Aguirre – Popol Vuh (1975)


Aguirre gathers recordings made between 1972 and 1974 embodying the distinctive characteristics of Popol Vuh‘s early-’70s sonic identity: austere analog synth textures that inspired subsequent ambient artists and organically crafted, ethnically nuanced proto-new age music. The most memorable material here derives from the soundtrack to Werner Herzog‘s film Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, which chronicles an ill-fated 16th century Spanish quest for El Dorado. The film’s central motif blends pulsing Moog and spectral voices conjured from Florian Fricke‘s Mellotron-related ‘choir organ’ to achieve something sublime, in the truest sense of the word: it’s hard not to find the music’s awe-inspiring, overwhelming beauty simultaneously unsettling. The power of the legendary opening sequence of Herzog‘s film (a breathtaking shot of the conquistadors descending a mountain path, dwarfed by the natural beauty that ultimately consumes them) owes as much to Popol Vuh‘s music as it does to the director’s mise-en-scène. This musical motif appears in two slightly different incarnations: ‘Aguirre I,’ which closes with Andean pipes, and ‘Aguirre II,’ featuring Daniel Fichelscher’s soaring guitar melodies. Elsewhere, the cosmic sensibility of those tracks is replaced with an earthbound orientation, but the results are no less mesmerizing. Built around acoustic guitars and percussion (and a fleeting contribution from vocalist Djong Yun), the 15-minute triptych ‘Vergegenwärtigung’ blurs the boundaries between East and West while incorporating nuances of early music. The album also includes ‘Morgengruß II’ and ‘Agnus Dei,’ versions of which appeared on Einsjäger & Siebenjäger. Compared with In den Gärten Pharaos or Hosianna Mantra, Aguirre doesn’t stand up as a consistently great album, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t contain some great pieces of music.”
allmusic
W – Aguirre (soundtrack)
YouTube: “Aguirre pt I, II, III”
YouTube: Aguirre (1975 – Full Album) 6 videos

Brian Eno: Taking Manhattan (By Strategy)


“It could be argued that Brian Eno is the most consistently creative figure in rock history, someone whose innovation rate over the decades eclipses even that of his shape-shifting collaborators David Bowie and David Byrne. From his disruptive presence in Roxy Music to his alternately quirky and contemplative solo albums, from inventing ambient music to his recent explorations in ‘generative music,’ it’s a career that has, well, careered, zigzagging from extreme to extreme between pop and antipop, between febrile rhythm and near-immobile tranquility. Then consider his panoply of partnerships with other artists – Devo, Talking Heads, U2 and John Cale, to name just a few – as producer or collaborator/catalyst. Eno is also a musical philosopher, someone whose interviews, critical writings and sundry musings about sound, art and culture deserve to be compiled into a book. …”
Red Bull Music Academy Daily (Video)

Jeff Greinke – Cities in Fog (1985/1995)


“‘The sound of industry and contemporary cityscapes – grinding metal, pounding machinery – tempered and processed in the studio, producing a removed impressionist haze. This unorthodox Cities in Fog reissue includes the original album, remastered, plus a sequel. The second installment takes a new look at an older genre by an artist who has grown and matured. Cities in Fog 2 is as evocative and evanescent as ever, but with an atmosphere that is less oppressive. With the revival of ambient, these discs proved Greinke to be a true visionary.’ Jeff Greinke began composing and performing music in 1980 while studying meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. After moving to Seattle in 1982, Greinke developed his own unique process of sound layering, creating electronic music rich in texture, depth, mood, and subtle detail. He has since released several other recordings on various U.S. and European labels, contributed to numerous compilations, and composed music for film, video, dance, theatre, radio, and art installations. …”
Projekt
Opus
Mutant Sounds
amazon: Cities in Fog, iTunes
YouTube: Cities In Fog I & II (full album)

After The Heat – Eno/Moebius/Roedelius (1978)


“The second collaboration between Brian Eno and Cluster (here credited as constituents Hans Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius) arrived only a year after the trio’s first collaboration, Cluster & Eno. By the time of their first meeting, Eno had released his first proper ambient album, Discreet Music, as well as a handful of pioneering pop records. Cluster had steadily moved away from the free-form ambient style marking their debut, Cluster ’71, to the slowly shifting, pulsating krautrock on landmark releases Zuckerzeit and Musik Von Harmonia (with Neu!’s Michael Rother). After hearing these releases, Brian Eno was eager to collaborate with Moebius and Roedelius. Although krautrock legend Conny Plank co-produced After The Heat with the artists, Eno seems to have had the biggest impact on its creation. Even more so than its predecessor, the album essentially sounds like a Brian Eno solo record. Considering the personnel order, the prevalent atmospheres and textures, and even the almost entirely English tracklist (compared to the mostly German Cluster & Eno), it’s hard to imagine Moebius and Roedelius adding much to the proceedings. …”
TinyMixTapes
W – After The Heat
Discogs
YouTube: After The Heat (full album) 41:03

Laurie Spiegel – The Unquestioned Answer (1980)


“Bell Labs Experimental Research Facility, New Jersey, 1978, a misty snapshot of the artist in her lair. Laurie Spiegel, dark hair streaming down to her shoulders, eyes closed, cigarette in hand, stands surrounded by a forest of sci-fi machines. Synthesisers the size of industrial freezers loom around her, a monitor hovers overhead mid-snowstorm, wire snakes around the room in a network of cat o’ nine tails. There aren’t any ‘personal computers’, not yet. She grins. Unseen Worlds’ latest fantastic reissue reveals the joy and strangeness of an artist’s work, music woken from hibernation in the archive, to dazzle, drift, startle and spook. A secret history is beginning to come to light: Laurie Spiegel can deservedly take her place alongside other female pioneers in electronic music like Eliane Radigue and Pauline Oliveros, beginning a lineage that leads all the way to current innovators like Maria Minerva and Laurel Halo. That idiotic argument about electronic music being an exclusively, aggressively male space needs to die now. …”
The Quietus
Pitchfork
Continuo
Laurie Spiegel – The Expanding Universe / Unseen Worlds (Audio)
YouTube: The Expanding Universe FULL ALBUM 45:38
vimeo: The Expanding Universe 2:45:38

On the Other Ocean – David Behrman (1977)


“… To call [David] Behrman a composer might make him bristle, though. In a Village Voice review, critic Tom Johnson wrote, ‘Behrman doesn’t make pieces exactly. He assembles electronic equipment [that] is capable of doing certain things. These things change quite a bit… because he keeps tinkering with the machinery and adjusting his musical goals.’ When Behrman encountered the Kim-1, an early and relatively inexpensive microcomputer that became available in 1976, he quickly adopted it for his live performances. Behrman could now program the computer to ‘hear’ pitches and respond by sending harmonies to two of Behrman’s handmade synthesizers. It could also give chord changes to the players and alter the rhythm of the piece. In small steps, the computer could accompany and interact with the musicians. Two of these performances comprise On the Other Ocean. ‘On the Other Ocean’ and ‘Figure in a Clearing’ date to 1977 and feature Kim-1 engaging with woodwinds in the former, cello on the latter. While computers are now integral to modern music-making, from Pro Tools for editing to the alien ribbons of Auto-Tune that festoon pop radio, On the Other Ocean suggests a parallel world, a path not taken. Behrman and his machine don’t seek to attain the impossible or superhuman, much less strive for perfection. …”
Pitchfork
Lovely Music
W – On the Other Ocean
Soundcloud: On the Other Ocean 23:31
vimeo: On The Other Ocean 43:03
YouTube: On the Other Ocean 43:03

Penguin Café Orchestra – Music From The Penguin Cafe (1976)


Simon Jeffes’ mercurial compositions as Penguin Café Orchestra have long intrigued me. And yet, here I am listening to the debut (nearly self-titled) album for the first time, or first times, as it’s already on repeat-play. I first heard the Penguin Café Orchestra via its most famous piece, Telephone and Rubber Band, and that was via its most famous placement – the terrific movie, Talk Radio. So then it all lined up, because I knew the name and loved the cover images, the recurring bird-man motif, but hadn’t ever taken the plunge. When I met Katy she had the When In Rome… live album; so that was my introduction-proper and my go to for many years. Then I checked a few more things out, had a great compilation that mostly did the trick too. When Jeffes died the band ended. But his son Arthur recently took over, calling the project now just Penguin Café and retaining the strange-world spirit of this musical vision. Bits and pieces of jazz and classical and folk drift by and form their own sound in their own space. Penguin Café’s new albums are very good and apparently live they play the ‘hits’ too. In tribute.”
(Audio)
W – Music From The Penguin Cafe
The Quietus: Penguin Cafe Orchestra
YouTube: Music From The Penguin Cafe | Penguin Cafe Single