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Ohm: Early Gurus of Electronic Music Box set

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, April 25, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Opening with Clara Rockmore's reworking of Tchaikovsky with the theremin, and finishing with one of Brian Eno's ambient soundscapes, OHM artfully succeeds in its goal of giving a representative (as opposed to the impossible, comprehensive) overview of the first several decades of electronic music. Over 3 discs, 42 compositions, and 96 pages of notes and photos, OHM clearly illustrates the producers' and contributing writers' point that early electronic music is much of the foundation of contemporary music. Herein lies the connective tissue bridging musique concrète, 20th-century classical, electronic experimentation, and the theoretical avant-garde to psychedelia, ambient, dub, techno, electro, and synthpop and the globalization of sound. The groundbreaking uses of loops, sampling, drones, remixes, and cut-and-paste technology are put fully into context. The diversity of music included makes any sort of summation impossible, but that is also the point: electronic music is not really a genre, but an open field of endless possibility. From John Cage's famous "William's Mix" of tape snippets to Karkheinz Stockhausen's electronic orchestral compositions, from David Tudor and Holger Czukay's experiments in unrelated blendings of audio elements to David Behrman's supremely peaceful duet between computers and musicians, the aural renegades on OHM tread where none (save a few of their contemporaries) had gone before. The liner notes convey the incredible amount of hard work and experimentation it took to stitch together many of these pieces in the predigital era. Putting aside the inevitable quibbles about what's missing (much of it due to legal and/or logistical issues), a more complete collection of musical eggheads, eccentrics, and visionaries is hard to imagine. --Carl Hanni

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Valse Sentimentale - Clara Rockmore
  2. Oraison - Ens D'Ondes De Montreal
  3. Etude Aux Chemins De Fer - Pierre Schaeffer
  4. Williams Mix - John Cage
  5. Klangstudie II - Herbert Eimert/Robert Beyer
  6. Low Speed - Otto Luening
  7. Dripsody - Hugh Le Caine
  8. Forbidden Planet: Main Title - Louis Barron/Bebe Barron
  9. Elektronische Tanzste: Concertando Rubato - Oskar Sala
  10. Poem Electronique - Edgard Varese
  11. Sine Music (A Swarm Of Butterflies Encountered Over The Ocean) - Richard Maxfield
  12. Apocalypse-Part 2 - Tod Dockstader
  13. Kontakte - James Tenney/William Winant
  14. Wireless Fant - Vladimir Ussachevsky
  15. Philomel - Milton Babbitt
  16. Spacecraft - MEV

Disc: 2

  1. Cindy Electronium - Raymond Scott
  2. Pendulum Music - Sonic Youth
  3. Bye Bye Butterfly - Pauline Oliveros
  4. Projection Esemplastic For White Noise - Joji Yuasa
  5. Silver Apples Of The Moon, Part 1 - Morton Subotnick
  6. Rainforest Version 1 - David Tudor
  7. Poppy Nogood - Terry Riley
  8. Boat-Woman-Song - Holger Czukay
  9. Music Promenade - Luc Ferrari
  10. Vibrations Composees: Rosace 3 - Francois Bayle
  11. Mutations - Jean-Claude Risset
  12. Hibiki-Hana-Ma - Iannis Xenakis
  13. Map Of 49's Dream The Two Systems Of Eleven Sets Of Galactic Intervals: Drift Study '31/69 c.... - La Monte Young

Disc: 3

  1. He Destroyed Her Image - Charles Dodge
  2. Six Fants On A Poem By Thomas Campion: Her Song - Paul Lansky
  3. Appalachian Grove - Laurie Spiegel
  4. En Phase/Hors Phase - Bernard Parmegiani
  5. On The Other Ocean - David Behrman
  6. Stria - John Chowning
  7. Living Sound, Patent Pending Music For Sound-Joined Rooms Series - Maryanne Amacher
  8. Automatic Writing - Robert Ashley
  9. Canti Illuminati - Alvin Curran
  10. Music On A Long Thin Wire - Alvin Lucier
  11. Melange - Klaus Schulze
  12. Before And After Charm (La Notte) - Jon Hassell
  13. Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills) - Brian Eno

Product Details

  • Performer: Various Artists, Ensemble d'Ondes de Montreal, Musica Elettronica Viva, Bethany Beardslee, Alvin Curran
  • Orchestra: Nihon Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Seiji Ozawa
  • Composer: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Schaeffer, John [1] Cage, Herbert / Beyer, Robert Eimert, et al.
  • Audio CD (April 25, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Ellipsis Arts
  • ASIN: B00004T0FZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,754 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew D. Mercer on July 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
OHM makes a very lofty ambition to cover the entire history of electronic music in one set of 3 CDs. While three CDs may offer considerably more time than the standard 1 or 2 disc compilation, it is hardly enough space to really cover much in detail for one decade of music, let alone four. "OHM" is refreshing in its honesty, admitting these flaws and then getting on with what really matters: the music.
Many of the pieces included on this set have been severely shortened for variety's sake. Rather than include the full hour or so of Terry Riley's "Poppy Nogood," for instance, we are treated to a seven minute excerpt. In many instances, this does what the set is meant to do on the whole: it gives a good overview of the history and growth of electronic music as its own experimental genre.
Some of the names appearing within this collection are fairly well known: John Cage, David Tudor, Edgard Varese, Steve Reich (performed by Sonic Youth), Karlheinz Stockhausen, Terry Riley, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Schaeffer.... There are also a few unexpected appearances, by Tchaikovsky (an absolutely beautiful performance of his "Valse Sentimentale" on theremin), Holger Czukay (of Can), and a few more contemporary artists such as Jon Hassell and Brian Eno, vintage ambient that finishes up the last disc at the close of the seventies.
Much of the music is what may be considered "difficult" by unexperienced ears. Every once in a while this is true: La Monte Young's "31 I 69" maybe be edited down to a mere 7 minutes, but it's still almost impossible to endure the solid tone of mid-range feedback. Tudor's "Rainforest" squawks and chirps like an electronic jungle of his own creation.
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This is required listening for anybody interested in the history of electronic music. Although implicitly aiming for the techno music audience, this audio history is overwhelmingly focused on the classical avant-garde of electro-acoustic composers. The closest you'll get to pop electronica is the Brian Eno track at the end of the third disc. No Kraftwerk, no Moroder, etc. Instead "OHM" manages to point to the continuities between, say, John Cage and artists currently working at the experimental edges of electronica (so-called IDM). It seems to be saying, "You think Kid 606 is visionary? Well check out this Stockhausen track from '59!"
Admittedly, some of the songs are much more interesting to think about than they are to listen to. Some of the early pieces that were made through thosuands of hours of pains-taking tape-splicing could be made today in an afternoon with a digital audio editor and a few effects plug-ins.
It is a beautiful package, containing a 90 page booklet of essays, quotations from the featured artists, and photographs. What all music should be: an education in daring.
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By A Customer on December 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
OHM is a really exciting release. The product is clearly a labour of love, and the location of artists in a larger context is brilliantly achieved - together with a definition of that context. Possibly the best compilation effort I've ever seen, it breaks ground like Hughes' `Shock of The New', providing a similar public service: the definition of essential repertoire. OHM gives us, for the first time, a map of this strange, fascinating territory, showing us the connections, and offering brilliant, concise critique in the beautifully-designed accompanying booklet.
One complaint about early electronica is that it's `interesting', but you can't listen to it. It's a din, or it sounds like cartoon or sci-fi music. Counter this criticism with OHM, which comprehensively renders the accusation false. The music is uniformly beautiful, substantial, affecting, repeatable. And it hits its targets in ways which can make contemporary stuff look wanting. Messaien's drifting, spiritual ondes martenot piece `Oraison' is an object lesson in the humanisation of electronica. Cage's `Williams Mix' is jawdropping: half a century old and hyperkinetically modern beyond Autechre or Kid 606, with a prophetic title. Tod Dockstader's `Apocalypse II' does things with voice synthesis to make Thomas Bangalter turn pale. Ussachevsky's `Wireless Fantasy' from 1960 is a techno bleepscape set against alien clouds of ambient noise. It's moving in ways FSOL, and even The Orb, imply but never quite get to. MEV's `Spacecraft' is an intensely clear, bone-raw noisefest to inspire any of Norway's current cutting-edge electronica/improv crossover artists; like AMM told they have 6 minutes left to live.
That's just CD1.
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If you're looking for disco electronica, dance music of any kind, 'ambient', 'ill-bient' or anything put out by the assorted DJ 'bands,' then this is not a set for you. However, if you are interested in serious electronic music by the inventors of the field, pieces that are concerned with sound, structure and the technical aspects of the genre at its very basics, highly experimental music that demands attentive listening, than indeed buy this collection. It is not only the sole collected survey of serious electronic music available, it's an excellent one, containing the very most important pieces ever made and a nice selection of others that have stretched the field form its earliest days, pre-WWII. Very much pre- and un-rave.
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