Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mandalas - Mandalas (Self-released, 2013)

Hello friends. While you're awaiting my next post, I thought I would share with you another of my personal projects. Mandalas is an album my girlfriend and I recorded in 2009. All of our recordings were dangerously close to being lost on the same defunct laptop that held the tracks that would become my other album, Discoveries In A Brief Moment Of Clarity. Fortunately, I was able to salvage six tracks and put together this album. You can download it here or for free at our bandcamp page where you can stay tuned for more releases. We hope you like it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Stomu Yamash'ta: Henze/Takemitsu/Davies - Prison Song/Seasons/Turris Campanarum Sonantium (Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, 1972

Stomu Yamash'ta is a Japanese composer, percussionist and keyboardist. He is best known for his acrobatic and innovative playing techniques and for combining world music with pop and jazz in his fusion super group Go which featured notable musicians such as Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola and Klaus Schulze. Before all that though, Yamash'ta was known in classical circles as a percussion virtuoso. He had been the tympanist to the Kyoto and Osaka Philharmonic Orchestras at only fourteen years of age and made his concert debut in 1969 at only sixteen. Six years later, Yamash'ta attained worldwide recognition after receiving a standing ovation for his performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa in Hewell Tircuit's Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra. He is heard on this album performing Hans Werner Henze's Prison Song, Toru Takemitsu's Seasons, and Peter Maxwell Davies' Turris Campanarum Sonantium. Henze wrote Prison Song specifically for Yamash'ta. The piece incorporates prerecorded tape that represents sounds heard outside a prison cell. The player (Yamash'ta) represents the prisoner who is conjuring sounds from anything found inside his cell to match it to those heard beyond. Takemitsu wrote two different versions of Seasons, one for four performers and one for a solo performer. The instruments heard here were crafted by gifted instrument sculptors Francois and Bernard Baschet. All are made of metal save for the "trombone" which is made of glass. The solo performer responds to sounds on a tape prerecorded by Takemitsu himself which represents ones reaction to the subtle changes of the seasons in Japan. Taken from the inner notes:

          "Turris Campanarum Sonantium (Bell-Tower) was written for S. Yamash'ta in December 1970 and is played entirely on bells and metal surfaces. The performer enters the playing area very slowly, sounding a tiny Indian bell, or a set of jingles. Section I: He moves, again very slowly, along a "course" of eight large handbells placed in his path, sounding these in the traditional manner as he moves towards the playing position for Section II (Incipit Stedman Doubles). The player faces a set permutation of five numbers, each number representing a pitch, which should be sounded over a "drone". This is played on six cup-shaped Japanese temple gongs (kim), the largest of which is sounded throughout by rubbing around the rim with a leather-covered mallet. The gongs are placed on pedal tympani, which, when the pedals are worked varies the pitch level sounding. The tempo is lento, the dynamic, piano. Section III (Incipit Double Bob) for eight handbells, suspended, to be struck with two beaters. This touch starts at a low speed and dynamic; gradually a climax is reached by adding other metal surfaces (gongs, cymbals, etc.). The "drone" here, chosen by Yamash'ta, consists of a tape of Japanese Buddhist monks, chanting. Section IV uses the "set" tempo and dynamic of Section II, but now played on steel (Trinidad) drums and resonating cylinders. At the conclusion, the player leaves the playing area again sounding the small bell of jingles with which he entered."

This is one of my personal favorite percussion records. I hope you enjoy it.

Hans Werner Henze - Labyrinth (Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, 1975)

On this album, prodigious German composer Hans Werner Henze conducts The London Sinfonietta in four of his own compositions. He wrote music in many styles influenced by such things as Arabic music, jazz and, probably most readily noticeable, atonality and surrealism. He was also known for his political and social opinions. Due to a perceived lack of acceptance for his liberal political views and homosexuality, he left Germany for Italy in the early 1950's and became a member of the Communist Party of Italy. These pieces represent four different styles of composition that Henze employed throughout his career. Labyrinth is a ballet, Apollo et Hyazinthus was written for a vocal soloist, Wiegenlied der Mutter Gottes is a choral piece and L'usignolo Dell'imperatore is for chamber ensemble. This just barely scratches the surface of Henze's vast body of work. Download.

A much needed update.

So I've been really out of touch here. I hope everyone had a pleasant summer. My apologies to anyone counting the days since my last post. I have too many excuses for my absence and I will spare you all of them. I will say this though- I have a few exciting developments regarding records, more of which I will share at a later time. In the meantime, I will do my best to keep this blog updated.

Monday, June 3, 2013

François and Bernard Baschet ‎– Structures For Sound (Boîte à Musique, 1965)

François and Bernard Baschet, or the Baschet Brothers, are two instrument builders from France. Bernard (b. 1917) is an engineer and François (b. 1920) is a sculptor and together they have been collaborating on instrument inventions and sound sculptures since the early 1950s. This 10" record was a promotional disc released The Museum of Modern Art, NY in conjunction with an exhibition of the brothers' works. Four of the featured pieces were composed by Jacques Lasry and two by Daniel Ouzouzoff. The diagram and corresponding notes shown above are the instruments used on these recordings. My apologies for the occasional noise on this transfer. This was a thrift store find. I think it can still be enjoyed regardless. Download.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Barry Truax - Androgyne: Electroacoustic and Computer Music By Barry Truax (Melbourne, 1981)

Barry Truax is a Canadian composer and professor of electroacoustic music. He is probably best known for his pioneering work with granular synthesis in the mid '80s. His compositions utilize tape music, electronics, and computer synthesis. Truax describes the distinctions as follows:

         In tape music, one begins with live-recorded (or concrète) sounds, which are then manipulated and transformed; in electronic music, the sound sources are oscillators which produce audio signals by generating oscillating voltages; and in computer music, the sound material is synthesized by a numerical description of the desired sound waves, and organized through the composer's interaction with computer programs that manipulate the data structure, or "score", of the composed sound.

Androgyne features six works. "Love Songs" and "The Blind Man" were written for tape and mezzo-soprano and vocal recitation respectfully; "Arras", "Aerial" and "Androgyne" are performed on computer synthesizers; "Ascendance" was written for two-channel tape. This is a personal favorite of mine and comes highly recommended. Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

V/A - New Music for Electronic & Recorded Media (1750 Arch Records, 1977)

New Music for Electronic & Recorded Media is a showcase of works by female composers. It features pieces by Annea Lockwood, Ruth Anderson, Pauline Oliveros, Johanna M. Beyer, Laurie Spiegel, Megan Roberts, and most notably two early compositions by Laurie Anderson. Taken from the back cover-

          The music on this album exhibits an exciting, wide-open, free-wheeling approach to the medium of electronic music which has come to be typical of this genre in the late 1970`s. No longer are composers obsessively concerned with the agonizing, expressionistic, and purely "electronic" (synthesized) sound formulas which marked much of this music composed between the mid-Fifties and the late-Sixties. Instead, today we have composers willing to mix media and sonic materials in thoroughly inventive ways to achieve ends which are new-sounding, and often more engaging, than that of the "academic" avantgarde.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May '13 Update

If anyone is counting, you know my posts have been far and few as of late and for this I apologize. It's been a busy spring and that's all I can say in my defense. Hopefully, though, no one has lost interest because I have a few titles which I am really excited about that should be making their way to the blog shortly. Here's a taste:

- New Music for Electronic & Recorded Media (all female composers)
- Pataphonie's first album
- Compositeurs de musique électrouacoustique du Canada, e.g. Jean Piché, Barry Truax, etc.
- Stockhausen on Candide!
- Percussion!

Also, odd private pressings and probably some more Opus One titles. Please stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson - La Jolla Good Friday (CP² Recordings, 1981)

Icelandic composer Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson, whose principal instrument is the piano, studied music at the Reykjavik College of Music. In the '50s, he came to the US and continued his studies in composition and electronic music, most notably at the University of Illinois under Kenneth Gaburo and Lajaren Hiller. La Jolla Good Friday is an electronic piece composed while on a visit to the Center for Music Experiment at the University of San Diego. Taken from the back notes-

              "On Good Friday, everyone had left the Center for Easter vacation. I should be returning home in four days. Sitting there, all alone, admiring all the paraphernalia from the computer to the 4-channel tape recorder, all my grand plans about how I was going to use the day slowly disintegrated. They were replaced by something else: mysterious and beautiful harmonies filled my head. They came and they went. I was in tune with Kepler! A true and wondrous inspiration. However, I soon discovered its source. It was not of divine origin. Outside the studio doors, an old janitor was just using the opportunity, when nobody was around, to wax the floors with his machine. They were creating this din. What followed, can be heard on this record, with one modification-the four tracks are compressed into two..."

Download here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Annea Lockwood - The Glass World of Anna Lockwood (Tangent Records, 1970)

Annea Lockwood is a New Zealand born, American composer whose works often utilize unique sound sources such as glass or pianos grown over with moss. She has also recorded works inspired by the Fluxus movement in which pianos are played while being submersed in water or set aflame. Glass World, for which Lockwood is probably best known, is a showcase of experimental sonorities created by glass in various forms. Download it here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Michael Galasso - Scenes (ECM, 1983)

The late violin virtuoso Michael Galasso, born 1949 Louisiana, began studying music at the age of three and gave his first solo performance by the age of eleven. He began his career as a composer in the early '70s writing scores for some of Robert Wilson's plays.  Scenes was Galasso's first album of studio recordings, released on the ECM label. It is comprised of nine pieces for violin, on which Galasso is the sole performer by utilizing studio multitracking. The musical vignettes are simple yet evocative and while occasional bearing the influence of Baroque composers, (i.e. Vivaldi, Albioni, Bach) they are devoid of pomp and ostentation. Get it here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dariush Dolat-Shahi - Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar (Folkways, 1985)

Dariush Dolat-Shahi began studying Persian folk music at the age of ten at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. After graduating with a degree in music from Tehran University, he was offered a fellowship at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht and the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. In the late '70s - early '80s, Dolat-Shahi came to the United States to attend Columbia University. It was there that he studied with electronic music pioneers Mario Davidovsky, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Bülent Arel and recorded Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. It's a unique album that seamlessly blends two seemingly disparate musical influences to wonderful effect. Highly recommended - download.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Margaret Leng Tan plays Somei Satoh - Litania (New Albion Records, 1986)

Somei Satoh, born 1947 in Sendai, Japan, began his career in 1969 as a member of an experimental, mixed media group called Tone Field. In the early '70s, he established a multimedia arts festival known as Global Vision. He has written over thirty compositions including works for traditional Japanese instruments, solo instruments, orchestra, chamber ensembles, electronic instruments  and theater ensembles. Taken from the back cover-

         Somei Satoh is a composer of the post-war generation whose hauntingly evocative musical language is a curious fusion of Japanese timbral sensibilities with nineteenth century romanticism and electronic technology. He has been deeply influenced by Shintoism, the writings of the Zen Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki, his Japanese cultural heritage as well as the multi-media art forms of the sixties. Satoh's elegant and passionate style convincingly integrates these diverse elements into an inimitably individual approach to contemporary Japanese music.

Margaret Leng Tan, born 1945 in Singapore, is a classical musician best known as a concert toy pianist. She also performs classical pieces with other unconventional instruments including toy drums, tin cans and soy sauce dishes. She met John Cage in 1981 and worked along side him during the last eleven years of his life. On Litania, she plays piano, and on two of the pieces, it is processed through tape delay. Also performing on the album is the late composer Michael Pugliese, vocalist Lise Messier, and violinist Frank Almond. Download Litania here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Update for 2013

I have to apologize for my slow output over the past couple months. My vinyl transferring set up has had to undergo a few changes and it may be a while yet before it's back in order. I'm in the process of refurbishing a Philips GA 212; see photo. It's a fine turntable with a very clean sound and I anticipate an increase in the sound quality of my transfers.
In the meantime, I have been working on my Tumblr page. It is a composite of my interests both aural and visual. I have been posting links to download some of my favorite albums without association to any particular genre. If interested, please visit- Giallo Magic Orchestra. I have also been diligently working on my own music. Until this point, I have been hesitant to promote my own music through this blog, but with the recent lack of posts, I figure I should provide something new to keep viewers interested.

I recorded Discoveries In A Brief Moment of Clarity between 2008 and 2010. At that time, I was just beginning to become acquainted with avantgarde music. Listeners will likely draw parallels with contemporary ambient/electronic musicians rather than with the artists highlighted on this blog. It is still, however, electronic and largely experimental. Many of the tracks began with live guitar, piano or sampler improvisations which were later heavily processed on my computer. On the song "Still", I used only an electric guitar recorded acoustically. Similarly, "Oceans" is for processed trumpet and electric guitar. You can download this album here and visit my bandcamp here, where I will be posting new albums in the future.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Giancinto Scelsi/Iannis Xenakis/Philip Glass - Anahit/Mikka/Strung Out (CP² Recordings, 1976)

This album, the sixth release by CP² Recordings, features pieces by Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis and an early composition by Philip Glass. Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi is probably best known for his compositions based around a single pitch. Anahit, however, was composed for violin and small orchestra. Xenakis' Mikka and Mikka "S" explore string glissandos, and are his only two compositions for solo violin. Glass' Strung Out is for solo amplified violin. He composed the piece in 1967 at a time of transition towards a more minimal style. Download here.