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Barry Schrader — Lost Analog
(Bandcamp no#, 1983/2022, CD / DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2023-06-05

Lost Analog Cover art

Barry Schrader is a retired Professor Emeritus at the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara, California State University at Los Angeles, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. His history as an electronic music composer dates back to the early 70s, creating compositions on the Buchla 200 analog synthesizer. Lost Analog is an archival album of unreleased work that Schrader composed and recorded between 1972 and 1983; he chose the album title because all of the compositions are analog electronic pieces, and parts of them are, indeed, lost. Stored on four-track tapes, some of the original aural experience was lost due to bits literally dropping on the floor. Plus he realized that that some of these pieces have not been heard in public for over 50 years. The first piece is “Death of the Red Planet Suite,” recorded in 1973, and constructed from parts of a score for the film Death of the Red Planet, a 20-minute film that was the first to be created from images made with lasers. The music is dark, mysterious, and visceral, much like the arrival of Discovery 1 at Jupiter in Kubrick’s classic 2001:  A Space Odyssey. Soaring electronics fry your brain as you careen through alien planetscapes. bursting through the atmosphere into deep space. Following this excellent piece is the five-movement work “Bestiary,” recorded from 1972-74. This is true experimental electronic music like early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, way before the advent of digital synths. This music is not even remotely academic, showcasing what could be done without synth presets and Schrader carefully crafting wonderful sonic textures from slithery metallic sea serpents, tinkling meditative and wary atmospheres, to harsh crystalline sounds raising the hair on your neck. Following “Bestiary” are three “Classical Studies (1977):”  “Canon,” “Chorale,” and “Perpetuum Mobile.” These three short pieces use abstractions of old musical forms. The timbres are constantly shifting and changing with each successive event in these pieces, and evoking memories of Louis and Bebe Barron’s groundbreaking soundtrack to Forbidden Planet. The album closes with the three part “The Moon Whales Suite” recorded in 1982-83. Amazing analog metallic textures, slow sequencers, clattering and chittering sounds, dissonance, and crescendos abound. Once again I’m reminded of Kubrick’s use of Ligeti’s experimental work, as well as Forbidden Planet. Lost Analog is truly a treasure trove of analog electronic music, the likes of which you do not hear today.  Highly recommended.

Filed under: Archives, 2022 releases, 1983 recordings

Related artist(s): Barry Schrader

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