Walter Alter

portfolio: experimental music

The artist's interest in experimental music goes back to the '70's when he
used rudimentary stereo track layering on a junkyard salvaged Akai reel
to reel deck. In the '80's he met experimental musicians in SF and formed
4 successive ensembles- Car Part 20005, Ear Nerve and Cognitive Dissonnance
They played at various underground performance spaces in SF between 1986
and 1990. (see Exhibitions link)

Bird Butt Tapes distributed the music to the "cassette culture" underground
from its former salami packing plant studio at 26 Grace Alley, SF. Click the
red arrow buttons to play the tune. Feel free to download them

 

THE ACOUSTIC YEARS- (WALTER ALTER)

These recordings were made in the mid 70’s using various arrangements of
sound making objects such as record turntables, flutes, harmonicas, saxophone,
short wave radio, motorcycle wheel spokes, stones in a tin can and signal
oscillators dubbed into 2 tracks from two stereo tape recorders. On cut #1,
I am shorted to the speaker through my naked toes while pressing the
electric guitar strings closer and closer to the pickups. Science has no
explanation for this alien technology

Pinch My Balloon
Antenna in my head

Tribal Kalaka Night
Hong Kong Bong Hit

 

THE VL-TONE YEARS- (WALTER ALTER)

More minimalist probings from an infantile brain with no wrinkles. The Casio
VL Tone was the first miniature programmable electronic keyboard designed
as a toy with rhythm track accompaniment. These recordings used two VL
Tone keyboards, a drum machine and an effects box patched into a two track
stereo tape recorder The VL Tone would occasionally run the batteries dead
and create some interesting effects

Oasis of Doom
The Head Hunter Song

Elbow Chord Bolero
Beat Me Up
Venus in Furs

 

AIR BAG LIVE! (CAR PART #20035)

You are in a test vehicle hurling towards a concrete barrier at 500 frames
per second. Long grinding, tearing crescendos. Air Bag Live was a 1985 three
night audio collaboration for a sculpture installation by Walter at the Martin
Weber Gallery in San Francisco. They called 911 and hosed off the smoking
debris and strained it through an audio mesh. This is what remained.

Personnel:
Kevin Wilson - Audio mix and tape collage, Doris Boris Berman - Extreme
vocals, Walter Alter -Roland SH 101 keyboard synthesizer with a bunch of
knobs and sliders.

Hello
Jolly Jumper Anthem

What's Wrong With You
Oscillator Blues

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up
It's Caught In My Throat
Fish Tank Eyes

 

NO BRAKES, NO REVERSE (CAR PART #20035)

This set of numbers followed the Martin Weber Gallery performance and was
the last performance by the short lived Car Part #20005. Doris let us use her
garage but was being psychotic and refused to join in. This was a day long
sweaty garage studio session that twisted the knobs off the delay unit.
Dense yet differentiated, Artsy, yet poignant like surgical scissors snipping
at the space between your ears and the headphones. Watch your new
speaker cones shred during the rumbly parts.

Personnel:
Kevin Wilson - Audio mix and tape collage, Walter Alter - Roland SH 101 |
keyboard synthesizer with a bunch of knobs and sliders.

Mona
Beer Bubbles in my Tears
How Are You

Neptunian Lawn Mowers
Off On, Up Down

Neptunian Hedge Clilppers
Silly Little Nightmare

So Many Choices
Moscow Calling
I Hit my Head a Lot
Neptunian Weed Eater

 

METHANE SPIRALS (EAR NERVE)

Ear Nerve commandeered the 455 10th St. Gallery during the annual Folsom
St. Fair. People wandered in from the beer fueled mayhem on the street,
plugged their ears, quickly checked the space for someone to pick up and left

Personnel:
Alex Rudis- keyboards, Mike Shannon- digital delay. Carol Yarborough- french
horn. Tony Calvo- saxophone. Doris Boris Berman- extreme vocals, Walter Alter
-
large effects array with drum synth.

Strategy of the Clumsy
Cave of the Bathtub God

March of the Electricians
Lament of the Anxious

War of the Big Pepper Grinders
Poem of the Sleeping Limbs

Ballet of the Media Moguls
Semiphore of the Neptunians
Waltz of the Quadraplegics
Seraglio of the Fly Queen

Tap Dance of the Rhino
Song of the Tall People
Carnival of the Deranged
Dawn Over Silicon Valley

 

EAR ACHE (EAR NERVE)

Another hot, sweaty, marathon studio session and junk food fest with little
demented melody lines and vocals creeping in like cockroaches on chrome
table legs. Polyrhythmic eruptions remind one of a rivetting tool dropping
through 20 floors of open girder. Ear Ache was recorded on a borrowed digital
video camera at Joy St. Studio, Mike and Carol’s house on the last unpaved
street in San Francisco

Personnel:
Alex Rudis- keyboards, Mike Shannon- digital delay. Carol Yarborough- french
horn & vocal condiments. Tony Calvo- saxophone. Doris Boris Berman- extreme
vocals, Walter Alter
- large effects array with two drum synths.

Siamese Twin Bolero 2. Rubber Bands 3. Bombs Away! 4. Scheise Hosen (Shit Socks) 5. Do You Have A Prophylactic?
6. Pressure 7. 3 Legged Dog Bolero 8. The Temple of Amnesia
9. Hi You guys!

Siamese Twin Bolero
Rubber Bands
Bombs Away!
Scheise Hosen (Shit Socks)
Do You Have A Prophylactic?
Pressure
3 Legged Dog Bolero
The Temple of Amnesia
Hi You guys!

 

THE HORROR, THE HORROR (EAR NERVE)

Ear Nerve was invited to play at a big show at the New College of California
but not on stage. We set up in a long narrow zigzag hallway leading to the
toilets. The busy hallway gave us a captive audience of alternative music
aficionados waiting to pee. The growing musical tension in the cuts reflect
a growing concern among the band members that the expanding pool of
spillage from the bathrooms might be creating a serious electrical shock
hazard

Personnel:
Alex Rudis- keyboards, Mike Shannon- digital delay. Carol Yarborough- french
horn & vocal condiments. Tony Calvo- saxophone. Doris Boris Berman- extreme
vocals, Walter Alter
- large effects array with two drum synths.

The Horror of Clowns
The Horror of After Shave
The Horror of Wall Clocks
The Horror of Public Toilets
The Horror of Chit Chat

 

KID ART WEEK (EAR NERVE)

An ecclectic buffet of various live performances by Ear Nerve including the
infamous gang bang at the SF Youth Arts Festival where 300 hormone clogged
adolescents were invited to "play around" with the band's equipment. Also
includes the notorious Tesla seance with Barry Schwartz' legendary 100,000 volt
tesla coil crackling and heating up the participants' fillings.

Personnel:
Alex Rudis- keyboards, Mike Shannon- digital delay. Carol Yarborough- french
horn & vocal condiments. Tony Calvo- saxophone. Walter Alter
- large effects
array with two drum synths.

Blowing Things Up
I'll Pay You (part I)
I'll Pay You! (part 2)
Dogs 'n Cats 'n Drive By's
The More Homework Siren
High School Marching Band
Gajoogajooga

 

COGNITIVE DISSONNANCE ALIVE (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE)

Not yer average guitar band. This is a compilation from various performances.
Rick’s head was an incessant blur of hair Zorch, made up Bach fugues as he went
along and Walter entered the twilight zone between consciousness and lime jello.
Imagine 3 guys who have spent their first 30 years floating in big green nutrient
bottles being decanted and given musical instruments and a 110 volt wall socket..

Personnel:
Rick Rees - electric shaver Gibson, Darrel Zorch on Fender Rhodes Keyboards and
thrift store guitar, Walter Alter on autistic savant guitar

Very Nervous
Thank You For Calling
We All Got A Long Cow
Tick Tock
Tock Tick
God Bless My Hysteria
Who Said That?
Greyhound Bus of the Damned
Is Anybody In There?
Come & Get Me, You Bastards!
Desert Love Song
Oh Space
Hey, What's Goin' On Here?
Fried Chicken
Oy Yaya We Ooh
Cruisin' the Boulevard
I Went to See my Guru
Lumpy Bed Springs
Neuropsychiatric Holiday

 

COGNITIVE DISSONNANCE & FRIENDS (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE)

Cog Dis hosted a big all day jam at their meat packing plant studio on Grace St.
alley in San Francisco. Players came and went, beer and Cheetos were consumed,
revolutionary harmonic discoveries changed the face of contemporary music
forever. Twangy and meandering then choppy and irritable then insistent and
foreboding then bluesey and intimate then crosseyed and spastic and as predictable
as an elevator full of bowling balls opening its doors onto a hotel lobby of fez-hatted
Shriners. These boys get down to the mojo level.

Personnel:
Rick Rees, Darrel “Frankie” “Fronze” Zorch, Mystic Nick, Dave Fireman, Alex Rudis,
Mark Shepherd, Brook Johnson, Lara Biddle, Faye, Mike Simms, Walter Alter

You think Everything's Under Control
Thoughts During the Ambulance Ride
Bulgarian Assembly Line
Waiting for the Light to Change
Would You Please Turn It Down
Pancake Pillow
Easy Street
Diddy Bop Dementia
Spider Women

Rats In the Walls
The Wheels of Rapid Transit
Junkie Hit Man
Imperial Profit Margins
Thrill Ride of Doom
Demolition Derby

Demolition Derby DeLuxe
3 Piece Suit Lunch


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