Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Listen Vincent Wrenn


Vincent Wrenn was born in Memphis in 1954 where he grew up seeing Elvis in the front yard at Graceland from the gas station across the street where his parents fueled the family car. He began his fine art studies in oil painting at the age of 13 under the guidance of a local painter named Jewel Armstrong. In 1969 he heard Jimi Hendrix and the Experience in concert and said that his use of feedback profoundly influenced him.  After the performance he met Hendrix at the Sheraton Motor Inn where he signed a portrait that Vincent had done of him. Another major early influence for Vincent was “the sound of the monolith” in 1968 by Gyorgy Ligeti in the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001 a Space Odyssey.
From 1972-78 he majored in fine art with the abstract painter and long term friend and mentor Dick Knowles at the University of Memphis.

While there he began doing both minimalist painting and minimalist drone music with a Korg MS10, manipulated tape, circuit bending and found sounds.  He also worked with fellow Memphian artists Lynn Book, Rick Ivey and Eric Hill doing performance art which included video, installation art and sound work. In the late seventies Vincent attended one of Buckminster Fullers day long lectures at the University of Memphis and was able to converse with him over lunch about the state of the world and the “obsolescence educational system” which later influenced his decision to withdraw from the University structure. In 1979 he became a member of the newly formed Panther Burns Orchestra which included Tav Falco and Alex Chilton.
His unspoken mission was to “merge the music of Johhny Burnett with the indeterminacy of John Cage and the dissonance of Hendrix’s feedback.” During this time the Panther Burns worked with Randal Lyons and Televista on a NEA funded project that was the first live video performance art computer transmission between galleries using live audio and slow scan video over the phone lines between New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Memphis. During the early eighties he cofounded an experimental music group called the Foreman along with Rick Ivy, Eric Hill and John Sanders (who had performed with John Cage as a student in Texas.) This was the only band to ever get banned from the infamous Antenna Club on purely musical grounds. Vincent had developed an interest in Alchemy early on at the age of twenty when he came across a copy of The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. This interest later led him to meet and study with the alchemist, alchemical translator and publisher Hans Nintzel from 1983-2000. In the late eighties and early nineties he resided in Boulder Colorado where he studied Western Qabalah and Alchemy with the alchemist and author of The Cube of Space Kevin Townley (who was the American president at that time of the French alchemical society The Philosophers of Nature.)  From 1993-2002 Vincent attended three workshops with the groups founder Jean Dubuis. Parallel to this study he became interested in the subtle energy practice of Radionics which led him to a US Psychotronics Association meeting in Dayton Ohio in 1983 where he met and heard Tom Bearden lecture. Over the next decade and a half he came into contact with many of the pioneers in related research including Ed Skilling, Barbara Hero, Andrija Puharich, T G Hieronymous, Peter Kelley, Bob Beck, Fred Alan Wolf and Sherrie Edwards. In the late nineties he moved with his wife and youngest daughter to his present home in Asheville NC where he has performed in festivals and concerts alongside Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, Jon Mueller, Jason Kahn and Shane Perlowin. His music is both visually and mathematically based and draws on some of his studies which include Classical Western Astrology, Alchemy, Qabalah and Radionics.  He works microtonally over a six to eight octave range divided into 360 notes (or degrees) per octave. Each octave begins and ends at the apex of a sonic circle with C. This allows him to visually translate circular based images such as polygons or planetary positions into sound. As for some of his other musical influences he cites: Karl Stockhausen, Luigi Russolo, Harry Partch, Terry Riley, Anthony Braxton, Ellen Fullman, Robert Fripp, and John Coltrane.