 1993 Staalplaat CD release. I have a small number of copies of the original MINERVA EDITIONS cassette release, available to serious collectors.

Let me here sing praises for Patrick Sumner, whose stunning photographs and design work enlivened the MINERVA releases, as well as the Staalplaat CDs. The photograph below shows the salvaged remnants of a house owned by Patrick, and Sheila Davies, burned during the terrible fire that rampaged through the Oakland hills in 1991.