Tape Recorder Music


2016 repress of Cacophonic's 2013 reissue; originally released in 1955. One of the very earliest and most important examples of electronic tape music to be pressed on vinyl (alongside the Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française musique concrète compilations in France and Jim Fassett's comedic 1953 Strange to Your Ears novelty record), this privately pressed 1955 10" was released on a one-off label owned by businessman Gene Bruck to document a custom-made performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1952. This facsimile edition of this important LP archives remastered versions of the first recorded unison of Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky, a partnership that founded the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center at Columbia University in 1959, which would later count İlhan Mimaroğlu, Wendy Carlos, Dariush Dolat-Shahi, and Alice Shields among its graduates. The October 28, 1952, performance showcased the debut of the seminal "Fantasy in Space," based on resampled flute recordings that were manipulated on magnetic tape to create an otherworldly melodic composition, stylistically begging comparison with the early recordings of Kraftwerk (made some 20 years later) and bringing a palatable and tuneful alternative to the stark avant-garde experiments of the pair's French counterparts. The mechanical construction of the track was even "performed" on primetime American television to celebrate this groundbreaking approach to modern music. The record's full program includes further experiments with manipulated recordings of bells and woodwind instruments subjected to mechanical "augmentation, diminution and retrograding" to create pieces that "cannot be played with conventional instruments." In the following years labels like Folkways and Desto would also plunder this important session as a milestone in electronic music. For the purposes of this release Cacophonic have also included the seldom-heard 14-minute track "Poem in Cycles and Bells" for tape recorder and orchestra, which was recorded using the same techniques with the Royal Danish Radio Orchestra in 1956 and released via the Composers Recordings Inc. label founded by Luening himself in 1954 (employing Ussachevsky in an advisory capacity). CRI operated for 49 years, releasing records by Harry Partch, Alwin Nikolais, John Cage, and Alice Shields. Also included in this edition is an expansion of the rare 10" original artwork by legendary graphic designer Ronald Clyne, an early example of his work made before he became in-house designer for Folkways Records, rivaling the likes of Blue Note's Reid Miles for some of America's most iconic record sleeves.