Reviews and Interviews

Michael Anton Parker, DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY (online)
August 2006
Review of "Mother of Balloon Music" CD on Innova Records (excerpt)

"Like Radulescu's String Quartet no. 4, some of the material on here is both musically revolutionary and viscerally devastating in its spectral intensity. This is microtonality as crafty violence. In the second movement of the 21-minute opus "For Balloon and String Quartet", the bowed strings and rubbed balloon become indistinguishable swirls in a relentless swarm of dizzying circular pitch motion. Dunaway's two duo improvisations with Tom Chiu also use the primary balloon music technique of rubbing (or otherwise agitating) the surface (a technique insightfully labelled by Dunaway as an "orb-shaped string"), which allows for a flexibility of sound production far exceeding any other known instrument, but the big surprise here is the flexibility of the violin because Chiu somehow manages to make it sound like a balloon! The high-pitched acrobatics and sound mergers they achieve is breathtaking and will surely change many people's lives." Click here for complete review.

Meredith Yayanos, COILHOUSE MAGAZINE (online)
October 2007
Review of "Mother of Balloon Music" CD on Innova Records (excerpt)

"Dunaway is utterly fearless in her approach to her craft, and unflinching in the face of inevitable backlash from both her classical and avant-garde contemporaries... Her Etudes No. 1 and 2 for Balloon and Violin (2004) [with Tom Chiu] are particular favorites of mine, perhaps because they are what my own stuffy classical violin instructor would undoubtedly have dismissed as good musicians behaving unforgivably." Click here for complete review.

January-March 2001
Review of presentation of "Duet for Jumbo Balloons" and "Flying F*ck" as part of the "Lobreden auf Eros (In Praise of Eros)" exhibit at Moltkerei Werkstatt in Koeln, Germany (excerpt)

Translation from German: "In "Duet for Jumbo Balloons," the American performance artist Judy Dunaway demonstrated two giant balloons as a sound-fetish, by sliding Walkmen or vibrating dildos gently along the thick outer skin of the giant balloons. The piece was reminiscent of Matthew Barney's choreography. In a second work (the sound installation "Flying Fuck"), the artist worked with smaller, transparent balloons along with dildos (vibrators), which -- if turned on -- filled the area with a soft roar."

September 1998
Review of "Balloon Music" CD on CRI (excerpt)

"Dunaway doesn't leave any room for doubt -- the balloon is a musical instrument, and a wonderfully hybrid one at that...Balloon Music is convincing evidence... As a whole this is a thoroughly gratifying compilation of music that can be drawn from this unusual instrument... With her balloons she outgrunges many a rock band. She achieves an admirable accuracy in her timing and in hitting her pitches, but she also shapes these elements into passionate solos."

Kenneth Goldsmith, NEW YORK PRESS
October 7-13, 1998
Review of "Balloon Music" CD on CRI (excerpt)

"If someone didn't tell you the primary instrument was a balloon, you'd never know; she gets a phenomenal range of sounds out of them, most of which sound more electric than acoustic...She makes her instrument sound like a cross between Hendrix's feedback-drenched guitar, the moans of Albert Ayler's sax and the high wail of a Jewish's hard to believe it's all done with balloons. It's Cab Calloway in Munchkinland. It's Olivier Messiaen on helium." Click here for complete review.

David Keenan, THE WIRE
November 1998
Review in Brief of "Balloon Music" CD on CRI (excerpt)

"At times it sounds like Charles Gayle blowing over houses or Ornette Coleman on amphetamines fiddling at the Town Hall."

August 8, 1995
Review of July 13, 1995 performance at Hear Theater (excerpt)

"Judy Dunaway performs with balloons. She's not naked when she does it, and it isn't in Times Square, either; I heard her at sweltering, 80-degree-plus Here Theater in Soho on July 13. She's good. She stretches the, uh, mouthpiece, I guess, of an inflated balloon to let it squeal, and shapes her mouth as a resonator, somewhat the way Inuit throat singers play off of each other's vocal cavities. The result is a primitive but highly nuanced wail, distant and lonely. Other times, holding a contact-miked balloon between her thighs, she rubs her fingers on each side in patterns that simulate complex, glissandoing counterpoint. Close your eyes, as I did for awhile, and the amplified, reverbed results sound remarkably like French musique concrete from the '60s. In a scene where success often hinges on finding your niche, she's discovered one out a long drive from the main highway."

Kyle Gann,
"My Favorite Women Composers of All Time"

"Judy Dunaway - improviser and singer/songwriter best known for her spine-tingling work with amplified balloons" Click here for complete page.


Knut Remond, ohrenhoch sound gallery (Berlin) - exhibit booklet
November 2013


Avant-Garde Music for Toys, 'Playing' in New York, April 1, 2009

Archived version of Adam Phillips' interview is available on his website: