Various Artists - Creelpolation 1 (Creel Pone 3xCD-R)
What's better than one Creel Pone? Many many Creel Pones! "Creelpolation" is a compilation of a few things: the first disc is tracks from early electronic 7"s, the second disc consists of longer pieces from albums that are perhaps undeserving of their own full-blown Creel Pone (dig those rhymes!), while the third disc is a choice set of side-long tunes. And though I've explained it before, the Creel Pone label exists to reissue otherwise ignored classics of early electronic music released between the years 1947 and 1983 in faithfully-rendered editions of 100, all on CD-R. You should head over to the CP website to read more. A most interesting and often rewarding undertaking, to say the least. And you can search the archives on this very blog to find out my thoughts on four other CP releases I came into contact with earlier this year - lucky you!
The first disc is comprised of 26 short pieces by names like Erik Nordgren, Daphne Oram, Frederick Charles Judd, Henri Chopin and Andrzej Dobrowolski, among others. I wish I could say I recognized more names besides Chopin, but I can't (and that's what I like about Creel Pone!). The bulk of this disc is dedicated to Oram and her "Ascending and Descending Sequences of Varying Nature" which, truth be told, sound about as stoic as the title they're given with some alternating synthesizer tones, notes and rhythms, almost like she's testing out the machine rather than playing it. Erik Nordgren's contributions are more on the quirky side, especially with titles like "Crazy Robots" and "Playhouse" while Judd's "Electronic Themes" and "Musique Concrete" series' are simultaneously spooky and corny, evoking the sort of naked cosmic blend that reminds me of the shorter pieces on Conrad Schnitzler's own triple-disc set that came out recently on Important. A couple of lone wolf pieces prove most interesting, especially Vladimir Ussachevsky's frantic "Four Miniatures with Origin" where it's anybody's guess as to what's happening and Jean-Louis Brau's "Turn Back Nightingale" in which some kinda throat/saliva jargon is melted overtop a catchy tropicalia beat and some bafflingly urgent French instructions. The absolute tip of my hat goes to the pieces contributed from junior and senior high school students (I wonder under what circumstances they were recorded...?) which are both astonishingly adept and striking. The 12-year's old electronic composition with a poem called "Conflict" serving as narration was top-drawer. And finally the two quickies from the M.O.O.T. (Music of Our Time) 7", explaining the methods behind "new" sound/recording techniques has to be heard for oneself. How does Mr. P.C./C.P. find these things?
The second disc is a total mixed bag, some mind-bending tunes and some not-so-gripping ones...I wasn't a big fan of Peter Eötvös' "Tücsökzeme (Cricket Music)" in which either actual cricket noises are being manipulated or they're being simulated for the better part of an hour; John McCaughey's curious rapid-fire synth freak out "Watergates" wears thin quick; and I was left in a state of confusion after Andre Almuro & Colette Magny's chanting/percussion/spoken word performance "Bura Bura" (in which the title is recited rather obnoxiously all too frequently. On the other hand, there are some real stunners in Richard Grayson & Tom Oberheim's "Rain" wherein they use a mittful of electronic noises to simulate a rainstorm (complete with phony crashing thunder!); Gilles Tremblay's two pieces "Centre-Élan" and "Dimensions Soleils" are brain trawls in vintage "dude w/problems & synths" vein that force you to ask what the heck was going on upstairs at the time; and Michael Adamis' flummoxing "Kratima" piece, which boasts ten minutes of zonked pioneering Greco electro-acoustic, psychedelia, free jazz and sheer noise...not to mention an incredible set of pipes. It's the kind of track that's so wholly disorienting I feel like I immediately have to seek out more of the composer's work to even begin putting it into context. The find of the set, for me.
The five side-long tracks found on the third and final disc are all pretty great, especially Andres Lewin Richter (whose tracks on the second disc I didn't find too outstanding)'s 20-minute drone/ambient/drum (!) journey to the center of the mind and the bizarro sermons dictated by Ralph Swickard over post-apocalyptic noire scoundscapes lending a decidedly sinister air to the Christian vibes put forth by the speaker. They sound like pieces that could've been found on a new Nurse with Wound disc or something, early outsider brilliance to be sure. Hilton Kean Jones' "Eastmontage" is a 13-minute splice piece sampling from music teachers talking to students (?), fluttery wind instruments, seasick harmonicas, synths, organs and anything else at hand to create a dizzying, intoxicating pot roast that again has me wondering...what were they thinking???? The last piece is a 25-minute marathon called "Chronometer", credited to Harrison Birtwistle (Realized by Peter Zinovieff). It's a pretty minimalist affair with its twists and turns but at the end of the day bearing a pretty apropos title given its eternally resounding rhythms. The whole last disc plays like something you concentrate on while trying to get to sleep...it'll be morning by the time you decipher everything that's going on but it's at least fun to try.
Special due must also be given to the awesome package job at work, The three discs come housed inside plastic sleeves, which in turn are inside cardboard foldovers (reproducing both the fronts and the backs of the records featured), which in turn are individually packaged inside resealable polypropylene sleeves, which are then all grouped together inside a larger polypropylene sleeve also including a "pocket fresnel len" (think magnifying glass) to help you zoom in on all the cover art/info included. Whew! Yet another beauty job by this overachieving little label. "Creelpolation 1" serves a great introduction to the kind of ethos the Creel Pone label is all about, and will also be of sure interest to those already into the CP loot bag. But, like I said, limited to 100...don't sleep!