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    Richard Maxfield + Harold Budd – The Oak of the Golden Dreams

    Jiminy Cricket, am I glad another tiny and long overdue morsel from the estate of Richard Maxfield has finally been excavated from the murk of the mists of time and held up to proper glory in the almost-ultimate glowing light of the ever-whitening sun. Previously, I had spent several nights floatin’ a rickety canoe down Niagara Falls at 3:17 a.m. to Richard’s “Night Music” track on that old New Sounds In Electronic Music LP on Columbia. But that was all. No other material that I know of has ever been available, and any further documentation on Richard Maxfield is welcome.

    This fine public-service CD houses four historically important experimental works Richard made at the beginning of the 1960s. “Pastoral Symphony” (1960) is all awash with bleeping, twittering, exploding distortion and general prime late evening snack-making sonics–an early example of pure electronic tone music without splicing. “Bacchanale” (1963) is “quite different, a musique concrete collage containing no sounds of electronic origin. It opens juxtaposing jazz with Korean folk music. We hear Edward Fields narrating a text of his own over jazz played at The Five Spot in Greewich Village. Along the way, Fahrad Machkat scrapes on a violin, Robert Block and Terry Jennings play prepared violin and saxophone and the composer Nicholas Roussakis plays underwater clarinet.”

    In “Piano Concert For David Tudor,” David Tudor himself “plays live alongside a three-channel montage constructed from sounds made on the inside of the piano with chains, spinning a gyroscope on the strings, showering the strings with tiddly-wink disks and other unusual operations.”–Kyle Gann “Amazing Grace” (1960) is one of, if not the first, tape loop works that predates Terry Riley’s “Mescaline Mix” by one year. It combines recorded speech and fragments from an opera Richard had made a couple of years earlier into a slowly churning, stuttering soup of solid concrete beauty–foreshadowing later minimalist tape loop works like Steve Reich’s “Come Out,” “It’s Gonna Rain,” etc.

    The second half of the CD is filled with two long tracks of sublime, “hard-edged” minimalism forged in the late 1960s by Harold Budd, who went on in the ’70s and ’80s to rise as an underground star of ambient rock, collaborating with the likes of Brian Eno and The Cocteau Twins. “The Oak Of The Golden Dreams” (1970) provides 18 minutes of prime Buchla Electronic Music Systems euphoria, with Harold splaying a wealth of fast modal keyboard improv over a thick futon of divine static drone. “Coeur D’Orr” (1969) is similar, but replaces the keyboard improv with a sax over two tracks of organ drone. Excellent. This CD fills in some big, aching gaps in the mouth history of experimental and minimal music, and has got to be one of New World Records’ shining moments.

    Label: New World Records Catalog Number: 80555-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 6 Total Time: 66:42 Country: United States Released: 2000 More: Harold Budd, Discogs, MELA Foundation, New World Records

    Text ©2003 Arcane Candy

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