Tuesday 12 February 2008

Switching-off: A note to our readers

This blog has attracted the attention of an "unwanted party" and, as a consequence (to save me from any potential trouble), will be closed and deleted in the next couple of days.

Since April, this blog has developed a substantial and committed readership; many heartfeld thanks to all for supporting us (through uploads, comments, critique etc.), and sorry that it has to close prematurely.

We may return (in the unforseen future) at noseyear. blogspot.com

Once again, thank you for your support.

The Orpheus Records Team

Thursday 17 January 2008

The Sounds and Music of the RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer [external link]

"The Sounds and Music of the RCA Electronic Synthesizer" (RCA Victor, unknown date)
posted at The Reverse Time Page

A while ago our reader Dave pointed us to an exciting link containing a copy of this rare RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer demonstration record, issues in the 50s or 60s on RCA Victor. RCA? Yes, the giant vacuum tube beast even bigger than the TONTO featured here previously (size matters...). Many many thanks Dave!! (also to seasob for offering this record to me recently!!)

Mark from The Reverse Time Page, your trusted source for "early radios, vacuum tubes, electric clocks, and unusual technological debris of the past" (www.uv201.com) posted all eight sides of this obscure record. Many many thanks Mark!
  • Side 1: The Synthesis of Music-The Physical Characteristics of Musical Sounds (7:13, 3.3 mb)
  • Side 2: The Synthesis of Music-Synthesis by Parts (Part 1) (5:55, 2.7 mb)
  • Side 3: The Synthesis of Music-Synthesis by Parts (Part 2) (4:37, 2.1 mb)
  • Side 4: Excerpts from Musical Selections (Part 1) (6:05, 2.8 mb)
  • Side 5: Excerpts from Musical Selections (Part 2) (3:28, 1.6 mb)
  • Side 6: Complete Selections-Bach Fugue No. 2, Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 1 (4:47, 2.2 mb)
  • Side 7: Complete Selections-Oh Holy Night (Adam), Home Sweet Home (Bishop) (6:42, 3.1 mb)
  • Side 8: Complete Selections-Stephen Foster Medley, Nola (Arndt), Blue Skies (Berlin) (7:49, 3.6 mb)
Please go to Mark's site to access the music:

You can find more music realised on the RCA synthi here:
Charles Wuorinen: Time's Econium (available as audio stream; CD released on Tzadik)
Also look for early records by Vladimir Ussachevsky, Milton Babbitt, Otto Luening and other members of the Columbia-Prineton Electronic Music Center where the RCA was the main synthesizer for some time.

Here's some substantial information on this mechanical beast:

A million thanks both to Mark for preserving this & to Dave for pointing me to this remarkable resource.

Wednesday 26 December 2007

[Switched-on special] Various Artists - Metamorphoses. Electronic Interpretations of Classic and Modern Musical Works (Melodya, 1980)


The basic formula of today's post:
Take a regular switched-on xxxx record like Wendy Carlos' Switched-on Bach, play it on an EMS Synthi 100, and you'll get this lost diamond of Russian electronic music, and possibly one of the rarest "switched on" records ever made.

Since the Synthi 100 is perhaps the most versatile synthesizer ever build (at least that's what Karlheinz Stockhausen once said) and given the lack of recordings with it (I remember Stockhausen's Sirius, some early Rolf Gehlhaar stuff and Bruno Spoerri's Toy Planet) this record might also appeal to the vintage gear fetishists.

01 - Edward Artemiev & Yuriy Bogdanov: Claude Debussy's 'Le vent dans la plaine'
02 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Claudio Monteverdi's 'Io mi son giovinetta'
03 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: John Bull's 'Why aske you'
04 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Vladymir Martynov's 'Spring Etude'
05 - Edward Artemiev & Yuriy Bogdanov: Sergey Prokofiev's 'Sarcasms'
06 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Claude Debussy's 'Canope'
07 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Anonymous' 'Summer Cannon'
08 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Vladymir Martynov's 'Morning in the Mountains'
09 - Vladymir Martynov & Yuriy Bogdanov: Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Goldberg Variations Nos. 5 and 8'
10 - Edward Artemiev & Yuriy Bogdanov: Claude Debussy's 'Voiles'
11 - Edward Artemiev & Yuriy Bogdanov: Motion

Vinyl @ highest VBR
No pass

Note: File names are quite long, so it might be necessary to unpack this archive into a low level folder like C:\

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Pierre Henry: Les petits métiers (1995)

In the 1980s/1990s Pierre Henry (who turned 80 a few days ago) produced a string of simply beautiful lyrical works for the West German Radio's Studio Akustische Kunst (Studio Acoustic Art), then headed by radiophonic pioneer Klaus Schöning. To me these works are among the very best Pierre Henry has ever produced. Most of them are still unavailable on disc (except for La ville, Antagonisme, Une tour de Babel).
  • La Ville (1982)
  • Journal de mes sons (1982)
  • Crystal mémoire I (1988, with Heinz Bennent & Hanna Schygulla)
  • Crystal mémoire II (1988, with Hanna Schygulla & Elise Caron)
  • Une maison de sons (1990)
  • Les petits métiers (1995)
  • Phrases de Quatuor/Schubertnotizen (1996)
  • Antagonismen (1996)
  • Une histoire naturelle (1997)
  • Une tour de Babel (1999)
Today we present you Les petits métiers from 1995, an anthology of Henry's film works. Henry took 15 of his compositions for film and re-arranged them to a unique sound suite with many unusual particles (e.g. Martin Luther King's voice) for you to enjoy. Please note that this recording was taped from FM radio (stereo/320) and will not necessarily please the audiophiles. But I think the sound quality is still good enough to honor the quality and rarity of Henry's composition.

Sharebee (Part 1)
Sharebee (Part 2)
FM radio (stereo) @ 320
Pass = orpheusmachine (as usual)

Thursday 13 December 2007

Various Artists: Serge Musician's Tape (1983)

What would Orpheus be without Eurydice? The law of large numbers has once again made it possible to unearth a remarkable finding of obscure, totally unavailable electronic music. What I'm trying to say in my broken English is that three kind readers responded to my request of the Serge Musician's Tape and submitted copies of the original post by m/n/m/l.
Heartfelt thanks to all of you for your great contributions. This post is dedicated to you (including the original poster m/n/m/l):
  • Anonymous from The Netherlands - he was the first - many thanks!
  • Emoc from France - please visit his amazing site with many electronic goodies - thanks!
  • Segerfalk from Sweden - please visit his upcoming site with vintage analog gear - thanks!

The Serge Musician's Tape is a promo tape from 1983 containing very rare pieces composed on the mighty SERGE MODULAR SYNTHESIZER. It was posted around 2005 by m/n/m/l but became unavailable later. Here's the tracklist (the majority of pieces remain out of print); once again: this was originally preserved from cassette by the musician m/n/m/l (make sure to check out their website for other releases made on the Serge Modular). Many thanks for their outstanding work. The cover is mine.

00 - Reference Tape Noise
01 - Warren Burt (1982): You want maybe something a little intense diatonic
02 - Broadscore (=Jill Fraser & Elizabeth Myers): Esso(tm) Commercial
03 - Michael Elliot: #5
04 - Scot Gresham-Lancaster: Suburban Dream Music
05 - Brad Stilley: Official Entry
06 - Roger Powell (1983): Auroramor [excerpt]
07 - Earl Howard: Untitled [excerpt]
08 - Rick Blanchard (1982): Big Mama
09 - Todd Barton (1982): Killer Didgeridoo
10 - Planetary Peace: He is Come
11 - David Vosh & Jack Deckard: Sequence '82
12 - Ivan Tcherepnin: Santur Opera
13 - Kevin Braheny: Papoon for President
14 - Michael Stearns: Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore
15 - Eric Drew Feldman: Butch the Dog
16 - Tom Dill: Untitled
17 - Brad Slocum: Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 5
18 - Darrel Johansen: Moto Perpetuo
19 - Alvin Curran: The Works
20 - John Wiggins: Anagenic
21 - Easy Teeth (=Paul Young & Robert Williams) (1980): Her Blade
22 - John Adams (1983): Meerstille

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

Synthesizer Demonstration Record: The Serge Synthesizer Volume Two

Here's the long promised, hand-made Orpheus Records Synthesizer Demonstration Record "The Serge Synthesizer Volume Two" with rare recordings by Warren Burt and Thomas Hamilton.

The origin of Warren Burt's long-form Serge studies is unknown, ca. 1974 (I found this stuff through obscure sources). Thomas Hamilton's "Formal & Informal Music" from 1980 was originally posted by Waxidermy - I thought reposting this in a new context would be useful. I dropped the idea of adding Keith Fullerton Whitman's Stereo Music for Serge Modular Prototype because it's still in print. Enjoy!

01 - Untitled [by Warren Burt, ca. 1974]
02 - Untitled [by Warren Burt, ca. 1974]
03 - Untitled [by Warren Burt, ca. 1974]
04 - Formal & Informal music [by Thomas Hamilton, 1980] with thanks to Waxidermy


Friday 7 December 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen dies at 79

On Wednesday, electronic music pioneer and one of the last living legend of contemporary music, the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen died at the age of 79.
I met Stockhausen a few times and we were corresponding occassionally. What impressed me most was not his sheer genius (he could have been a university professor in almost any subject; his understand of science, languages and arts was breathtaking) but his total dedication to the exploration of the last remaining secrets through art. His mind didn't stop at the borders of this planet; his imagination and continous, sincere search extended to the universe and into the atoms and smallest particles. I learnt from him not only a new sense of beauty, "alien beauty" as he used to call it, derived by a profound insight into nature's very being and translated into musical language, but his unmatched ability to think beyond existing terms and to open new worlds for us. It is up to us to follow his invitation.

Honoring the universal genius and profound humanity of Stockhausen here are just two of his many invitations that he has made us:
"Leo" & "Virgo", the two parts of the zodiac in between Stockhausen was born (22 August) - from his famous Tierkreis cycle, composed for music boxes.

Karlheinz Stockhausen, may your soul be now where you have taken us so many times with your music.

Thursday 6 December 2007

[Switched-on special] Hans Wurman: Chopin à la Moog (1970)

Sorry, my English does not suffice to describe how great this music is. I strongly encourage you to form your own opinion.

vinyl @ VBR
Pass (if any) = orpheusmachine

Sunday 2 December 2007

[Switched-on special] Synthesonic Sounds: Ye Olde Moog (1974)

The list of more or less notable composers who dipped into the novelty Moog scene either before they started their "serious careers" or to cash in the moog hype reads like a list of actors/actresses with early secret outings into porn.

Mike Batt (the man behind Synthesonic Sounds) is one example: While his career is peppered with some success stories in mainstream music (most recently he produced the excellent British-Georgian singer Katie Melua) his two Moog albums remain a well-hidden footnote in his biography.

After 1973's Moog at the Movies, an interpretation of famous cinema tunes, Mike now turnes to some prominent entries in the American Songbook: Scarborough Fair, Morning has Broken, Amazing Grace and House of the Rising Sun - all played on the Moog. But this isn't yet another "I was young and needed the money" lp recorded in one day to soothe a profit-hungry record company: it's still quite a nice album to listen to, even after 33 years after its making.

01 - English Country Garden
02 - Riddle Song
03 - Scarborough Fair
04 - Ash Grove
05 - The Drunken Sailor
06 - Danny Boy
07 - Morning has Broken
08 - Oh No John
09 - Strawberry Fair
10 - Streets of Laredo
11 - Amazing Grace
12 - Early One Morning
13 - Greensleeves
14 - Cockles and Mussels
15 - Loch Lomond
16 - House of the Rising Sun

vinyl @ highest vbr
Pass = orpheusmachine

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