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    Gordon Mumma – Electronic Music of Theatre and Public Activity

    Not to be confused with a British mother or a corpse wrapped up in gauze, each otherwise known as Mummy, Gordon Mumma is a composer–mostly of electronic music–who got his start in back in the 1960s in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He co-founded the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music and the legendary ONCE Festival, then went on to play in the ranks of the Sonic Arts Union and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Over the decades, Gordon has also worked as a music professor at many universities.

    Electronic Music of Theatre and Public Activity is a 2005 CD that contains works spanning from 1964 through 1980, during the classic live performance / magnetic tape era. The nuclear war era-inspired “Megaton For Wm. Burroughs” sounds just like its title suggests: A shrill, corroded, electronic drone–wavering yet insistent–slowly rises in volume to a deafening level then segues into a quiet, dark basement flooded with disembodied voices and dimly-lit ambience. This sonic salad is then sprinkled with all kinds of lively croutons: Prepared piano clatter, electronic chirping, a raging feedback festival, delayed space whips, low corroded drones, panning airplanes, war voices, battleground sounds and snippets of orchestral music. A lone jazz drummer tidies up this major mess with a gentle beat on his kit.

    An early piece to feature live performers and a digital computer interacting which each other, “Conspiracy 8” starts out with blasts of shrill feedback clatter, repetitive raspy cries and all kinds of circuit whistle, then moves on into wavering drones and a quavering musical saw that elicits laughter from the crowd. “Cybersonic Cantilevers” is an excerpt from a day-long electronic music installation at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York featuring the imput of visitors. It’s chock-full of garbled electronics, pop music distorted beyond recognition, 1940s gangsters, flanged repetitive rhythms, and incredble ambient space drones. “Cirqualz” takes snippets of orchestral circus music and runs it fast and slow and forward and backward–ending with a nice, funny cartoon tire screech and car crash that wraps up this CD in quite a raucous fashion.

    Label: New World Records Catalog Number: 80632-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 4 Total Time: 65:47 Country: United States Released: 2005 More: Blogspot, Last.FM, Lovely Music, Ubu Web, Wikipedia, YouTube

    Text ©2010 Arcane Candy

    One response to “Gordon Mumma – Electronic Music of Theatre and Public Activity”

    1. Not only will I listen to anything with Burroughs’ voice in it, I’ll listen to anything with Burroughs’ name on it. In this case, it paid off handsomely. Thanks for the heads-up on Mumma, whom I’d never heard of.

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