Edward M. Zajda - Independent Electronic Music Composer / Jürgen Karg - Elektronische Mythen (Creel Pone CD-Rs)

I love impulse buys, especially if the predominant shade on the album cover is black. That's the criteria I went with for these two Creel Pones I picked up on the random (don't worry I picked up two others without grim-looking covers just to switch it up; maybe I'll review those sometime/tomorrow). I like to subscribe to the Spinal Tap philosophy as in "how much more black could it get"? And the answer, of course, is none. Well except on these two covers it could be blacker, because there are some other shades (mostly white) being used. But I tried to go as dark as possible because there's nothing more fun than digging up something truly dark and disturbed and fucked from forty years ago. Unfortunately that doesn't always pan out, I snagged an LP from this German Gravestone band because the cover was an intriguing mess of camp "goth" art, and it was in the psych section. Money, right? Wrong. Turns out the album came out in '79 so not only is it untrue psychedelic coattail riding, but the band latched on to another up-and-coming genre the year after, that being heavy metal. In fact you can view their band page at the Encyclopaedia Metallum, god it's embarassing. But lucky for me, Creel Pone have already weeded out the potential electronic pioneer posers by strictly limiting the scope of their "reissues" (more on that in a jump) to LPs which came out in between the years 1947 and 1983. You can read why on their website but basically Mr. Pone has decided that this is the so-called golden age of electronic music. And who am I to argue? I don't know jack shit about electronic music! And that's my other fave-rit thing about Creel Pone is that you don't have to be a Wire-reading mugworm gribleck to enjoy their product (although I most certainly fit that criteria anyway). You just grab a fistful, throw the Jacksons on the counter (they're like $10 a piece and I think Jackson's on the $10 in America? I think that's what the SNL "Lazy Sunday" rap taught me) and get skronk. About that "reissue" thing from before, these are not technically legitimate reissues, but they might as well be. See, they're all limited to 100 copies each, they come in their own plastic sleeves with an official Creel Pone seal of authenticity and the CD-Rs themselves (with snappy labels no less) are snug inside a mylar sleeve which in turn comes in mini duplicate of the LP's original album art, front and back. So it's like someone took a shrink ray to the original records except they didn't because (a) that might render them unplayable and (b) that kind of technology doesn't exist, get your head out of the clouds.
I got mine from Keith Fullerton Whitman's excellent distribution center Mimaroglu Music Sales 'cause he seems to have almost all fifty CPs in stock and the man knows his electronic music. He had rave reviews for the mysterious Edward M. Zajda, a composer from Chicago who appears to have issued this one (and only) gem on his Ars Nova/Ars Antiqua Recordings label, and also does a mean Buddy Holly impression in a pinch. The LP sleeve provides lots of info, mainly about the music and not so much about Zajda himself but it does dial up a nice little auto-bio wherein he references friends Bob (Bob!) Ashley, Bill Ribbens and Gordon Mumma. Then he goes on to detail the five pieces on the album: the brief "Study No. 3" which is apparently one of Zajda's earliest attempts, the remarkably-titled "Magnificent Desolation" which owes much to the moon-landing (hence the repeated "eagle has landed" transmissions near the beginning), "Study No. 10" which uses electronically-generated sounds as well as actual recorded sound sources ("I'll leave it to the listener to identify them"), "Points" being a composition for the Moog synthesizer and "In March for Ann", dedicated to Ann Waterman and described as a "bleak sort of piece". Whew. Zajda's descriptions just about render mine irrelevant. I will say that the absolute best one is, of course, "Magnificent Desolation", a real whopper at 17-minutes and laced with the kind of cosmic drones one would expect a moon-landing-influenced piece to bear. Zajda hits on all kinds of effects that present-day explorers My Cat is an Alien must've dieted on as youngsters. Throw in a bizarre, repeated syllable from the introduction to a female vocal pop song (maybe?) and tons more unrecognizable near-lyrical blurts and you have a truly bizarre and interesting opus. The opener "Study No. 10" is pretty great too, with Zajda incessantly flirting with electronic beeps and scrapes until a barrage of thumping noises and cut-up vocals floods through...reminds me a lot of the late 80's/early 90's musique actuelle stuff. Of course the best is saved for last; that being a series of dull, throbbing drones that almost sound like bass chords dragged across a concrete floor. The other tracks aren't any less interesting, they just feature a rather active style of knob-turning and button-pushing that it would be fruitless to describe. Safe to say though that Eddy Z has an itchy trigger figure, nearing an almost Aphex Twinian-level of analog glitchery and unintentional beat haven. If I may paraphrase 90's avant-garde free-thinkers Rednex: "where did you come from, where did you go, where did you come from Edward M. Zajda?".
I also applied another Spinal Tap rule when I picked up the Karg disc, and that's anything with an umlaut is great (my dad used to tell me that any song with a cowbell is a great song but times are a-changin'...except that this came out in the '70s. So I don't even know). Man, dig that cover portrait of the man himself...doesn't he look like a guy who should be chopping wood? Or children? Quite frankly I'm scared. If you didn't guess by now Karg is from Germany which means the lengthy lines he wrote on the back of his record (in -125 pt. font thank you very much) are all in German. Can you believe this nerve of this guy? Like he didn't know I'd be writing about this some four decades down the line. Fucking guy! I'll forgive it because "Elektronische Mythen" is about the most badassed name for a record since the Electric Light Orchestra (didn't) come up with "No Answer". Makes me wonder if ELO would've been better fated (billionaires instead of millionaires, I mean) if they were Das Elekronische Licht Arkestra? No, not even, what the fuck. I'll cut to the chase, this is a 100% boss record and I love all of its 40 glorious minutes. Karg has a more, uh, subdued approach than the Zadjan One and lets his tones float into glorious, shimmery, gently cascading crystalline epics (both side-long humpers at 20 minutes a piece). From what KFW deciphered from the back cover, Karg uses "4 ems-sythesizer (sic) mit digitalspeicher (sequencer 256) als zentraler steuereinheit.
5 tonbandgeräte mit 2-, 4- und 8-känalen, zum teil mit variabler geschwindigkeit.
peripherie; steckerfeld, mischpulte, filter, hall etc". Ha ha ha! "Etc." indeed! But really though, I can't recommend this enough as a gorgeous industrial-metallic forest to get Rip Van Winkled in. Dude just pours it on constantly, sweetly chiming synthesizer glints and melted-silver dreamscapes. Mmm mmm! Also according to KFW (I should've probably ended this review when I linked to his site huh?), Karg was once the straight man to Wolfgang Dauner's early electronic hijinks, if you know who that is. I don't. Hey I told you I was no scholar! But really. If you dig your drones stretched out and blissful and icy and eyes wide open style, Karg is your man. Or should I say...der mann?
Gems man, there's nothing sweeter than digging up gems (generally with somebody else's assistance, in this case it's Creel Pone of course). I got the feeling on Friday with Il Gruppo and now it's in my loins again with these two discs. So happy I took the chance and grippled a fistful of these. Unfortunately they're all so cute and collectible that I feel compelled to buy all fifty so I can line them up on my shelf and encase them with bullet-proof glass...and they're CD-Rs! So a thousand kudos to Creel Pone for bringing the music to the people the way it should be done, with lots of respect and painstaking attention to detail. Gentleme/an, your efforts do not go unappreciated. It's one of the few instances where I don't find myself going "aw gee this is nice and all but I really wish I had the original LP". These'll do just fine, thanks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1)Alexander Hamilton
2)A staple of the early American colonies from New England southward to Virginia was pone, a bread made by Native Americans from flat cakes of cornmeal dough baked in ashes. Pone is one of several Virginia Algonquian words (including hominy and tomahawk) borrowed into the English of the Atlantic seaboard. The word pone, usually in the compound cornpone, is now used mainly in the South, where it means cakes of cornbread baked on a griddle or in hot ashes—as the Native Americans originally cooked it.

10/17/2006 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have grabbed the Steve Birchall disc, it's a stone cold classic.

10/17/2006 11:23 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Well thank you for that Anonymous #1, and stay tuned Anonymous #1 =)

10/17/2006 11:52 PM  

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