dfc Play It Again, Max: Douglas Leedy - The Electric Zodiac (1969)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Douglas Leedy - The Electric Zodiac (1969)

In my ongoing attempt to surprise readers, here's something quite different than anything I've posted before. While this is presented as psychedelic music among some record sellers (who will present almost anything as psychedelic) it's really early, avant-garde electronic music from a major figure in the development of computer music. His hair is on the long side, though, and he was influenced by Indian classical music, which also had a big influence on the direction psychedelic music took during this period.

At the time of the recording, Leedy was on the UCLA music faculty and he apparently designed and constructed the Electronic Music Studio there. Prior to that he had been a classmate (at UC Berkeley) and fellow traveler of Terry Riley & LaMonte Young (Pauline Oliveras was a student there too). Although, he had more classical training and less jazz experience, his music also has a modal and repetitive nature (at least on this release) that links him to those better known composers.

More information on Leedy's career is available online here and here and you can read an interview with him from 1974 here. If you want to hear more of his music there's also an orchestral piece, the Quaderno Rosiniano, performed by the San Francisco Chamber Music Society available here.

So what about this record? As the cover notes, it is "A continuum of music of the cosmos resting in a momentary position of influence composed and arranged for Moog and Buchla synthesizers and Ognob Generator by DOUGLAS LEEDY. There is no beginning there is no end no side one no side two." Personally, I'm not sure I see any relationship to the Zodiac in the music, although there may be some esoteric calculation in use relating to astrology. It is a pretty great piece of early electronic/moog music, very cyclic in nature and not overly dissonant (as some of the more early, avant-garde, electronica can sometimes be).

Because of the nature of the music I was not comfortable doing much in the way of noise reduction so you may hear more than the usual level of clicks and pops (it wasn't as clean a copy as I would have liked either). Still I hope you enjoy it (here).


Blogger litlgrey said...

If I were a download link on this page, where would I be?

3:19 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Sorry--this post wasn't ment to go up yet--I thought I had only saved a draft, not actually posted it. I'll have it up sometime during the coming week.

To answer your question, you'll be somewhere near the bottom of the post (when it's finished).

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got the Sidewalk Swingers if you are still looking for it. I'll check back in the comments...

8:25 PM  
Blogger Max said...

I got a copy of the Sidewalk Singers--it wasn't mine but it will do if I need to repost. Thanks though!

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Personally, I'm not sure I see any relationship to the Zodiac in the music, although there may be some esoteric calculation in use relating to astrology."

Having lived through the '60s, let me tell you...there doesn't need to be a relationship to have a title like that. It was the "Age of Aquarius" after all, so the title may have been nothing more than a marketing ploy to get "them long-haired hippie freeks" to buy the record.

In the '70s, Rare Earth put out a licorice pizza called "Ecology." No planet-earth tunes, nothing about saving the environment...it was just a hot buzzword of its day.

Looking forward to getting the link.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Yes, I was trying to be ironic about the whole zodiac thing.

12:50 PM  
Blogger J Thyme...kind said...

Max, Are you really earning any money from having these ads up? Just wondering? Hits = dollars I guess?

9:51 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Hi J,
There is some money being collected, all of it to guy to improving my turntable/cartridge. At the current rate, I'll probably gather enough for a new turntable in another year or so.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A big THANK YOU for this one! My copy got warped and I ruined it trying to fix that. I remember this well from the '60s and underground FM radio where I heard it first. I really did want to hear it again for the fun of it.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! Leedy is an interesting serious composer, but even those guys had their shot at a little pop success in the psychedelic 60s (at least there was briefly a way for record companies to market weird-sounding electronic music to the kids!) There's a rip of his Xmas music LP that shows up online now & again.

8:54 PM  
Blogger alessandro said...

thank you for this album!!!

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4:23 PM  
Blogger Wildefriend said...

I met Leedy in 1984 at his home in Portland. A fascinating man who had multiple keyboard instruments in his possession. Each one was tuned to a different temperament!

6:23 AM  
Anonymous gojohnnygo said...

I just found a pre-recorded cassette of this at the neighborhood thrift store. It looked interesting, so... this is mind-blowing stuff!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MAGNIFICENT blog tnx & congrats … but all Sharebee links are down …

9:32 AM  
Blogger Max said...

I'll try to repost this sometime during the week. If there are other links you want reposted, please request them individually.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Kelly Hamilton said...

This man spit in my face when I was a student in his class at UCLA in 1968 and claimed to be a composer. "You're a composer?" he sneered. "I'm a composer!" he sputtered in rage. I went on to a distinguished career as an acclaimed, award winning composer of many musicals and operas, compared along the way with Gershwin, Stravinsky and Puccini. Douglass Leedy is not much of a composer, was a terrible teacher, and should not be allowed around talented people.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Wildefriend said...

Kelly, I'm not sure who you are. As a broadcaster at KFAC for 13 years, I was in charge of selecting the music that Los Angeles heard during the late 1970s and early 1980s. I never studied with Leedy, but I met him in Portland in 1984. The only piece of his I found really striking was "Doria". I still produce "The Romantic Hours" on radio. If you want me to consider your music for airplay, contact me on facebook!

2:24 PM  

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