01 Patchwork (9:45)
02 Old Wave (6:51)
03 Pentachrome (7:21)
04 The Expanding Universe (21:40)
Total time: 45:36
Laurie Spiegel: programming and live processing
Recorded 1979, LP released on Philo Records, 1980
[Note: I had to shorten track #4 due to unwanted surface noise
in the first minutes].
I used a keyboard, a drawing tablet, pushbuttons and knobs which the computer monitored and recorded, and I wrote complex algorhythms (in FORTRAN) to process the data from these devices and derived from it much more complex music than I actually played.
(L.S. from the liner notes).
First full-length LP by US composer Laurie Spiegel (b. 1945), ‘The Expanding Universe’ is a suite of 4 electronic pieces composed on Max Mathews’ GROOVE system and released on folk label Philo Records, an imprint of Rounder Records. Trained as a banjo player and lutenist, Laurie Spiegel first discovered the Buchla synthesizer at NY Juillard School in 1969, studying it with Michael Czajkowski in Morton Subotnik’s studio. Later at the Bell Labs from 1973 to 1979 with Max Mathews and Emmanual Ghent, she worked with the interactive GROOVE System (Generated Real-time Output Operations on Voltage-controlled Equipment), a mix of programming and real-time sound processing, based on sounds generated by an oscillator, and allowing precise live control of pitch, attack and decay, stero effects, etc. Each track on this recording is based on one electronic sound source, be it a droning, pulsating or beating sound, which is then processed and developped to add depth, complexity and variation. Opener ‘Patchwork’ is a joyous dance tune based on a square electronic rhythm, its synthetic enveloppe endlessly morphing. The short ‘Old Wave’ is a chorale of exultant electronic tonalities – an excerpt from a ballet written by Spiegel, according to her interview on the cover. Track #3 includes percussion-like sounds synched with the electronic melody. Most impressive is the massive side-long meditation ‘The Expanding Universe’. It takes several listenings to realise the droning is not static, but that subtle pitch changes constantly occur, almost un-noticed at first. As microtonal layers evolve around the fundamental pitch, the electronic sound seems to be endlessly forced into some kind of entropic, slow-motion whirring sonic process. Heard from the appropriate angle – headphones being an option – this awesome music is mesmerizing. Now, please, reissue this.
- Music for New Electronic Media LP, 1750 Arch Records 1977 (incl. Appalachian Grove, 1974)
- The Expanding Universe LP, Philo Records, 1980
- New American Music Vol. 2 [date?] (incl. Drums 1975 & Voices Within: A Requiem 1979)