Madeline Cocolas – I Can See You Whisper

 

Australian-born composer Madeline Cocoloas’ debut record Cascadia is set to be released in January from Future Sequence, and it’s gorgeous. Much of the material arose from a project she undertook where she created a song a week for a year. It was fittingly called the “Fifty Two Weeks” project, and lucky for us that material has been repurposed, repackaged, and refined for our listening pleasure. I Can See You Whisper was actually the final installment of the 52 weeks project, which she celebrated by releasing a video for the song. Blending her classical training on piano and (I’m guessing) violin/cello with subdued synth drones, she has composed original soundtracks to Hitchcock’s The Birds as well as for site-specific art installations. For more information and to hear past installments in the Fifty-Two Weeks saga, check out the blog she set up for the project or check out her website. You can also hear more of her music over at Soundcloud. I’ll have to remember this project when I get a bit lazy with the Music For Cougars stuff, because it’s not as good and it seems to take twice as long.

HOME – New Machines

 

This track comes off the debut record Odyssey from electronic artist HOME (aka Randy Goff). It was released in 2014 by Midwest Collective, and it’s only a dollar so I strongly suggest snatching it up because from start to finish it’s a treat. He released a second record Before the Night (also on Midwest Collective) that is in the same electro future funk vein as Odyssey so if you dig this I’d recommend checking this out. In addition to Bandcamp, he’s got a presence on Soundcloud where there is some material that is not present on either full-length releases.

 

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John Adams – Light Over Water

Part I

Part II

Part III

John Adams is an American composer who is often associated with the Minimalist and post-Minimalist movements in American music. While Light Over Water features electronics quite prominently (along with brass instruments), Adams has composed many works which are entirely “acoustic” but which are often influenced by electronic means of composition. According to composer Ingram Marshall, who wrote an essay on Light Over Water over at Earbox:

As synthesizers come to mimic the “real thing,” they truly begin to live up to their hitherto inappropriate name. Technology offers the possibility of a truly synthetic orchestra. Thus Adams, who has a natural gift for composing the lyrical and expressive sounds of instruments, found a technology that could augment and reinforce the orchestral traditions of several centuries.

This is the nascent situation of Light Over Water. Essentially electronic, it was nevertheless born out of the world of the orchestra. In previous works, Adams “electrified” his orchestrations. Now he “orchestrates” his electronics.

This tension between traditional orchestral sounds and electronic means of composition can also be seen in one of Adams’ best known works, Shaker Loops which was released along with Light Over Water by New Albion in 1987. Shaker Loops is written for a string orchestra but it’s repetitive structure of loops played by different string instruments harken back to early experiments with tape loops.

Light Over Water was originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 1983 as accompaniment for an installation choreographed by Lucinda Childs and featuring set design by Frank Gehry. You can watch a tech rehearsal for the performance, which was entitled “Available Light,” here. You can read more about the performance in this article written to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the performance.

Other notable works by Adams include Nixon in China, an opera based on Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, Harmonium, and The Death of Klinghoffer. The Death of Klinghoffer has been controversial since its debut, as some have claimed that the opera distorts the story of the Palestine Liberation Front’s highjacking of a cruise ship in 1985, and their murder of Klinghoffer in a way which is antisemitic. After 9/11, the Boston Symphony cancelled a planned performance of excerpts from the opera and former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani protested the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Klinghoffer.

You can hear samples of each of these works below:

Nixon in China
Harmonium
The Death of Klinghoffer

M. Geddes Gengras – Magical Writing

M. Geddes Gengras has been active in the experimental scene in Los Angeles for a number of years, releasing material under his own name as well as the moniker Personable. I initially heard this release in excerpted form on the Umor Rex compilation Collected Works Vol. 1 (The Moog Years), though the above represents the full cassette. He works primarily with a combination of modular synthesizers and other non-modular electronics, though he does play bass with Warm Climate. He is also active on the technical side of releases, producing albums for the likes of Sun Araw and Antique Brothers and mixing/mastering releases from Plankton Wat and LA Vampires (with whom he also performs).

Along with Sun Araw, Gengras founded the label Duppy Gun. The label came about following a trip to Jamaica to record an album with the reggae group The Congos. The dizzying blend of dub, dancehall, and Gengras/Sun Araw’s array of experimental electronics is definitely worth checking out on Duppy Gun’s Youtube channel. If you’d like to hear more of Gengras’ experimental works like Magical Writing, check out his Bandcamp.

Mathias Grassow – Meditation Waves

Mathias Grassow has been recording synthesizer music since the mid 80s, where he drew inspiration from fellow German groups like Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream and began recording a meditative blend of New Age and Krautrock. His first release, At the Gates of Dawn, came out on cassette in 1986. In addition to synth he also records with flute, guitar, and other electronics and while live performances are rare, they are crafted to create an immersive experience.

In this kind of music it’s very important, to have a nice place to play – not normal locations, but more places like a church, caves (remember my ‘Lanzarote concerts’) and open-airs.

I tried to find some pictures of those concerts but was unable to find any, but this video of a performance seems to capture the spirit nicely. In fact a recent concert of his took place at a retreat in Germany where all the guests had just completed a ten day vow of silence! While much of his output consists of solo works, he has released collaborations with Agalloch member John Haugm and Closing the Eternity in addition to projects like Nostalgia and KarmaCosmic. Most if not all his discography his available for streaming/purchase on his Bandcamp page. Those interested in physical releases should head over to Discogs.