Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Artist: Don Preston
Title: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
Esteemed Belgian label Sub Rosa issues this bizarre audio-documentary about electronic pionierism of Don Preston, one of the key figure orbiting around legendary Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention, whose staid hippie-like figure behind old-fashioned synths has been immortalized in many clips. Known for his distinctive touch and his unflinching wonder for sonic research, he deeply influenced the stylistical path of that band and issues such as Uncle Meat or Ahead of Their Time, which marked Zappa's veering towards jazz as well as a more accentuated stylistical syncretism, are considired as authentic miliar stones of the evolutionary stages of MoI's sound and even if he was member of the combo for a limited time-span, his stamp was clear even after the arrival of Ian Underwood. Don Preston's vision was shining through his linear notes on Uncle Meat yet: "We're coming to the beginning of a new era wherein the development of the inner self is the most important thing. We have to train ourselves. So that we can improvise on anything: a bird, a sock, a fuming beaker. This is, this too can be music. Anything can be music." His prominent enthusiasm for possibilities given by electronic music devices, which remarkably widened expressive chances for musicians as well as the scope of investigation for sonic explorers, led him to enrich his creativity with deep listening of some masters of concrete and electroacoustic music such as Luciano Berio, Karheinz Stockhausen and Tod Dockstader while focusing on these magical sonic machines called synths - he developed a self-made instrument by combining an home-made synthesizer with various filters and oscillators - the one used for the assemblage of "Electronic", the first long-lasting track of this selection, recorded in 1967 - and gave his personal contributions to the enhancement and the integration in traditional line-ups of Mini-Moog, due to his close friedship with his inventor, Robert Moog. The placement collective imagination could assign to Don preston could prompt the association of some sounds to other elements of that scene - for example, the caterwaul-like whistle in the second track, the first of "Analog Heaven", a sort of mini-album recorded in 1975, included in this collection, could be mistaken for the whimpering of some groupie! -, but careful listener are going to enjoy, almost immediately, Preston's mindblowing style and tonal games whose dynamics could recall molly twist bracelets, as well as the attempt of giving to the compostion a certain cinematic attitude, in accordance with many musical researches of that age so that it's almost spontaneous thinking about those fish-eye, multi-coloured or filtered scenes when movie makers tried to represent some character's point of view under the effect of some mind-altering psychotic drug!