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Sub Rosa
For the second volume of these doctrinaire anthologies, Sub Rosa has widened its already absurdly large scope even further, now also attempting to encompass movements in early 90's techno, 60's free jazz and early 80's industrial in addition to the already expansive universe of classic and modern avant-garde and minimalist composers that dominated the first compilation. While I admire the tracks chosen — many of them are indeed rare and unreleased — curator Guy Marc Hinant's thesis is getting ever more tenuous. The compilation opens with "Incantation for Tape" (1953), a brief tape composition by concrete music innovators Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening, which segues into a longer tape collage by Luc Ferrari, certainly a master of the form. Listening to "Visage V" (1958-9), you may notice intense similarities to Jim O'Rourke's recent laptop-based work. This is not a coincidence, as parts of O'Rourke's I'm Happy, And I'm Singing, And a 1, 2, 3, 4 seem to have been a direct, unacknowledged "homage" to Ferrari's work. Tod Dockstader's epic "Aerial>Song" (2002) is a glorious continuation of the groundbreaking work he composed in the 1960's — amazingly elaborate soundscapes like "Apocalypse" and "Water Music". Morton Subotnick's pre-Silver Apples of the Moon "Mandolin" (1962) is a lovely, subtle piece combining bells, windchimes and warmly complex electronic oscillations. My favorite track by far on this collection is "Space travel w/changing choral textures" (1983), a brief soundpiece by the incomparable Alan R. Splet. Splet famously designed the sound for many of filmmaker David Lynch's best works, including Eraserhead. Anyone familiar with Lynch's films understands the indispensable impact of the densely surreal, dark and spacious soundtracks created by the nearly-blind Splet. The second disc opens with "Bronchus One.1" (1991), an early sketch of an Autechre track destined for their classic first album Incunabula. It's enjoyable to hear Sean Booth and Rob Brown flash back to the days when their music was still fresh, relevant and listenable. The disc also includes relatively rare contributions from the early days of experimental techno, with Choose's "Purzuit ov Noize" (1994) and Woody McBride's "Pulp" (1993) — both darkly pulsating slabs of analog minimalism. The compilation takes a nose dive into the gutters of early industrial with rare tracks from Laibach and SPK. Laibach's "Industrial Ambients" (1980-82) is a collage of field recordings of actual factory machinery, complete with the murky klingklang and coldly rhythmic atmosphere of Deutschland's industrial world leadership. After the brief, inscrutable tangent to a theremin piece from 1936, the collection ends with a couple of off-topic contributions by Sun Ra and Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. It's truly difficult to understand how Sun Ra's cosmic free jazz or Beefheart's primitivist blues fit into the scheme, as neither of these tracks contain significant electronic instrumentation. The disc also contains a Quicktime video clip of Beefheart performing the track circa 1969, which is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant. I wholeheartedly recommend volume two of Sub Rosa's Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music not for its thematic coherence, which is nonexistent, but for the rare and unreleased tracks, which make the compilation worth the price of admission. 


Last Updated on Monday, 05 September 2005 16:04  


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