Divine Discs of the Electronic Continuum

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 13, 2012 02:28pm | Post a Comment

I am a searcher, never quite satisfied with music and sounds that already exist. There are many like myself out there. I am consistently persuing electronics-based records like these herein that testify to the pioneering spirit of those musicians, composers and scientists in search of the newest “musical “sounds available via technology of all levels of sophistication. Throughout history the primitive object or idea will lead the way to a monumentally sophisticated one, and visa-versa, as long as one is paying attention. Take thefuzzbox for example. That thing lead a revolution of little boxes that one plugs one’s instrument into to get big, wild (and conversely subtle) effects on said instrument ranging from fuzzy distortion to multiple octave voices to…God knows what now, huge racks of processing gear for a single riff.  At the same time in another part of the culture, guys and gals in long white lab coats were fiddling with room-sized computers to get a single tone that was not produced by a musical instrument, but alas, hallehlujah, a machine did it! And other folks were stringing audio tape across rooms and cutting inches of tape recordings to compose new recordings (Musique Concrete) to make other recordings to manipulate and, well, you get it.

The sense of experimentation and the ability to manifest those ideas has never left the true creative artist. There are sonic “searchers” among us that will never be satisfied with what already exists in the known sound worlds, and it is this motivation that fuels records like these. The daring ones, without concern of peer’s criticisms or naysayer’s pessimism, have forged ahead with whatever tools available to take these ideas and run with…no, FLY with them to the edges of reality.

Fortunately, labels like Creel Pone, EM, Wergo, DGG, edition RZ, Sub Rosa and many others have lovingly reissued some of these treasured  discs and simultaneously introduced new audiences to these sounds and accompanying legend. These LPs below are all original issues that Amoeba has miraculously acquired over the past 6 months and I present these as a sort of holy offering by clicking these titles and being taken to for purchasing. Truly, these are sacred documents.

Edward M. Zajda
Ars Nova Records AN1006, 1968

Big Moog pieces put together by a spectacled guy with a pocket protector, the late 60’s composer-in-residence at Chicago’s New Electric Theater. He looks like he can get the job done, and he does magnificently. Wondrous, progressive classical consciousness with a side look at progressive rock, these type of small-label recording are righteous in their pioneering (and financial risk-taking) spirit as monuments of this music. Great picture of the artist with his rig on the back. This is an original, SEALED copy!!

Francois-Bernard Mache
INA-GRM 9107, 1982


Mache builds big Music Concrete (“Acousmatic Music” to the GRM folks) stories with beautiful and mysterious sounds, some recognizable and some not, always delivering a narrative of fascination and suspense. Combining electronic and instrumental ensemble elements into his own futuristic audio vision, the pieces become little symphonies of wondrous soundsation. Original gatefold French pressing Includes a booklet in French.


Bengt Hambraeus
Fresque Sonor
Swedish Society SLT33181, 1968

Hambraeus was a Swedish composer and musicologist best known for organ compositions, but he’s been featured on multiple electronic discs.  This LP is a good example of Hambraeus’ style of taking real instrumental and voice sounds and overdubbing, multitracking and processing them ("Transfiguring") with echo and reverb into dense new sonic sculptures. Dramatic and rich sound pieces emerge. Very scarce original Swedish pressing in great condition!


Hilton Kean Jones
ESM Records ES72001, 1969

Mr Jones was an assistant professor of music at Eastman School of Music at the time of this release, and he put together an LP’s side of musique concrete version of the sounds and life around the campus. Haven’t we all dreamed of the sounds and and smells of our old educational establishments? Eastman had an electronic studio at that time, and Jones apparently made good use of it, sanctioned or not. Electronic sounds merge with sonically manipulated snippets of lectures in composition and harmony, along with nature sounds and student ambience to form a fascinating document of place and time. Robert Moog is credited as the manufacturer of the electronic gear herein. Side 2 has pop and classical pieces performed by various student ensembles, including a Gap Mangione cover by the Stage Band.


Luc Ferrari
Presque Rein No.1
Societe II
Deutsche Grammophon 2561 041, 1971

This is the first record I ever heard of natural sounds and field ambiences presented as a “musical” performance. Children playing outside juxtaposed with motorcycle engines, crickets and rushing water were revelatory in their presence as a “side” of music on this most respected  of classical record labels.  I was surprised and enchanted by the fact that Ferrari would ultimately end up with such a mysterious and dynamic result while being relatively uncomplicated (by today’s standards) in his success at framing these sounds as a “composition”. Of course, as I would learn later, many composers such as Cage and Schaeffer had long been doing this sort of thing as “art”, but my finding this gorgeous green LP from the legendary DG Avant Garde series in the Wherehouse Records’ cut-out bin for 99 cents added to the sense of pioneering discovery of a young nineteen-year-old usually passing the time listening to Hendrix and King Crimson. Nice, shiny original copy here!


Alvin Lucier
I Am Sitting In A Room
Lovely Music VR1013, 1981

Alvin repeats the words “I am sitting in a room…” followed by a paragraph of spoken text defining the project’s ultimate sonic characteristics. He replays recording of the text 30 times, each time re- recording the sound of the previous recording and its resultant tonal shapes and sonic qualities given off by the space itself, in this case  the composer’s living room. By the time the end of side 2 comes around, the speech has been transformed into wonderful electronic washes gently weaving around the listening area,  with distant memory of the phonetic patterns of Lucier’s voice. A shimmering, radiant success all- in! This is a very nice original copy that looks right out of the wrapper.


Joel Chadabe
CP2 Recordings 2, 1976

Violin and electronics pieces here written by Chadabe and performed by Chadabe and Paul Zukofsky, and marvelously at that! So much is happening here and most of the credit goes to Chadabe, a legend in the computer music/engineering/technology field. When guys like this do any sort of project, it’s serious. I’ve picked up everything I’ve ever seen by Joel, and I’ve never been disappointed. This VERY scare original  LP is one of the best, and this copy in fine condition I might add. Zukofsky’s dynamic violin is the responder and interacts, gets processed by and becomes the composer’s sophisticated electronic sounds produced and directed by Chadabe’s “information generating device” called “Daisy”, all of this being somewhat unpredictable and in-the-moment as it is played. An enthralling listen that stands up to many repeated plays!


Rosenboom & Buchla
Collaboration In Performance
1750 Arch Records S-1774, 1978

Pieces for piano and Buchla 300 Music Box are exciting and innovative at this point in time. Don Buchla designed and produced various machines of exotic synthesis, and this LP documents one of his own rare appearances as performer with his inventions, one side being himself and the Buchla 300,  and the other he and Rosenboom on piano, Rosenboom being a music professor at Cal Arts. Hyperdriven sequences bounce and jiggle around themselves with the synthesis establishing patterns and devouring them. Lots of sound here, and the piano adds to the substantial onslaught of ideas and fantasia. Very clean original issue.


Vladimir Ussachevsky/Otto Luening
Tape Music A Historic Concert
Desto Records DC 6466, 1970

Yes, “Tape Music”. It’s music recorded on tape, for tape, using the capability of the tape recorder as a tool to change the sounds and notes on the recording making a music not possible with traditional instrumental performance. Of course, nowadays this is all done on computers. Tape-manipulated piano and orchestral sounds form the basic elements of this music, with precise timing and multi layering of individual tapes. Echo is a prime feature of the overall sound, and it gives the music a spooky, enigmatic feeling. On some pieces it’s very hard to tell how the sounds were made as they are quite other-worldly. These gents gave a concert for tape recorder at MOMA in New York in 1952, and this is a recording of the pieces that were “played” that evening. An intriguing document of a fertile time in sound composition.


David Tudor
Lovely Music VR1601, 1984

The great Tudor, probably the king and paternal godfather of the home-made electronic gadget and master of sound manipulation and processing, having cut his teeth with JohnCage and Merce Cunningham. This LP features works attempting to generate electronic sound without the use of oscillators (synths), tone generators or natural sound materials. So the sounds are made using amplified performers with violin (Takehisa Kosugi), tapes, triggers and vocal sounds all run through Tudor’s own circuitry of a highly exotic nature, and mixed with Nicolas Collins’ super-duper mixer onto 8-track tape. A classic sound here, directly related to Tudor and mimicked by many.

And finally...KEEP SEARCHING!  It's worth it!






Relevant Tags

Classical Music (31), Electronic Music (62), Musique Concrete (6), Experimental Music (10), Electronica (46), Synthesizers (7), Weirdo (4), Avant Garde (24), Ambient (4)