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The Wave Sounding Sea

by VICMOD Richard Lainhart

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Iron Hill 12:24
Snow 08:38



The pieces on "The Wave-Sounding Sea" were all recorded in the State University of New York at Albany's Electronic Music Studio in 1973 and 1974, using the Moog CEMS (Coordinated Electronic Music Studio) System developed by my composition teacher Joel Chadabe. Joel worked closely with Bob Moog in developing the CEMS, and Moog developed many custom modules for the system, which at the time may have been the largest integrated Moog synthesizer in the world.

The CEMS System contained an extended array of sound generating and processing modules as well as a unique programming system consisting of an automated matrix mixer, a digital master clock, and a bank of eight analog sequencers with customized logic hardware for running them together, independently, in succession, or in any combination of those modes.

"The Wave-Sounding Sea" and "Iron Hill" were both recorded by multi-tracking multiple passes of the CEMS output to 4-track Scully tape decks, which I then mixed down to stereo. The Wave-Sounding Sea" was the last composition in my older Morton Subotnick-influenced style; "Iron Hill" was my first work using my One Sound concept.

"The FM Automat" is a realtime recording of the CEMS System controlled by Daisy, an analog computer designed and built by John Roy that generated pseudo-random control voltages. "FM Automat" is a study in creating a system to generate as many different sounds as possible in realtime from a single frequency modulation patch.

"Snow", another One Sound work, was my first composition that used a computer in any way, and is another realtime recording. The studio acquired a DEC PDP-11 computer during my last year at the University, and I used it to write a simple program that would output random clicks through the computer's digital-to-analog convertors. I then processed that output through the CEMS System's filters and gates to create the final sound.Reviews:

Richard Lainhart /The Wave-Sounding Sea/ VICMOD CD

In sleevenotes to Richard Lainhart's 2001 release /Ten Thousand Shades Of Blue/, his composition teacher Joel Chadabe recalls that when they first met, at the start of the 1970s, the question in the air was, "what were the special musical things you could do with electronics?" Lainhart's answer, Chadabe continues, was "a new kind of constructivism based on sounds that are only about themselves and their transformations". The resulting music may be self-referential, but Lainhart's enduring interest in natural processes - water flowing, cloud patterns, the play of flames, wind moving through trees - provides a ready parallel for the way he works with processes in sound.

All four pieces on /The Wave-Sounding Sea/ were recorded at the State University of New York, Albany in 1973 and 1974, using the state-of-the-art Coordinated Electronic Music Studio System developed by Chadabe in association with Robert Moog. The title track is a darkly pulsating Morton Subotnick-influenced soundscape, brooding and non-human. With /Iron Hill/ Lainhart found his own voice. It was the first realization of his One Sound concept, which delivers what it says, a 12-minute organ-like blast, massive but teeming with inner life. /Snow/ is a very different One Sound composition, brittle and closely focused, situated ambivalently between shortwave sferics and crackling ice.

The remaining track, /FM Automat/, is an experimental exercise, a discontinuous series of electronic events generated using a single frequency modulation patch. Its effect resembles casting your eye across related shades in a color chart. Lainhart's mature work has something of the appeal of Eliane Radigue's music, constant yet discreetly developmental and secretly rich in detail. /The Wave-Sounding Sea/ shows him working towards that.

Julian Cowley

/The Wire/ 317

July, 2010


Vital Weekly

The first other artist we have is Richard Lainhart, of whom we very recently reviewed a CD release. On 'The Wave Sounding Sea' he presents four pieces from 1973 and 1974, using the Moog CEMS, as developed by his teacher, Joel Chadabe. It would go to far to explain how this works, but best said its an early example of an analogue with some kind of automated programs, early software and such. If you know Lainhart's work from before it won't hardly be a surprise that the title piece is a fine piece of drone music, albeit much darker than we are used from him. 'Iron Hill' was his first piece in the 'One Sound' concept, and this one sound is expanded over a multitude of channels and plays a nice, somewhat raw phase shifting pattern on it. It takes the minimalism of Reich in a new, electronic music context. The biggest surprise is 'The FM Automat', which moves away from the drones we know (and love) and is more a soundtrack to 'Forbidden Planet', with tones flowing in and out of the mix. A classic sixties piece, despite being from 1974. 'Snow', then, is a surprise too. Its his first computer piece, that puts out 'random clicks through the computer's digital-to-analog convertors. I then processed that output through the CEMS System's filters and gates to create the final sound'. Its almost like a noise piece! But it sounds great and fits entirely the minimalist tradition Lainhart is working in.


Don Poe, EAR/Rational Staff Reviewer

An electronic zoo of goodness. I was expecting drones from the arctic photo on the cover, but this is different than I expected! While the two songs do fit into the drone category (done well, I might add), overall the disc reminds me of the 'old school' Subotnik, Feldman and other experimental electronic musicians from the mid-1900s given todays gear. Whizzing buzzes, swirling electrons and broken toys. The final song does make me cower in fear - I have a shoutcast station I run personally, and when it errors it makes an odd digital sound for 1 second - that is basically the sound that is track 4 on this disc. I call it digital snow. Static is too harsh a word. This is more the sound of a digital marsh burbling up the gasses expelled by my computer as I play this disc.


released February 1, 2010


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