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Douglas Lilburn, "Complete Electro-Acoustic Works"

Douglas Lilburn was already an award-winning composer when he turned from conventional music to focus on electronic music, founding New Zealand’s first electronic music studio at Victoria University of Wellington in the late 1960s. The three CDs and the DVD comprising this collection contain many valuable pieces that highlight Lilburn’s contributions to the electronic form.

 

Atoll

Lilburn was particularly interested in evoking New Zealand’s natural environment, which he does through meditative drones. Using electronics to replicate concrete elements like ocean waves and birds, he also adds conceptual touches like the stretched tones mimicking bird flight in “Sounds and Distances.” Although he doesn’t often use voices in his work, when he does they are among his better pieces. One of the best tracks is “The Return,” which uses a Maori woman’s voice as a compositional element before turning to a man’s recitation of Alistair Campbell’s poem of the same name.

In addition to his more formal works, included here are his studies documenting his experimentation with singular ideas or techniques, such as the two separate groups each collectively entitled “Five Toronto Pieces,” which were recorded six years apart, as well as a soundtrack for a dance sequence. The DVD contains a few all-too-short excerpts from films that find Lilburn demonstrating his techniques and talking about his ideas, two songs reproduced in four channels as he originally intended, and an illuminating audio interview.

One commonality among these different musical projects is the meticulousness with which they were created. Lilburn struggled with the primitive equipment he had at his disposal and his poise and patience are evidenced in every recording. Rather than settling for unpredictable effects, he took the time to study the technology in depth and harness it to his own end. There are a few places in the collection that hit an introspective plateau and lose some momentum, but for the most part each disc is arranged non-chronologically in a way that balances the different dynamic levels found in Lilburn’s works. I found the third disc to be the most consistently rewarding, yet the other two discs hit peaks just as high.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Arab Strap

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Review of the Day

BERKOWITZ, LAKE & DAHMER, "CONTRACEPTION OF THE GODS"
Not to be confused with the similarly moniquered old prog group, Berkowitz, Lake & Dahmer are certainly a bit noisier, and probably don't stop at sticking knives in keyboards. Lord Pendro and Mr Oleum of Fflint Central have been afflicted by channeled rumblings from these disembodied ectoplasmic entities for some time, and the only way they know how to exorcise the Satanic power of the drones and loops that take hold of their recording sessions when this trio of restless spirits holds sway is to bung out a CD-R packed full of seventy minutes of what really went on there at the haunted red house from another dimension. Of course Lord Pendro has been known to become restless when imbibing vast quantites of spirits of a different kind, but that is another story.
The door to the frightening red and black world of BLD opens on a not particularly merry-go-round eight note chime whilst the nasty ones gurgle and gargle for a bit. Next all hell breaks out with a bone shaking drone monster on the loose in the form of 'Tones in Red', and bubbling rhythmic turmoil and rubble strewing simple cement mixer loops keep revolving in nightmarish ecstasy. In the haunted red house live the likes of the bawling baby headed Foetor with his abominable shuntings and the creepy big nosed Norbert H. Conduit who is damned for all time for trying to knock some sense into the Celestial Hives of Honshu...
Either that or these guys have been listening to way too much Non, Coil, Throbbing Gristle and Muslimgauze whilst reading back issues of Fortean Times. Available from: www.fflintcentral.co.uk

 

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