San Diego, CA
Harry Partch (like his friend Anais Nin) considered his life’s work to be a letter to the world. His last act was going to be to add the enclosures. He never got around to it. After 20 years of working on the Partch archives, Philip Blackburn has now completed the seven-part Enclosures series as it were on his behalf.
Enclosure 7, the penultimate DVD of this multimedia series, is a monumental tribute to the most significant works of this American original and iconoclast. It includes new versions of his late masterworks and never-before-seen footage that bring us closer to the real Harry behind the myth.
The Dreamer That Remains is a documentary produced by Betty Freeman and directed by Stephen Pouliot in 1972. Here is the director’s original cut along with his commentary. If you’ve never seen Partch or his instruments before, this is the place to start.
Delusion of the Fury was his magnum opus; a lifetime of instrument-invention and ideas of ritual theater were poured into this giant work. The 1971 film has been resynched and the soundtrack remastered in 5.1 surround sound.
The CBS LPs of this work came with a Bonus Album of Harry introducing his instruments. Unavailable for years, this DVD features this talk along with a slideshow of the instruments.
Revelation in the Courthouse Park was Harry’s fusion of current pop idolatry with parallel (only a little more sinister) scenes of Ancient Greece. Now you can see excerpts of the original 1960 Illinois production, replete with gymnasts, fireworks, and transvestites.
And finally, if you ever wondered how a simple recipe for rose petal jam could turn into a hobo dance and a diatribe about music critics, you are in for a treat.
In short, with the reprinting of Blackburn’s award-winning bio-scrapbook, Enclosure 3, this series “is about as close to one man’s life as we are ever likely to get.”
This DVD, the culminating part of Philip Blackburn’s series of Partch releases for Innova, is something special. It features Stephen Pouliot’s classic 1972 documentary on Partch, The Dreamer that Remains, a remastered 1971 film of Partch’s magnum opus Delusion of the Fury (with excellent sound), a 40-minute slideshow accompanying the ‘bonus album’ of Partch describing his instruments (a recording that accompanied some of the original boxsets of Delusion of the Fury), extracts from a 1960 performance of Revelation in the Courthouse Park, and a Dreamer outtake in which Partch rants against insensitive reviewers, makes some rose petal jam, and does a strange little dance. If you have any real interest in American music, unusual music, instrument manufacture, music theatre, the hobo lifstyle or jam recipes there is no good reason why you shouldn’t buy this DVD.
- Tim Rutherford-Johnson, Johnsons Rambler
Enclosure 7 strikes me as a stunning achievement, and an eminently fitting conclusion to the series as a whole. Comprising CDs, a book, VHS tapes and now this DVD, the Enclosures stand as the finest, widest-ranging assembly of Partch materials currently available to the public. Surely, somebody should now award Philip Blackburn and Innova a medal of commendation for this impressive achievement, otherwise they’ll have to make do with this one from me: “Well done, chaps!” Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, this DVD will keep you glued to your TV for well over two and a half hours, so even I can’t grumble about short measure!
- Paul Serotsky, Musicweb International
For Partch enthusiasts this is de rigueur, while those whose interest is less than comprehensive will find Enclosure Seven the ideal single item conspectus of his career and achievement. A landmark, indispensable issue—which has the incalculable merit of supplying the visual component of Partch’s “corporeal” music—and one of the great documents of 20th-century artistic endeavor.
- Adrian Corleonis, Fanfare
- Mark Swed, LA Times
First, a confession: Harry Partch lurked for years on the shadowy margins of my musical world, as mysterious to me as the Ruwenzori, Africa's 'Mountains of the Moon'. His music was inaccessible without a special effort and was rumoured to be weird, daunting and unattractive. 'Because it was there' was not enough to make me go in search of it, however much I enjoyed my excursions to nearby territories. Innova has changed all that. Their 'Enclosure' series (which now consists of audio CDs, books, videotapes and this DVD) has documented much of Partch's work and made it readily available to the armchair traveller. Enclosure 7, the latest and perhaps last of the series, is a wonderful introduction to the man and an excellent introduction to his music. It consists of a film of his music-theatre masterpiece, Delusion of the Fury, a portrait film, The Dreamer that Remains, and some valuable extras.
- Malcolm Tattersal, Music and Vision
Anyone who believed, as many did, that Harry Partch’s hypnotic but daffy music would fade from the scene after his death in 1974, and after the weird but fragile instruments he had fashioned for realizing his stratospheric creative visions had gone under lock and key, had reckoned without the innate magic of his work, and the zeal of his believers... The best of Partch lies in its power to evoke visual counterparts, and a DVD just out on Innova includes the dance-drama Delusion of the Fury, as staged at UCLA in 1969, which really does match sight to sound.
- Alan Rich, LA Weekly
Partch belongs to an American visionary tradition that includes Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Ives: radical celebrants of a freedom that lies just beyond the quotidian, fusing the homemade and the ecstatic...Another window on Partch's brilliant and idiosyncratic world.
- Stuart Broomer, Musicworks
...a fascinating opportunity to see Partch talking about his own musical preoccupations... a moving insight into one of the twentieth century's most innovative pioneers...an enlightening experience..spellbinding...an excellent resource detailing the whole scope of Partch's work. The DVD offers a sound overview into the life and work of Harry Partch, and the addition of the performance recordings enables the viewer to contextualize Partch's compositional and theoretical studies.
- Richard Glover, New Notes