Monday, 18 January 2016

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1964)

One more disc from the Masterworks box set mentioned in the previous weeks.

The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center was established in the early 1950s by some of the composers featured here; this album was recorded in 1961 and released in 1964 (except for the last Babbitt piece on this CD, which didn't appear on the original LP and dates from 1967).

A few of these composers were new names to me on discovering this album, and I think I'll listen to all of them in more detail at some point. Bülent Arel and Halim El-Dabh for definite - their pieces that open the album are the most engaging, and all the more mindblowing for their vintage.  The latter is based on an ancient Persian story, and is narrated in a truly bizarre, 'tape-transformed' voice.

Elsewhere on the album there's a piece by Vladimir Ussachevsky that sounds like it belongs more on Extended Voices, and the final track, Otto Leuning's Gargoyles, adds violin into the mix to provide a more accessible reference point.  Overall, I'd say this album intrigued me rather than being fully engrossing in the way that Extended Voices was, but Columbia-Princeton is still well worth getting to grips with.  For another view, here's a somewhat charming reminisce from someone who first encountered it as a nine-year-old!

Leyla And The Poet


  1. Picked up a mono copy of this lp when I worked at Jackpot Records in Portland, OR for $1. Haven't listen to it in years, THANKS!!! -Britt

    1. thanks Britt. I'd love to grab this on vinyl some day, will keep an eye oout for it in record shops. Don't know how many copies would've made their way across the Atlantic though!

  2. One of my first electronic music LP purchases after discovering that the 10 second piece of music used as the theatre ID at my local movie theatre was from Stockhausen's 'Gesang Der Junglinge". After listening to that whole piece, I was off on a lifelong search for electronic music, in all its forms. As my turntable died long ago I am looking forward to hearing this again, with a bonus track, and without the scratches! Many thanks.