David Cunningham - Grey Scale LP
Label: Superior Viaduct
David Cunningham was born in Ireland in 1954. His work ranges from pop music to gallery installations including several collaborations with visual artists. His first significant commercial success came with The Flying Lizards' single "Money," an international hit in 1979.
Originally released in 1976, Cunningham's first solo album Grey Scale has become a landmark statement of DIY minimalist composition – continuing in the vein of the wild explosion of arthouse experimentation from the early '70s. Cunningham, then a student at the Maidstone College of Art in Kent, drafted fellow student non-musicians and (using whatever instruments available) crafted an endlessly shifting sonic palette with an improvisor's keen sensitivity to space, texture and tone.
As Cunningham states in the liner notes, his approach was to "pursue something (which may appear trivial or meaningless) so rigorously or relentlessly to the point that it reveals something new."
Cunningham was influenced by live performances he was attending at the time by English composers Cornelius Cardew, Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman as well as free improvisors Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, David Toop and Paul Burwell.
The inaugural release on Cunningham's own Piano label, Grey Scale was indeed "something new" in 1976. The artist quickly integrated his experimental sensibilities to produce art-rock pioneers This Heat, whose debut appeared on Piano in 1979. His popular success performing as The Flying Lizards (with two electro-punk albums on Virgin during the New Wave era) was presaged by this seminal work of fascinating sound collage and tonal freedom. First-time reissue.