Eric Chasalow | Are You Radioactive, Pal?

Go To Artist Page

Album Links
Suspicious Motives Records website

More Artists From
United States - Massachusetts

Other Genres You Will Love
Classical: Contemporary Avant Garde: Electro-Acoustic Moods: Type: Experimental
Sell your music everywhere
There are no items in your wishlist.

Are You Radioactive, Pal?

by Eric Chasalow

Music from as early as 1991 and as recent as 2014 by noted electroacoustic composer, Eric Chasalow
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

We'll ship when it's back in stock

Order now and we'll ship when it's back in stock, or enter your email below to be notified when it's back in stock.
Sign up for the CD Baby Newsletter
Your email address will not be sold for any reason.
Continue Shopping
cd in stock order now
Buy 2 or more of this title's physical copies and get 10% off
Share to Google +1

To listen to tracks you will need to update your browser to a recent version.

  Song Share Time Download
1. Scuffle & Snap
5:46 album only
2. Into Your Ears
4:01 album only
3. Are You Radioactive, Pal - I
4:27 album only
4. Are You Radioactive, Pal - II
3:52 album only
5. Are You Radioactive, Pal - III
3:18 album only
6. Wolpe Variations
5:46 album only
7. Variation 5 (From Seven Variations On Three Spaces)
0:56 album only
8. Symphony of Popular Misconceptions (What Remains)
4:20 album only
9. Symphony of Popular Misconceptions (Dream Song 368)
2:54 album only
10. Symphony of Popular Misconceptions (What Is Essential)
4:24 album only
11. Museum in D
5:13 album only
12. This Way Out
4:32 album only
13. As a Kind of Knowing - I
3:04 album only
14. As a Kind of Knowing - II
7:10 album only
15. As a Kind of Knowing - III
6:25 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In my article, Composing From Memory, published in the journal, Organised Sound in 2006, I touched on one of the basic ideas that informs all of my music in one way or another – that each work is tied to historic precedents in ways that the “aware” composer must take advantage of, and specifically…

The ability of electroacoustic music to build structures from absolutely any recorded material allows it to reference memory in new ways – to create layers of meaning in dialog with one another. Recordings of older music can be restructured into new works, to produce deliberate musical commentary on our past. And layers of text (spoken and/or sung) can add a poetic dimension – a metamusical narrative aspect.

…When a composer chooses iconic recordings and texts, the overt conversation with the past can capture the power of shared, communal memory. The challenge though, is to do more than simply quote well-known sources and take a free ride on fame. A composer needs to digest the material and come up with a piece that, through manipulation and recontextualization, has something of its own to say.

Every piece on this CD responds in some way to this challenge. In listening carefully, it will be evident that the movement from one moment to the next is motivated by a counterpoint of all musical elements, and that the pitch choices are often especially sensitized. Consider the opening of Into Your Ears, which is made from interview recordings and motives from Davidovsky’s music. My piece shifts the iconic Synchronisms G to make it part of a longer upbeat that is voice-led to a strident, high F setting up the entrance of the spoken text. With the right harmonic underpinning, even the most bizarre juxtaposition of sounds can make compelling musical phrases, as I hope the music on this CD demonstrates.

Scuffle & Snap (2010) is one in my long series that build heightened dramatic structures around traditional instruments. They are all virtuosic and challenging, but fun to perform. In this piece, I started with an aural image of mostly “popping sounds” which led to my extensive use of pizzicato. When longer, bowed music does finally appear uninterrupted, the change is dramatic and provides a strong sense of exhalation.

Into Your Ears (2004) is part of a series of composer portrait and tribute pieces begun in 1996, and was composed to celebrate the 70th birthday of Mario Davidovsky, my teacher and mentor. The piece recontextualizes motives from Mario’s music. A spoken text narrative is made of fragments of three hours of video interview that are part of the Video Archive of Electro-Acoustic Music. In the course of editing the sounds prior to starting to assemble them into phrases, it was hard not to notice the similarity between certain aspects of Mario’s speech patterns and certain electronic sounds.

Into Your Ears

It’s wonderful to hear the sound going through your bones into, into your ears.
There was no tradition
And then you start to recontextualize, things that we already know
Eh, eh
Eh, eh, eh
By, ya, you know

…like going to Babylonia
Ah, I felt, ah, eh, eh, eh, that

I remember when I did that the first time, it was like, you know, it was a, WILD
It completely changed my way of thinking, first of all, about sound, and about music.

Take spaces into spaces
Take spaces into spaces, make bigger spaces, contract spaces and expand spaces
Contract spaces,
make bigger spaces
Take spaces into spaces, make bigger spaces, contract spaces and expand spaces

(I remember, I rememberI rememberIremember)
I just love the idea of trying to do something with nothing.
To bring something new into the total memory, of music making

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Tools tools tools tools tools

This bunch of cables and ugly looking equipment
One of, uh, the obsessions that, I felt, during the sixties, uh

I like the less ideological pieces

Just because we had to start from scratch
Mine, mine’s a little higher there, it’s like, even better

You know - They, they really don’t become obsolete
Many of the elements of the tradition were there
So and so forth, so it was a fairly musical environment actually

It was just completely new, new phenomenon.
Are You Radioactive, Pal? (2010) takes its title from one of the Dream Songs of John Berryman (a long obsession of mine). As a lapsed alto player, when I moved to Boston in 1990, I started to reconnect with an amazing community of saxophone players, especially the amazing, Philipp Stäudlin who I worked with closely in writing this piece. The tape part includes lots of saxophone motives that I recorded myself on a 1920’s Conn Chu-Berry alto.

When I set out to compose this piece, I “stole” a downward sweeping saxophone gesture and a weighty, orchestral brass G minor chord from one of the tape pieces on this disk, Symphony of Popular Misconceptions. The two sounds are used in critical structural ways.
Wolpe Variations (2003) was commissioned by the Stefan Wolpe Society to mark the composer’s Centennial. My friend, composer, Matthew Greenbaum was involved in commissioning the piece and contributed the following for the program of the celebratory concert:
I was once with Wolpe at a concert where Mario Davidovsky's 2nd
Synchronism was played. I asked Wolpe if he had ever composed
electronic music. No, he answered, but it interested him immensely; he felt
a great kinship with it. I now understand that he particularly meant its
spatial freedom.

Based on that conversation, I suggested to the Wolpe Society that we
commission Eric Chasalow to make an electronic arrangement of a
movement from Wolpe's Music for Any Instruments (a series of interval
and spatial studies composed through the '40s and early '50s) to see
what Wolpe might have done in the electronic medium. Eric responded
with this evening's work, which answers this question literally and
creatively, and is an homage to Wolpe as well.

Wolpe Variations

Composing is sometimes to get rid of the material, you’re composing to, to rid oneself of, of the subject material and absolutely destroy it.

If I allow my material to exist within that latitude
an enormous infinity

and it should have that kind of critical plasticity
composing is sometimes to get rid of the material

Do you understand, did I make myself clear

You can turn into art everything around you under all possible conditions, even under the most, the most absurd conditions.

Variation 5 - from Seven Variations on Three Spaces (1999)

In this set of seven short variations, I decided to leave aside all cultural reference, and to work with totally abstract sound material. Using highly manipulated sound files from some of my earlier pieces, I first composed a single four-minute piece. I laid this piece out, primarily, in three acoustical spaces, defined by register and reverberation. When completed, being thoroughly unhappy with it, I began to pull this piece apart, using it as the source for a series of variations on its material (thus my title). Each variation, in fact, uses the material of the previous one as its point of departure. The entire piece may be heard online.

Symphony of Popular Misconceptions (2009) Traces a large landscape of sonic memories extracted from popular music, jazz, poetry and archival texts. They may be presented in any order, but the second in my ordering here is a setting of my reading of one of the Berryman Dream Songs, which I first tackled in a piece for orchestra and tape from 2001 (recorded on New World 80601). I conceived of these three movements as orchestral in character too, and mean them to be “performed” in a large space. Thus, multi-channel versions (5.1 and up) are preferred for concert presentation.


At a gallop, through his gates came monsters, buoyant
& credible & wild – his people fled
anguished before them.
Soon the great city was all monsters, high-bred
& parti-coloured, comfy, digging in
like a really bad dream.

New rules were promulgated at the City Centre.
Those with more eyes, cast ruthlessly aside,
lurked to the suburbs.
The airport was closed down. Animals were untied.
Thought of his kind ground & lurched to a halt,
all nouns became verbs.

Was all this the result of a failure of love,
he hailed a passing stranger, a young girl
with several legs.
He heard her shout, remote, “You is a swirl
Of ending dust, Your Majesty…” Since when,
he’s hunkered down & begs.

Dream Song #368 “At a gallop through his gates” from THE DREAM SONGS by John Berryman. Copyright © 1969 by John Berryman. Copyright renewed 1997 by Kate Donahue Berryman. Used by arrangement of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Museum in D (2004) was made from conversations and sounds at the party for the opening of the show, “Domestic Archeology” at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University on January 21, 2004. My participation in this was instigated by museum Director, Joe Ketner and curator, Raphaela Platow. The voices in the piece are those of museum patrons and some of the artists (with permission granted on my recording that evening) and include 4 ½ year-old Simon Chasalow who was accompanying me at the event (pun intended).

Museum in D

Things falling? What are they?
What are they?

What are they
I don’t know
That’s where all the dust fell, right?
That’s where all the dust fell
The dust floating in the air?
I was seeing all of the dust flying in the air and – and the kind of evidence like, evidence of stuff and of like a sunset or, or something like that
a garbage can, a piggybank, a doggy

Very mysterious, you don’t know
That’s ok, I’m constantly interrupted when I’m deep in thought, ha, ha
I love how the space just changes

Ok, so what do you want?
You know, it involves money, and, and trust and all of that, and that
with, with people and police cars going
Yeah, it’s everything for one dollar, yeah I mean - it’s all – it’s the same price

Getting ready to buy
What’s that? Getting ready to buy?
I don’t know yet! A lot of different things
Ok, we’re starting in twenty minutes.
We’ll be starting at about seven o’clock. Thank you.
Getting ready to buy?
Hold on a second
It’s everything for one dollar

I want to buy something!
Ok, so what do you want?
I want this shirt
One dollar
So Eric, I didn’t hear the end of it yet.
A doggy
It involves, money, and trust
One dollar
A garbage can

Yes. It’s a bunny that was taken apart. A bunny, somebody’s toy bunny…
Oh, my gosh.
Oh look that’s here, look! Those are needles.
Firecrackers… a piggy bank
One dollar

I love how the space just changes
Big, big, big… cool…cool
Yeah, it’s about, from…the energy… warm…welcoming….from….the…people…its…going out…the memory
…and like…people moving….

Don’t put my voice on
It’s going out…and then…everyone..

And then I thought, oh.
Ok, maybe it’ll come back around
This one, I’m
Well, thanks a lot, I think it’s really interesting

So I… and…in, and…like…along with the people move

I need the energy, warm, welcoming, and like people moving around with the sound and memory, it’s going out of this building and then stay for the little memory for everybody who’s come here.

This Way Out (1991)

Around 1985, I started the switch from the analog studio into the world of MIDI. I worked very hard initially to avoid the canned “presets” packaged with MIDI synths I worked with at that time. Finally, in 1991, just after having re-built the Brandeis studio including lots of MIDI gear, I thought, what if I stop trying to mask the bad guitars, drums, keyboards, etc. and make a piece that deliberately uses those “cheesy” sounds? My approach was to build up massive layers of counterpoint (all completely composed out) and to drive things at a very fast tempo. I chose some idiomatic rock guitar motives and was off. The bad drum machine, complete with handclap sounds, makes for a very familiar and at the same time, unsettling world. Structurally, the piece consists of a short improvisatory introduction, two fast sections flanking a slower middle one, and a soft coda.

As a Kind of Knowing (2014)

These three movements were composed over two of the three weeks I spent in July of 2014 at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. I knew before traveling that I wanted to make use of instrumental sounds, and to be able to carry my instruments on the plane, chose to restrict myself to mandolin and penny whistle. I started composing this kind of “super musique concrète” back in the 1970’s, and I am constantly amazed and delighted that we are now able to work with such a tiny setup. This year, mine consists of nothing more than a miniscule DPA mic, a 13” laptop, and a portable interface.

The slow, outer movements deconstruct and stretch the instrument sounds, resulting in an evolving, plastic music. In retrospect, it is unsurprising that I created this kind of music while staring off into the Mediterranean day after day. The middle movement is more rhythmic, drawing on a repertoire of slightly bluesy, pitch-shifted mandolin riffs, layered in a few places with the sound of the cicadas that were always in the background as I worked that July.


Eric Chasalow is widely recognized as a composer equally at home with electro-acoustic music as with music for traditional instrumental ensembles. In 1996, along with his wife, Barbara Cassidy, he established the The Video Archive of Electroacoustic Music, an oral history project chronicling pioneering electronic music composers and engineers from 1950 to the present.

Eric is the Irving G. Fine Professor of Music at Brandeis University, and Director of BEAMS, the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio. Among his honors are awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Fromm Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2011 the Library of Congress established an Eric Chasalow collection.

Violinist, Daniel Stepner is first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet and a Professor of the Practice at Brandeis University. He is also Artistic Director of the Aston Magna Festival. Past affiliations include a 24-year Concertmastership of the Handel and Haydn Society, a 20-year Preceptorship in Music at Harvard University, and violinist with the Boston Musica Viva. His many recordings (c.f. ) range in music from 1605-2015, on both period and modern instruments.

Philipp A. Stäudlin is an award-winning virtuoso saxophonist who has performed hundreds of concerts throughout North America, Europe and Japan. His characteristic tonal qualities, deep sense of phrasing, and superb technical skills make him one of the most unique voices in today's classical saxophone world. Stäudlin studied saxophone with Iwan Roth, Markus Weiss and Kenneth Radnofsky. He teaches at The Boston Conservatory and is on the applied music faculty at Tufts University and MIT.

Eric Chasalow - Selected Discography

feather, breath, mirror, Suspicious Motives Records (2014)
Over the Edge, New World Records – 80440-2 (1993)
Left to His Own Devices, New World Records – 80601-2 (2003)
‘Scuse Me, Marco Pavin, electric guitar. Intersound Net Records IS01-7, (2001)


My sincere thanks to everyone who made this project possible: To Dan Stepner and Philipp Stäudlin; to Antonio Oliart and WGBH Radio; to Peter Lane; to graphic artist/designer, Jamie Bernard; Iona Kleinhaut and the BAU Institute and to Julie Chenot, Program Director at the Camargo Foundation. Thanks also to Christian Sebille, the director of GMEM, Marseille. As always, love and gratitude to Barbara Cassidy and Simon Chasalow.

This CD was made possible, in part, by a Norman Faculty Research Grant from the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Brandeis University.

Scuffle and Snap and Are You Radioactive, Pal? were recorded July 23, 2012 at WGBH Fraser Studio. Antonio Oliart, engineer; Eric Chasalow, producer; Peter Van Zandt Lane, assistant producer.

℗ © 2015 Suspicious Motives Records (LOGO!) All Rights Reserved.



to write a review