Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Entropical Paradise

Just discovered this over on the Root Blog, a triple album of pure Moog and Buchla modular sounds, now sadly long out of print. Its by Douglas Leedy, an experimental composer who helped set up the electronic music studio at Berkley University in LA in the late 60s. The album is extremely minimal and drawn out and in fact he doesn't describe this as music but as 'six sonic environments' that you hear, but don't necessarily listen to. The full album is over two hours long, and I highly recommend it, but for those in a bit of a rush, here is a little edit I made to get the flavor:

Read below the very interesting liner notes from the LP

entropical paradise
six sonic environments created on the moog synthesizer and buchla modular electronic music system
douglas leedy

notes by douglas leedy

entropical paradise is different in concept, execution and purpose from most recordings of music. in fact, it isn't intended as music at all, but as sound, as acoustical environmental "programming" which should be heard but not necessarily listened to. (you may listen to it, however, as music, if you like.)

each record side is the result of a different "program" governing in a random way decisions of pitch, amplitude, duration and to a certain extent timbre, and each creates a different atmosphere when it is played. you may find some sides pleasant, others not, and your reaction may depend on external circumstances - the time of day, where you are, whose company you are in, and so on. you may play the records to your taste - in any order, loudly or softly, a whole side or just a part. if you want more than the twenty-or-so minutes per side and you have an automatic turntable, you may be able to set the mechanism to play one record again and again.

these audio environments, once programmed and set in motion on the moog and buchla electronic music systems, could theoretically run continuously but without repetition indefinitely. that is, the programs are non-repetitive since certain random characteristics have been introduced (owing to limitations of the equipment used, a small portion of several programs had to be realized manually.) there are many analogies in nature to this type of programming, and in fact it is the operation of nature after which these sound environments are patterned. one analogy is the breaking of waves upon an ocean shore: there is an endless succession of waves, and yet each wave is different, even unique. so constant repetition and constant change are one organic process.

entropy is what life and art are said to be continually battling - the inexorable tendency of forces everywhere in the universe, including those within our own bodies, to grow uniform, to come to rest, to achieve a state of equilibrium, to reach the final perfect calm of all things. a paradise, but for whom?

i won't attempt to describe in words, other than the titles, any of the six environments, since experiencing them makes description unnecessary. two programs, however, were influenced by personal readings in science fiction: "the harmonarium" was suggested by the creatures of which kurt vonnegut, jr., wrote in "the sirens of titan," creatures who lived in huge underground caverns on the planet mercury and fed upon that planet's musical vibrations. the creation of "star engine" brought back to my mind c. s. lewis's sci-fi novel, "out of the star planet."

the sounds on these records were made by the moog synthesizer and the buchla modular electronic music system of the electronic music studio at the university of california, los angeles. because of the nature of this recording, no attempt has been made to eliminate or reduce electronic background noises such as hiss, hum and occasional unexpected transients. these are ordinarily considered a plague in recording, but here they function as an integral part of the recorded experience.

i am indebted to chris shelton and wadley j. brood for technical assistance, and to the same two and gerald strang, steve soomil, craig buhler, ken yapkowitz, dennis matthews and bob richardson for inspiration, encouragement, cooperation, and for the free sharing of ideas and enthusiasm that has taken place at the ucla electronic music studio. though they may be unaware of it, they have all contributed a great deal to these recordings.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there - is there any chance of posting the entire entropical paradise album by Douglas Leedy as all the links for the album are dead on other sites - I appreciate it's a pain in the arse but I think albums as important as this deserve a presence on the net.

    Many thanks if you can help - I have made this request on another blog so if someone comes up with a link sooner I will upload the rip to my own MF account and make it available.