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Grayfolded : Transitive Axis

Grateful Dead/John Oswald

Initial release : 1994

Swell Artifacts 1969

The first disc of Grayfolded, a plunderphonic collage of Dark Stars, performed by the Grateful Dead, assembled by John Oswald.


  • Novature (Formless Nightfall) (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Pouring Velvet (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • In Revolving Ash Light (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Clouds Cast (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Through (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Fault Forces (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Phil Zone (Lesh/Oswald)
  • Estrella Oscura (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)
  • Recedes (While We Can) (Oswald/Skjellyfetti)

The Dark Stars on Grayfolded are taken from Grateful Dead shows between 1968 and 1993. The musicians involved are therefore;

  • Tom Constanten
  • Jerry Garcia
  • Keith Godchaux
  • Mickey Hart
  • Bruce Hornsby
  • Bill Kreutzmann
  • Phil Lesh
  • Ron McKernan (Pigpen)
  • Brent Mydland
  • Bob Weir
  • Vince Welnick

  • Producer - John Oswald
  • Keeper of the Vault - Dick Latvala
  • Multitrack engineer - John Cutler

  • Diplomacy - Henry Kaiser
  • Particular thanks to - David Gans, Phil Lesh, Greg Goodman, Tom Constanten, Bob Bralove, Hal Kant, Holly Small, Gary Lambert, Dan Levy, Rob Bowman, Bob Wiseman
  • Mystery Lab. Staff - G. Ray Brain, Terri Firm, Phil Strong
  • Executive director for Swell - Jeff Rogers
  • Swell staff - Sandy Rogers, Bob Mitchell
  • Consultation - Blue Bluestein
  • Executive director for Artifact music - Henry Kucharzyk
  • Design implementation - Greg 'Potemkin' Van Alstyne
  • CD transfers - Clive Allen
  • CD notes - John Oswald

Taken from over 100 performances of Dark Star between 1968 and 1993. These are built, layered and 'folded' to produce one large, new re-composed Dark Star.

Oswald described it in the following way;

It's not a performably possible version of Dark Star. You can't have three generations of Jerry Garcias live on stage together - but there's this illusion of it being the Grateful Dead playing in concert.
And on another occasion;
I've made a very unorthodox Dark Star but I haven't tried to submerge the performances under a lot of technique. I've tried to let the performances still speak for themselves.
Transistive Axis is the first disc of what subsequently became the double CD set Grayfolded. This first part was initially sold as a single CD in a double CD case.

An order form was included in this release for the second part of Grayfolded, Mirror Ashes. This form included the following notes;

This is an advance order subscription for disc 2 of GrayFolded, including additional liner notes and dates for the source concerts for both discs.

Release date is scheduled for early '95. In the event that Disc 2 is completed early you will receive an advanced copy from the first pressing.

This order form also included a questionnaire asking;
  • What do you think of Transitive Axis?
  • Which sections or aspects of Dark Star or related jams which don't occur in Transitive Axis would you like to hear?
  • Which live versions of Dark Star would you like to find on Disc 2?
The two discs were subsequently released as a double CD set with the promised liner notes and source information.

The term plunderphonics derives from a paper presented by Oswald to the Wired Society Electro-Acoustic Conference in Toronto in 1985, entitled, "Plunderphonics, or audio piracy as a compositional prerogative.

In an interview in 1995 Oswald described how the project came about;

Phil Lesh called me up and talked me into doing it. At that point, I hadn't listened to any Grateful Dead music in about twenty years. I did think I was qualified, because I do think it's often a good idea to come into a project without a lot of prior knowledge and get kind of an alien's overview of what the music seems to be, and then put in your own two cents of what you think it should be. And I think that was the case for this. During the course of working on it, I went to a couple of Grateful Dead concerts, but other than that, I haven't listened to anything except these hundred versions of 'Dark Star' that I found in the vaults.
On another occasion Oswald said that he had been asked (by Daivid Gans) to produce something very short, he explained his response to this suggestion;
What interested me most about the Grateful Dead was their extended playing style. 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.
Related releases

Included in the double CD set Grayfolded in 1996, Swell Artifacts 1969-1996

Reissued as a double CD in 1999, Original Masters 142152

This disc was subsequently included as the first disc of the double CD set;

This double CD set also included the second disc of Grayfolded; Two edited sections from this disc were released as a promotional CD for radio;
  • Transitive Axis/La Estrella Oscura, John Oswald / Grateful Dead, 1996, Swell/Artifact S/A 1969R
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