Monday, 27 June 2011

John Pfeiffer - Electronomusic: 9 Images (1969)

Last post I hastily suggested that the internet can be a wonderful thing. Then I started reading Paul Virilio's book, The Information Bomb in which he asserted (way back in 1998, when the WWW was still just a rumour for folk like me) that the internet is, among other things, a civilianised military technology that has caused a further shift of gear in the acceleration of reality. Information flows too quickly to ever be grasped or comprehended:
"Motion sickness...was the logical forerunner of instant transmission sickness, with the rapid emergence of the 'Net junkies', 'Webaholics' and other forms of cyberpunk struck down with IAD (Internet Addiction Disorder), their memories turned into junkshops - great dumps of images of all kinds and origins, used and shop-soiled symbols, piled up any old how"

P. Virilio, The Information Bomb, p. 38

Released in 1969, John Pfeiffer's Electronomusic is a strange buzzing, whirring, fluttering beast of sliding tones and oscillating frequencies. The album ends with a track called After Hours which is made up of the martial sounds of frantic typewriters - urgent messages tapped out to important men of power. Telephones ring and tickertape spills from the mainframe. The music builds in speed and intensity and comes to incorporate the sound of the guns and military technology that were being used to in an attempt to defeat the Viet Cong and the spread of Communism. The piece seemed to synchronise with Virilio's theory of dromology.

Maybe you're interested and maybe you're not.

"Drops drop, sounds sound - analogies in rhythm. Drops are forms in space. But a "drop" suggests motion; motion and sounds are events in time. Can sounds then be Drops in time? Perhaps.
Dimensions of time and space occupy our physical attention, our physical being. But our conceptual being can warp time and space limitlessly. Fantasy, imagination, emotion - the transformations of the physical order - can interpret, clarify, contradict, affirm or deny, even create. It happens in moments. And musical events are moments strung together, time ordered, mood ordered. During those moments sound can order the sensory being to re-form time, space and their occupants."
From the sleeve notes.


01 Warm-Up, Canon And Peace
02 Reflection Of A String
03 Drops
04 Moments
05 Take Off
06 Forests
07 Pavone
08 Orders
09 After Hours

Get it HERE.


Holly said...

Excellent post that actually made me slow down and think (as well as dl the lp).

Thank you!

tripmaster said...

i too echo the sentiment of the previous commenter. thank you for putting me on to the philosophy of virilio. fascinating perspectives that deserves consideration!

Anonymous said...

I remember this weird music. My parents had this album because my dad used to get free stuff to review from the newspaper. I have no idea what happened to it. said...

I found a copy of this at the public library about thirty-five years ago when I was in high school and fell in love with it immediately. Seeing 'John Pfeiffer' on a number of classical RCA LPs I owned, I took a gamble and penned a letter to RCA in New York City and ended up corresponding with the composer briefly in 1980, receiving a promo copy of the LP from him from his own personal stash.

Almost twenty-five years later I reconnected with an old friend to find he was working for RCA on the BMG/Sony merger, and from Pfeiffer's old office to boot, in which he had died of a heart attack, wearing headphones, about ten years earlier. Upon my inquiry, the librarian at RCA confirmed that the masters for the LP were still in RCA's 'vault' but that Pfeiffer had commented once that the record would only be re-released 'over my dead body'. Interestingly enough, in a letter to me from 1980 he wrote warmly, even lovingly, of the LP. I often wonder if he did it as a joke, or if perhaps he was dead serious but it was dismissed as a joke.

At any rate, thanks for posting this. I lost my copy in the federal flood of 2005, and it's great to hear it again after so many years.

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