Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Hour no. 387

By David Gans

Grateful Dead Hour by David Gans

Week of February 19, 1996

An interview with John Oswald, who created an art form called "plunderphonics" - audio art made from existing materials - and took on the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star."

I was introduced to Oswald by Henry Kaiser in the late '80s. His CD plunderphonics is a mind-blowing collection of revised works, using various techniques. Gary Lambert and I introduced Oswald to Phil Lesh, and Oswald appeared as a guest on a radio show Phil and Gary hosted on KPFA, first known as Rex Radio and later as Eyes of Chaos, Veil of Order. Lesh introduced Oswald to the rest of the Grateful Dead and supported his proposal to do a plunderphonic treatment of the Dead's seminal improvisational vehicle, "Dark Star." The resulting work, Gray Folded, was released in two parts; this radio show was produced at the time of the release of the second half, "Mirror Ashes."

From the plunderphonics web site:

This 2 disc set is the latest plunderphonic album and was commissioned by the Dead, or as Phil Lesh put it, "David Gans and I sort of talked him into it"."It" is composed exclusively of live recordings (from the Vault) of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" and was originally released as a single disc, "Transitive Axis". It was originally proposed that Oswald make something "very short".

"What interested me most about the Grateful Dead was their extended playing style", explains Oswald. "I wrote a counter-proposal to David saying, 'Well, I've been thinking about it and all I can hear is the opposite - something very long.'"

Gray Folded is available from CDBaby.

I interviewed Oswald for Wired Magazine. "The Man Who Stole Michael Jackson's Face" was published in issue 3.2, February 1995.

If you have an advanced sense of musical adventure, John Oswald will satisfy. I highly recommend poking around his web site and listening to his stuff!

John Oswald, Gray Folded

Interview: John Oswald re plunderphonics

John Oswald, Plexure Avant 016, 1993
PLEXURE (excerpt)

Interview: John Oswald all about "Dark Star" and Gray Folded

John Oswald, Gray Folded
THE SPEED OF SPACE (excerpt)->

Grateful Dead 3/2/69 Fillmore West, San Francisco

Every Wednesday, we post a program from the Grateful Dead Hour archives for your enjoyment and enlightenment. You can browse or search the playlists - by song title, show date, guest name, etc - at or on the GD Hour Search page, and let me know what program(s) you'd like to hear by emailing me at

Thanks for listening!
David Gans

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Joined: Sep 4 2007
.. additionally

I havent turned on the audio link to hear this yet , but i remember from the interview i read back in 94 or 95 ; the technique was called folding . The one that he applies in Grey folded . Different versions of Dark star come in and out of one another seamlessly . Thanks for bringing back up this very special anecdote that was and is very entertaining to hear and remember

Joined: Sep 4 2007
This is great

What a great recall for a Dead hour .

I remember Gray folded came out or was coming out around 94 or 95 . I remember quite vividly all of the publicity for it in zines like Relix etc .

I believe John Oswald was from Canada ; i cant recall what city ..


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