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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wendy Carlos - "Beauty in the Beast"


This Wendy Carlos' disc is a true obsession of mine.

I knew of this record after a review I read on The Absolute Sound magazine, many years ago.

After the record review, I also read an interesting interview with Wendy Carlos herself, about her music, Robert Moog, the analog-to-digital sampling of acoustic, orchestral sounds - please pay attention we're talking about '86 computers... - and much more.

I found with some difficulty the imported vinyl of "Beauty in the Beast" - now a deleted, out-of-print MUCH sought after item - seems it was ONLY distributed for three months (!!!) in 1987 - but still available as a 24-Bit remastered disk - and... I was blowed away!

I should have been someway prepared to this music, as I read Mrs. Carlos had to deal with microtonalities of Gamelan, Balinese music... BUT it wasn't an electronic pastiche à-la-Kitaro or some so-so Vangelis' lesser works.

It was a new world opening at my ears and mind: like for Hans Reichel but using more technology than luthiery and woodworking, Wendy Carlos' vision was uniquely hinting to parallel universes and galaxies, where C-D-E-F-G-A-B isn't "the" standard... a supremely fractal music where the intervals and scales are strangely sounding, indeed.

It's something I experienced during last month vacation, when I re-read "Complete Works" by a youth love of mine, Howard Philips Lovecraft (H.P.L.).

I used my El-Cheapo I-Pod dock while reading on my terrazza, looking at the sea... the thick H.P.L.'s book and its pages with its weird content was fingered and read passionately...




... what happened while reading "The Mountains of Madness" - a lenghty, nightmare-like story of Antarctic explorations and Ancient cities and its inhabitants - I cannot say nor explain... yet something VERY powerful "clicked" during my reading, as a specific track (Just Imagining) from Wendy Carlos' masterpiece began to play.

I strongly had the feeling "this" music was as weird as the story on the old book... in this piece there is a fantastic climax reached after some soft, orchestral-like passages and... "right" when the explorers in the HPL's story entered the alien city in icy Antartica, looking at something only an ill imagination - HPL's - may have, as he was the creator of Chtlulhu, Nyarlathotep, the Necronomicon, Erich Zann, Ulthar, Arkham and Innsmouth...

Well... the music changes giving the superb sensation of something REALLY broad, HUGE, unseen and unexplorated, opens in front of you, the reader (and listener).

An amazing sensation, also in a sunny morning, with blue sky and sea as a "real" landscape.

I imagined for an instant the scene so well described by HPL... and the music was perfect and funtional, like the VERY best of original soundtracks, ever... and for a second, the sea and the sky were purple and I felt a chilly wind and shivers and goosebumps;-)))

I was only reading and listening to music... no dope whatsoever was involved;-) - only the two a.m. (powerful) ingredients.

"Beauty in the Beast" was recorded in 1986 and issued in 1987 and I purchased it that year... I listened to it one hundred+ times and I always find and unveil something new.

... and it's one of my Desert Island discs, folks, and I cherish both the vinyl, so full of nuances and the 24-bit disk... I wrote about its recording qualities, about the beauty of the music... now pointing out the weirdness... ALL my attempts are toward having more and more people listening to it.

... I told you: it's an obsession;-)

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