Public Works Productions

Reviews of Recordings by Public Works and The Tape-beatles

“Matter” by Public Works


Disk reviews

Minneapolis Summit (EP)

Numbers (EP)

Good Times (CD)

Matter (CD)

The Grand Delusion (CD)

Music with Sound (CD)

A subtle buoyancy… (CD)

Show reviews

The Chicago Reader

at the Empty Bottle

at the ATA Gallery

at Illinois State U


Artpaper (Philip Blackburn)

Icon (Todd Kimm)

Tractor (Steve Perkins)

Synergy (Steev Hise)

E-mail (Erik Benndorf)

Radio Free Berkeley

X Magazine (G. Daniels)

Vital (Anton Viergever)


Daily Iowan (1) (2) (3)

Neo (Beth Lucht)

Keyboard (Mark Dery)

Pulse (Paul Ashby)

Montreal Mirror (B. Kelly)

C.R. Gazette (D. Rexroat)

Artpaper (L. Roberts)

Black Book (Anuj Desai)

Dream Magazine (winter 1999)

More cultural sound soup a la Tape-beatles identity. Here it’s a vaster panorama, the nature of life, matter, existence; what turns the walnut into the walnut tree? Identity, self-image or just stunningly stoney constructions that fill the center of your mind with swirling unfolding or driving eerie momentum fueled by psychic somnambulistic frenzy and an organic/synthetic flow of energy and intention, tempered by the always essential ability to make intelligent (or lucky/intuitive) choices. Essential sound/art, and quite trippy inside headphones.

by George Parsons
DREAM Magazine, P.O.Box 2027, Nevada City CA 95959

Rumore, March 1997

Ridotta la formazione ai soli Lloyd Dunn e Ralph Johnson e mutato il nome dalla ‘scomodo’ The Tape-beatles a Public Works, tornano da Iowa City i teorici del furto sonoro e del no ©opyright, oltre che nella ristampa del classico Music with Sound (booklet ampliato e due belle bonus tracks) con un album nuovo di zecca, Matter (entrambi per Staalplaat). L’utilizzo collagistico di fonti di ‘pubblico dominio’ si frammischia qui più marcatamente che nel passato con voci (anche originali) pesantemente trattate e con un meticoloso lavoro sui campioni ritmici, abbozzando meta-canzoni e grooves strampalati che paiono dei Negativland in versione techno-dub. I puristi del Plagiarismo® forse storceranno il naso, ma il CD mantine alta la percentuale di idee-per-minuto. …

[The group, now reduced to Lloyd Dunn and Ralph Johnson, has changed their name from the uncomfortable Tape-beatles to Public Works. This group of Iowa City theorists of sound-theft and no-copyright are back with not only a re-issue of their classic Music with Sound (with an improved booklet and two beautiful bonus tracks) but also a new album, Matter (both from Staalpaat). Their collage-like style uses public-domain sources, and is combined here with voices, found and original, more than ever before. The heavily processed voice sources appear here with meticulously worked rhythmic samples. These voices and sounds create meta-songs and grooves that sound like Negativland in a techno-dub version. The purists of plagiarism will probably turn up there noses at Matter, but the CD keeps to a maximum the rate of ideas-per-minute.] Trans. Vania Battistoni

Vittore Baroni

Public Works are one-half of Iowa’s Tape-beatles, whose slogan was ‘Plagiarism®’ and who are now scattered across the world. Neither as pranksterish nor as explicitly political as the old group’s work, Matter is still clearly assembled from non-original sound sources, and declares itself to be in the public domain. Eschewing the perky chaos of their former mode of sample-and-mold bricolage, here Public Works seem to focus more on sounds and their assembly than on more literal messages. The whole disc is slow, dense, opaquely presented; its samples are entirely unfamiliar (both the vaguely authoritative voice-overs and the music), and they form multi-layered textures more often than they resolve into uniform rhythms. The content that rises from the murk of Matter seems to be more about what is masked by the sounds and babble around us than about the sounds and babble themselves.

(Douglas Wolk and Robin Edgerton) CMJ, July, 1997

… Dans le même ton: Public Works, Matter [Staalplaat]. C’est surchargé de collages, de cut-up et c’est logique puisque c’est une extension de The Tape-beatles a.k.a. Lloyd Dunn et Ralph Johnson dont les travaux sont tous du domain public, sans copyright. A vos samplers!

[… In the same vein, Public Works, Matter [Staalplaat]. It’s overloaded with collages, cut-ups, which is logical because this is an extension of the Tape-beatles, a.k.a. Lloyd Dunn and Ralph Johnson, whose works ar all in the public domain, without copyright. Grab your samplers!]

(L@urent Diouf) Tr@nsdub@lity, March, 1997

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