DAVIES, HUGH: Tapestries
Hugh Davies was a quiet pioneer. In 1964 he replaced Cornelius Cardew as Stockhausen's personal assistant and then on his return to England became a moving force in the first British electronic performance ensemble Gentle Fire, as well as joining MIC (with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and Jamie Muir). Soon he was quietly turning up everywhere, but never joining any generic musical faction. He was also a walking encyclopaedia, a prolific author and a valued teacher, omnipresent in the worlds of electroacoustic music, instrument design, and sound art. Here, at last, is a CD of his electronic pieces, made between 1976-1987. The earliest, Natural Images, for concrete sound and tape manipulation, is the strangest; Celeritas, made on an early Fairlight is in the Davidovsky/Mumma vein, exploring Stockhausen's division of 28 semitones into 25 equal parts (no octave) and the idea of speed; Tapestries, made in an electronic studio for dance sets up an equipment chain and algorithms and manipulates them in real time; From Trees and Rocks uses concrete sounds of sawing and chiselling alongside manipulations of the saws and chisels used as musical instruments - a very unusual and enigmatic piece, and also I think the real gem of the collection - and finally, Vision, also using the Fairlight, follows Celeritas in its employment of bell-like tones and microtonality - even more obvious here, because taken more slowly. A varied collection and much appreciated. With a useful biography by David Toop.