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).