"Barbapapa" should sound heavy, maybe even unpleasant. But it doesn't: despite the skronk of its mechanized percussion, its spooky minor chord synth stabs, and the diagetic scream that cut across the song's mechanical layers, "Barbapapa" is industrial music at its most infectious, at its most benevolent. Unearthed and reissued by Unseen Worlds, the track is part of a Frühe Jahre, a compilation of experimentalist C-Schulz's early work that showcases the musician's fluency with genres as disparate as noise and modern classical. On "Barbapapa," as drum machines squelch into place, Schulz's tools seem to sway into assembly as he refurbishes the harshness of industrial music into something more akin to the funky bounce of acid jazz. In the swirl of chug and chortle that C-Schulz conjures here, man, machine, and magic meld in a euphoric singularity—one that rewires apocalyptic anxieties and channels its clanking energy into a vision of pure play.
Frühe Jahre is out August 18 on Unseen Worlds.
The recent death of Don Buchla has sent many music lovers and synthesizer enthusiasts into their archives, pulling out whatever albums and CDs and digital files that could help find some way to clarify his singular genius in the world of electronic sound. Experimental label Unseen Worlds has trafficed in this realm of music for years, now releasing a set of pieces conceived and performed by American composer Carl Stone in the '70s and '80s. Stone had been a student at CalArts, studying under James Tenney and Morton Subotnick. The latter gentleman was a friend of Buchla's and commissioned one of his earliest synths, while also offering up a great deal of encouragement. So, he had access to one of the few Buchla 200 systems that were made and allowed his students to learn on it and write with it. Stone, who still writes and performs music today, used the Buchla 200 to create this meditative track that effectively utilizes long drones and overtones eked out of the many modules at his fingertips. The reedy tones that dominate the first few minutes capture your attention as the lower, more spacious sounds slowly take over. For as discordant as it sometimes feels, there's a calming quality to it like a singing bowl resonating in the room.
"Chao Praya" is on Electronic Music from the Seventies and Eighties, an upcoming 3xLP reissue being released via Unseen Worlds on September 30.