WENDY CARLOS - SYNTH LEGEND - MOOG LADY - "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"
prog rock, jazz fusion, jazz rock, jazz, pysch/trance, space, electronic, ambient, essentially eclectic excellence

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

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Some history first:
When I first heard Switched On Bach, I thought, "Oh my goodness!", this changes everything. I then sought out info on Bob Moog who built many of the modules Carlos used. I found out he also built the polyphonic synthesizer for Keith Emerson of ELP. When the first Moog synthesizer was built for musicians everywhere to purchase, it was demonstrated at a music store very near my home. I was there front row, the youngest person there, armed with my cassette player recording every blip and bleep. I loved the ring modulator! I wished I knew where that tape was now. Anyway, I bought everything Carlos released and a host of the copycats using Moog synth everywhere. And now, decades later I am a recording musician myself using synths all the time! Listen here: Face of the Deep.
What a wonderful synth world Carlos opened wide for so, so many ears. And she inspired 10s of 1000s of musicians everywhere. Thank you, Wendy. ~ The Editor

Wendy Carlos: Digital Moonscapes East Side Digital, ESD81542, 2000 www.wendycarlos.com info@wendycarlos.com

Wendy Carlos is the original synthesist's synthesist. Her pioneering work in the '60s at The Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center and her early encounters with Robert Moog set the stage for every synthesist to follow. Her intellectual and meticulous approach to sound replication led to the development of The LSI Philharmonic, the world's first digitally synthesized orchestra. (LSI stands for Large Scale Integration.) Digital Moonscapes introduced that technology to the world. Wendy's liner notes describe, in detail, her motivation for pursuing the technology, the technology itself and the structures of the orchestral soundscapes. That is all very cool and extremely fascinating. Listener response is, however, more important and Wendy does discuss the emotional motivations for her compositions. And she predicts listeners' emotional responses accurately. The only thing missing is the spiritual response. The majestic walls of sound and the gentle atmospheres compliment each other perfectly. There are pastoral soundworlds and dynamic spacescapes. The absolute beauty of the arrangements creates a temple in which to meditate and look for answers to unasked questions. So, this CD points to Wendy's absolute brilliance as a modern symphonic composer. Her ability to evoke such responses speaks to her ability as an e-music performer. This is an essential disc - musically and historically! - Jim Brenholts

Wendy Carlos: Beauty in the Beast East Side Digital, ESD81552, 2000 www.wendycarlos.com info@wendycarlos.com

Beauty in the Beast builds and capitalizes on Wendy Carlos' work on Digital Moonscapes. Indeed, in terms of pure genius, Wendy has topped herself. These dynamic arrangements and sound designs showcase her ability to expand her horizons and incorporate new ideas and traditional influences. Her use of subtle Tibetan chants, horns and Gamelan bells is groundbreaking and startling. (Those techniques are much more common today than they were in 1986.) Wendy even realized - correctly so - that her avant-garde timbre would not be very popular. That is unfortunate because this sonority is a treat. The avant-garde texture is, indeed, an appealing sound. This is a wonderful experimental album. In terms of breaking new ground, Wendy deserves to be included with the other avant-garde pioneers - Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and John Cage. - Jim Brenholts


Wendy Carlos: Sonic Seasonings East Side Digital, ESD81372, 1998 www.wendycarlos.com info@wendycarlos.com

Wendy Carlos recorded Sonic Seasonings in 1971. It is widely recognized as the original "new age with nature samples" album. The album is set up as a musical suite much like Vivaldi's or Tchaikovsky's homages to the seasons. For the remastered re-issue (1998), Wendy added a previously unreleased suite - Land of the Midnight Sun - that she recorded in 1986. While Wendy certainly has vast technical expertise, her interpretive skills are often overlooked. The nature samples and field recordings certainly match the seasons. Wendy's analog atmospheres are grand and they speak to the soul. even by new millennium standards, this is the perfect relaxation and meditation soundscape. Wendy's meticulous arrangements enhance the experience. - Jim Brenholts

EER editor says: "I own this CD and listen to the several bonus tracks quite regularly."

Wendy Carlos: Switched-on-Bach 2000 Telarc, CD80323, 1992 www.wendycarlos.com info@wendycarlos.com

Wendy Carlos is e-music's premier transcriber of classical music. While her volume of such interpretations is not as large as Isao Tomita's, the depth and soul of her arrangements exceeds his. (Don't read this wrong. I am also a big fan of Isao.) Switched-on-Bach 2000 is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original Switched-on-Bach (released in 1967). This disc features all new digital performances and a nice mix of Bach selections. Some of them are orchestral and some are for solo instruments. Wendy performs all of them meticulously and expertly. Her style and grace are paramount and she not only maintains the depth and charm of the original pieces, she adds her own flair and creates new and deeper responses. Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, the Halloween perennial, had never sounded this scary before. Wendy's genius is unparalleled in the annals of e-music history. This disc, a fresh version of an old approach, shows why. - Jim Brenholts

Take it from EER-MUSIC.com, on first listen -- if you liked "Timesteps" and Beauty in the Beast or if you dig Carlos' stuff, this will serve to please. Wendy goes all out on this one in the soundtrackish, cinematic vein. "Ta Da!"

This review featured in:

John Collinge's Progression Magazine

Wendy Carlos: Sonic Seasonings + (2CD, 131:19); East Side Digital ESD 81372

Before the term New Age or ambient was to be attached to such music we had the term electronic. Carlos is probably one of the electronic genre's best known pioneers. Easily recognized as a master for synthesizer interpretations of classical pieces and soundtrack work, Carlos took a big step into the unknown with the 1972 release of Sonic Seasonings. It wasn't classical, jazz, pop, nor soundtrack. It was a mindtrack, a novel soundscape of the seasons. It was a unique work with nothing else quite like it to be compared to in its day. You either hated it, loved it, or were very confused. I for one, found it enchanting and mesmerizing. Such is ground- breaking art's legacy. This new reissue brings back the olde joy of discovery. You are carried from "Spring" into "Summer" and on through "Fall" on Disc one. "Winter" completes the original recording on Disc two. As a wonderful bonus you also get to hear three unreleased tracks. A short, unused out-take of "Winter" is offered first. Then from 1986 the mini- suite, Land of the Midnight Sun, comprised of two stunningly beautiful pieces closes things. Carlos' "Aurora Borealis" and "Midnight Sun" surpass even the better works of Serrie and Roach. I heard bits and pieces of sounds Carlos used in the Beauty in the Beast release. If you like hearing birds, thunderstorms, frogs, insects, ocean surf, livestock vocalizations, wolves, haunting vocals, and synthesizer impressions of wind, heat, sun, snow, and the unseen impressions of experiencing being alive -- you won't be let down by hearing anew, Carlos' leap of faith in Sonic Seasonings +. This is a Hi-D, 20-bit, enhanced with other data 2CD item. Strong recommendations for this one. ~ John W. Patterson



Wendy Carlos: Tales of Heaven & Hell (CD, 57:29); ESD 81352, 1998 East Side Digital 530 North Third Street, Suite 230 Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA Ph: 612-375-0233, Fax: 612-359-9580 Email: esd@noside.com Cyberhome: http://www.noside.com/esd/

Anyone who knows their synth history will remember Carlos-- a pioneer, a visionary, and extremely talented. From Switched-On Bach to Clockwork Orange to Sonic Seasonings to Beauty In the Beast and others -- Carlos is matchless, an innovator, working wonders. On Tales . . . the magic continues in an eerie music drama full of all the things Carlos fans love. Seven pieces carry you through a sombre, introspective, and somewhat disturbing territory, a sonic Dante's Inferno just in time for the end-of-the-millenia crazies to contemplate. Enter a descent into the abodes of the damned, the lost. A twisted and warped return to Carlos' legacy is offered in the 17:47 "Clockwork Black" which will make chills run up the spine of ye olden ones familiar with Carlos' bizarre discography. Tales . . . isn't music for blank smiles and sunny mornings. It paints a Boschian or Morality play backdrop of torments and gnashings of rotted teeth. "Clockwork Black" is dark and foreboding with demonic titterings and Latin chantings intermingled. It makes goth look like bright lollipops and glistening pinwheels. Herein doth flow tears and sulfur. I just hope this isn't the reflection of Carlos' everyday musings. If so -- it's way past time for a visit to the apothecary. The next few tracks are expertly done as well but offer little release nor resolution to the tension. Be forewarned. Angst, regret, and emptied dreams are your portion. Finally, in the 12:49 "Seraphim", eternal light and righteousness, prevail, and a wearied rest comes through. Echoes of Bartokian pain and Outer Limits-themed sorrows seemed to waft in but fall away in the recurrent pious chants of ethereal brothers of the cloth. This is a deeply moving piece in a good way after the oppressive pathos overlaying much of Carlos' dark drama she offers. It is adagio and it is transport beyond the pale agonies of temporal life. This is an enhanced CD with extra goodies for your computer to discover beyond the music. Rediscover Carlos and experience the miasma, the maelstrom, the malevolent, and the macabre side of the synthesizer's "first lady". Recommended for nightmares. ~ John W. Patterson

Wendy Carlos' site




If you are seeking out-of-print and hard-to-find CDs . . .
try my new eBay page where I post CD finds for sale.
Rare CDs at eBay
"Jazz Fusion Guy" @ eBay page

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