Originally released on vinyl in 1986, the debut album from New York City avant sound splicer Nicolas Collins is a groundbreaking experiment in sound that has been considered an early template of the techno movement that would succeed its release a couple of years later. Largely inspired by the early sampling techniques of such hip-hop pioneers as Grandmaster Flash, Rick Rubin, and Afrika Bambaataa, Devil’s Music is an effective and innovative snapshot of Koch-era NYC, utilizing soundclips culled from what Collins considers to be “the world’s cheapest, yet most powerful synthesizer”—otherwise known as his radio—by manipulating circuits and both AM and FM frequencies to capture a flurry of commercials, news flashes, station IDs, talk show quips, and other slices of sonic ephemera of the day. Em Records’ fascinating reissue of Devi’s Music contains the original two-side performance, along with “The Spark Heard ‘Round the World”, a 25-minute tape piece crafted by Collins around the same time and featuring a pastiche of multi-band radio and scanner recordings. There’s also a bonus disc featuring live performances of “Devil’s Music” and a software download of the original hardware utilized for this most fascinating and forward thinking masterpiece of electronic music.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.