Various Artists

Cult Figures

by John Bergstrom

16 May 2010

 
cover art

Various Artists

Cult Figures

Electroacoustic Music from Canada

(Centredisques)
US: 23 Feb 2010
UK: Import
Canada Release Date: 23 Feb 2010

“This may be one of the more interesting CDs featuring electroacoustic music by (predominantly) Western Canadian composers.” So begin the extensive liner notes to this collection, featuring members of the Edmonton Composers’ Concert Society. Dude, I might be wrong, but how many Western Canadian electroacoustic music CDs are out there?!? What is “electroacoustic music”, anyway? Basically, it’s experimental electronic music that’s too pretentious to use the term “ambient”. This stuff was truly cutting-edge in the days of John Cage and musique concrète, before electronic synthesizers became commonplace. Now, the generous use of space, the piercing tones, spooky noises, and dissonance are soundtrack material or curiosities at best, unlistenable at worst.

This 11-track compilation spans several decades, dating back to the 1960s, but the sounds are all similar. Don Ross’s “My Dad’s Story” adds some spoken dialog and nearly jazzy feel, and stands out because of it. So does Michael Horwood’s “Monday Afternoon” from 1966. An intriguing, multi-movement sound collage, it’s a reminder of what McCartney and Lennon found so appealing about this stuff. But, honestly, how many times have you actually sat through all of “Revolution 9”?

Cult Figures

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