Saturday, 13 August 2011

Electronic 1 & 2 - Tod Dockstader

Boosey & Hawkes sound like a comedy duo...perhaps a singing one, like Chas & Dave, don’t you think? But it was a library music company, and Tod recorded two albums for it, both called ‘Electronic’ (with the same covers); the first in 1979, the second in 1981. It strikes me as odd that a serious electronic music composer should do this, but I suppose he needed the money. Perhaps Reginald Boosey and Cyril Hawkes heard Dockstader’s ‘Quatermass’ and thought ‘He could make us some nice electronic music that we could license to a company selling electric shavers, or pocket calculators’. I don’t know that Reginald or Cyril ever existed, but if they did, they would have worn suits all the time, smoked pipes and drank ale with employees from the BBC, since their company was based in Regents Street and Broadcasting House may have been just up the road. So the world of commerce and creative excellence collide. Not for the first time because, as you may know, a lot of library music surpasses supposedly ‘serious’ sounds with regard to sonic exploration, composition, and all-round musical merit – well, it does in my book anyway. For anyone deterred by lengthy electronic pieces made (or influenced) by the German school of long-haired hippy Wagnerian grandeur, these will be more palatable. They share more in common with the Beeb’s electronic workshop than epic tangerine dreams or avant-garde mission statements of the previous decade. For this reason, they are two of my favourite electronic albums. The pieces average under 2mins in length, and that is part of the pleasure. 1.31secs of ‘Steam Megawatt’ is just perfect for me. I wonder if William Gibson and Bruce Sterling have heard it?  

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