Monday, 11 April 2016

David Behrman - On The Other Ocean (1977)

Been indulging one of my nerdiest interests of late - reading about the history of computers.  Yep, this is honestly the kind of stuff I find endlessly fascinating.  So I thought it was the perfect time to dig this album out.
The little unassuming mid-70s circuit board pictured above is the KIM-1, which in the hands of Sonic Arts Union* associate David Behrman was integral to the recording of this, his first album under his name.  The liner notes for the CD reissue of On The Other Ocean are worth reading in full, not least as an utterly charming piece of biographical nostalgia, but also as an enlightening description of the composing and recording process.  And living up to their name, Lovely Music have obligingly put the full text online.

In brief, then, these two side-long pieces start from a shimmering bed of homebrew synth, overlaid with acoustic instruments which then trigger the computer to further shape the piece.  Possibly quaint sounding now, but a genius idea in its day to have acoustic music truly interact with computer music.  And most importantly, how does it sound?  Absolutely gorgeous; gently and calmly oceanic on the title track, as the flute and bassoon progressively cause gentle ripples in the electronic wash.

On Figure In A Clearing, the wind instruments are replaced by a cello, resulting in a grainier, earthier sound that ever so slightly reminds me of Fripp and Eno - it made me go back to No Pussyfooting/Evening Star and realise that some of the Frippertronic guitar tones were quite cello-like.  Basically, every fan of ambient Eno needs this album in their life - you'll wonder how you ever did without it.
CD reissue cover
On The Other Ocean

* previously posted at SGTG - Extended Voices, featuring Sonic Arts Union alumni Robert Ashley and Alvin Lucier.

2 comments:

  1. Amazed that I'd not heard this before. Beautiful stuff, so thanks.

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    1. Cheers Peter, yep this one was a lightbulb moment for me when I first heard it, as a long time ambient fan. Deserves to be way better known than it is.

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