Vangelis – Spiral (1977)

FrontCover1Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022), known professionally as was a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.

He was best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire (1981), as well as for composing scores to the films Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983), The Bounty (1984), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Alexander (2004), and for the use of his music in the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.

Aphrodite's Child

Vangelis began his career working with several pop bands of the 1960s such as The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, with the latter’s album 666 (1972) going on to be recognized as a progressive-psychedelic rock classic. Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed scores for several animal documentaries, including L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage, and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream. In 1975 he set up his new 16-track studio, Nemo Studios in London, which he named his “laboratory”, releasing many solo albums including Heaven and Hell and China among others. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis; he had previously joined Yes as their keyboard player, but left the group before recording any material with them.

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In 1980, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack’s single, the film’s theme, also reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners’ medal presentation ceremonies. He also composed the official anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan. In his last twenty years he collaborated with NASA and ESA on music projects Mythodea, Rosetta and Juno to Jupiter, which was his last studio album.

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Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

Vangelis died on 17 May 2022, aged 79, at a hospital in Paris due to heart failure while receiving treatment for COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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Spiral is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in December 1977. It was the third album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was his creative base until the late 1980s. For the track “To the Unknown Man” Vangelis received the Midem International Instrumental award in 1978.

It is a concept album, thematically inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. On the front cover is cited Tao Te Ching: “Going on means going far – Going far means returning”, while the sleeve notes state that the track “Dervish D” is “inspired by the Dervish dancer who by his whirling realises the spiralling of the universe”.

It was a less known and acclaimed album than the two which preceded in the 1970s, Heaven and Hell (1975) and Albedo 0.39 (1976).

The album reached #38 on the Dutch album charts in 1978.

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In 2011, the album was included, along with Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39, in a 3-CD box set series “Original Album Classics” by Sony, RCA and Legacy Recordings. In 2013, the album was released in a remastered and reissued digipak edition by Esoteric Recordings. It includes a bonus track, previously never issued on CD, “To The Unknown Man (II)”, which was released as a B-side of the single “To the Unknown Man” in 1977.

The album is entirely instrumental, apart from Vangelis’ processed vocals on “Ballad”. Vangelis plays synthesizer, sequencers, electric piano, electronic organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion. It is the first album on which Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, on which he would come to rely heavily in subsequent work, and is the most sequencer-based album of his career.

Henri Stirk from Background Magazine rated the 2013 edition by Esoteric Recordings 4/5 stars.

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In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978.In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978. (www.nemostudios.co.uk)

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As far as Vangelis’ early work is concerned (pertaining to the five years of his solo career), Spiral stands up quite well, although it’s almost always regarded as an inessential effort. Although the structures and the overall dynamics of the pieces are less complicated and less sophisticated, Spiral’s keyboard utilization is still extremely effectual, even if it does take awhile to get off the ground. The five tracks that make up the album aren’t as atmospheric or as elaborately shifting as 1975’s Heaven and Hell or 1976’s Albedo 0.39, but his musical movement does seem to transgress toward full, complete soundscapes, especially in “To the Unknown Man,” the album’s best example of Vangelis’ artistry. The album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to him through his own pirouettes. Both “Spiral” and “Ballad” touch ever so lightly on melody, appropriately relating to the album’s theme, while the lengthy “3+3” begins to unveil Vangelis’ creativity and sense of electronic exploration. After Spiral, Vangelis’ style changed somewhat, with more of a smoother, more melodic approach to the synthesizer, implemented to create a closer relationship between classical and electronic music. Albums such as Beauborg and China lay claim to this, also employing stronger ties between the theme and the music, while 1981’s Chariots of Fire has him merging the two styles completely. (by Mike DeGagne)

I can´t agree with Mike DeGagne:

An often overlooked masterpiece that all of his fans should listen to. (Jake Roberts)

Or: A fascinating journey through the possibilities of electronic music !

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Personnel:
Vangelis (synthesizer, keyboards and other instruments)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Spiral 6:55
02. Ballad 8:27
03. Dervish D 5:21
04. To The Unknown Man 9:01
05. 3+3 9:43
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06. To the Unknown Man (Part Two) 2.55

Music composed by Vangelis

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More from Vangelis:
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Richard Wahnfried – Time Actor (1979)

FrontCover1Klaus Schulze (born 4 August 1947) is a German electronic music pioneer, composer and musician.

He also used the alias Richard Wahnfried and was briefly a member of the Tangerine Dream and Krautrock bands Ash Ra Tempel and The Cosmic Jokers before launching a solo career consisting of more than 60 albums released across five decades.

Richard Wahnfried, then simply Wahnfried after 1993, is the long-time and only real alias for Klaus Schulze – originally a pseudonym, later an official side project name. Seven albums were released under this name between 1979 and 1997.

The main characteristics of the Wahnfried albums (as opposed to Schulze’s regular works) are:

Often being oriented towards more mainstream genres (some would say “more commercial”), such as rock, dance, techno, and trance.
Always allowing for collaborative and less electronic albums, with known or unknown guest musicians performing along Schulze’s synths.

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The pseudonym’s etymology stems from Schulze’s love for Richard Wagner:

Richard, evidently from Wagner’s first name. Richard is also the name of Schulze’s first son.
Wahnfried (“Peace from delusion and/or madness”, in German), from the name Wagner gave to his villa in Bayreuth (and where he was later buried).

In his 1975 album Timewind (four years before the first alias use), Schulze had already named a track “Wahnfried 1883” (in reference to Wagner’s death and burial in his Wahnfried’s garden in 1883). The other track on Timewind is called “Bayreuth Return”. After 1993, the albums are simply credited to “Wahnfried”, and namedrop Schulze (“featuring Klaus Schulze”, “Produced by Klaus Schulze”).

“Wahnfried” is the only known alias of Schulze (albeit on the 1998 Tribute to Klaus Schulze album, among 10 other artists, Schulze contributed one track barely hidden behind the “Schulzendorfer Groove Orchester” pseudonym). (wikipedia)

“Time Actor” was the result of a collaboration between legendary Crazy World & Kingdom Come visionary Arthur Brown and German synthesizer and ambient genius Klaus Schulze, recording under the pseudonym of his alter-ego Richard Wahnfried. “Richard” is the name of Klaus’ son born in 1979, and the first name of the German composer Wagner. “Wahnfried” is the name of Richard Wagner’s house, from the German “wähnen Frieden fand” (that his search and hopes will find peace). The album was a unique fusion of Brown’s eccentric musical vision and Schulze’s mastery of synthesis. The album was originally released in 1979 on the German Innovative Communication label.

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Time Actor stands out amongst Schulze’s massive catalog as a masterwork of avant garde new age. Schulze helms the project on electronics, and guests include Michael Shrieve on percussion, Vincent Crane on keyboards, and vocalist Arthur Brown, who sings – or should we say, speaks – on top of it all. Schulze describes the Wahnfried project in the liner notes as “the collective pseudonym of an idea: Time-Electronic, an experiment between avantgarde and muzak: Utility-music for sound-covered environment, in which a new generation grows up: Richard Wahnfried is this generation: Music between genius and nonsense: New ideas transported by an old medium to your ear.” (Press release)

Richard Wahnfried is not a person, it’s a pseudonym /project-name for certain endeavours by Klaus Schulze. This first LP under the moniker is basically a Schulze collaboration with art prog terrorist (and Crazy World leader) Arthur Brown. If there was an instrumental version of the album it would be an essential proto-IDM DJ weapon. As it stands, it’s still pretty great. (roundandroundrecords.com)

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Klaus Schulze uses the alias Richard Wahnfried to record different music with notable guests. Time Actor is one of his best Wahnfried discs. The featured guests are Arthur Brown (as in ” … I am the god of hell fire and I bring you …”) on vocals, Michael Shrieve on percussion and Vincent Crane on keyboards. Of course, Schulze is on electronics. Brown’s vocals are the perfect compliment toSchulze’s manipulations and ministrations. His vocals — often spoken — with his heavy English accent is an extra instrument in the sound design. The music is pure Berlin school electronica. Nobody does that better than Schulze. Because of Brown’s unique contribution, this disc has no peer. (by Jim Brenholts)

This is a dehumanised, cold, aseptic technoid ambient album from Klaus Schulze (with Arthur Brown as singer). Each composition is almost the same, developping similar synth waves floating in a spacious environnement, insistent repetitive electronic pulses and Arthur Brown’s narratives, partly excentric vocals. It contains no variations, suffering of a lack of creativity and invention, very mechanical and definitely uni dimentional. The musical style is pretty similar to face B from Dune but less consistent and without emotion (despite an honest and glacial-seductive “charming the wing” with Arthur Brown’s great lyrical voice). This is a ryhtmical, electronic beat album, linear and without reliefs. The musical background is very minimal and doesn’t enable Arthur Brown to express his genius. Klaus Schulze should have been concentrated on dark, gothic, haunted organ chords (similar to Irrlicht and Cyborg), Arthur Brown would give the best on it. “Time Actor” is terribly conformist, empty and non human. To avoid! (philippe)

??  .. a real strange album … ??  … Make your own decision !

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Personnel:
Arthur Brown (vocals)
Vincent Crane (keyboards)
Klaus Schulze (electronics)
Michael Shrieve (percussion)
Wolfgang Tiepold (cello)

Alternate frontcover:
AlternateFrontCover

Tracklist:
01. Time Actor (Wahnfried/Brown) 8.59
02. Time Factory (Wahnfried/Brown) 10.40
03. Charming The Wind (Wahnfried/Brown) 4.50
04. Grandma’s Clockwork (Wahnfried) 4.10
05. Distorted Emission (Wahnfried/Brown) 5.30
06. The Silent Sound Of The Ground (Wahnfried/Brown) 15.02
07. Time Echoes (Wahnfried/Brown) 8.22
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08. Agamemory (taken from the LP Megatone, 1984) (Wahnfried) 8.24

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Günter Schickert – Samtvogel (1974)

OriginalFrontCover1Though his name barely registers among most of the Krautrock intelligentsia, Gunter Schickert was both prolific in the background and an important artist. Along with the better-known Achim Reichel, Schickert pioneered the echo guitar, where the repeated guitar tones create unique, multi-layered textures that take the instrument quite beyond the ordinary.

Schickert was active through much of the ’60s in the Berlin free jazz scene, though it wasn’t until 1974 that his first album, Samtvogel, came out, self-released by Schickert in a small batch. The album was unique enough that it was quickly snatched up by the legendary Brain label, and they reissued the record the next year. Samtvogel is quite similar to Manuel Göttsching’s solo-guitar album, Inventions for Electric Guitar, where guitar sounds are layered and layered on top of each other to create new hypnotic textures.

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In 1973, Schickert founded the trio GAM, with guitarist Axel Struck and percussionist Michael Aleska, and with Schickert on guitar, vocals, and trumpet, this group created a unique sort of freaked-out space rock. GAM recorded some jam sessions in 1976, which were finally released on cassette in 1986 and titled Gam 1976, and an unreleased album called Eiszeit in 1978.

At this time Schickert was also creating music for a theater company, and even performing live on-stage in some of the productions. He also served as a roadie for electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, and sometimes played live with Schulze as well. Schickert’s second solo album, Uberfallig, came out in 1979 on Sky Records, this time with Charles Heuer on drums to augment Schickert’s echoed guitar textures.

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In the ’80s, Schickert’s work in theater production continued, and he also took part in a couple of bands, No Zen Orchestra and Ziguri Ego Zoo. A third album under his own name, this one a completely solo effort with him on guitar, tapes, vocals, percussion, and trumpet, 1993’s Kinder der Wildnes only came out on cassette, though it showed that Schickert was expanding into a wider range of musical styles. Another collection, Somnabal, was released in 1995 on CD with music from throughout the decade-and-a-half before that. Though his recordings are few and hard to track down, especially the debut Samtvogel, Schickert is an innovative music creator who deserves more notice. (by Rolf Semprebon)GünterSchückert5An album considerably closer to the krautrock sound and very early Tangerine Dream albums than Gunter Schickert’s second album.

Samtvogel (Velvet Bird) is a bit more electronic sounding than the follow up album, but also displays much more of a krautrock type of compositional development. “Apricot Brandy” and “Kriegsmaschinen, Fahrt Zur Hölle” both echo the Can album Future Days mainly because of the repetitive traditional krautrock guitar playing and dreamy incomprehensible vocals that sounds more like another instrumental touch than true vocalizing. Almost the entire first half of “Kriegsmaschinen, Fahrt Zur Hölle” is mostly Conrad Schnitzler-inspired experimental industrial gurgling that gradually builds up into an explosive guitar loop that has a somewhat avant tone.

The main attraction of Samtvogel is the 21+ minute long closer track “Wald” which is exceptionally aquatic in nearly the same way that Edgar Froese’s Aqua except with Schickert’s delayed guitar loops. It’s quite a proggy track with plenty of development while remaining hypnotically repetitive, maintaining it’s under-water adventure type of atmosphere that fans of Boris’ Flood should find comforting. An aura of mystery surrounds the rather gloomy intermittent build-ups with dark melodicism in the guitar loops, until the track eventually gives way to lonely delayed staccato guitar plucking.

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To pick a favorite between Gunter Schickert’s two albums, I would have to choose Samtvogel for its much more mysterious and slightly avant electronic approach to krautrock styled early electronic music. It contains everything that I’d expect and hope for from a German electronic artist in the ’70s, plus the incredibly soothing aquatic elements and the chord choices made result in an extremely delightful album and one I’ve the best I’ve experienced in a while. While I hesitate to call it a masterpiece, this is definitely an album to be recommended to all fans of this type of music and I’d personally place this album beside Edgar Froese’s best work in terms of quality. (by colorofmoney91)

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Personnel:
Günter Schlickert (guitar, vocals, echo device)

The Brain Label Edition:
BrainEdition

Tracklist:
01. Apricot Brandy 5.56
02. Kriegsmaschinen, fahrt zur Hölle 16.31
02.1. Komm doch in meine Fabrik
02.2.Sagt der Personalchef
02.3. Kriegsmaschinen bau’n
02.4. Dafür gibt’s das meiste Geld
03. Wald 21.18

Music: Günter Schickert

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The reissue on Brain Records, 1980:
Brain(RI)Edition

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Harold Budd – The Pavilion Of Dreams (1978)

FrontCover1Harold Montgomory Budd (May 24, 1936 – December 8, 2020) was an American avant-garde composer and poet. Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Mojave Desert, Budd became a respected composer in the minimalist and avant-garde scene of Southern California in the late 1960s, and later became better known for his work with figures such as Brian Eno and Robin Guthrie. Budd developed what he called a “soft pedal” technique for playing piano.

Budd was born in Los Angeles, California and spent his childhood in Victorville, California by the Mojave Desert. Drafted into the army, he joined the regimental band where he played drums. Jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler was drafted at the same time and was also a member of the band. Budd joined him in gigs around the Monterey area. Budd’s experience of the army made him determined to get an education.

After working as “everything from cowboy to mailman,” including a stint at Douglas Aircraft, Budd enrolled in a course in architecture at Los Angeles Community College. He switched to a course in harmony and his musical talent was spotted by a teacher who encouraged him to compose. He began to attend performances by artists like Chet Baker and Pharoah Sanders.

Harold Budd03Budd’s career as a composer began in 1962. In the following years, he gained a notable reputation in the local avant-garde community. Budd studied music at the University of Southern California, under the tutelage of Ingolf Dahl, graduating in 1966. Budd’s work of this period was primarily minimalist drone music influenced by John Cage and Morton Feldman, as well as the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, with whom he corresponded.

After completing his degree in composition in 1969, Budd took up a teaching position at the California Institute for the Arts.[8] In 1970, he released his first piece, The Oak of the Golden Dreams, which he recorded with an early model Buchla modular synthesizer at the institute.

Soon afterwards, Budd gave up composition, disgusted by the “academic pyrotechnics” of the avant-garde community.

The road from my first colored graph piece in 1962 to my renunciation of composing in 1970 to my resurfacing as a composer in 1972 was a process of trying out an idea and when it was obviously successful abandoning it. The early graph piece was followed by the Rothko orchestra work, the pieces for Source Magazine, the Feldman-derived chamber works, the pieces typed out or written in longhand, the out-and-out conceptual works among other things, and the model drone works (which include the sax and organ Coeur d’Orr and The Oak of the Golden Dreams, the latter based on the Balinese ‘Slendro’ scale which scale I used again 18 years later on ‘The Real Dream of Sails’).

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In 1972, while still retaining his teaching career at the California Institute for the Arts, he resurfaced as a composer. Spanning from 1972 to 1975, he created four individual works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. The style of these works was an unusual blend of popular jazz and the avant-garde. His 1972 work Madrigals of the Rose Angel was sent to English composer Gavin Bryars who passed it on to Brian Eno. Eno contacted Budd and brought him to London to record for his Obscure Records label.

I owe Eno everything, OK? That’s the end of that… I was plucked from the tree, and suddenly I had flowered. I was just waiting. I couldn’t do it on my own. I didn’t know anything.

Budd resigned from the institute in 1976 and began recording his new compositions, produced by Eno. Two years later, Harold Budd’s debut album, The Pavilion of Dreams (1978), was released. The first performance of the piece was at a Franciscan church in California conducted by Daniel Lentz.”

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The work with Eno led Budd to shift his focus to studio-led projects, characterised by use of synthesisers and electronic treatments, often collaborating with other musicians. Budd developed a style of piano playing he deemed “soft pedal,” which can be described as slow and sustained. While he is often placed in the Ambient category, he emphatically declared that he was not an Ambient artist, and felt that he got “kidnapped” into the category.

His two collaborations with Eno, 1980’s The Plateaux of Mirror and 1984’s The Pearl, established his trademark atmospheric piano style. On Lovely Thunder, he introduced subtle electronic textures. His thematic 2000 release The Room saw a return to a more minimalist approach. In 2003, Daniel Lanois, a producer for U2 and Bob Dylan, and occasional collaborator with Brian Eno, recorded an impromptu performance of Budd playing the piano in his Los Angeles living room, unaware; it was released in 2005 as the album La Bella Vista.

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He had a long-running collaboration with guitarist Robin Guthrie. They worked together initially when Budd worked with Guthrie’s band The Cocteau Twins on their 1985 collaboration The Moon and the Melodies. The record was released by 4AD under all the collaborator’s names (rather than being a Cocteau Twins/Harold Budd record), with Budd being listed first as it was an alphabetical listing. In November 1986, the record charted on the UK Top 75 album chart, spending a week at number 46. Budd and Guthrie subsequently released several albums together, including two soundtracks to the Greg Araki films Mysterious Skin (2004) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), with the last, 2020’s Another Flower, released four days before Budd’s death.

Budd also collaborated with Andy Partridge of XTC on the album Through the Hill (1994), John Foxx on the album Translucence/Drift Music (2003) and work with Jah Wobble on the Solaris concert and live album in 2002.

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He composed music for the score of the 2020 miniseries I Know This Much Is True.

Brian Eno called Budd “a great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician”.

The Guardian said, “The core Budd sound of yearning piano motifs and reverb-laden impressionism is often called minimalism. But compared with the cyclical craft of Steve Reich and early Philip Glass, his low-key, expansive forays felt deftly maximalist. This has made Budd’s craft synonymous with the dreamworld. An heir to Satie and Debussy, his music was treated and poetic, never kneejerk nor incautious.”

Budd died on December 8, 2020, aged 84, due to complications from COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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The Pavilion of Dreams is the second album from minimalist composer Harold Budd and produced by Brian Eno. Billed as “an extended cycle of works begun in 1972,” it was recorded in 1976 but not released until 1978 on Eno’s label Obscure Records. It was later re-released on Editions EG in 1981. (wikipedia)

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Mixing ethereal melodies communicated by voice or saxophone with glissando accompaniment, Harold Budd creates a series of siren songs on The Pavilion of Dreams that shimmer like light reflected on the water’s surface. Billed as “an extended cycle of works begun in 1972,” Budd’s debut apparently took a while to see the light of day itself, having been recorded in 1976, released on the aptly titled Obscure label in 1978, and re-released in 1981 on Editions EG. The minimalist composer had gained some attention in avant-garde circles with the piece “Madrigals of the Rose Angel”; featured here, it reveals the unhurried and unfolding nature of Budd’s melodies as well as his penchant for clusters of bell-like notes. “Two Songs” was written in the years that followed, adapting works from Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane with arrangements that feature only mezzo-soprano Lynda Richardson and harpist Maggie Thomas; unless you thought the theme song to the Star Trek TV series was high art, you can skip this.

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The opening “Bismillahi ‘Rhahmani ‘Rrahim” is the musical equivalent of a bubble bath; led by the soulful saxophone of Marion Brown, it’s initially lovely, yet the circumspect arrangement saps the piece of its spellbinding effect before long. The last piece composed here, “Juno,” is also the most passionate, foreshadowing the warmth and presence that would appear on subsequent works like “The Plateaux of Mirror.” As with most minimalist works, The Pavilion of Dreams requires patience and open-mindedness on the part of the listener, only more so. Harold Budd achieved an evocative and succinct style on subsequent albums, and these songs are simply the rudimentary steps that led there. (by Dave Connolly)

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Personnel:
Richard Bernas (piano, celeste)
Marion Brown (saxophone)
Harold Budd (piano, voice)
Gavin Bryars (glockenspiel, voice)
Brian Eno (voice)
Jo Julian (marimba, vibraphone, voice)
Michael Nyman (marimba, voice)
Howard Rees (marimba, vibraphone)
Nigel Shipway (percussion)
Maggie Thomas (harp)
John White (marimba, percussion, voice)
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chorus:
Lynda Richardson – Margaret Cable – Lesley Reid – Ursula Connors – Alison MacGregor –  Muriel Dickinson

CDBooklet

Tracklist:
01. Bismillahi ‘Rrhamani ‘Rrahim 18.17
02. Two Songs 6.19
02.1. Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord Budd Rate
02.2. Butterfly Sunday (After The Rain) , Harold Budd Rate
03. Madrigals Of The Rose Angel 14.28
03.1. Rosetti Noise
03.2. The Crystal Garden
04. Juno 8.06

Music composed by Harold Budd
except 02.2. composed by Harold Budd & John Coltrane

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Walter (Wendy) Carlos – The Well-Tempered Synthesizer (1969)

FrontCover1Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos; November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music and film scores. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Carlos studied physics and music at Brown University before moving to New York City in 1962 to study music composition at Columbia University. Studying and working with various electronic musicians and technicians at the city’s Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, she helped the development of the Moog synthesizer, the first commercially available keyboard instrument created by Robert Moog.

Carlos came to prominence with Switched-On Bach (1968), an album of music by Johann Sebastian Bach performed on a Moog synthesizer which helped popularize its use in the 1970s and won her three Grammy Awards. Its commercial success led to several more keyboard albums from Carlos of varying genres including further synthesized classical music adaptations and experimental and ambient music. She composed the score to two Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980), and also Tron (1982) for Walt Disney Productions.

In 1979, Carlos was one of the first public figures to disclose having undergone gender reassignment surgery.

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The Well-Tempered Synthesizer is the second studio album from the American musician and composer Wendy Carlos, originally released under her birth name, Walter Carlos, in November 1969 on Columbia Masterworks Records. Following the success of her previous album, Switched-On Bach (1968), Carlos proceeded to record a second album of classical music performed on a modular Moog synthesizer from multiple composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, and George Frideric Handel. Its title is a play on words from Bach’s set of preludes and fugues named The Well-Tempered Clavier.

Upon its release, the album peaked at No. 199 on the US Billboard 200 chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

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In 1969, during the unexpected commercial success of her debut studio album Switched-On Bach (1968), Carlos and her friend, collaborator, and producer Rachel Elkind started work on a follow-up using the same formula as Switched-On Bach: performing selections of classical music on a modular Moog synthesizer. Carlos planned to record an “ambitious 19th-century work”, but the lack of sufficient multitrack recording capabilities at the time did not allow such an undertaking. Ideas for Carlos to record her own compositions seemed “untimely” and was shelved for potential future albums. The two decided on a “new switched on Baroque album” featuring multiple composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, and George Frideric Handel.

Like Switched-On Bach, the album was recorded on an 8-track Ampex tape recorder using numerous takes and overdubs. Carlos chose pieces from Handel’s Water Music suites as the music contained passages that suited to the limitations of the Moog synthesizer.

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Canadian pianist Glenn Gould spoke about Carlos’ rendition of Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major: “To put it bluntly, the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs—live, canned, or intuited—I’ve ever heard.”

The Well-Tempered Synthesizer was released in November 1969. It peaked at No. 199 on the Billboard 200 chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. In February 1974, Billboard reported that the album had sold around 200,000 copies in the US. (by wikipedia)

The soundtrack of my life (Steve Morse, Deep Purple):

Steve Morse

Pressed for a sequel to Switched-On Bach, the unexpectedly hot-selling breakthrough album for the synthesizer, Wendy Carlos temporarily shelved plans to move out of the 18th century and instead came up with an album that is, in some ways, even better than its famous predecessor. Her instrument rack had grown larger and more flexible and her technical abilities even sharper in the year since SOB came out — and the improvements are audible in the thicker harmonies and more sophisticated timbres, all without losing the zest and experimental zeal of the earlier record. Here, she revisits J.S. Bach and imaginatively translates the music of Monteverdi, Handel, and especially Domenico Scarlatti into the electronic medium. Excerpts from Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” and “1610 Vespers” serve as the gateway and closing benediction, respectively, to this collection, and four Scarlatti keyboard sonatas are given dazzling treatments (the sonata in G became well-known in the ’90s on a Christmas TV commercial). There is a mini-suite from Handel’s “Water Music” at the center of the album, and the densely orchestrated yet still dancing treatment of Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 4” serves as a signpost as to how far Carlos had come in only a year. (by Richard S. Ginell)

BackCover1Personnel:
Wendy Carlos (synthesizer)

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Tracklist:
01. Orfeo Suite (Toccata; Ritornello I; Choro II; Ritornello II; Choro II; Ritornello II) (Monteverdi) 3.22
02. Sonata in G major, L. 209/K. 455 (Scarlatti) 1.42
03. Sonata in D major, L. 164/K. 491 (Scarlatti) 3.55
04. Water Music: “Bourrée (Händel) 0.48
05. Water Music: Air (Händel) 2.47
06. Water Music: Allegro Deciso (Händel) 3.01
07. Sonata in E major, L. 430/K. 531 (Scarlatti) 1.56
08. Sonata in D major, L. 465/K. 96 (Scarlatti) 2.31
09. Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G major: Allegro (Bach) 8.06
10. Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G major: Andante (Bach) 3.37
11. Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G major: Presto (Bach) 4.46
12. Domine ad adjuvandum (from the 1610 Vespers) (Monteverdi) 2.22+
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13. Stereo Alignment Tones 0.10
14. Well Tempered Experiments (Wendy Carlos talks about her / his music) 9.08

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Faithless – Sunday 8PM (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgSunday 8PM is Faithless’ second album, released on 28 September 1998. The album contains the hit singles “Bring My Family Back”, “Take the Long Way Home”, and “God Is a DJ”. The album reached #10 place in the UK charts. In 1999, Sunday 8PM was one of twelve albums to make the shortlist for the Mercury Prize.

In 1998, there was a special release in the Netherlands: The Pinkpop Edition, which included a bonus CD with four live recordings (“God Is a DJ”, “Bring My Family Back”, “Do My Thing”, and “If Lovin’ You Is Wrong”) from the Pinkpop festival of June 1998.

In 1999, the album was re-released as Sunday 8PM / Saturday 3AM, containing an extra CD with mixed versions.

The image on the album/CD cover is the Bluebird Theatre in Denver, Colorado, United States. (by wikipedia)

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The second album from U.K. electronic dance collective Faithless, Sunday 8pm has neither the rampant grooves nor the arrogant idealism to qualify it as anything more than a random, standard dancefloor record with redundant beats and hoary ideas. Clearly, though, more was intended; the theme running throughout Sunday 8pm is one that celebrates club life with an almost religious enthusiasm. The dreamy soundscapes here alternate between elegantly spiritual (and very new age) drifts and dull, tuneless forays into spacy nowhereland — and the occasional misguided R&B trips lack soul (not all that surprising, considering the coldness of this band’s electronica). The one keeper is “God Is a DJ,” eight minutes of club worship that repeats the refrain “This is my church” so relentlessly that you begin to wonder if the Faithless altar includes a turntable and synthesizer along with the usual celebratory offerings. (by Michael Gallucci)

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Personnel:
Sister Bliss (keyboards)
Jaime Catto (vocals, guitar)
Maxi Jazz (guitar, vocals)
Rollo (electronics)
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Rachael Brown (background vocals on 02., 03., 07.)
Dido (vocals on 09., background vocals on 03.)
Debbie French (background vocals on 06.)
Andy Gangadeen (drums on 06.)
Boy George (vocals on 06.)
Sudha (drums, percussion)
Dave Randall (guitar)
Imani Saleem (background vocals on 06.)
Shannon Stewart (background vocals on 06.)
Pauline Taylor (vocals on 07., background vocals on 10.)
Ibi Tijani (programming on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Garden /Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.26
02 Bring My Family Back (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 6.22
03. Hour Of Need (Catto/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.36
04. Postcards (Dido/Catto/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.01
05. Take The Long Way Home (Catto/Maxi Jazz, Rollo/Sister Bliss) 7.13
06. Why Go? (George/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 3.57
07. She’s My Baby (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 5.49
08.  God Is A DJ (Catto/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 8.01
09.  Hem Of His Garment (Randall/Dido/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.07
10. Sunday 8PM (Rollo/Sister Bliss) 2.43
11. Killer’s Lullaby (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 6.08

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Chorus Of Tribes – Myth (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgChorus of Tribes is New Age music project from the UK. Símon Hulbert wrote all the tracks found on the project’s first and only album, Myth (1998).Chorus Of Tribes – Myth is a relatively unknown new age / ambient album from Etherean Records.

The album was released in 1998 in the UK. The album has a rather ironic story behind it. Late 1997 it was released as a bootleg across the internet and various p2p sites as an album by “Deep Forest and Enigma”, and not by “Chorus Of Tribes”.

Who dubbed “Chorus Of Tribes” to “Deep Forest and Enigma” is unknown, but musically it recembles the two artists in a fair amount, which makes the assumption understandable. This made some people confused, and the album was later rejected as any form of collaboration between the two famous new age artist groups from both sides. However, the songs on this album, independent of whoever made it, became more or less famous. In 1998 it was released on the label Etherean Music.

Now, musically the album is impressive. Into Morocco and Rain Song remain two of the most relaxing and best New Age / Tribal songs Símon Hulbert.jpgI’ve heard. The mood changes a great deal over the course of the album, from almost pure trance to groovy chilled beats, and tribal chants accompanied by soothing beats and vocals.

If Deep Forest and Enigma is up your alley, then this is just for you. (by www.last.fm)

Myth is a union between tribal vocals, instrumentals and popular dance music. Strong tribal/techno rhythms, featuring samples from numerous African tribes. Myth creates a musical hybrid between roots Africa and contemporary electronic.

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Personnel:
Símon Hulbert (all instruments)

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Tracklist:
01. Into Morroco 6.05
02. Inception 7.09
03. LoLo 5.16
04. Rain Song 7.21
05. Ikkijungle 2.52
06. Lullaby 5.59
07. Marakesh 5.59
08. Shackera 5.03
09. Hiyahiyahey 4.16
10. Myth 2.53
11. New Dawn 7.47

Music composed by Símon Hulbert

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Syrinx – Same (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgI found a very personal review about this debut album of Syrinx:

It’s hard to describe what a deep and massive impact I got from this record. Syrinx were active only for two years from 1970 to 1972, but their legacy contains 2 LPs and one 7inch and it’s really indelible. I will try to tell you about the first Syrinx’ album, which is their best in my opinion. I’m trying to avoid this dusty, flacid and absolutely useless word Record in this occasion. The trio of maestro John Mills-Cockell, Alan Wells and Doug Pringle created a stream of Universal energy, powerful, tender and intimate at the same time. All seven songs-pearls are the embodiment of eternity, hope and despair. And what is the most intertesting: the album sounds absolutely solid, it is the canvas of the highest mark, which can be viewed from any angle, you can wallow in it, as in a waterfall. You feel yourself in the place, where some sort of ritual is happening, you hear quiet whisper of the wind, gigantic mountains are talking about ancient times, forest is echoing. Syrinx LP is the album of size of the Life for me.

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You will back to it again and again after the first listen. There are absolute freedom and purification along with the feeling af unbelievable drama and otherworldly eternity at the same time in the Moog-messages of Mills-Cockell. Their music is from the era of real emotions, Syrinx are drawing their masterpiece not about pointless and pathetic emotions. The song of Syrinx is about Eternal. (by krossfingers.com)

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Personnel:
John Mills-Cockell (keyboards, synthesizer)
Doug Pringle (saxophone)
Alan Wells (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Melina’s Torch 2.59
02. Journey Tree 4.51
03. Chant For Your Dragon King 10.26
04. Field Hymn 1.49
05. Hollywood Dream Trip 4.59
06. Father Of Light 2.03
07. Appalosa – Pegasus 11.17

Music composed by John Mills-Cockell

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More about Syrinx here

Syrinx – Long Lost Relatives (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgFormed in Toronto in the late ’60s, Syrinx was John Mills-Cockell on keyboards, Doug Pringle on saxophone, and percussionist Alan Wells.

Mills-Cockell had worked with Kensington Market, recording the AARDVARK album with producer Felix Pappalardi, before moving to Vancouver to join Hydro-Electric Streetcar. He connected with percussionist Wells, and with the support of Pappalardi, they recorded the first tracks for a new album. Moving back to Toronto, the two reconnected with Pringle, who had earlier partnered with Mills-Cockell for art performances, and Syrinx was born.

Mills-Cockell formed the group with the idea of blending what he had learned in classical music with world music influences and the psychedelic pop rock that was running rampant at the time. The first Canadian groups to employ Moog synthesizers in live performances, they were playing the Toronto coffee house circuit when Bernie Finklestein, who’d just started up True North Records, caught them live and signed them to a deal in 1970.

Their self-titled debut was released that summer, running rampant with synthesized pop that blended eclectic sequencer rhythms and world beats, more often than not courtesy of conga drums. All instrumental and trippy before its time, the record featured several extended tracks, like “Appalosa-Pegasus” and “Chant For Your Dragon King,” both running over 10 minutes each, as well as the eerie “Melina’s Torch” and “Father of Light”, that made it one of the most experimental records of the ’70s anywhere.

The group toured intensively during the early ’70s, playing on bills with Miles Davis on the Bitches Brew tour, and Ravi Shankar in Montreal, and took on ambitious projects writing music for the National Ballet of Canada and the Toronto Dance Theatre. The band’s bigger than life, if not somewhat operatic approach to rock, got the attention of CTV television executives who were looking for someone to write a theme song for a new series, “Here Come The Seventies.” Syrinx was hired, and wrote “Tillicum” or the occasion.

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The exposure led to their second album, LONG LOST RELATIVES in ’71, a record that almost didn’t happen. While laying down tracks at Magic Tracks Recording Studios, an accidental fire destroyed much of the studio and all the equipment inside. Undeterred, the band carried on when fellow musicians decided to hold a benefit show for them, cramming over 2,000 people into a the St Lawrence Market hall. They rented time at Eastern Sound, Thunder Sound, and Pathe-Humphries studios to finish the album.

The record was produced by Eugene Martynec again full of forays into the pop realm, often producing opuses over eight minutes long. “Tillicum” was released as a single, and entered Canada’s RPM chart in the top 100, eventually peaking at #38. Other tracks included “December Angel,” originally conceived for Peter Randazzo’s solo dance with the Toronto Dance Theatre. That song, along with “Syren,” “Ibistix,” and “Field Hymn” made up the composition called “Stringspace.”

They got some additional exposure performing on CBC TV’s program “Music to See,” and added Malcolm Tomlinson on drums and vocals for the upcoming tour that saw them play throughout Ontario and selected dates throughout Canada, and shared the stage with the likes of Deep Purple and a roster of international acts at the Strawberry Fields pop festival.

The band quietly folded in 1973 and everyone went on to do outside projects. Tracks from both albums were given a new life in the new millennium, when club DJs began sampling them. Alan Wells passed away in 2010. (by johnmillscockell.ca)

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A masterwork which against all odds, prevails up to this day.

Against the odds of sharing their name with 2 other bands (one of them is also included here in PA), being way, way ahead of their time music wise and coming from a not exactly “Electronic nor Avant Garde/RiO” country like Canada in 1971 (Tim Hecker and Aidan Baker came much later ).

Not to make a big fuzz, but this work would have been by far, more appreciated in the more “open-minded” , Avant Garde and RiO sub-genre.

It deals a fair amount of synths and electronics, but basically, its music structure is not exactly electronic-like based or better yet, it is the perfect balance between both sub-genres (although the RiO spirit outweights the electronics.)

John Mills-Cockell who makes his synths sound like “real” strings (not joking), headmaster of this SYRINX, had an electronic project in 1968 which went by the name of “INTERSYSTEMS” , which only release appeared the same year, by the same name. So it is undisputable, that Syrinx has an “electronic” upbringing.

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But bandmate Doug Pringle’s bold, , strong yet subtle saxophone lines, makes this kind of “magic blend” happen. In short, in this, their second 1971 last release, they went for all the marbles. (of course the percussions of Malcolm Tomlinson and Alan Wells (deceased November 3, 2010), build up this alternate structure.)

Daring, original, genial, well balanced, way ahead of their times in both sub-genre’s musical composition language and absolutely unpretentious. The mark of the true geniuses

*****5 “flawless” PA stars in both sub-genres. What else can you ask for? (by admireArt)

A great highlight is “December Angel ” and this tune sounds a little bit like the titeltrack of the TV movie “Twin Peaks”.

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Personnel:
John Mills-Cockell (keyboards, synthesizer)
Douglas Pringle (saxophone, bongos, bells, guiro)
Alan Wells (congas, timpani, gong, tambourine)
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Vair Capper (orchestral percussion)
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string section:
Hohn Dembeck – Berul Sugarman – Stanley Solomon – Ronald Lurie – Sam Davis

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Tracklist:
01. Tumblers To The Vault 3.30
02. Syren 6.00
03. December Angel 9.00
04. Ibistix 8.07
05. Field Hymn (Epiloque) 2.55
06. Tillicum 1.54
07. Better Deaf And Dumb From The First 2.54
08. Aurora Spinray 3.30

All tracks written by John Mills-Cockell – Douglas Pringle – Alan Wells

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Pierre Henry avec Spooky Tooth – Ceremony (Messe Environnement) (1969)

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Pierre Henry (9 December 1927 – 5 July 2017) was a French composer, considered a pioneer in the musique concrète genre of electronic music.

 

Pierre Henry was born in Paris, France, and began experimenting at the age of 15 with sounds produced by various objects. He became fascinated with the integration of noise into music. He studied with Nadia Boulanger, Olivier Messiaen, and Félix Passerone at the Paris Conservatoire from 1938 to 1948.

Between 1949 and 1958, Henry worked at the Club d’Essai studio at RTF, which had been founded by Pierre Schaeffer in 1943 (Dhomont 2001). During this period, he wrote the 1950 piece Symphonie pour un homme seul, in cooperation with Schaeffer; he also composed the first musique concrète to appear in a commercial film, the 1952 short film Astrologie ou le miroir de la vie. Henry scored numerous additional films and ballets.

Two years after leaving the RTF, he founded with Jean Baronnet the first private electronic studio in France, the Apsone-Cabasse Studio

Among Henry’s works is the 1967 ballet Messe pour le temps présent (Dhomont 2001), a collaboration with choreographer Maurice Béjart that debuted in Avignon (Rubin 2001,[page needed]). In 1969 Henry collaborated with British rock band Spooky Tooth on the album Ceremony.

Composer Christopher Tyng was heavily inspired by Henry’s “Psyché Rock” when writing the theme to the popular animated cartoon show Futurama. The theme is so reminiscent of the Henry’s song, it is considered a variation of the original.

Henry died on Wednesday 5 July 2017 at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Paris, at the age of 89.

Pierre Henry performs live.

Ceremony is a 1969 album by progressive UK rock band Spooky Tooth in collaboration with French electronic and “found-object” composer Pierre Henry. The album takes the form of a church service. A Pierre Henry-free version of the closing track “Hosanna” with different lyrics appears on 2015 Universal release ‘The Island Years 1967-1974’ under the title “When I Get Home.” The release also includes an alternate take of “Have Mercy” (also without Henry) and a session outtake titled “Shine a Light on Me.”

The album is considered by singer and songwriter Gary Wright to have ended the band’s career. “Then we did a project that wasn’t our album. It was with this French electronic music composer named Pierre Henry. We just told the label, ‘You know this is his album, not our album. We’ll play on it just like musicians.’ And then when the album was finished, they said, ‘Oh no no — it’s great. We’re gonna release this as your next album.’ We said, ‘You can’t do that. It doesn’t have anything to do with the direction of Spooky Two and it will ruin our career.’ And that’s exactly what happened.” (by wikipedia)

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Rare single from 1969

It’s fair to say that Ceremony: An Electric Mass is unlike any other release by an English band normally rooted in the blues. Think of it as Spooky Tooth’s version of Concerto for Group and Orchestra by Deep Purple, in which, after two or three promising blues-based rock releases, one member of the band somehow convinces the others to go for a wildly ambitious, experimental concept album. Jon Lord persuaded Deep Purple to dive into the deep end, and Gary Wright convinced Spooky Tooth to welcome acclaimed French composer and musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry for this electronic mass. Henry’s atonal arrangements don’t fare too badly against Spooky Tooth’s piercing guitars and bluesy wail, although Wright left the band after Ceremony (just as Lord never had the same influence on Purple again, leaving Ritchie Blackmore to lead them on to heavy metal glory). (by Mark Allan)

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Personnel:
Pierre Henry (synthesizer, electronics)
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Mike Harrison (vocals, keyboards)
Luther Grosvenor (guitar)
Mike Kellie (drums, percussion)
Andy Leigh (bass, guitar)
Gary Wright (vocals, electronic organ, keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Have Mercy 7.51
02. Jubilation 8.25
03. Confession 6.53
04. Prayer 10.50
05. Offering 3.26
06. Hosanna 7.33

All tracks composed by Pierre Henry and Gary Wright

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Pierre Henry (9 December 1927 – 5 July 2017)