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SPIEGEL, LAURIE - Expanding Universe

Format: do-CD
Label & Cat.Number: Unseen Worlds UW09
Release Year: 2012
Note: re-issue of LAURIE SPIEGELs debut-album from 1980, plus 15 more tracks from the same period (mostly unreleased); very reduced and minimal electronic & purely synthetic patterns & structures, that can be poly-rhythmic or just floating...comes with 24p booklet with liner notes & photos
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €18.00

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"The Expanding Universe is the classic 1980 debut album by composer and computer music pioneer Laurie Spiegel. The album is reissued here for the first time in a massively expanded two-CD set, containing all four original album tracks plus an additional 15 tracks from the same period, nearly all previously unreleased. Some of the already well-know works included in this set are Patchwork, the complete Appalachian Grove series, and Kepler's Harmony of the Worlds, which was included on the golden record launched on board the Voyager spacecraft. The pieces comprising The Expanding Universe combine slowly evolving textures with the emotional richness of intricate counterpoint, harmony, and complex rhythms (John Fahey and J. S. Bach are both cited as major influences in the original cover's notes), all built of electronic sounds. These works, often grouped with those of Terry Riley, Phil Glass, Steve Reich, differ in their much shorter, clear forms. Composed and realized between 1974 and 1977 on the GROOVE system developed by Max Mathews and F.R. Moore at Bell Laboratories, the pieces on this album were far ahead of their time both in musical content and in how they were made. Each of the included works broke new ground, pioneering completely new methods of live interaction with computer-based logic - ways of creating music that are now reaching the heights of their popularity with Ableton Live, Max
MSP and other interactive music software entering mainstream music production. The package also includes an extensive 24-page booklet with notes by Laurie Spiegel and period photos." [label info]


"And yet again does Unseen Worlds provide us with something Unheard, at least over here. From the world of minimal and electronic music they find those interesting gems that are from really rare releases - of the kind you don't even see on the most outsider/underground blogs. I never heard of Laurie Spiegel or her album from 1980 on Philo Records. We are dealing here with some highly computerized music from a time when computer where not things for your desk or your lap, but apparatus that filled rooms. Its all told in the booklet, albeit with a lot of technical speak that perhaps sometimes may elude the uninitiated. But the whole text breathes 'another time, another world', even if you don't understand what it is all about. It is about limitation with those early big computers to create music, and perhaps that's the real surprise if you hear it. Take for instance a piece like 'Drums', which sounds like Pan Sonic or Goem, with a bouncing back and forth rhythm. The booklet tells us, about these pieces, that Spiegel has a folk influence, but that's hard to hear (well, that, or more inside knowledge is required). In other pieces there is perhaps something that we would call these days 'cosmic music'. Spiegel's music is not of a plink-plink nature that one perhaps would associate early computers with. Instead she plays long form, sustaining pieces, which slowly develop. Now, here she is clearly been influenced by the world of minimal music. Various of her pieces start out with with a bouncing single note which slowly expand - 'get longer' - and then starts to build slowly. The length of a piece is usually five to ten minutes with some being well over that, such as the title piece which is close to thirty minutes (which was also pressed in this length onto vinyl, so a CD version is more than welcome, I should think). No doubt with some of this music one could easily think its too simple and with my laptop running live you could easily do the same results in a few minutes, but I prefer to take the historical position: wow, with such limitations, these results! Spiegel's discography is rather small, and this double CD contains the entire debut LP, various pieces from later works (such as 'Drums' and 'Appalachian Grove I-III'), but also many pieces that are here for the first time. I can imagine that close to three hours of this music is perhaps all bit much to take in, but this is yet another remarkable re-issue on Unseen Worlds. Boy, what a great label so far, what surprises they have next for us?" [FdW/Vital Weekly]