Startling and stunning in equal measure it is exciting, certainly necessary to get shaken up once in while out of the security of familiarity. As the title of this latest collection of terse, far-out and exotically challenging sounds collide creating a template for you to do so, this is a fast-forward journey into the provocative and evocative. The junction and spirit of inspiration interlinking between Pop Culture And The Classical Avant-Garde is well documented, as indeed are the accompanying sleeve notes here, and this selection of composers, artists and sound manipulators is spread across four cd’s of undoubtable thrills. From Stockhausen to Coltrane extending the hotwire of radical improvisation to the twenty munities of Ravi Shankar’s mystically charged Raga Bilaskhani Todi, from the humanity of Debussy to Bill Evans emotive Jazz this literally plays out like a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Private Dreams and Public Nightmares, created before the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was established in 1958, highlighting (again) the importance of Daphne Oram alongside Desmond Briscoe and Norman Bain with a cut-up of sight and sound is to be found here. The full 27 minutes of Pierre Henry’s Orpheus, the first major work of symphonic concrÃ¨te music, is included too. All of which merely scratches the surface of a less conventional appreciation of what collections of noise are capable of, just as the beauty of Classical notation likewise ignites the soul. Things and perspective might not quite feel the same after you listen to thisâ€¦
Joe Meek was a troubled genius who helped define the use of electronics in popular music. Not the most avant-garde as the likes of John Cage, Henri Pousseur, Luciano Berio and GyÃ¶rgy Ligeti ripped up the music sheet of conventional thinking in ways beyond what anyone else at the time was doing, but none the less a self-defining, pioneering producer in his own right. What’s particularly brilliant about this three CD collection is that it files in context the contrasting styles and techniques of all those musical creators alongside England’s own Daphne Oram and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, plus the many other schools of thought dotted throughout Europe such as Radiotelevisione in Milan and musique concrÃ¨te in Paris. Their experiments in electronic sound and magnetic tape alongside a radical new use of musical construction offers a rare glimpse into the unknown, yet feels strangely re-assuring like the return of a long lost friend who disappeared somewhere in the analogue of grainy, black and white television. And remember this was all happening in and around the turn of 1960 proposing radical, revolutionary theories only unfettered sound could denote.
But back to Joe Meek whose unreleased concept album: I Hear A New World from that year provides an insight into the opening world of possibilities as you will hear music washed and reverb and echo redefining what Pop could be. Not surprisingly it is a strange, otherworldly exploration which uses atmospheres as much as does treated melodies alongside an illuminating twist on the twang of Rock n Roll. Also included is the celebrated RPM restoration version from 1991 as well as an invaluable booklet detailing more about his life. And, on the story of the development and those involved in electronic music from that period now lost to time. Although not if you listen closelyâ€¦