The interesting but rather patchy "Electroshock" series continues with "Volume III", which is another curate's egg. Somehow the series compiler Artemiy Artemiev can't quite get the quality control right. A little bit too much New Age mellowness for my liking, but still a valuable series. The best work here is from Englishman John Palmer, who delivers some rather exciting violin violence, squeaky, frenetic and strange; Scot Pete Stollery with a concentration on small found sounds, processed and textural, a micro-soundtrack of the macro-world; and Argentinian Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi, whose "Angelus" sounds like the musical equivalent of those old Chris Foss sci-fi book covers of the 1970s, all drifting twisted spaceships in dusty distant star systems, a spiritual soundtrack to the passing of planets. Most of the other stuff is forgettable New Age/World Music noodling. Perhaps a compilation would be useful?
Jim Barker ("The Rubberneck")
"Electroshock" also has an interesting compilation series and "Aural Innovations" was sent volumes III-V. "Electroacoustic Music Volume III" features a variety of electronic compositions, some delving into the avant-garde. Among the standout tracks is one from John Palmer who performs an avant-classical noise freakout, most of which sounds like the destruction of a violin. Pete Stollery's contribution begins as what could be a solo synth demonstration of wild keyboard runs, but then segues into a minimalist exploration into sound. Rudiger Gleisberg's track is more symphonic and melodic than the other tracks. But my favorite track is from Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi who offers a minimalist synth exploration, though the music soon develops into a classical/orchestral, though still avant-garde, piece near the end. Part "Phantom Of The Opera", part operatic thunderstorm, it's quite intense. There's also a track from the great Hans Joachim Roedelius.
Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")
"Electroacoustic Music Volume 3" is the release that forms a platform from which a variety of names offer up their wares. And, like the previous collections, the album is brimming over with some stunning music. The musicians on this collection come from as far and apart as America, Scotland, Buenos Aires, and good old Britain. Hans Joachim Roedelius is perhaps a name that some of you are familiar with? Richard Bone kicks off the album with "Elusia, I Can See". It's a simple yet incredibly catchy piece. John Palmer's "Epitaph" isn't one of my favouritesi It sounds like a cello is being attacked with a knife (Norman Bates' style). The cries and hurtful responses are painful to the ears. Martin Alejandro Fumarola's "Shaguir" is a whirlwind of crystal sounds and deep resonant notes that sound almost labyrinthian - I was reminded at times of old Dr. Who chasing around that Welsh quarry! Again, on here we have a very strong undercurrent of something not nice - a Lovecraftian horror lurking in the shadows. Neck hairs up, or what? Pete Stollery uses sound effects initially to kick off his "Onset/Offset" piece. After a couple of minutes stranger effects come into play, and whilst I wouldn't call this 'music' as such, it certainly challenges the listener. This track is certainly different! After a few minutes it's actually like listening to some sinister film with the visuals missing. Rudiger Gleisberg's "African Moods" is, so far, the most conventional synth piece on the album. Very "Tangerine Dream", and rather well structured - and the title of "African Skies" is no mismatch - rather tasty to say the least. Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi's "Angelus" is the longest track on the album (over 16 minutes) and as such it morphs through a variety of styles, moods and colours. Odd sounding strings drift in and out at the start of the piece with long silent gaps, with blasts of percussion giving a mysterious edge. It would be impossible to go through this piece with the space I have, but needless to say it's a gem, building up one minute, then sliding into silence, changing and reforming, indeed, sythesising all the time. The last track is the aforesaid Roedelius with "Message From The Ivory Tower". Another long track, at just over fifteen minutes, it allows the music to change and build. I reckon a Glass tower would have fitted the bill better, as crystal/sharp notes pervade this track like a flock of birds. Again, it would be impossible to run through the track but this is one of the strongest on the album. Superb collection, although the John Palmer track spoils the 'flow'.
Dave W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")
This series of compilations features a wide range of composer/musicians using electronic instruments and sounds some reminiscent of what we now call 'Electronica', but most really fall into the avant-garde and soundsculpture categories. For example, "Volume III" ranges from the gentle (and very listenable) ambience of Richard Bone's "Elusia, I Can See" and Rudiger Gleisberg's "African Moods" to the unlistenable (or perhaps that should be rampantly unmusical) "Epitaph" by John Palmer. Remaining contributors to this CD are Martin Alejandro Fumarola, Pete Stollery, Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi and Hans Joachim Roedelius. "Volume IV" is subtitled "Synthesiser ANS 1964-1971", and brings together for the first time recordings made on the very first Russian designed and built synthesiser. Contributors include Edward Artemiev, Alfred Schnittke, Oleg Buloshkin, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, Stanislav Kreitchi and several others. The majority of the tracks here are atonal, and not music as we recognise it, Jim! However, if you hanker back to the 50's sci-fi movies and their soundtracks of weird sounds and music then this is for you. Finally, "Volume V" brings together a new set of contributors: Claire Laronde, Peeter Vahi, Robin Julian Heifetz, Anatoly Pereslegin, Dieter Moebius, "Karda Estra" and Christopher De Laurenti. The moods and sounds on this CD are the most wide-ranging of all, with Vahi's "Fugue and Hymn" mixing symphony orchestra and electronics into a piece that could be classed modern classical music. My personal preference is for the albums by Artemiy Artemiev and his father, but if you enjoy cutting edge 'electroacoustic' music then any of these compilations will push your preconceptions to the brink.
John Peters ("The Borderland")
An international electroacoustic compilation featuring artists from: Great Britain, USA, Austria, Argentina and Germany. You will hear the likes of Richard Bone (a peaceful, meditative piece using keyboards/voice), John Palmer (going into noisier territory with strings, or maybe violin), Martin Alejandro Fumarola (processed sounds/keyboards, an utopic aural adventure no doubt), Pete Stollery (a good interaction of natural/found/processed sounds, definitely relaxing material), Rudiger Gleisberg (beautiful electroacoustic with cinematic undertones), Alejandro Iglesias-Rossi (sounds are processed beyond recognition, highly minimal and experimental), and Hans Joachim
Roedelius (an outstanding song, a crossover between ambient and electro). A good compilation indeed. I recommend it to people who want to know more about this style of music. Mighty impressive.
Francois Marceau ("Mastock")
Always committed in the "refined" experimental music, Electroshock has compiled a thick compilation of some of the most important and renowned sound researchers. What comes to us is an example of extremely interesting experiences, which span amongst different ways of composition and concept: so revised traditional instruments give way to no-wave nonsense moments, mental soundtracks, made up by everyday noises manipulated in order to twist the reality they recall, or just electronic waveforms and soft drones, invoking alien landscapes, to tribal chants, and rarefied atmospheres recalling the sweetest ethnic ambient. Nice attempt to join all the different kinds of musical experimentation into one record.
Fa ("D.L.K. The Hell Key")
The Electroshock label's use of the term "electroacoustic" is extremely wide-ranging and liberal, so much so that almost anything that involves acoustic sound manipulation, electronics or synthesizers is fair game. Volume III opens very playfully with Richard Bone doing a Gamelan meets Cluster type number, totally unlike anything I've heard from him before. John Palmer (the Sargasso Records experimentalist) crashes-inuttles-off with bowed bass and shimmering tones. Like Dumitrescu gone totally mad this amounts to quite a challenge. Moving further afield (Argentina that is) Martin Alejendro Fumarola presents a very diverse piece of digital musique-concrete and synth music. Pete Stollery (the second British representative here) offers an urban sonic landscape that changes into buzzing glides of electronic sound. Rudiger Gleisberg's "African Moods" is a totally sore thumb with his playful synths and samples, and ridiculously out of place! Back to Argentina, in Alejandro Inglesias-Rossi's "Angelas", we have spectral swirls and atmospheres that eventually grow darker and move into a bombastic assault on the senses. Lastly we have Roedelius rounding off the album with a lengthy abstract but melodic work in the vein of his "La Nordica".
Alan Freeman ("Audion")