Those gorgeous blonde Swedes at Fylkingen Records have sent a compilation CD called Forerunners: Swedish Electronic and Concrete Music 1955-65. It’s got all the big names (or at least some I recognise) you’d expect, including the greats Rune Lindblad, Ralph Lundsten, Sten Hanson, Lars-Gunnar Bodin and Bengt Hambraeus, plus many others including Arne Mellnäs, Åke Karlung and Karl-Birger Blomdahl. Inside there’s a handy booklet with notes by Sten Hanson and photographs of the composers who look like a very studious lot, often photographed in suit and tie to emphasise their stolidity. Apparently Sweden didn’t get its own electroacoustic studio until late 1965, which may account for why a lot of these pieces were realised in places like Cologne, Paris and San Francisco. My favourite piece so far is called ‘Nite Music’, recorded in 1964.
The Death of Don Juan (UNSEEN WORLDS UW04) looks a promising suite by New York composer Elodie Lauten. Plenty of mannered operatic voices and Fairlight keyboards combining in a post-Philip Glass setting. Unseen Worlds have rescued this 1985 recording from the Cat Collectors Productions label with this reissue. Apparently it’s more ‘about the myth rather than the story of Don Juan’, and purports to be an ‘opera of consciousness’. Seems pretty mesmerising from what I’ve skimmed. Anything with a ‘Kyrie’ will always get my vote!
O.S.T. is Chris Douglas. Based in Berlin he recorded Waetka (IDEAL RECORDINGS iDEAL 042) between 2004 and 2006. Apparently he’s a troubled fellow who comes to avant-garde music from a history of Garage and Techno, areas which are a closed shop to me. No heavy beats on this record though, just plenty of paranoia and darkness, veering wildly from a black pulsing Hell one moment to a wintry Ambient doom the next. Very promising indeed.
Oddity of the month comes from Ibrahim R Ineke, from his home in The Hague. I’m not sure what it is called. It’s a collaboration between a band and a comic-book artist, except that neither has any connection with each other. The comic book was originally issued as Islamic Gothic issues 1-3, now collected into a single book bound in corrugated card, hand-sewn in an edition of 100 copies. The CDR features three tracks of power-chord guitar rock by Brachland, music which is not intended as a ‘soundtrack’ to the book. I’d say the comic is slightly more appealing than the aggressive music, but it’s also largely incomprehensible on first read. What comes across however is the artist has a very cinematic sensibility, with unusual découpage, film-noir influenced lighting effects, and long-shots rendered as panoramic full panels. Contact the artist here.
Any new record by Chris Watson is an important event (he doesn’t release much, and every release is always excellent). Cima Verde (Fondazione Edmund Mach and LoL Productions) is a new collection of field recordings, and the same title was used at a sound installation for the exhibition Auditory Epode. “This is sound into light”, is how Watson describes this record. “Down alpine slopes, across high pastures and into the forests a frozen mountain of sound thaws out from a mono block and into an ordered seven stage descent through 3000m of unique acoustic habitats…a series of ritual performances for animal ears”. Here, the work is documented with colour photographs and a note of of the altitude where the piece was captured as Watson made his descent. The undisputed emperor of field recordings, Watson should also be given credit for reaching into places where few musicians (few people for that matter) dare to tread, and is fetching back documents whose value as environmental records will be immeasurable in years to come. For the time being, they also make beautiful listening. May be available from the Touch Shop.