Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review :: Paleoacoustics :: Electronic Music Winners

Electronic Music Winners
Columbia/Odyssey, 1976

It's rare that I sift through the Electronic/New Age section of a record store (how are they clumped together anyway?), but this recent find at Red Onion Records & Books made a case to change my habits. Here's the premise: four distinguished judges must select the best electronic compositions from a pool of 129 unlabeled tapes representing composers from 15 countries. The results, seven in total, are contained in no particular order on this LP.

What this collection so beautifully exhibits is the common thread from classical composition to literally "computer music," while simultaneously setting itself apart from any recognizable form. Each of the seven pieces here demonstrate masters of composition grappling with music as technology. Like an equestrian attempting to ride an octopus, these men and women have little to guide them but the rules of nature. For instance, Joel Gressel's
Points in Time utilizes the ratio-relationships within the 12 semitones of an octave and applies them to rhythm, resulting in a constant accelerating and decelerating rubber band of tones. Paul Lansky's Mild Und Leise is a stunning lesson in timbral change, like watching piranhas trapped under a thick sheet of ice. Slippery and distant, until the ice gives way.

Mild Und Leise - Paul Lansky

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