A perfect sampler for a darned near perfect label. I would hope you are all well aware that I tend to rave about Tod Dockstader &/or Starkland Records in every issue, in which case you’ll know that I’m going to say “buy this compilation & request a catalogue”, I’ll vouch for everything they release. From A to Z not only covers the initial 7 musicians to be released by Starkland, it covers musique concrete from a decade into its tape origins to the present.
3 songs by Dockstader (yes, that revered 60’s tape splice artist) begin the selection: Luna Park with it’s bubbling helium carnival sound; part 3 from Apocalypse, with (obviously) a darkly ominous war feel (both from the CD Apocalypse); & Tango from Quartermass, with a twist into a delirious static nightscape (from the Quartermass CD). Realizing the review is getting too long & I have to move on: Paul Dresher follows with Underground; a melodic pad synthesis composition combining fluctuating waves of sound & a harpsichord voice for the melodic structure. Very beautiful. The Rider by Joseph Kasinskas plays with glockenspiels, bell, & reverb/delay for a perky yet somber instrument feel.
Joseph Lukasik’s Utmaro’s Dream is a creeping & majestic soundscape spun from synthesized choir voices, rolling drones, strings, & waves of melody. As it builds to its peak, it switches to combining the choir voices with organ & shaker for percussion, giving a backdrop of more primal voices, & dominating the foreground with pan flute melody. On to In Tymes of Olde & Obsession, Addiction and the Aristotelian Curve with Pamela Z’s experiments in her own voice & delay. A combination of lyrical vocals, & vocals as delayed instrumentation running on multiple channels.
There is a guest harpist appearance on the 2nd track. Vers Les Anges by Charles Amirkhanian incorporates a carnival feel through the keys, being alternately overwhelmed or backed by intruding sound waves. As the waves (wind sound) become more prominent, the keys are replaced by clanks & twittering birds, rubber bands & hollow taps, convoluting toward cacophony. Garland Hirshi’s Cows by Phillip Kent Bimstein is very amusing: the cows lowing & cowbell tapping become the music while Garland is sampled repetitively in discussing his cows. Strummed & bowed strings join the music at times, but the lows & bells are prominent.. turning into a very odd convolution of piano, lows, & strings after a few minutes. Cows can be pretty, serene, & imposing as well.. Definitely get this CD.