August 11th, 2019


Robert Ashley - She Was A Visitor / Minimal Man - She Was A Visitor

There is something uniquely eerie about the music of Robert Ashley. He's best known for his experimental operatic works of the 1960s and '70s, and they are instantly identifiable by their emotional detachment. None more so that She Was A Visitor (1967), in which a solo voice recites the title again and again, doing nothing else. The inflection is neutral and never varies, which would be creepy enough, but in addition the backing singers take individual phonemes from the phrase and stretch them out in wordless drones.

In other words, it's exactly the sort of thing that was ripe for a coldwave adaptation.

That was to come from Patrick Miller, AKA Minimal Man on his 1981 album The Shroud Of. It's not an entirely faithful take on the original. The vocals are heavily treated and grow to a frenetic pitch, but in their place the underlying blank synth riff takes the pace of the neutral recital. It's more dramatic and with it more accessible, yet it certainly captures much of the spirit of the original. Other Minimal Man tracks are a more familiar dark proto-industrial fare, but on this Miller was playing homage to his love of the classic avant-garde.

Robert Ashley - She Was A Visitor
Minimal Man - She Was A Visitor