I have an addiction to music that was recorded in the 1950's/1960s that deal with electronic tape manipulations. My favorite composers, and who often worked together is Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening. Both were with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York. Which is a cell in NYC that was devoted to making new sounds. This album, "Music for Electronic & Older Instruments" was released in 1968, but most of the music was composed in the early 1960s.
Side one is devoted to my heroes, and the first piece is a collaboration between Ussachevsky and Luening. "Concerted Piece" is a dual of sorts with a full orchestra and tape manipulated sounds. They have done this before, and it never fails. The tension between live and real music being performed with the addition of a 'future' technology is pretty incredible.
"Wireless Fantasy" is the masterpiece on the album, and it's by Ussachevsky. It goes back to the origin of radio sounds, and it's kind of a nostalgic piece of work because it is both a tribute but also a source of that noise that was made in the early 20rh century. When I heard it for the first time, I immediately thought of Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" album. Which is also a throwback to a sound or at the very least a tribute to early technology.
The second side is devoted to Mel Powell who I don't know. The works on this album are electronic or tape orientated but with some pieces that are the total real instrument - although very 20th century modern. "Two Prayer Settings" is voice by Charles Bressier, with text by Paul Goodman, and music performed by the New York Soloists. It's a beautiful piece of music, and Bressier does his work with great voice and skill. The electronic piece he does is called "Events, a nice" and it is text by Hart Crane, read by actors. He prerecorded the actors and does a cut up with them, and it's a beautiful piece but not essential for my taste. His other tape piece is "Second Electronic Setting, " and it's hardcore tape music. I like it.
What is great about this album is that it's a collection of works that were at the time modern and new, and I like to think of myself drinking a martini in a mid-century home with my hi-fi listening to this album. Bland yes, but it feels great.