The sound of CharleWorld

This vinyl record is the key to the mesmerising, chaotic and radical universe of Charlemagne Palestine.

Put it on and listen to how the American artist shatters the boundary between music and the visual arts. He builds installations of sound on this previously unreleased musical work, while composing with images in his exhibition at BOZAR. It’s insanely all-embracing and delightfully postmodern. Time for a brief introduction to the sound of CharleWorld!


Go with the flow of strumming
Charlemagne Palestine - Strumming Music

Palestine has spent a lot of time listening to impressionists like Debussy and Ravel and as a child was already fascinated by the music of indigenous peoples. The self-proclaimed ‘schmaman’ – ‘shaman’ with the requisite Yiddish irony – used strumming to develop a highly original technique which transports you to his hypnotic sound universe. Note by note, this record takes you that little bit further. 


Minimalistic? Think again!
Charlemagne Palestine’s studio (Photo © Philippe De Gobert, 2018)
Charlemagne Palestine’s studio (Photo © Philippe De Gobert, 2018)

alestine began making music in the 1960s, around the time that Philip Glass and Steve Reich were making a name for themselves; indeed he performed on the same stages as them. Since then, the wayward composer has been pursued by the ‘minimal’ label, to his great irritation: “Minimal… I have to try get rid of it before I die. How can that be my life, minimal? Surely they can find at least five words other than that one?” Well, Charlemagne, we’re more than happy to take up the challenge!  


What’s your story?
A Sweet Quasimodo for Black Butterflies (1/3)

Sometimes, Palestine gives titles to his tracks as though they were stories. So he lets us dream away to ‘A Sweet Quasimodo Between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck’ and stimulates our imagination with ‘The Apocalypse Will Blossom’. But in actual fact the artist wants you to invent your own scenario. What does SSCHMMETTRROOSSPPECCTIVVE mean to you? Listen and see where your imagination takes you.


See also