New Arrivals to the Archives—Part 1: Early and Symphonic Electronic Music
My Book/eBook: Electronic and Experimental Music, sixth edition, Routledge 2020.
My Podcast: The Holmes Archive of Electronic Music
My blog for the Bob Moog Foundation.
This podcast is usually organized around themes. For the next two episodes I am going to forego that practice so that I can dip into a stack of new arrivals that are making their way into the archive. I am going to manage this in two episodes. Part one, this episode, will feature new arrivals in Early and Symphonic Electronic Music. The next part will include Noise Music, Improvisations, and Atmospheres.
The name “new arrivals,” for those of you who do not frequent record stores, are the latest vinyl discs to arrive at a given shop. They are filed temporarily in a “new arrival” section primarily in the hope that buyers will thin them out before the staff actually take it upon themselves to file the discs in the specific bins where they’re intended. It’s the first place I look when I go searching for vinyl because there is always a chance that you will be the first customer to notice a particular gem for a collection. And I make regular stops at record stores wherever I travel. They are a terrific source of surprises and various odd discs that I never had been looking for. But if they match my search criteria, I pick them up to help document the history of electronic music.
So, occasionally I gather my new acquisitions around me and select a bunch to feature on the program. And I do mean occasionally—I’ve only actually done this once before, in episode 42. Now we’re at episode 92 and 93. In a way, a new arrivals podcast is also a way for me to preview a bunch of recordings for likely future themes. You will hear a lot of variety in these New Arrivals episodes, and it is a little challenging to create a meaningful sequence of tracks. But I hope the variety is a welcomed change of pace for you, the all important listener.
My gameplan for thes episodes is that I can select any vinyl recording, a single or LP, that somehow fits the mission of the Archive. It must be electronic in nature, but could be in any genre, from any country, that tells us something about the multi-faceted state of electronic music at any given time.
I will quickly breeze through the categories I’ve established for the records heard in this episode and explain why the recordings are important for the Archive. For the complete details, and I do mean details, about each of the tracks, please see the playlist for the podcast.
Symphonic electronic rock is always a favorite of listeners of the podcast. I note these additions, including a scarce soundtrack recording of interest.
From 1977 comes an obscure soundtrack by Jeff Bruner for the movie Foes. This interesting soundtrack combined electronic music with orchestral sounds for this little seen motion picture. According to Jeff Bruner himself, this record was pressed for the movie staff only and there are less than 20 copies. I picked it up in a record store in Boston. Then I’ll play three classic electronic pop tunes from Claude Denjean, Hugo Montenegro, and Raymond Lefèvre.
In the category of Early Electronic Music Several recordings featuring vintage tape compositions and performances using the Moog Modular synthesizer were among our newest arrivals to the archive. These include classic tape tracks from Ralph Lundsten from around 1968, some early French broadcast library music from 1962 by Jean-Jacques Perrey, a long lost recording of the Moog Modular from 1968 by San Franciscan synthesist Doug McKechnie, and an unusual Moog Modular synthesizer appearance in a folk rock tune by Canada’s Hydro-Electric Streetcar from 1970. I was searching for this Canadian benefit disc for a long time so that I could add it to my collection of Moog Modular Synthesizer recordings. The Moog in this case was owned by my acquaintance Johns Mills Cockell who played in several rock bands and avant garde performance groups during this time. Remember Intersystems?
A few tracks in this batch of new arrivals worked around the theme of robots, machines, and synthesized voices. We’ll hear tracks from Skanform, Bakterialle Infektion, Dee D. Jackson, and another track from Ralph Lundsten, this one from 1975.
In the category of Odds and Ends, I’ve included several recordings that are becoming part of the archive as representative examples of the odd and curious in electronic sounds. On a Marvelettes single from 1962 we’ll hear the Musitron organ played by Raynoma Liles Gordy (producer, arranger, musician and ex-wife of Motown executive Barry Gordy). I’ve included a sample of incidental music produced on tape the Living Shakespeare series in 1962; as an example of a recording made with parallel or trick-tracks, we’ll hear a 45 single provided with the K-Tel game Super Star Chance-a-Tune in 1973; space sound effects from a broadcast special effects disc by Adams and Fleisner; and the electronic Moog music produced in 1979 by Hans Wurman for the comedy record, The Chicago Language Tape And Other Aberations of El Fiendo In Glorious Mono.
And a few of the recordings are just unnecessarily difficult to categorize. I call them originals. They include some electronic renditions of dance music from French artist Joakin Bouaziz, the 1981 group Landscape, an English electro pop duo from London, and then Ralph Lundsten again. Then we’ll hear three lovely electronic works from Allen Ravenstine, who had been the original synthesist in the group Pere Ubu and a couple of broadcast library tracks from Don Voegeli who used to produce audio logos for NPR at the University Of Wisconsin-Extension.
For the complete details about each of these tracks, you’ll want to read the playlist for the podcast.
Symphonic Electronic Rock
Symphonic electronic is always a favorite of listeners of the podcast. I note these additions, including a scarce soundtrack recording of interest.
1. Jeff Bruner, “Try To Escape,” “Night Saucer,” “Larry And Diane Go To Hell,” “On The Beach,” “The Investigator,” “Vic's Flashback,” “End” from (side 2) from Foes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1977 Not on Label). This interesting soundtrack combined electronic music with orchestral sounds for this little seen motion picture. Recorded and mixed at Santa Barbara Sound. Music composed and conducted by Jeff Bruner; electronic music production, Doug Scott; electronic music realized by Jeff Bruner and Doug Scott. I picked this up on a trip to Boston According to Jeff Bruner himself, this record was pressed for the movie staff only and there are less than 20 copies. “The music on this record is a perfect balance of rational sounds that you’ve heard before and even more rational sounds which because you’ve never heard them before seem quite irrational. 19:36
2. Claude Denjean, “Memories Of Moody Blues” from Moods (1976 London Records). A few years after the initial wave of albums produced using the Moog Modular synthesizer, Denjean returned to the instrument to make this collection of classic pop tunes in an electronic symphonic vein. This song seems to touch on every other note of the classic “Nights in White Satin” without actually causing any copyright issues, I imagine. This album is a new copy added to the archive. How could I resist? 4:09
3. Hugo Montenegro, “MacArthur Park (Allegro Part III)” from Moog Power (1969 RCA Victor). A rockin’ album of symphonic pop tunes from the heyday of Moog Modular recordings. Montenegro had the magic touch for arranging such pop songs. He was aided by Moog programming by none other than Paul Beaver and playing by Mike Melvoin. This is an old copy from my collection that I unsealed just for this podcast. Only this one track has been played on this album. 3:21
4. Raymond Lefèvre Et Son Grand Orchestre, “Mille Colombes” from Love In Stereo Nº 1 (1978 Barclay). This German release of French album is one of many by keyboard player and arranger Lefèvre. This one features a variety of electronic music instruments used in conjunction with an orchestra. Bass, Dave Markee; Drums, Barry Morgan; Keyboards, Alan Hawkshaw; Percussion, Ray Cooper; Synthesizer players, Guy Boyer, Maurice Vander, Raymond Lefèvre. Synthesizers used: RMI Computer, Moog 3 P, Arp DGX, Omni Polyphonic, Korg 1000, Korg 2000, Ems/Arp Sequencer. Rhythm section recorded at Lansdowne Recording Studios, London. Strings recorded at Barclay Hoche, Paris. Synthesizers recorded at Studio Damiens. 3:10
Early Electronic Music
Several recordings featuring vintage tape compositions and performances using the Moog Modular synthesizer were among our newest arrivals to the archive.
5. Ralph Lundsten. “Snowstorm” (1967/68) from Shangri-La (1975 His Master’s Voice). Swedish release of composer Lundsten music for Shangri-La, a commissioned work for Swedish Radio. However, the album also presents several early tape works, including Winter Music, a suite of works for the season of this which this one is a part. “Suddenly, a sleigh with lit-up torches emerges out of the whirling snowstorm. … Was it for real or just a dream?” 2:30
6. Jean Jacques Perrey, “The Alien Planet” from Musique Electronique Du Cosmos (Electronic Music From Outer Space) (1962 MusiCues). An earlier disc of Perrey, later known as the wizard of electronic pop sounds. He was using the Ondioline for this track, an early monophonic organ, and tape manipulation to provide effects. This was a recording of broadcast library sounds. 1:02
7. Jean Jacques Perrey, “Space Light” from Musique Electronique Du Cosmos (Electronic Music From Outer Space) (1962 MusiCues). Another early track from Perrey. 1:03
8. Jean Jacques Perrey, “Intercestial Tabulator” from Musique Electronique Du Cosmos (Electronic Music From Outer Space) (1962 MusiCues). Another early tape compositionfrom Perrey that might be his imagining what a future computer would sound like. 1:03
9. Jean Jacques Perrey, “Barnyard in Orbit” from Musique Electronique Du Cosmos (Electronic Music From Outer Space) (1962 MusiCues). Another early track from Perrey that shows his innate sense of humor that we would hear much more of in his music yet to come. 2:17
10.Jean Jacques Perrey, “Micro Cosmic PL 1” from Musique Electronique A Caractere Special Pour Illustrations Sonores Et Effets Speciaux (2017 Wah Wah Records). Spanish release of an original acetate disc of Perrey demonstration tracks and original compositions. I think these were made around 1967 after Perrey had begun using the Moog Modular synthesizer. 5:19
11.Doug McKechnie, “The First Exploration @ SF Radical Laboratories, 1968” (2020 VG+ Records). Recently released recordings of an original tapes made in 1968 from an early Moog composer and performer. McKechnie famously played a live Moog Modular set at the Altamont performance in 1969 by the Rolling Stones. He is ever-so briefly heard and seen the film Gimme Shelter (1970). In any event, McKechnie was a pioneer who used an instrument owned by one Bruce Hatch (not Bruce Haack). He worked with the instrument for about four years before Hatch sold it to Tangerine Dream around 1972. With that came the end of one musician’s dreams and the beginning of someone else’s. I am so happy that Doug was able to release this recording of his early work because so many of us have been curious to hear it. This track represents some clever droning with the sequencer and one can imagine this being performed in real-time. 8:30
12.Hydroelectric Streetcar, “I Realize” from The Cool-Aid Benefit Album Vol. 1 (1970 Arthfor Special Products). I was searching for this Canadian benefit disc for a long time so that I could add it to my collection of Moog Modular Synthesizer recordings. The Moog in this case was owned by my acquaintance Johns Mills Cockell who played in several rock bands and avant garde performance groups during this time. Remember Intersystems? In this case, he was playing as a sideman for Hydro Electric Streetcar, a folk-rock band to which he added synthesis. Bass, Vocals, Lee Stephens; Drums, Stan Tait; Guitar, Al Wiebe; Lead Vocals, Danny McInnes; Moog Modular Synthesizer, John Mills-Cockell. 3:48
A few tracks in this batch of new arrivals worked around the theme of robots, machines, and synthesized voices.
13.Skanfrom, “Mr. Robot Is Dead” from Split 12" (2000 A.D.S.R.). Now defunct electro synthpop label from Germany run by Skanfrom. Limited to 800 hand numbered copies. Mine is number 676. Skanfrom is Roger Semsroth. 3:25
14.B.I., “Gro Stadtleben” from Split 12" (2000 A.D.S.R.). Now defunct electro synthpop label from Germany run by Skanfrom. Limited to 800 hand numbered copies. Mine is number 676. B.I. (Bakterielle Infektion) was founded in Berlin in 1995, disbanded 2011. 2:34
15.Dee D. Jackson, “Automatic Lover” from Automatic Lover (1978 Jupiter Records). German release, 7” 45 RPM. Dee D. Jackson (Deirdre Elaine Cozier) is an English singer-songwriter, She was primarily a space disco/Italo disco concept artist, moving to Italy in the mid-1980s. The computer voice in this tune sounds like a person speaking monotone with some filtering. No artificial intelligence involved here. 3:54
16.Ralph Lundsten. “Robbie is Dancing the Waltz” (1975) from Shangri-La (1975 His Master’s Voice). Swedish release of composer Lundsten music for Shangri-La, a commissioned work for Swedish Radio. It also includes his Heaven by Night suite from which this song comes. The robotic voice appears to be one that is amplitude modulated to provide a wavering tremolo effect. No vocoder here. 4:06
Odds and Ends
Recordings that are becoming part of the archive as representative examples of the odd and curious in electronic sounds.
17.The Marvelletes, “I Want a Guy” (1961 Tamla). Single featuring a Musitron played by Raynoma Liles Gordy (producer, arranger, musician and ex-wife of Motown executive Barry Gordy); Lead vocals by Wanda Young Rogers; background vocals by Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Tillman, Wyanetta "Juanita" Cowart, and Katherine Anderson; Other instrumentation by the Funk Brothers included Bass by James Jamerson, Drums by Benny Benjamin, Guitar by Eddie Willis, Piano by Marvin Gaye,Tenor saxophone by Hank Cosby, Baritone saxophone by Andrew "Mike" Terry. The Musitron was a modified, monophonic electric organ invented by Max Crook and featured on such well-known songs as Del Shannon’s “Hats Off to Larry” and “Runaway.” Crook was the keyboard player in Del Shannon’s band and they made that sound a key novelty in Shannon’s songs beginning in 1961, the same year as “I Want a Guy.” 2:38
18.Living Shakespeare, “King Lear” excerpt from King Lear (1962 Living Shakespeare Inc.). US compilation release of various excerpts from the Living Shakespeare series. This was a series of recordings of the plays of William Shakespeare, adapted for recording and made in England. This series was available in various combinations of discs and usually featured some sort of incidental electronic music produced by a BBC Radiophonic-associated composer. I have a complete set of discs as packaged for the US market. But I came across this sampler disc and thought to include an example of the scene from King Lear where the King (as acted by Donald Wolfit) “calls down the rage of heaven in a violent thunderstorm,” with the storm sounds all being electronic. Text adapted by Fiona Bentley, Morys Aberdare; Directed by Sir Donald Wolfit; Musique Concrete and sound patterns composed by Desmond Leslie. 2:24
19.K-Tel, “Hit, Flop, Break Even” from K-Tel Super Star Chance-a-Tune (1973 K-Tel). 7” 45-rpm single. A triple-grooved record. (also known as 'Parallel', 'Mystery', or 'Trick-Track' record). Originally packaged as part of the board game "K-Tel Superstar Game.” The same tracks are pressed on both sides. “Players are rock stars” and collected gold records to win. Rolled the dice to move through the board. Squares had events for players to collect or lose money or release an album, which were subject to being a Hit, Flop, or Break-even by playing the disc. The game came with this Chance-A-Tune 45 RPM record which was played when a player landed on an album release square. The player drops the needle to see which of the tracks, and verdicts, comes up. The single only includes the three phrases I’ve edited here for the podcast. In reality, you could never tell which track would play with each drop of the needle. 0:29
20.Adams & Fleisner, “Surrounded In Mystery And Magic (Sounds Of The Inside)” from Space Effects Vol. 2 (1988 BCM). German recording of sound effects. I chose this one primarily because at 1:25 it was by far the longest track on this broadcast library record. 1:54
21.Yuri Rasovsky, “Interplanetary Adventurer” from The Chicago Language Tape And Other Aberations of El Fiendo In Glorious Mono (1979 Not on Label). A curious comedy record led by Yuri Rasovsky that consists primarily of sketches that are acted out and produced as would be a radio program. There is one piece of electronic music that might interest you: Hans Wurman, venerable Moog synthesist, contributed the opening music to this story that features the Moog Modular. I suspect that this was the last recorded Moog piece that Hans produced before laying down his golden patch cords. Musician, music by Hans Wurman; Voice Actor, Dick Simpson, Don Vogel, Gary Gears, Joan Lazzerini, John Hultman, Keneth Northcott, Mell Zellman, Michelle M. Faith, Yuri Rasovsky. I chose to reproduced only this musical segment, surrounded by some of the spoken parts for context. 1:46.
A few recordings are just unnecessarily difficult to categorize.
22.Joakim, “Teenage Kiss (Dub)” from Transe / Teenage Kiss (2005 Kitsune). French, 12” maxi-single. Danceable, yet strange. Written by, Performed, and produced by Joakim Bouaziz. 4:58
23.Landscape, “From The Tea-Rooms Of Mars .... To The Hell-Holes Of Uranus” from From The Tea-Rooms Of Mars .... To The Hell-Holes Of Uranus (1981 RCA). English electro/pop/jazz band from London. This is the title track and features some electronic tunes in the dance styles of the beguine, mambo, and tango. Which seemed to go with the other dance related tracks I found in this batch of new-old records. Electronic trombone, Trombone, Vocals, Peter Thoms; Vocals, Keyboards, Grand Piano, Fender Rhodes, Christopher Heaton; Vocals, Programmed By, Electronic Drums, Electronic Percussion, Synthesizer, Drums, Richard James Burgess; Bass Guitar, Synthesizer Bass, Vocals, Andy Pask. 7:53
24.Ralph Lundsten. “Cosma Nova” (1975) from Shangri-La (1975 His Master’s Voice). Another track from Mr. Lundsten, commissioned for Swedish Radio. From the Heaven by Night suite, this is a dreamy dance tune. 3:18
25.Allen Ravenstine, “Going Upriver,” “110 In The Underpass,” and “5@28” from Electron Music / Shore Leave (2020 Waveshaper). This recent Canadian release is a collection of Ravenstine”s work for electronic and instrumental media. Ravenstine was the electronics and synthesizer player in the original lineup of Pere Ubu. He has continued to make eclectic, highly original and thoughtful music over the years. 16:11
26.Don Voegeli, “A Piece Of Bubble Gum” from Instant Production Music/Volume 18: Fine (1980 University Of Wisconsin-Extension). This was the final disc Voegeli made in the Electrosonic Studio for NPR, saying, “Fine . . . used as the title for this record to signal another termination, the end of the CPB and NPR funded project which over the years has brought you a total of twenty-six records of special production music.” Intended for private use by and for public (non-commercial) radio and TV facilities, this was one of the many broadcast library records that Voegeli created in a well-equipped electronic music studio that included a Moog Modular III. 1:07
27.Don Voegeli, “Follow the Leader” from Instant Production Music/Volume 18: Fine (1980 University Of Wisconsin-Extension). Produced by the Electrosonic Studio. 1:52
Opening background music: Barton McLean, “Dimensions I For Single Instrument And Tape” (excerpt) from American Society Of University Composers (1979 Advance Recordings). Tape composition and recording engineer, Barton McLean; Violin, Stephen Clapp. Compositions From Volume VII Of The ASUC Journal Of Music Scores. Composed while McLean was director the Electronic Music Center at the University of Texas at Austin. 13:38
Opening and closing sequences voiced by Anne Benkovitz.
Additional opening, closing, and other incidental music by Thom Holmes.
See my companion blog that I write for the Bob Moog Foundation: