Early ElectroMIX #12

Selections/Mix/Text/Layout: Philippe Petit
Cover art: Yan Proefrock

Early ElectroMIX is a series to document the history of experimental Electronic music from the 50s to the 80s, composers making use of electronic instruments, test equipment, generators of synthetic signals and sounds… to analog synthesizers…While our sessions document those who make it today my desire is to transmit some pioneering works which paved the way to what we try to create today.
Realizing that most of those seminal recordings were not available I decided to archive them in a contemporary way, DJing-mixing them and while most of the time running several sources together or in medleys I made sure to respect the original intent of each composers as I want to transmit their message rather than mine.
The only one I would dare deliver being that they should not be forgotten…

Philippe Petit / April 2021.

Recorded (on March 20/2021) for our series broadcasted on Modular-Station


Pierre Henry – La Reine Verte (1965) 00:00 > 05:15
Tom Dissevelt – Syncopation (1958) 05:12 > 08:12
Ann Southam & Sean O Huigin ‎– Sky Sails (1973) 08:04 > 12:34
Alvin Lucier – I Am Sitting In A Room (1981) 11:58 > 29:14
Brian Eno – Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) (1978) 11:58 > 28:24
Henry Cowell – The Banshee (1957) 28:15 > 30:30
Tod Dockstader – Apocalypse (1962) 29:46 > 31:44
Heins Hoffman-Richter – Music To Freak Your Friends & Break Your Lease (1974 / Stanyan) 31:16 > 35:15
Henri Pousseur – Scambi (1957) 34:38 > 41:05
Iannis Xenakis – Diamorphoses (1957) 40:18 > 47:07
White Noise – Your Hidden Dreams (1969) 46:46 > 51:35
White Noise – The Visitation (1969) 50:29 < 01:00:39

Pierre Henry – La Reine Verte (1965 / Philips)

Founding studio APSOME (for Applications de Procédés SOnores en Musiques Electroacoustiques) the illustrious French musique concrète composer collaborated with Maurice Béjart soundtracking 2 Ballets « Messe Pour Le Temps Présent » and « La Reine Verte » which range among favorite examples in gratifying body and mind.

Tom Dissevelt – Syncopation (1958 / Philips)

Thomas (Tom) Dissevelt was a Dutch composer and musician, known as a pioneer in the merging of electronic music and jazz. In 1955 Bep Rowold, leader of the Skymasters, hired Dissevelt as a bassist and arranger. He became interested in 12-tone music, listened to the many German radio stations, and heard works by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Anton Webern. Recommended by Philips, he was invited to the Natlab studios electronic music. Together with Dick Raaijmakers (alias “Kid Baltan”) he composed electronic music and operated the Philips Research Laboratories from 1956 to1963.

Ann Southam & Sean O Huigin ‎– Sky Sails (1973 / MHIC Company)

Ann Southam was a Canadian composer and electronic musician who graduated at the Faculty of Music of Toronto where she had studied composition and electronic music with Gustav Ciamaga. She was an instructor in electronic music at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. In 1973 she teamed up with the poet Sean O Huigin to soundtrack his recitation mostly playing the Moog equipment installed in the University of Toronto’s UTEMS.

Alvin Lucier – I Am Sitting In A Room (1981 / Pogus)

Alvin Lucier is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore acoustic phenomena and auditory perception. A long-time music professor at Wesleyan University, he was a member of the influential Sonic Arts Union, which included Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma.
I am sitting in a room is a sound art piece which features Lucier recording himself narrating a text, and then playing the tape recording back into the room, re-recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Since all rooms have characteristic resonance or formant frequencies the effect is that certain frequencies are emphasized as they resonate in the room, until eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself.

Brian Eno – Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) (1978 / Polydor)

« Ambient 1: Music for Airports » was the sixth studio album by English musician Brian Eno. Obviously a key figure in Electronic music, ambassador in the use of the VCS3 synthesizer and great producer… The album consists of four compositions created by layering tape loops of differing lengths, and was designed to be continuously looped as a sound installation, with the intent of defusing the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.
I consider it as an historical document because it was the first of four albums released in Eno’s Ambient series, a term which he coined to describe music “as ignorable as it is interesting” that would induce calm and a space to think. Although it is not the earliest entry in the genre, it was the first album ever to be explicitly created under the label « Ambient music”.

Henry Cowell – The Banshee (1957 / Folkways)

Not electronic for a change It was the first piano piece composed to be performed entirely free of the keyboard, which makes it in essence close to Buchla vision of avoiding the incorporation of a keyboard since according to him, the synthesizer should be a tool for music and experimental musicians. A keyboard would have been an invitation to the conventional scale set…
Henry Cowell encouraged using only manual manipulation of the strings within the instrument to produce sound, showing a desire to reinvent the landscape of piano technique, finding new usages and sounds for old instruments without necessarily inventing new ones. In addition to the string piano method changing the technical execution of producing sound, performance of The Banshee also required the performer to play the instrument in a new orientation, standing in the crook of the piano perpendicular to the strings, rather than seated at a bench. This process of re-education was an intentional element of the piece, making conservatory-trained pianists re-assume the role of a new student, forced to individually pick out the notes on the strings to learn their placement. Due to this performance style, The Banshee was also a disruption of the contemporary expectations of piano recitals, intended to create discomfort for the audience as well as the pianist.

Tod Dockstader – Apocalypse (1962 / Owl)

Tod Dockstader was an American composer of electronic music, particularly musique concrète. He studied psychology and art at the University of Minnesota, before studying painting and film and earning money by drawing cartoons for various newspapers. He moved to Hollywood In 1955 to work as an apprentice film editor, cutting picture and sound for animated cartoons.
His compositional adventures began in 1958 after becoming a self-taught sound effects engineer while working as a recording engineer at Gotham Recording Studios where he started to experiment with musique concrète during long off-work hours. His works have been aging extremely well and should be considered essential !!!

Heins Hoffman-Richter – Music To Freak Your Friends & Break Your Lease (1974 / Stanyan)

Being fan of classic Horror + weird Bmovies I first got attracted by the cover of this album showing The Bride Of Frankenstein… Then I discovered that Heins Hoffman-Richter was a pseudonym used by Rod McKuen a very prolific American singer/songwriter, composer, musician and poet well-known in the classical Folk-Country circles.

Henri Pousseur – Scambi (1957 / Mercury )

Henri Pousseur was a composer who studied at Liège & Bruxelles music conservatories. He worked alongside Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio on dodecaphonic, serial and Electronic music in Cologne (1954) and Milano (1957) before founding his own studio in Bruxelles (1958). In parallel he taught composition in Darmstadt, Cologne, Bâle, Buffalo, and then Liège before directing the city music conservatory while enjoying a world-respected career in the avant-garde. Scambi is his second Electronic work, and the very first one having a mobile structure. It consists of sixteen pairs of segments (called “layers” by Pousseur) that may be assembled in many different ways. Pousseur’s original idea was to supply these layers on separate reels of tape, so that the listener could assemble his own version. When first created, several different versions were realized, two by Luciano Berio, one by Marc Wilkinson, and two by the composer himself. Initially, Scambi was not met with universal acclaim, even within Pousseur’s immediate circle of colleagues. Pierre Boulez attended a concert of electronic music from Milan, given at Darmstadt on 26 July 1957, in which two versions of Scambi were presented, along with Mutazione and Perspectives by Luciano Berio and Notturno by Bruno Maderna. In a letter to his friend Stockhausen, Boulez reported:

I also heard the electronic pieces from Milan. What a catastrophe. The one by Pousseur is absolutely zero, both in the choice of material and in its compositional structure. And then, the white noise at a high level and with glissandos, which might be used for sound effects of storms… and these sorts of vaguely aquatic gurglings, and worse (just like a toilet), I find it abominable!

Very often it occurred that the music I like was unpleasant to many… You?!

Iannis Xenakis – Diamorphoses (1957 / Nonesuch)

Iannis Xenakis was a Romanian-born Greek-French composer, music theorist, architect and engineer who is regarded as one of the most radical and important composers of the twentieth century. He formulated a theory of stochastic music in the early 1950’s, and in late 1954 he was accepted as a member of the Groupe De Recherche De Musique Concrète. He later joined Groupe De Recherches Musicales. He pioneered the use of computers for musical composition in 1961. As an architect, he worked with Le Corbusier and designed the Philips Pavilion for the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958. In 1963, he published Musique Formelles, a collection of his articles relating music, architecture, and mathematics. In 1972, he founded CEMAMu (Centre d’Etudes de Mathématique et Automatique Musicales) in Issy-les-Moulineaux, just outside of Paris. He has composed around 150 works for orchestra, instruments, voices, stage, and electronics.

White Noise – Your Hidden Dreams (1969 / Island)
White Noise – The Visitation (1969 / Island)

Experimental electronic music project established in London in 1968, originally as a group project between David Vorhaus and BBC Radiophonic Workshop members Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson. TBH one of my favorite LP marking the origin of an unthinkable pop which owes as much to the Psychedelia of Floydian Syd Barrett, as to the Progressive emerging from a Soft Machine as to contemporary classical music, enriched by the genius of Delia Derbyshire. The first time I was exposed I had no idea music may be that crazy, free, unconventional while so bewitchingly addictive.