Sometimes people forget (if they ever knew) what a monumental change occurred during the late 1950's -1960's. A mixture of music and politics created a cultural explosion the likes of which the world has never seen before, and may never see again.
All around the world the mode of the music began changing spurred on by the new electrical revolution. It juiced up conventional instruments, opening a musical Pandora's box of new sounds.
In the West it was somewhat easier to tune in to what the media was allowing to seep into the general culture. Behind "the Iron Curtain" it was another matter. The Communist boggy man we were told was lying in wait to come over and eat our young. News always was "managed", protecting us from the "godless red menace".
Politically the gap was insurmountable at that time. Little did we know that culturally there was already a breakthrough in terms of music and new ideas by artists of all sorts.
As early as 1955 Eugene Murzin had created one of the world's first electronic devices called the ANS synthesizer. It was "a photo electronic optical synthesizer of sound" utilizing a special solid black plate and a row of levers. Each lever was equipped with a "chisel" that could be used to remove the black coloration in a pattern of breaks, points or lines, which in turn created different shades of light that resulted in notes, chords and different timbres of sound. The light rays were directed onto photo elements through rotating discs - frequency modulators creating electrical currents, which triggered optical sound generators. The ANS had 720 such sound generators with the possibility of 72 octaves; 144-step temperation was also possible. It exceeded the possibilities of MOOG modules due to its unlimited polyphony, and possibility of scientific synthesis of sounds and spectral timbre.
The first composition in 1961 was titled "Star Nocturne". European "Space music" was born when Edgar Froese was still a teenager. An artist/musician named Edward Artemiev was the originator way back in the days of the USSR. Edward became that countries top experimental and film soundtrack composer in the ensuing years.
He also had a son, Artemiy, born in 1966. His father was an electronic pioneer and his mother a concert pianist. They lived with his grandmother in a one-room apartment in Moscow. Artemiy spent many hours in a "playground" he had created under their Steinway grand piano. Spending much of his day playing with his toys beneath it allowed him not only to hear the notes, but also to feel the sounds and vibrations of the music. This daily adventure gave him the inspirations to later when he grew up create his own unique form of electronic music.
Artemiy would go to the studio with his father, meet with other musicians, and listen amidst dim lights and musical equipment, to the new sounds coming from the West. They'd have intense discussions of the cultural and artistic importance of all the revolutionary technology and imaginative new synthesizer and art rock compositions.
Lacking a purely "commercial marketplace" for such productions, the sounds they themselves were creating formed a cultural cosmology which differed markedly from the West, where music had become the "music business". As the world turned, changed and arranged during the later years of the 20th century "Glasnost" began and the barriers to International communication fell away as the barriers of the Cold War mindset crumbled.
Artemiy started his Electroshock Records label in 1997. To date he's released 31 titles on CD. Included are 7 multiple disc compilations of "Electroacoustic Music" by a series of International artists. In addition, he's done several solo projects of his own, collaborations with other Western artists, and released selected other solo productions by experimental artists from both East and West.
The music featured on the label deviates markedly from the standard pre-set, push button, imitation synthetic redundancy that abounds today. The spirit of creation is highly progressive with the different artistic collaborations resulting in striking fusions of avant-garde sound, dark sonic sculptures and powerful electronic modernism. Available in the USA, adventurous music lovers will find they are well worth checking out.
In the Summer of 2003, during the 300th Anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Petersburg, Artemiy will stage a 2-week International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival - "Electroshock" bringing in artists from all over the world. Whereas the West used to be the best when it came to EM, Russia is now moving front and center when it comes to exciting new sounds.
Archie Patterson ("Eurock Distribution")