Active in the cassette underground, Gen Ken Montgomery has been a creator, producer, presenter, and all-around advocate of sound art ever since. His work focuses mostly on the rediscovery or recontextualization of domestic sounds, sounds that surround us in our everyday life, from pets and snorers to radiators and electrical appliances. He is also known for sound installations where the audience is blindfolded, and for performances involving many pre-recorded cassettes or CDs being played back simultaneously through an array of loudspeakers. His discography consists mostly of very limited-edition albums and handmade sound objects. The label XI released a comprehensive and more widely accessible two-CD retrospective of his work in 2002 under the title Pondfloorsample.
Unlike most artists in his field, Montgomery doesn't come from art school circles (be they musical or visual). Untrained, he came to music from enthusiasm. He arrived in New York City in 1978 and soon got involved in the mail art and cassette underground scene, exchanging sound collage tapes with like-minded experimenters around the world. All the while he sang in a new wave duo with Michael Zodorzny, but his growing fascination with the works of John Cage and sound art gradually dragged him away from pop music. He self-released his first cassette in 1981, Gen Ken & Equipment. The "Gen" in his name came from a typo, as would the moniker "egnekn" which he started to use in 1994.
In 1989, Montgomery opened the first sound art gallery in New York City, Generator, where he exhibited mail art from his pen pals and attempted to stimulate local awareness to the cassette movement. The experience was short-lived, but gave birth to other projects such as the co-founding of the labels Pogus Productions (with Al Margolis) and Generator Sound Art Inc. (with Scott Konzelmann, aka Chop Shop). Meanwhile, his art began to attract some international attention, leading to the release of LPs on small German and Spanish labels in the late ‘80s, and more self-produced vinyl and CD artifacts in the ‘90s, including the 7" The Sound of Lamination (1994) which documents Montgomery's work with a laminator, a conceptual sound/installation/interactive project he presented throughout the decade. In 1995 he was even appointed Minister of Lamination by the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, Leif Elggren and Carl Michael von Hausswolff's utopian virtual nation-cum-conceptual art project.
With the rise of sound art in academic circles at the end of the ‘90s, Montgomery began to work more, curating exhibitions and enjoying artists residencies (including one in 1999 at the Spritzenhaus in Hamburg, Germany). The release of Pondfloorsample in 2002 constitutes an encouraging step in the slow recognition of his unique work. ~ François Couture, Rovi