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[CP 121 CD] Bulent Arel, Daria Semegen; Electronic Music for Dance

Creel Pone

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Here’s a fine set of pieces, each showcasing the Buchla electric music box. Daria Semegen’s harmonic-series-rich “Arc” - composed at SUNY Stonybrook’s electronic music studio, established by mr. Arel in 1971 - at times recalls other era electronic “Spectralists” like Daniel Arfib, yet works across a more spare iterative space, often recycling short micro-melodies cut with the unmistakable thwack of the Buchla’s vactrol-based gates. It’s an incredible, patient piece of music that begs the question as to why ms. Semegen isn’t more well known.

Bulent Arel’s 3-part “Mimiana” suite - recorded over a 5-year period at the Columbia-Princeton electronic music center, where he’d been an integral part of the proceedings, even working with Varèse on the tape-portion of “Deserts” - starts with a raucous 10-minutes of tape-echo’ed bleep - perfect mechanistic / future-shock orientation while acting as something of a showcase for the kinds of timbres attainable that point in time. Even a year later, in the second part we’re treated to an even more complicated variant on micro-sequenced, often atonal electronic blat, but by the third movement the dynamics & general levels of freneticism are off the charts, yielding one of the the most active & engaging pure-electronic synthesizer-based works out there.