POPULAR ELECTRONICS: Early Dutch electronic music from Philips research laboratories 1956-63 (4CD bo
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This is a model, a standard, a template for how such collections should be assembled and presented. Four CDs in a substantial box with seven booklets (180pp) comprehensively written, beautifully documented and illustrated in full colour on nice print stock with 3 fold-out replicas: a score, a schematic, an early newspaper article - and a fold out time chart. The texts are excellently researched and written (with exemplary materials on the Philips laboratory, electronic scoring for film, the three featured artists: Dick Raaijmakers aka Kid Baltan. Henk Badings and Tom Dissevelt, and extensive track notes, beautifully designed. The CDs concentrate only on the popular and functional productions of the studio, meaning ballet music, industrial film soundtracks and experimental productions of what was intended to be 'popular electronic music', that is non-academic electronics pitched somewhere between science fiction beeps and swoops, tunes, lounge and jazz. That said, most is not sleazy (as much later work in the field tended to be) but really straddles worlds in a fascinating (and very listenable) way. CD1 presents 2 ballet scores by Henk Badings, 'Cain and Abel' (1956) and 'Evolutionen' (1958), plus 'the world's first attempt at popular electronic music' - a single by Kid Baltan (1957) with an unpublished B-side for 3 ondes martinots and backward piano, Tom Dissevelt's extraordinary 'Intersection' for electronic sound and jazz orchestra (1961), plus a few other pieces from 1959 & '60. CD2 features concert and film soundtrack music ('57 - '66) including a pretty wild 16 minute unpublished industrial film track by Dick Raaijmakers (using his own name for his non popular productions). CD 3 reproduces Tom Dissevelt's 'Fantasy in Orbit' LP (1963) and CD 4 contains great alternate versions of some of the pieces on the other CDs, some extra, short, unpublished pieces and 75 'sound example' tracks which are not only fascinating and instructive but also make great listening just as they are, in sequence. The CD ends with a spoken letter from Fred Judd (1966) to Tom Dissevelt about the problems of popular electronic music and the state of play in the UK as well as Holland at the time. This CD is a gem. But then so are volumes 1 and 2. Vol 3 is a more standard electronic/lounge production, interesting but not exceptional. Overall, I would say that this is as much of a must-have set as Raymond Scott's 'Manhattan Research' which it in many ways resembles and which was also produced by Basta. This was a critical and interesting period in the history of early electronics, and the Dutch productions have until now been rather ignored. They were important and here they have been given the best presentation anyone could want. Essential. And cheap!