Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center: 1961-1973
(NEW WORLD RECORDS CD 80521-2. New World Records, 701 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10036 USA. http://www.newworldrecords.org)
Those familiar with the magnificent, pioneering electronic works of Milton Babbitt might be forgiven for thinking that the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, especially in its early days, had a "house style." As this album shows, nothing could be further from the truth. Composers working there produced music in a wide variety of styles, including the diatonic flurries of Charles Dodge's The Earth's Magnetic Field, the gravelly playing with vocal loops of Ingram Marshall's Cortez, the delicate textures of Ilhan Mimaroglu's Prelude No. 8 (To the memory of Edgard Varese) and the jagged free atonal textures of Bulent Arel and Daria Semegen's Out of Into. Also included are two quite lovely solo pieces from Arel and Semegen. The CD also comes with a quite extensive booklet by Alice Shields, whose engaging Dance Piece No. 3 and darkly expressionist Study for Voice and Tape complete the CD. Like me, you might buy this CD because you feel you should have it for historical interest. However, also like me, you might find that it's a real good listen even without the weight of "history" behind it.
(this review was first published in Chroma)