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[CP 186 CD] Lejaren Hiller; Avalanche, Nightmare Music, Suite for Two Pianos and Tape, Computer Music for Tape and Percussion

[CP 186 CD] Lejaren Hiller; Avalanche, Nightmare Music, Suite for Two Pianos and Tape, Computer Music for Tape and Percussion

Creel Pone
CP 186 CD
Compact Disc-Recordable

Great to see this particular title of purely electronic pieces by Lejaren Hiller in the series; we last heard from him via the piece "Vocalise" on Creel Pone #039, "Electronic Music, Experimental Studios In Prague, Bratislava, Munich ..." but this particular collection, specifically including the otherwise unavailable early tape-music piece "Nightmare Music" (1961), gets into an area of his work that veers straight into the same text-and-electronic-sound miasma as such C.P. classics as Anestis Logothetis' "Fantasmata 1960", Dieter Kaufmann's "Bildnis Einer Frau Im Spiegel", and especially Salvatore Martirano's "L's GA."

Hiller was a prolific composer of Electronic & Computer Music, founding the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios in 1958 & perhaps most famously collaborating with John Cage on the insane multimedia barrage "HPSCHD" (1967-69). The recording industry was kind to Hiller, who saw his work often spread across multiple pressings on CRI, Deutsche Grammophon's domestic Heliodor imprint, Nonesuch, Wergo, and even our beloved Orion & Spectrum labels. Following a pair of Heliodor rundowns of Electronic & Computer Music from the University of Illinois, showcasing the work of faculty & composers-in-residence such as Herbert Brün, Kenneth Gaburo, Charles Hamm, Leonard Isaacson, Robert Baker, and Hiller, the label went forward with this all-Hiller program of four extended pieces:

"An Avalanche For Pitchman, Prima-Donna, Player Piano, Percussionist, And Pre-Recorder Playback" (1968) wraps wry, often humorous preparation-chatter, operatic warble, and stray percussive klang into a meta-exercise, reminding me of Jacques Lejeune's "tune up" piece "Petite Suite." "Nightmare Music From 'Time Of The Heathen' For Tape Alone" (1961) is the record's tour-de-force, 10 minutes of prescient tape-sound rhythms, Shepard-tone blooms, and harsh, discordant textures assembled at a breakneck pace, pre-dating the majority of the key pieces in this particular nexus by a good decade.

On the flip, there's "Suite For Two Pianos And Tape" (1966) merges ongoing, incongruous barrelhouse with synthesized, flitting ring-modulated squeak before erupting into a halo of Cecil Taylor -lineage "88 tuned drums" bash & erratic hollering. Finally, "Computer Music For Percussion And Tape" (1968) settles into the de rigeur pointillist bleep, occasionally settling into some rather jaunty straight-time phrasing. 

This Creel Pone reproduction, long ago nominated, acted upon recently, comes complete with a replica of an apropos clipping from the May 17th, 1970 issue of The New York Times citing "Avalanche" for its "electronic camp", "Nightmare Music" is clarified as a "score for a film about a former bomber pilot's mental state" 


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