Carter Thomas; SonomaCreel Pone
CP 206 CD
While Creel Pone has done a bang-up job at documenting non-Subotnick alternatives such as Michael Czajkowski's "People the Sky," Douglas Leedy's "Entropical Paradise", etc. there's, simply, not a lot of recorded & released music out there made on the early Buchla systems; which makes this hitherto undiscussed collection of pieces by the composer Carter Thomas, all recorded between 1971 & 1977, then issued in the UK in 1985, something of a unheralded gem.
Starting with "800th Lifetime" - an 11-minute suite for Buchla 100 & 200, inspired by Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock", composed & recorded 1972 - we're in unfamiliar territory; absent are the whiz-bang histrionics, replaced by a dark, brooding atmosphere that calls to mind such Concrète classics as Andre Almuro's "Kosmos" & even some of the more dispersed Roland Kayn "Cybernetic" works. The terse "Auric Light" is perhaps the album's only mis-step, although it is definitely the best electronically-modified harp & percussion suite you're likely to hear, with some great spots of pointillist fizzle.
On the flip, 1971'a "Epicentrum" re-unites us with the muted blanket of Buchla 200 drones present on the opening number, here reduced to gorgeous filtered-out, pulsing sub-harmonics & an almost Phill Niblock-ian pace. The title track, from 1976, breaks the mold by utilizing the equally potent Serge Modular to capture the surroundings in which it was captured, "a small cabin surrounded by giant redwoods in Sonoma, California;" it does an amazing job at representing the expanse by way of subtly resonant exaggerations of peak frequencies dwelling amidst the Serge's oscillators, reminding of both Leedy and Michael Stearns.
A great set, completely blindsided by its existence and by Carter's newly won insertion into the early modular-synth continuum; he remains a mystery, and in fact his only tethering to the earthly realms in which us listeners reside is the fact that the same, Atlanta-based photographer that took his Non-esque portrait on the LP's rear cover also shot the cover for the "Rock Lobster" 7" - so many questions...