About Craig Burk


Craig Burk began hosting shows on KBOO in June 2007. His very eclectic approach to radio programming reflects more than 25 years of presenting his own uncompromising music in New York City, Europe, and Portland.

In his compositions, Craig has successfully blended elements of rock, free jazz, folk, Indian and Arab movie music, the Great American Song Book (Gershwin, Porter et al), and pop music from around the world, as well as classical: from baroque to Mozart’s operas to the art lieder of Schoenberg.

Craig was a founding member of the New West Electro-Acoustic Music Association (NWEAMO). He played a central role in the organization of NWEAMO’s first two annual festivals, which took place at Lewis and Clark College in 1999 and 2000. He presented original works at both events.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1951, Craig grew up in the neighboring city of Cedar Falls. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 from the University of Iowa with a double-major in English Literature and in Speech and Dramatic Arts. He has traveled widely in Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, and India, and lived in California, New York, and Paris before moving with his family to Portland in 1991. Craig has been working in international business for over 20 years.

Craig Burk's Recordings
2004: Five Got Purpose, recorded with Portland-based musicians Doug Theriault (guitar, computer) and Wilson Zorn (synthesizer).   The CD is comprised of a series of highly structured improvisations, using various combinations of instruments.

1998: Multi-work CD containing Text for Solo Voice, Times You Can Tell, and Codes of Absract Conduct.  Together, they serve as another excellent showcase of the varied and always adventurous directions that Craig has taken in his musical explorations. The German music magazine Auf Abwegan has described Craig's compositions as "perfectly constructed, demonstrating the great pleasure that he derives from experimentation."

Text for Solo Voice is made up of 20 songs that Craig sings acappella. Like Anton Webern, he avoids repetition and keeps his songs very short. Most are less than a minute in length. The melodies contain numerous brief quotations from songs of many different genres, much in the tradition of the early 20th-century American pioneer Charles Ives.

"The effect was akin to Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, a poetry reading with sound effects, and the compressed quasi-rock songs of the no-wave band DNA - fascinating, obsessive miniaturism." - Jon Pareles in a New York Times review of a performance of songs from Text for Solo Voice

"Burk's baritone voice delights in wrapping itself around these mainly abstract and free-associative texts. The piece has its roots in the 12-tone art songs of Schoenberg and Webern, but his voice is so triumphant that he could easily be on the Broadway stage." - Richard Moule, Exclaim (Canada)

"Lately vocalists have been boring me, but Craig Burk has brought a smile back to my lips." - Belma Martin, Hurly Burly (Spain)
 "…for all the seeming lack of sonic variety and the nebulous, even impenetrable lyrics that fashion Craig Burk's expressive language here, the composer manages to deliver a powerful work via the marriage of his chameleonic, rich voice with those enigmatic but always thought-provoking texts. His vocalizing moves from baritone to falsetto, from speaking to singing (and states in between) and from loud to soft with countless gradations in between, from the manic to the mesmeric, all with well-judged inflections and a fine sense of drama for the text. This work will not be to everyone's taste, but you won't forget it once you've  heard it." - Robert Cummings, Computer Music Journal

Times You Can Tell is 27 minutes of very distorted guitar that has been heavily processed in a digital studio. While the piece has a certain industrial quality, it contains a wide variety of sounds - from an unrelenting bombardment of fast, shrill strokes to a chorus of pure static to an out-of-kilter bass loop to giant, angry bees to otherworldly trumpets - and much more. Keep in mind that all of this was originally the product of a single guitar through a distortion box! While the piece works at all volume levels, it soon becomes clear that one should listen to it with the stereo turned way way up.

"Rocking…quite a very good piece." - Frans de Ward, Vital (Netherlands). "The net effect is a swirling vortex of noise akin to that of Merzbow and Masonna." - Richard Moule, Exclaim (Canada)

"…a hellish soundscape of darkness, machines and broken glass, permeated with a furious, agonizing electronic howl, like R2D2 slowly being crushed by a garbage truck." - James McQuillen, Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon)

Codes of Abstract Conduct was recorded by Craig and a small ensemble in New York. It was originally released in 1984 and is a cycle of 13 short songs that have a certain folk quality because Craig plays only acoustic guitar. However, that is pretty much the limit in terms of links to traditional music. It is all very pointillistic, frantic, and dissonant, with Craig's voice going from full screech to gentle crooning in a single short song.

"Arty indeed: eccentric, mannered, overblown, and wonderful…difficult to describe how inventive and totally wacko the music is…this is a totally intelligent and humorous record…possibly one of the undiscovered masterpieces of the year." - Gary Glenn, Recordings of Experimental Music (USA)
"A masterpiece…. the accompaniments are most imaginative in their craggy weirdness and clickety-clack comical sonorities….Some might judge this collection of songs as a mostly off-the-wall creation, especially after the first listening. But off-the-wall it isn't; fresh and inventive it is." - Robert Cummings, Computer Music Journal (USA)

1986: The History of Decency/Out to the Various Edges, recorded in New York and in France and released on the French experimental music label Illusion Production. This LP contains ensemble versions of the songs that Craig would later sing acappella on his CD released in 1998.

1984: Codes of Abstract Conduct (EP) recorded in New York and included on Craig’s 1987 CD release.

1981-1983: Craig releases three independent cassettes entitled Shrug, Audio-Verité, and Six Pieces to favorable critical review in the U.S. and European experimental music press.

1979 (November 29): Craig Burk begins his performing career when his band plays at CBGB, the legendary New York City club. Several weeks later, his group plays at the equally fabled Max’s Kansas City.



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