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  • Writer's pictureThom Holmes

More Electronic Music for Astral Tripping

My blog for the Bob Moog Foundation.


Realizing that one of my most popular episodes was from September of 2022, Electronic Music for Astral Tripping, I’ve decided to revisit that idea for this edition. Allow me to present to you More Electronic Music for Astral Tripping.


As I was examining music and albums to feature in this edition, I came across an old Sun Ra album from 1957 and began to read the liner notes. Most of the notes seem to be by Sun Ra himself. Anyone familiar with Sun Ra will appreciate the cosmic leap that you might want to take while immersing yourself in his music. Well, the album covers also contribute to his vibe and I was reminded of the days when we would buy a new album and stare at the cover while we listened to the music for the first time. Sun Ra himself addressed this in a note on his album Super-Sonic sounds in 1957. On the back of the album, which featured an original abstract work of art on the cover, he offered a note called, About the Cover. “With your mind’s eye you are invited to see other scenes of the space age by focusing your eyes on the cover and your mind on the music. The scenes are from the space void.” And I think that quote basically captures the purpose of this episode. Focus on the music and let you mind wander where it will go.


Now, that Sun Ra album is not included in this episode, but I have planned on including it in an upcoming episode on the history of electronic keyboards in jazz. We’ll be hearing many diverse tracks in this episode. Earthstar from 1979 was a project of Craig Wuest that was produced by Klause Schulze and is rich with electronic treatments, the Moog Modular synthesizer and even the Biotron of Rick Wakeman, one of the only recordings of that tape sampling alternative to the Mellotron. We’ll hear tracks from Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream; Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause from their 1971 album Gandharva which combined jazz with synthesis and pipe organ; a couple of synthesis tracks from the Japanese duo Inoyama Land from 1983; a recent track from a live recording of Arp, the music ensemble project of electronic musician and composer Alexis Georgopoulos; a classic track from 1975 and Ariel Kalma using dual saxphones and tape echo; some soothing guitar electronics bordering on noise from Shonji Masuko; a really interesting and dreamy work by composer, musician and beekeeper Suzanne Stone; a work composed by Somei Satoh for an outdoor festival that was played over eight giant loudspeakers and echoed throughout a river valley; and a work from 2018 of Julie Carpenter under the name Less Bells that weaves together electronic and orchestral textures.


If you would like to learn more about the history of electronic music, please read my book, Electronic and Experimental Music, published by Routledge in print or as an e-Book. You may also want to read my book about Sound Art, also available from Routledge.

 

Playlist

1.    Earthstar, “Part 1, Sirens” from French Skyline (1979 Sky records). Recorded at  Klaus Schulze Studio, Hambühren, W. Germany in 1978 and 1979. Bass, Electronics, Norm Peach; Choir, Craig Wuest, Joan N., Marla T., Phil N.; Electric Guitar, Treated Guitar, Electronics (Tonewall), Dennis Rea; Flute, Woodwind, Tim Finnegan; French Horn, Flute, Marla Thomson; Producers, Craig Wuest, Klaus Schulze; Moog Modular System Programming, Technical Advice, Klaus Schulze; Sitar, Dirk Schmalenbach, Synthesizer, Sequencer, Mellotron, Biotron, Piano, Sitar, Harp, Effects, Voice, Vocoder, Bells , Percussion, Tape loops, Electronic Treatments, Craig Wuest; Violin, Phil Novak; Violin, Viola, Electronics, Louis Deponté; Violin, Electronics, Daryl Trivieri. (06:18)


2.    Edgar Froese, “PA 701” from Macula Transfer (1976 Brain). The material was composed during different flights during '75 and '76 while on tour with Tangerine Dream. Instruments, Composed By, Produced by, Edgar Froese. I’m not certain, but all of the tracks are named after airline flight numbers. I think this one was on Pan American. Recorded in June 1976 at Amber Studio, Berlin. (07:33)


3.    Beaver and Krause, “Gandharva” and “By Your Grace,” from Gandharva (1971 Warner Brothers). The Moog Modular is played by Bernie Krause, the pipe organ by Paul Beaver. Baritone Saxophone, Gerry Mulligan. Recorded at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, February 10-11, 1971. This recording came at the height of the Moog craze (for which Beaver and Krause were largely responsible) and this music took a decidedly thoughtful turn with its jazz guests and spacious live sound recorded in a church. Having the Moog Modular in a live performance was a challenge and its presence is only apparent in the opening and several moments on this side of the album. But the organ and baritone saxophone alone provide a beautiful sonic experience. (06:29)


4.    イノヤマランド = Inoyama Land, “Mizue” from ダンジンダン・ポジドン = Danzindan-Pojidon (1983 Yen). Inoyama Land is Yasushi Yamashita and Makoto Inoue. Roland Jupiter 8, System-100M, MC-4, Makoto Inoue. Recorded at Private Studio, Kichijōgi & Yugawara from Jan '82 to '83. This track was made by Inoue which he described as him “playing with repetitive octave, machine-like signal sounds.” (02:31)


5.    Arp, “Nzuku” from Ensemble—Live! (2019 Mexican Summer). Arp is Alexis Georgopoulos, an American electronic musician, composer, and music producer based in New York. Includes music from his LP, Zebra, as well as four original tracks. Zebra saw the diverse, New York-based artist exploring Fourth World, Japanese avant-garde, minimalism, kosmische, dub, cosmic jazz and more. This album was recorded live in the studio. Limited edition of 500 copies. (06:36)


6.    Ariel Kalma, “Reternelle” from Ariel Kalma (1975 Astral Muse). A spacey work for dual saxophones and tape echo, played by Kalma. (12:08)


7.    Masuko Shinji, “Woven Music for Silver Ocean” from Woven Music (2011 Jagjaguwar). Japanese singer and guitarist. Some soothing guitar electronics bordering on noise. Let your thoughts wander. (13:50)


8.    イノヤマランド = Inoyama Land, “Apple Star” from ダンジンダン・ポジドン = Danzindan-Pojidon (1983 Yen). Inoyama Land is Yasushi Yamashita and Makoto Inoue. Roland Jupiter 8, System-100M, MC-4, Makoto Inoue. Recorded at Private Studio, Kichijōgi & Yugawara from Jan '82 to '83. This track by Inoue came about by his “synchronizing the Jupiter 8 auto arpeggio with the System100M analogue sequencer with the sequencer VC (voltage control), which generates a curious phrase automatically.” (05:57)


9.    White Gourd, “La Lune” from Hermit / La Lune (2013 Psychic Sounds). “White Gourd is the solo work of Suzanne Stone. In addition to being a visual artist, herbalist, teacher, master gardener, and beekeeper, she is well known for involvement as vocalist & saxophonist in the experimental ensemble Million Brazilians.” This recording illustrates the dreamy nature of Stone’s sound material used in her live performances; found objects, gongs, 78 player, piano and audio cassette loops. (18:10)


10.Somei Satoh, “Echoes” from Emerald Tablet / Echoes (2020 WRWTFWW). Echoes taken from Somei Satoh's Echoes, Edition Omega Point (2003). It was composed for the "Mist, Sound, and Light Festival", held on May 20-19, 1981 at Kawaji, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Composed and performed by Somei Satoh. For this event, Satoh composed music for the 10-day event organized by the hot spring tourist association of Kawaji. The work was played at the Kawaji hot spring's Ojika river valley using 8 gigantic loudspeakers set-up on hills surrounding the stream, with music played through an 8-channel-tape system. The echoes created by the work were accentuated as they reverberated through the outdoor location. (30:27)


11.Less Bells, “Bird in Hand” and “Forest Ghosts” from Solifuge (2018 Kranky). Less Bells is Julie Carpenter. All Songs by, Violin, Cello, Synthesizers, Fender Rhodes Electric Piano, Omnichord, Julie Carpenter; Optigan Electric Organ, Buchla Music Box, Moog Modular Synthesizer, Dain Luscombe; Synthesizer, mixed by, Kenneth James Gibson; Vocals, Leah Harmon. Violinist/composer Julie Carpenter “. . . weaves orchestral and electronic textures to inhabit that boundary between storm and sun.” Can you say happy astral tripping? (08:39)

 

Opening background music: Ariel Kalma and Richard Tinti, “Forest Ballad” from Osmose(1978 SFP). Organ, Flute, Ariel Kalma; sound effects, Richard Tinti.

 

Opening and closing sequences voiced by Anne Benkovitz.

Additional opening, closing, and other incidental music by Thom Holmes.


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NOISE AND NOTATIONS

Electronic and Experimental Music

Notes on the development and continuing history of electronic music, its creators, and the technology.

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