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

Cluster / Brian Eno – Cluster & Eno (1977)


“In Brian Eno‘s first collaboration with Cluster, the best of this album’s instrumental pieces are too emotionally rich to waste as mere background music, evoking feelings of hesitancy and regret that rescue the music from mere vapid prettiness. Three tracks in particular indicate things to come. ‘Wehrmut’ is an ethereal synth piece with the pace slowed to a tantalizing crawl. ‘Steinsame’ features a treated guitar playing a slow figure over a dark, almost funereal synth melody. ‘Schöne Hände’ uses watery synth effects to highlight a shivery rhythm pattern. Other pieces dispense with moody atmospherics altogether. Tracks like ‘Ho Renomo’ and ‘Selange’ consist mainly of pounding rhythm patterns lightly embellished by piano or synthesizer, and ‘Die Bunge’ sounds like an electronic goldfinch fluttering around a cartoon horse. While not the unqualified success of their 1978 collaboration After the Heat, Cluster & Eno remains an important album. Along with Eno‘s 1978 Music for Films, these works helped define the depth and promise of ambient music.”
allmusic (Audio)
Pitchfork
W – Cluster & Eno
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Cluster & Eno (Full Album) 36:52

Obscure Records


“Obscure Records was a U.K. record label which existed from 1975 to 1978. It was created and run by Brian Eno, who also produced the albums (credited as executive producer in one instance). Ten albums were issued in the series. Most have detailed liner notes on their back covers, analyzing the compositions and providing a biography of the composer, in a format typical of classical music albums, and much of the material can be regarded as 20th century classical music. The label provided a venue for experimental music, and its association with Eno gave increased public exposure to its composers and musicians. In their original editions, all albums used variations of the same cover art of a collage by John Bonis, covered up by an overprinting of black ink. The picture beneath the ink can be seen somewhat clearly under a strong light. Each volume except the seventh has one small window in the black overprint to reveal a different portion of the picture on each album. The red and white label design is a blurred photo that appears to be spires on roofs of buildings. …”
UbuWeb (Audio)
W – Obscure Records
Spotify (Audio)


Brian Eno