Nicolas Collins: Devil’s Music

Nicolas Collins
Devil's Music
EM
2009-10-27

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.

RATING 9 / 10
PopMatters