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Karlheinz Stockhausen
Adventures In Sound

Karlheinz Stockhausen is an artist that every music lover should give a go at least once in their life. The German composer’s theories about everything from form to notation to sound itself revolutionised art music in post-war Europe. In one way or another his work has influenced pretty much genre to come after him. Worth a listen, then, and this new compilation Adventures In Sound provides a good way into the composer's ouevre.
  • CD box set (ACME339BOX)

Edgard Varese
The Complete Works Of Edgard Varèse, Volume 1

This welcome and affordable box set compiles historic early recordings of works by one of the 20th century’s most influential avant garde composers. It begins with Nicolas Slonimsky’s 1933 recording of his groundbreaking percussion work Ionisation. Also included are the 1950 Frederic Waldman renditions that would freak out a young Frank Zappa, making him Varesé’s best-known disciple. The 1954 world premiere of orchestral / electronic suite Déserts captures the extremes of the mixed reaction it received. 1958’s tape piece Poème Électronique paved the way for a whole world of musique concrète. Varesé’s dissonant, brass- and percussion-heavy pieces and pioneering electronic explorations still have the power to raise eyebrows today, and it’s great to have these particular recordings handily compiled.
  • CD (ACME336BOX)
  • £15.49 £13.94 (saving: £1.55)
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If Wishes Were Horses

Indie pop label Sarah released Blueboy's first record back in 1992, so obviously this is a twee pop affair, though rather than be full of tender full-band choruses and jangly guitars, it's a lot slower and predominantly acoustic. This modest, little known record is now getting a CD reissue on El Records.    Tracks: Candy Bracelet Cloud Babies Too Good To Be True Fondette Sea Horses Clear Skies Happiness and Smiles Amoroso Clearer Alison Popkiss Chelsea Guitar Fearon

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez
New Directions In Music

Two of the big daddies of contemporary music share a CD here, with a selection of pieces pushing forwards towards New Directions In Music. Karlheinz Stockhausen presents two piano pieces (the first, Etude Concrete, is chopped up and rearranged, and is an early example of musique concrète) and his Zeitmasse. Pierre Boulez brings his woodwind-and-vocal-heavy Le Marteau Sans Maître. Seminal pieces of musical history, sure, but also a hell of a listen today.

John Cage
Fontana Mix

EL Records admirably releases this collection of early John Cage pieces. Fontana Mix, for which the disc is titled, is an example of Cage’s indeterminate compositions, whereas ‘First Construction In Metal’, ‘Music For Carillon No.1’ and ‘The City Wears A Slouch Hat’ all utilise percussion, more prominently than Cage’s later work. And ‘Williams Mix’ is a maelstrom of over 600 tape edits!