Tuesday, 27 November 2007

[Switched-on special] Eberhard Schoener: Destruction of Harmony (1971)

I recently hoarded a truckload of "switched-on"/"novelty Moog" LPs and will post them from time to time in a special edition. Encoding quality is often medium to low due to different sources (this one is only 128...please feel free to post better versions if you have).

I begin with one my favourites: Eberhard Schoener's much-talked-about-but-rarely-heard, hence legendary 1971 LP Destruction of Harmony. Three years after Wendy Carlos' Switched-on Bach record which started quite a fashion there were already quite a few classical Moog albums on the market, for instance Hans Wurman's Chopin à la Moog & The Moog Strikes Bach (both will be posted here later). Being aware that recording a Moog album with classical stuff wasn't too adventurous anymore in 1971, Eberhard Schoener decided to play a little bit around with the original compositions.... the outcome is actually more pleasant than the eye-catching title suggests....

01 - Overture
02 - Rondeau
03 - Sarabande
04 - Bourree
05 - Polonaise
06 - Menuet
07 - Badinerie
08 - Allegro 1
09 - Largo
10 - Allegro 2

Given the fact that Schoener later recorded with Sting his Wikipedia entry is surprisingly short:

Eberhard Schoener (born May 13, 1938, Stuttgart) is a German composer and conductor.

He crosses borderlines, leaves his past behind just to find his way back to it. He gets down to music without any pre-judgment, surrendering to any foreign or strange influences to create unerring bridges to follow his very personal direction. Eberhard Schoener's work is difficult to describe as there are too many completely diverse compositions and an array of projects and events. Such versatility is reflected in his Biography.

"My message is the music. The goal of my life is to create an original form of contemporary music in which the opera, jazz, ethnical and electronic music melt together. I believe in emotionality."

Sharebee (encoding @ 128; didn't have a better copy)
Pass = orpheusmachine

Sunday, 25 November 2007

REQUESTS FOR: The Serge Synthesizer, Volume Three

Added 2 December 2007:

A kind reader who preferrs to remain anonymous has sent me the Serge Synthesizer Tape, thanks very much to him. It's the version from http://www.mnmlnoise.com/Serge_Musicians_Tape.html saved before the links were taken down some time ago, and the quality is excellent. It will be posted here soon.

Synthesizer Demonstration Record: The Serge Synthesizer, Volume One

This is another handmade Orpheus Records compilation featuring an important protagonist of electronic music: The Serge (Modular) Synthesizer. At least visually this is certainly one of the most attractive synthesizers ever made. But how does it sound like?

Since the SERGE was never as popular as, for instance, the Moog or Buchla synthesizers, one does usually not know specific compositions using it excusively. So I've asked our Orpheus Records Research Department to some research again. They came up with a list of tracks featuring the SERGE Synthesizer (and nothing else) - enough material to fill just about a dozen records. For our first hommage to the mighty Serge Modular System I have chosen some spacy tracks which are quite representative for its ethereal sound. Volume 2 will present experimental Serge compositions by Warren Burt, Thomas Hamilton and Keith Fullerton Whitman. Volume 3 (in the planning phase) will feature extremely rare recordings (with your help).

This is what you'll get today (for the records: I have added short fade in's/out's to tracks 3, 4, 6 and 8):

01 - In the Beginning... [by Michael Stearns, 1980] - from "Planetary Unfolding"
02 - Intergalactic Space [by Kevin Braheny, 1988] - from "Galaxies"
03 - Timelapse [by Telomere, aka Chris MacDonald, 1998] - from "Astral Currents"
04 - Departure [by Telomere, aka Chris MacDonald, 1998] - from "Astral Currrents"
05 - Seven [by Michael Stearns, 1998] from "Within"
06 - Ancient Uplift [by Telomere, aka ChrisMacDonald, 2001] - from "Zoetosis"
07 - Morning [by Michael Stearns, 1979] - from "Morning Jewel"
08 - Visitation [by Telomere, aka Chris MacDonald, 1998] - from Astral Currents"

It's in YOUR hands to help releasing the third volume. Please read the notes in the following post and help with some of my requests, if you can. Thanks very much in advance.

Sharbee (Part 1)
Sharbee (Part 2)
Pass = orpheusmachine

Friday, 23 November 2007

Various Artists: Music from Mathematics (1962)

This comes in addition to our series of Early Computer Music last month:
A great (out of print; vinyl-only) compilation of tracks played on the IBM 7090 Computer, released in 1962 (sic!). Get ready for some ancient switched-on folk songs (Frère Jacques) & great HAL 9000 type smashits (Bicyle Built for Two).

01 - Anonymous: Frère Jacques
02 - Orlando Gibbons: Fantasia
03 - Max Mathews: Bicycle Built For Two
04 - John Robinson Pierce: Molto Amoroso
05 - John Robinson Pierce: Variations In Timbre And Attack
06 - John Robinson Pierce: Stochatta
07 - John Robinson Pierce: Five Against Seven (Random Canon)
08 - John Robinson Pierce: Beat Canon
09 - John Robinson Pierce: Melodie
10 - Max Mathews: Numerology
11 - Max Mathews: The Second Law
12 - Max Mathews: May Carol
13 - S.D. Speeth: Theme And Variations
14 - David Lewin: Study No.1
15 - David Lewin: Study No.2
16 - Newman Guttman: Pitch Variations
17 - James Tenney: Noise Study
18 - Max Mathews: Joy To The World

This is what our History Department came up with:
The IBM 7090, announced in 1958, was a transistorized version of the vacuum-tube-logic 709 and the first commercial computer with transistor logic (the first such computing device, according to [53], was the IBM 608, but that was not a general-purpose stored-program computer). The 7090, like the 700 series it superseded, was intended mainly for scientific computing, but it was also suitable for business and administrative use.

These folks are composing a 2 sek ritardando:

Pass (I'm not sure if I set any, just in case) = orpheusmachine

Thursday, 22 November 2007

TONTO's Expanding Head Band: A Synthesizer the Size of Nebraska

The alternate cover taken from an old Synapse cover (refused by our internal graphics department; they said the quality was too lousy...).

I really LOVE TONTO's Expanding Head Band. Really. But I'm just happy that they produced just two original records (plus two compilations; that's one compilation for each of their regular LPs...). Otherwise my plan to come up with a complete anthology of their officially released output would have driven me mad (I might have looked like Malcolm Cecil on our alternate cover artwork).

Their discography is so funny:
  • The first lp, Zero Time from 1971 was re-released twice on different compilations (Tonto Rides Again from 1996, and Featuring Malcolm Cecil from 2006, which is also known as the "Collector's Album"), using original titles and durations. So far so good. No problems here.
  • Then came the second album, It's About Time (1974). A great album indeed. Also re-released twice on said compilations. BUT without the first track ("Beautiful You"). AND, sadly, using different names and a new order of tracks. PLUS, three of the seven re-released original tracks were used in abridged versions (missing between 20-90 secs) (it should also be mentioned that the second compilation came up with a bonus track).

[At this point I'll skip debating about TONTO's proper spelling...is it TONTO's like on their official website, T.O.N.T.O's....or Tonto's...]

It took a while to collect, compare and compile all available tracks and to come up with this, hopefully, (almost) complete anthology of Tonto's officially published music. Plus a few gimmicks like two short youtube clips, an interview, some cool pictures, & two bonus tracks with Stevie Wonder (sic!). But given Tonto's chaotic discography I'm quite sure that I've unintentionally added yet another strange mishap (typos, omissions) to make things even more confusing. Let me know.

So, this is was you'll get:
From "Zero Time", 1971 (using remastered versions from "Featuring Malcolm Cecil"):
1.01 - Cybernaut (remastered)
1.02 - Jetsex (remastered)
1.03 - Timewhys (remastered)
1.04 - Aurora (remastered)
1.05 - Riversong (remastered)
1.06 - Tama (remastered)

From "It's About Time", 1974 (partly using remastered versions from "Featuring Malcolm Cecil"):
1.07 - Beautiful You
1.08 - Tonto's Travels [=Tontomotion] (complete)
2.01 - Tontomotion [=Tonto's Travels] (remastered, abridged)
2.02 - Tranquilium [=Nil Desperandum] (remastered)
2.03 - Ferryboat [=The Boatman] (remastered)
2.04 - Building the Pyramid [=Pyramodal] (complete)
2.05 - Pyramodal [=Building the Pyramid] (remastered, abridged)
2.06 - Journey to the West [=Cameltrain] (complete)
2.07 - Cameltrain [=Journey to the West] (remastered, abridged)
2.08 - Judgementor [=Forty-Nine Judges] (remastered)
2.09 - Freeflight [=Bird Flies Free] (remastered)

Bons track from "Featuring Malcolm Cecil", previously unreleased:
2.10 - Bittersweet (remastered)

Bonus tracks produced by Tonto's Expanding Head Band:
2.11 - Living for the City [by Stevie Wonder]
2.12 - Superstition [by Stevie Wonder]

Ah, and I should maybe add visiual evidence for why I titled this compilation ...the Size of Nebraska. Judge yourself (I think this this is just half of the actual beast):

Added 6 December 2007
I received an email from "TONTO" notiyfing me that their collector's album is still in print and available at Amazon. I am sorry for my mistake and have therefore deleted the links to "A Synthesizer the Size of Nebraksa". As my mission statement is to preserve commercially neglected electronic music classics it was clearly not my intention to publish music which is still available.

Six copies of Tonto's Collector's album (cover says "Featuring Malcolm Cecil") are available from these sources:

Another nine copies can be found at Amazon.uk (ranging from 10 to 100 Pounds):

I do highly recommend to buy these CDs as TONTO's music is simply great. TONTO's "It's about time" remains still out of print, so those looking for the complete Tonto oeuvre should look out for this LP at Ebay or other dealers.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

György Ligeti: Complete Electronic Works (1957/58)

Although György Ligeti has composed less than 14 minutes of electronic music it is impossible to find his electronic oeuvre on a single release. Until now. This generic, self-made Orpheus Records compilation brings you both electronic miniatures that Ligeti composed during his stay at the Electronic Music Studio of the West German Radio (WDR) in 1957/58 - on invitation by Karlheinz Stockhausen. His third electronic piece, the mythical Pièce électronique no. 3 was composed/sketched in 1958 but could not been realized at that time - remember that the age of affordable and actually useful computers was still to come. Pièce électronique no. 3 was finally realized by the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands in 1996. And voilà, here we have György Ligeti's complete anthology of electronic works. It's so easy. Just three tracks, 14 minutes. I felt that this was a bit short, so I added the quasi-electronic pieces Volumina for organ and Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes (sic!) from following years (1961/62) which transfer the quest for unconventional timbres and rhythms to non-electronic instruments. Please also find attached a high-resolution version of the graphic score of Artikulationen, one of Ligeti's electronic pieces. Try to read it while listening to the piece, it is useful.


Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Alchemists of Sound (2003) [Documentary film]

Fifth and last edition of our small Electronic Music Cinemathèque:
The rather popular & high quality BBC documentary Alchemists of Sound from 2003 (again) about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Why aren't there any movies about communities like the GRM, the WDR's Studio für Elektronische Musik, RAI Milan, MEV etc. out there?

List of composers/musicians featured in Alchemists of Sound:
  • Mark Ayres
  • Milton Babbitt
  • John Baker
  • Desmond Briscoe
  • David Cain
  • Wendy Carlos
  • Malcolm Clarke
  • Delia Derbyshire
  • Maddalena Fagandini
  • Brian Hodgson
  • Peter Kember
  • Paddy Kingsland
  • Roger Limb
  • Dick Mills
  • Robert Popper
  • Peter Serafinowicz
  • Adrian Utley
Download it here (1) (2) or preview it right now:

Monday, 12 November 2007

The Electric Music Machine. Five Days at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop [Video, 1987-88]

Electronic Music Cinema, movie no. 4: an interesting documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (much better than the previous Music Arcade programme), although from their later period (late 80ies, so not too much vintage analog gear around). Another Youtube finding.

Download it here or preview it now:

Sunday, 11 November 2007

The Music Arcade - BBC Radiophonic Workshop Special [Educational film]

Prologue: Had I known pHinnWeb's amazing post on electronic music film earlier I could have saved myself a lot of research. Make sure to have a look at this post as it mentiones a few other essential movies, eg on Bruce Haack or the Finnish inventor/composer Erkki Kurenniemi (no online footage though).

Today our Electronic Music Cinema screens yet another silly Youtube finding: a special feature about the glorious BBC Radiophonic Workshop from the British children's programme The Music Arcade from the early 1980s (presumably). The first two parts were included for the completists, they are really silly (at least the second), so you can safely skip them. But do make sure to get Peter Howell's Fairlight demonstration with a bunch of vocal twists.

Excursus: My favourite Fairlight demonstration for kids is still Herbie Hancock's appearance at the Sesame Street, where Herbie gives the kids quite a horrorshow by manipulating their voices into Freddy Krueger-style sounds from outer space. This is a much funnier show than Peter Howell's one because he includes the children and makes sure they're having a good time, instead of just showing off some preconceived features. Download it here or watch it right now:

Back to the Music Arcade. Download the complete series here (requires an flv player). Or see a sample here (Peter Howell's Fairlight vs. a bunch of littleones):

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Electronic Music Cartoons (1977)

OK, are you up for some more educational stuff? Visual Art Week @ Orpheus Records.

Note: Just click the images for larger versions.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Nick Rossi: Pathways to Music (1971) [Documentary film]

I'm not sure if this one is a hoax. But even if it is, it's a useful one.
"Nick Rossi's" "Pathways to Music" from "1971"
is basically just a slideshow of rare pictures of very early electronic instruments (1900-1950) with narration. There are plenty of trashy slideshow "videos" on Youtube, but this one was credited to a "Nick Rossi" from "1971" - and it wasn't posted on Youtube. Anyway, the narration is quite professional, and the overall approach is more or less serious, which makes this one a useful, yet not too exciting watch (especially given the lack of alternative footage on this early era).


Thursday, 8 November 2007

Bernard Wilets: Discovering Electronic Music (1983) [Documentary film]

Welcome to our Electronic Music Cinema Week:

Watching gigantic, flickering, wired modular synths in action (best: in black and white) can be as much fun as actually listening to vintage electronic music. It's all part of this mysterious, sci-fi-like aura that we all like so much (did I mention that I feel in love with electronic music after seeing the TONTO synth beast for the first time...).
Although there's isn't much footage around, a few really useful documentaries can now be found on Youtube (from where I took the movies shown here, but prepared for offline consumption). You'll need an flv player (just google it) to watch it offline.

We're starting with Bernard Wilet's Discovering Electronic Music documentary in three parts from 1983 ; it's really fun to watch it, so make sure to get it.
original Youtube post aptly says:
"This is an educational film from 1983 describing a little bit of the history and tools of electronic music. The best thing about it is that it is behind the times for 1983, and seems more like a 1970s film. Frequently featured is a Moog modular! Also featured is a Fairlight, but as an analog obsessive, I'm less interested in that. You'll love this film if you love analog synthesizers, electronic music (historic, not electronica), or music geeks. : ) Lots of cool oscilloscope shots, primitive sequencers, etc. ".

Many thanks to the original taper & uploader!! We need more of that stuff.

Download it here (flv player required).

Here's a sample: