" A bit more than twenty years ago, I was playing with a group called The Slits, who had started off as an all-woman punk group but had become more dub-ified and picked up some male members (obviously). When we did gigs, the sound person was Dick O'Dell, who also ran a label called 'Y' Records. (I think he got the Y motif from the back cover of 'Spiritual Unity' by Albert Ayler - one of my favourite records). 'Y' had an early hit with a single by Pigbag and put out an LP of low-fi stuff by The Slits. They also issued the first record by Diamanda Galas, but that was later.
Tristan Honsinger is an American cellist who has lived for years in Europe and we met when we both played in Derek Bailey's 'Company'' at the ICA in London, 1977. We later played a memorable and scary UK tour opposite John Stevens's SME. Tristan was back in London to play the ICA when we took the opportunity to schlep a cassette recorder and two microphones there one afternoon and record a set of duets, using their OK grand piano.
Although Dick had never at that point issued any free improvisation, he was immediately interested in issuing the recordings. (Tristan went on to guest on a few sessions by The Pop Group, another band Dick was involved with). Tessa Pollitt, the bass-player from The Slits, designed the cover. At that time, certain people from Rough Trade, who were distributing 'Y', were outraged that anyone should record an LP so quickly and suggested that it should sell for less than the normal price.
In any case, Dick seemed happy and, the next year, we took advantage of the presence of Tristan and trumpeter Toshinori Kondo in London to set up a second session. Kondo I knew from a short UK tour with Eugene Chadbourne - they had flown from New York and played the first gig of the tour in old York. The multi-instrumentalist David Toop was an obvious choice for fourth person. In 1979, David and I, along with violinist Nigel Coombes, had travelled to new York to play with Chadbourne, John Zorn and Kondo, among others. You can read about that in David's book 'Ocean of Sound'. Plus, we were members of the quartet Alterations and had various other projects together. The ICA not being an option, guitarist Chris Reeves offered us the use of a large, airy first floor room near Old Street, east London. And lacking a piano, I brought bags of other instruments, pretty well what I was playing in Alterations at the time. -STEVE BERESFORD, LONDON JULY 2001