Shunned by the avant-garde establishment of the day, Dockstader was completely self-taught, and recognised that at its most basic, all music, whatever the source, was just tension and release - and these works certainly have that in spades. The 18-minute Water Music (1963) is up first on this compilation, with Dockstader using water ('in a metal garbage can', according to the wonderfully detailed liner notes) to create music that he felt reflected the various qualities of water. It's a great work, and highly listenable, but by the following year his craft had taken a noticeable leap in complexity (helped in part by now using three-track recording and more sophisticated mixing) to produce the epic 46-minute Quatermass suite.
Quatermass, its name chosen just because Dockstader thought it suitably evocative (he hadn't seen the famously creepy British TV serials/movies from the 50s) is simply a masterpiece of early electronics. Dockstader had intended Quatermass from its inception to be a complete contrast to Water Music, that it would be 'a very dense, massive, even threatening, work of high levels and high energy'. This certainly comes through in the work's semi-classical five movements, with recurring themes and primitive sine-wave rhythms leading the way through the many electronic sounds, creating a dark, foreboding atmosphere throughout. The disc is rounded out by two out-takes from the Quatermass sessions (which precede the main work in the tracklist). Don't miss this one - simply stunning, pioneering and accessible tape 'n' scissors mastercrafting.
|Original LP cover for 'Quatermass', 1966|