The ANS Synthesiser pt2.0 ANS Discography
November 22, 2007
Continuing the ANS story, Here’s a pretty exhaustive list of recording featuring the ANS Synthesiser, I’ve not included Artemiev’s film soundtrack work for Tarkovsky as I’ll cover this in a separate post. if I’ve missed anything, please let me know…
“Musical Offering” 1990
The first LP to feature recordings of the ANS Synthesiser were released as a vinyl lp “Musical Offering” on the Russian Melodiya label (C60 30721 000) in 1990 and contains works from 1968-1970 by Edison Denisov , Sofia Gubajdullina and Alfred Schnittke
Edison Denisov “The Singing of the Birds,” (excerpt) 4k m3u file
Sofia Gubajdullina’s “Vivente-nonvivente” (excerpt) 4k m3u file
Alfred Schnittke’s “The Stream” (excerpt) 4k m3u file
The Russian Electroshock label issued a series of electro-acoustic sampler records, the fourth being devoted to archive recordings of the ANS Synthesiser as well as two works by the composer and ANS expert Stanislav Kreichi:
ELECTROSHOCK PRESENTS: “ELECTROACOUSTIC MUSIC VOL. IV. ARCHIVE TAPES. SYNTHESIZER ANS. 1964-1971” – 1999
(Electroshock Records ELCD 011)
“Electroacoustic Music Volume IV” is a collection of tracks dedicated to ANS, the first Russian synthesizer, created by Evgeniy Murzin over a 20 year period (1937-1957). Murzin only made one copy of the ANS and the 12 tracks on this disc were recorded by Russian musicians between 1964-1971, hence the sub-title “Archive Tapes Synthesiser ANS”. The tracks are all spacey electronic excursions and I can imagine the music must have been quite mind-blowing for its time. Far from being simple exploratory noodlings and knob-twiddlings by the curious, the contributors are clearly familiar with their instrument and have produced well thought out creative compositions. And given the context of the time it was recorded the music is quite impressive and should appeal particularly to those interested in the history of electronic music.”
- Oleg Buloshkin – Sacrament [3:34]
- Sofia Gubaidulina – Vivente-Non Vivente (“Alive & Dead”) [10:44]
- Edward Artemiev – Mosaic [4:00] 7.6MB MP3 Download
- Edward Artemiev – 12 looks at the world of sound [12:52] 17.7MB MP3 File Download
- Edison Denisov – Birds singing [5:05]
- Alfred Schnittke – Steam [5:50]
- Alexander Nemtin – Tears [4:41]
- Alexander Nemtin – I.S. Bach: Choral Prelude C-Dur [2:30]
- Schandor Kallosh – Northern Tale [5:38]
- Stanislav Kreitchi – Voices of the west [2:00] 7.9mb MP3 file
- Edward Artemiev & Stanislav Kreitchi – Music from the motion picture “Cosmos” [12:15]
- Stanislav Kreitchi – Intermezzo [2:00]
“Electroshock Records” of Moscow has released a CD with pioneering electronic music from the period 1964 1971, which is a period when the somewhat lighter hand of Nikita Krushchev was replaced by the much sturdier and more repressive totalitarian reign of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.
This CD is a great revelation to the world outside of Russia, giving insights to the experimentation of sound during that important period, when so much was happening in the U.S.A. (“San Francisco Tape Music Center”) and Europe (The Stockhausen adventure in full swing and Rune Lindblad conducting his experiments in Gothenburg). The CD that “Electroshock” has released in a limited edition – hopefully to be reprinted, though this is denied so far from Artemiy Artemiev of the company – is called “Electroacoustic Music Vol. IV.” Synthesizer ANS. Archive Tapes 1964 – 1971”. The ANS was (is) a machine for synthesizing sounds. I have not as yet understood how it is constructed and how it works, but it is used by the composers on this CD. The machine, which was constructed by the Russian scientist Evgeniy Murzin from 1937 to 1957, was built in one copy only, which is kept at the Lomonosov University in Moscow. When you study the list of composers on this CD who utilized the ANS synthesizer you’re bound to grasp for air. Did you hear electronic music before by, for example, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov and Alfred Schnittke? This CD is a great treasure!
The first track is Oleg Buloshkin’s “Sacrament”. It is a short (3:34) piece, beginning with a soft pulse on a backdrop of “space sounds”, they way they appeared in old space movies, but soon overtones of very rich spectra draw a melodic line of great beauty, while the pulse gets stronger. The feeling is that of enchantment, of silvery, forested magic; a Russian fairy tale. Toward the end the pulse rhythm moves in the direction of African tribal dances, incredibly, inside the space feeling, as if picked up the scanning devices of stellar travelers.
Sofia Gubaidulina is next with her “Vivente – Non Vivente”; an allusion on Shakespeare’s text. Gubaidulina’s piece is longer – 10:44 – and seems to be the first grand Russian effort at an electronic composition, if indeed the sequence on the CD is chronological. (I miss the exact dates of all pieces, which are not given. It is important to give all details when issuing historical material). A strangeness – an estrangement – hovers over this piece too, and one wonders if that is an effect of the ANS synthesizer or the Russian iron curtain confinement – or both. Anyhow, this is great music, displaying intriguing sound webs, ominous and dark, like a scene out of Tarkovsky’s “Stalker”; a feeling, which gets even stronger when angelic (?) voices are detected deep inside the murmur and swooshing of electronic sounds. A female voice flutters around like a butterfly deep inside the echoing layers of sound, as from a witch way inside your subconscious. The witch’s laughter gets hysterical, merging with the bubbling and crushing electronics of Gubaidulina and the ANS synthesizer. Extended, elastic events render a backdrop of some stability, of a weighty succession through the sounding space, while shorter, fluttering disturbances move in faster figures up front. A beautiful wind-chime tingles and tangles like church bells on the loose in your right speaker, while female “aahs” swirl through space at left. I only wish Sofia Gubaidulina had composed more for the electroacoustic medium. She’s great at combining electronics and sampled concrete sounds.
Track 3 constitutes Edward Artemiev’s “Mosaic”; a four minute event, also simultaneously displaying slow background sound curtains, slowly shifting – and closer, faster sounds, all moving. Artemiev’s music here is very spatial, rich in events, rich in timbres. This is in fact a very timbral music, layered, shifting like the light shining through a lava crust or the layers of ice shifting, building up and falling down, at the time of spring when the ice of the sea breaks up at shore. The title – “Mosaic” – is a hint that this shifting effect was intended by the composer.
No. 4 is also a piece by Edward Artemiev, called “12 Looks at the World of Sound”. This is – as the title indicates – a very mixed bag of sounds, though seamlessly attached to each other, mixed and redistributed. It begins with a jew’s harp, probably recorded in the Tuva region of overtone singing and beautiful horses. A world of indigenous shamanism opens inside your mind at the continuation of the piece, through an inward Bardo Thodol journey, in which you are shown all the good and bad you caused in the shadowy world of the living. Staccato incidents shift with long, bending, bulging sheet steel sections of sound, and you float through it all like a flake of fur tree bark blown off a tree, filmed in slow motion. Hectic and disturbing metal workshop sounds emerge out of a hazy, giant construction hall, where beings circle their objects like bees in a hive. The view shifts into the sewer pipes of the city, where dreamy, ghostly shadows drift in oblivion. The sounds are distant, as if heard through long, endless catacombs. Later on Artemiev sounds like Konrad Boehmer or Gottfried Michael Koenig, in metallic, scraping, over-powering shrills. Avalanche murmurs invade the space, as small sparks of electricity ping and sparkle through your cerebral cortex. This Edward Artemiev work is very imaginative, very inventive.
Edison Denisov‘s “Birds Singing” opens with a sonic view of a northern forest lake, where all kinds of birds gather, like cranes, wood-peckers, wader birds, crows and so on – in a pristine, un-touched, un-altered landscape. The famous Swedish composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl also used nature sounds in his rare electronic venture “Altisonans” (1966). Moose are also heard in Denisov‘s composition, conversing loudly in the echoing forest. A whippoorwill – a nightjar – whirs from afar inside the woods. This scenery is lightly mixed with electronic sounds, but mostly Denisov just uses the natural sounds of all these beings to create this world of sounds beyond the human world. It’s a pity that Denisov‘s piece is so short – 5:05 – and I haven’t heard of any other piece by him in the electronic vein.
Alfred Schnittke participates with his “Steam”. Alfred Schnittke became famous in the West for his meta music and his uninhibited mix of styles from different periods. This is the one and only electronic piece I’ve hard of him. It approaches in brittle overtones from afar, gradually extending its presence, spreading out to encompass the whole listening space, though arriving from the left, slowly involving the whole area. Layers of overtone sounds amass, as if you were listening to Folke Rabe’s “Was??” in an echo chamber. The sound thins out momentarily, distancing itself, but hovers over the horizon like a trembling wave of an oscilloscope. Much energy is at work, no doubt, to fill the horizon like this. Almost industrial sounds of grinding steel against steel follow, much in the tradition of the Romanian avant-garde, which, however, is of a later date than this Schnittke piece. Since many of the composers on this CD produce these extended lines of overtonal successions, I suppose the ANS synthesizer was particularly well suited for this – or was that just a common style during those years? Folke Rabe did it in Sweden in 1966, without any knowledge – as far as I know – of the ANS synthesizer in Moscow.
Track 7 is “Tears” by Alexander Nemtin. This sounds a lot like some of the experiments of the 1950s at the WDR studio in Cologne, with distant low-fi industrial sounds arranged in layers and sections, not without electronic charm. Apparently this piece is taken directly off a vinyl, since you can hear the minute crackling and hissing of the surface – which makes this piece almost even more desirable, deducing that it was in the knack of time to be able to save it for future listeners.
Track 8 also features Alexander Nemtin. The piece is – luckily – very short – 2:30 – and utilizes Johan Sebastian Bach‘s “Chorale Prelude in C major” – or actually simply plays it via the ANS synthesizer. I do not see the significance of such an effort, but nonetheless, here it is. Maybe it’s a Russian comment on the American Bach issues using the Moog synthesizer – which ever came first. It’s not interesting, anyway, at all.
Schandor Kallosh‘s “Northern Tale” is the more interesting, emerging in thin, brittle, sharp soundings, sprayed with showers of pea-like gushes over kitchen tables, evolving inside a magically revolving eternity of space, really giving you the sense of immense distance and the immediate closeness of yourself in yourself. This piece too appears to have been taken off a vinyl. It interests me a lot, because the handling of the material is extremely inventive, at one time appearing in the guise of a rock ‘n roll mimicry, and shortly thereafter in a distant reverence to Rostropovich and his cello, far inside the electronic layers of sound. Kallosh has applied his imagination in an impressive way, even utilizing a short loop of a woman’s voice in a rhythmic way that so far, to my knowledge, only Steve Reich in his “Come Out!” (1966) has done, in that same manner.
Stanislav Kreitchi is a very interesting composer, who has kept on working with electronics. Elsewhere on this site I have reviewed his CD “Ansiana” (Electroshock Records ELCD 016), released in 2000. Here we listen to a younger Kreitchi, in a piece called “Voices of the West”. This is taken from a vinyl as well, so I suppose the original tapes are lost. Kreitchi works with melodic and non-melodic material in a curious mix, utilizing a short feedback, immersing parts of the event with metallic high-pitch screeches of the rusty hinges of a door. The piece is only 2 minutes long.
The 11th track is a joint effort by Edward Artemiev and Stanislav Kreitchi; a sound track piece for the movie “Cosmos”. Artemiev has done much music for movies, for example for the Tarkovsky cult movies. It’s clear that this track too is ripped off a vinyl, but, like I said before, it only heightens the experience of exclusiveness. The “Cosmos” music is strange blending of melodious music and electronics, and I suppose it would have been hard to have a purely experimental, electronic soundtrack for a movie. The work is about twelve minutes long, and you have time to seep into the atmosphere of the piece. Which is a dreamy state of mind, a dreamy state of space, and how could it be different with a movie title like “Cosmos”? The music is enjoyable, even if not equaling the best of either Artemiev or Kreitchi.
The CD as such is a must, so I hope it will be reprinted, no matter how definite the negative message from “Electroshock” may sound at the moment.
Ingvar loco Nordin / Sonoloco”
Stanislav Kreitchi produced two records for Electroshock records:
“Ansiana”(ELCD 016) in 2000
“Voices and Movemement”
“For his second CD on Electroshock, Stanislav Kreitchi proposes once again a strange electro-acoustic mixture. He collages keyboard tracks, samples, sounds from the vintage ANS synthesizer, and material derived from the Ovaloid, a metallic sound sculpture. “Rhapsody in Rorschach” combines metals with spacy synth constructions, including a recurring theme that more than alludes to the opening credits of the classic Star Trek TV series. The main opus of this disc is the suite “Four Fantasies,” impressionistic illustrations of the four seasons (each about nine minutes long). They form a close-knit cycle, each movement picking up sonic materials from the others while featuring its own set of distinctive sounds. The chosen palette for each season is somewhat predictable, but suitable nonetheless: wolves and Inuit-like voices for winter, water (melting snow) for spring, birds for summer, and finally wind, church bells, and mourning voices for autumn. Some melodic figures (mainly bird songs and a voice sample) come back too frequently, pushing the work close to the tiresome threshold, but in the end it makes a good listen, if lacking a bit of originality in the propos. The simple pairing of French horn and electro-acoustics in “Ruins in the Waste” provides an interesting contrast. The title track explores samples of voices and orchestras backed by a track of ANS synthesizer and cinema-like sound effects. Too scattered, it doesn’t match the interest of what came before it. Voices and Movement proves once more that Russians approach electro-acoustics from a very different perspective than the French, British, or Canadians.”
François Couture, All Music Guide
A soundtrack for the film “Into Space” (1961) Stanislav Kreitchi in collaboration with Edward Artimiev remains unreleased.
“Coilans” (ANS001CD) Threshold House Label. A cd released by Coil featuring the ANS Synthesisier