Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jacques Diennet - Mante (hat ART, 1987)

Jacques Diennet is a French electronic music composer and is often considered France's pioneer of "live" digital music. He became acquainted with digital composition in the late 70's while visiting the US where he worked alongside Robert Ashley and Jon Appleton, the latter of whom introduced him to the Synclavier. Diennet can be heard playing a Synclavier II on the three compositions that make up Mante, with one composition exclusively for synthesizer. The other two pieces, "Mante" and "Facile Pour Cecile" are based around poems by French poet Christian Tarting, and feature readings of the poems over a backdrop of live instrumentation in a jazz-like format. Diennet currently serves as the Artistic Director of Ubris Studio, a company that supports the development of written and improvised electronic music performance. Thanks to Continuo for his scans, and for further reading, see his in-depth post on this album. Download it here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Richard Grayson & Tom Oberheim - Live Electronic Music (Orion, 1974)

Live Electronic Music showcases live performances of improvised classical music combined with electronic composition. Richard Grayson had been performing programs of this nature for five years prior to releasing this album. Tom Oberheim is credited simply as engineer, but both artists are responsible for the electronic aspects of the compositions. Oberheim is a famed audio engineer probably best known as the founder of Oberheim Electronics. Richard Grayson has led a studious and prestigious career as a musician, gaining respect for his "[devotion] to ...the long-lost art of classical improvisation." Though the influence is clear, not all the songs on this album are classically based. The first track starts with a toccatta theme, but the piano quickly gets lost in the processor's territory. The second to last song is an epic, thirteen minute piece styled after Terry Riley's "A Rainbow In Curved Air" and is performed exclusively on synthesizers. The other three songs bear the classical influence, with an hommage to J.S. Bach, another to Erik Satie, and lastly a piece that expresses techniques in modern composition. Enjoy.

Deuter - Silence Is The Answer (Kuckuck, 1981)

Georg Deuter, born in Germany in 1945, is widely acknowledged as a progenitor of New Age music. Deuter decided to dedicate himself to music and spiritual pursuits after a near-fatal car accident in the late 1960's. He traveled to Asia, eventually settling in India where he studied under Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Much of his music is self recorded to tape during his travels. His first album, D, was released in 1971 and is considered a krautrock classic. His subsequent releases feature motifs that have become mainstays of New Age music, i.e; long droning passages, acoustic and ethnic instrumentation, and use of nature sounds. 

Silence Is The Answer is a double LP. The first disc is comprised of droning, meditative pieces with thoughtful percussion and blissful instrumentation. It is probably intended for meditation accompaniment. The second disc, perhaps intended to represent stages in meditation, features short, heavily melodic and uptempo songs with almost prog-rock like synth lines and structures. Overall though, they maintain the sentiments of the first disc, but with more elation and less introspection. Though probably not Deuter's finest work, and almost formulaic by this time in his career, Silence Is The Answer did mark a chapter in a very interesting man's life and does instill a sense of tranquility.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Philip Perkins - Neighborhood With A Sky [Bird Variations] (Fun, 1982)

This is another fine example of musique concrète. Neighborhood With A Sky (Bird Variations), as the artist states, is comprised of "short, highly evocative audio pieces, similar in size and structure, that ...present an audioscape to the listener in much the same way as a neighborhood of buildings and streets presents itself to one walking through it." Unlike earlier musique concrète work, the intent of the album yields more accessible, almost conventional song structures. Continuo has a great review of this album and you can read it here. Philip Perkin's career in experimental music began in the late 1970's and he is still active today. He has also been involved in film and television sound production. Listen to Neighborhood With A Sky. For further reading about the artist, please visit his website here.