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
3 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)

  Rare video of Cognitive Dissonnance performance in the basemet of Artists Television Access Gallery (ATA) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAm943yhlS4

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 download or play the tune.

 

THE ACOUSTIC YEARS- (WALTER ALTER)

These recordings were made in the mid 70’s using various arrangements of
sound source 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 accident of electricity.

Pinch My Balloon
Antenna in my head

Tribal Kalaka Night
Hong Kong Bong Hit

 

THE VL-TONE YEARS- (WALTER ALTER)

More minimalist probings from the mind of a happy drooling infant. 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. 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
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)

These pieces 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 mood swinging 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; 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 Mower
Off On, Up Down

Neptunian Hedge Clilpper
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.

Ballet of the Clumsy
Cave of the Bathtub God

Spasms of the Electricians
Fugue of the Anxious

War of the Big Pepper Grinders
Poem of the Sleeping Limbs

Lament of the Media Moguls
Dirge of the Nihilists
Flight of the Quadraplegics
Attack of the Fly Queen

Sonata of the Hippopotamus
Vertigo of the Tall Ones
Demolition Carnival of the Deranged
Dawn Over Silicon Valley

 

EAR ACHE (EAR NERVE)

Another impromptu 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 digitally on a
borrowed 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 Cat Fight
Rubber Bands
Bombs Away!
Scheise Hosen
Do You Have A Prophylactic?
Pressure
3 Legged Dog on the Run
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 piss. The growing musical tension in the performance
reflect a growing concern among the band members that the expanding pool
of spillage from the toilets 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
Drive By Weekend
The Homework Siren
High School Marching Band
Gajoogajooga

 

COGNITIVE DISSONNANCE ALIVE (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE)

Guitars and drums played different . 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 a musical twilight zone between sarcasm and death.
Imagine 3 guys who have been gestated and grown to full size in big green nutrient
bottles, being decanted and given musical instruments with 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 Have A Long Wait
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!
Oasis of Death
Oh Space
What's Goin' On Here?
Fried Chicken
Oy Yaya We Ooh
Cruisin' the Boulevard of Love
I Went to See my Guru
Lumpy Mattress
Neuropsychiatric Holiday

 

COGNITIVE DISSONNANCE & FRIENDS (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE)

Cog Dis hosted a big all day jam at their salami 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 onto a lobby of fez-hatted Shriners.

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 is 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
A Delicate Matter
Spider Women

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

Demolition Derby DeLuxe
3 Piece Suit Lunch


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