Roger Powell — Cosmic Furnace
(Wounded Bird Wou 7251, 1973/2005, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01This legendary album from the early days of electronic music is a welcome reissue. The overall sound is a bit unusual because of Powell’s use of ARP synthesizers rather than Moogs. The tracks feature a combination of pulsating sequences and live playing on piano, Mellotron, Clavinet, and maybe other instruments (the credits are vague). Sometimes the sequences form little more than a rhythmic pattern, sort of a drum substitute, though it’s not like the drum machines that would come later. The overall result is quite far from Tangerine Dream style sequencer orgies, more like programmed parts as accompaniment to a keyboard fest. I’m reminded a little of Jan Hammer’s First Seven Days (1975), only with the jazzy inflection replaced with something more like rock. It’s easy to see this as a precursor to solo albums by other keyboard players, from Patrick Moraz to Hammer to Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock. The amazing thing is that Powell managed to do it in 1973. Aside from its historical value, the music is quite enjoyable, if not revelatory. There are some catchy melodies here and there, and some nearly funky rhythms. You can also hear similarities with his later Utopia work. The compositions do not simply jam on programmed grooves, but progress from section to section, with changing moods, tempos and tonalities.
Related artist(s): Roger Powell
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more