Jürgen Karg; Elektronische MythenBureau B
BB 226 LP
Long Playing Record
Jürgen Karg began his music career in the 1960s as a bassist for German jazz legend Wolfgang Dauner. It was not until the 1970s that he switched his attention to electronic music, launching himself wholeheartedly into exploring the genre and building up an extensive collection of synthesizers over a five-year period. His efforts culminated in the 1977 Elektronische Mythen LP, a mighty opus of experimental music that reveals new aspects every time it is played. This is its first reissue.
The technology of the system Karg had constructed, based on sequencers and four EMS synths, was state of the art for the period and promised endless variations. But this in itself came at a price; operating such a complex system posed a serious challenge to the artist, which Karg had to face all by himself. EMS systems like this were few and far between, not least because of the expense of putting the whole thing together. Hence there was little chance to compare notes with other music makers.
"The track 'Die versunkene Stadt' predominantly features material from my earliest attempts at digital signal processing, you can clearly hear the sheer diversity of sounds at play," Karg explains in the liner notes. "Usable musical results were saved on tape, in some cases edited later and then mixed with the aid of several variable speed two- and four-track tape recorders and an 8-track machine." Indeed, one finds oneself listening to a highly concentrated collage distilled from years of sonic exploration.
Waves swell and stand, sample-and-hold cascades blubber, bells jingle, and wonderfully slow layers loop recursively, changing their tone over a period of minutes. There is a decidedly warm and organic quality to most of the sounds -- at times sounding remarkably like piano and electric bass -- while original synthetic sounds reappear over and over in the collage. On "Vollmond Selene" Karg worked primarily with permuted sequences of ring-modulated sounds. If the music he made with Dauner was upbeat and revved-up, then Elektronische Mythenis anything but. Quite the opposite.
Jürgen Karg's music is deeply serious, as vexing as a jamais vu, yet absolutely beautiful. Elektronische Mythen is an album that fits like a puzzle piece between Wendy Carlos's first and second versions of her soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange (1971).