Wendy Carlos burst onto the international music scene in 1968 with Switched-On Bach, a collection of virtuoso performances of Bach standards with a twist--they were performed entirely with electronic instruments. Not a small feat, considering that most electronic musicians at the time had contented themselves to play with Theremins and sine-wave generators. Where others were making "noise", Carlos was making music, and brilliant music at that.
A physicist and electronics wizard at Columbia University as well as a musician and composer, Carlos collaborated with Robert Moog in the mid-60s to develop a "performance" music synthesizer. Wendy released her first several works as Walter Carlos, though most have been reissued and reattributed to "Wendy". Most of Carlos' early recorded output consisted of interpretations of other (mostly baroque) composers' work, but with Sonic Seasonings, a landmark work which anticipated ambient "New Age" music by over a decade, Carlos emerged as a composer in (then "his", now "her") own right. For The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, Carlos developed an electronic human voice approximator, which was used to great effect on the choral passages of Monteverdi's "Domine Ad Adjuvandum"--an unprecedented tour de force of electronic musical experimentation.
Grammy-winner Carlos is currently working on a gothic Black Mass, which is expected to incorporate baroque themes she explored on A Clockwork Orange.
Our Prog Rock Corner selection for August 4, 1996 was "Pompous Circumstances (Variations and Fantasy on a Theme by Elgar)" off the album Walter Carlos By Request, released in 1975.
Prog Rock Corner Index
Our impression of "Pompous Circumstances":
Ouch! Musical in-jokes galore, as Carlos kicks the stuffing out of Elgar's tired old "Land of Hope and Glory". The irreverent treatment of one of England's best-loved composers got this track banned by the BBC! It's not an easy listen, but pretty clever. Try going through a commencement ceremony with this playing in the background...
Wendy Carlos is a brilliant and charming artist! Find out more at her official web site:
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