Personnel: Gnther Becker (sound effects); Herbert Henck (Synclavier).
Liner Note Author: Stefan Fricke.
Recording information: 1973-1978.
Gnther Becker is a German composer who received a traditional musical grounding under Wolfgang Fortner in Heidelberg and later in Detmold. His interest in electronic music blossomed early, and Becker established the first electronic music studio in Greece in 1962. In 1969, he founded the group Mega-Hertz, an electro-acoustic improvisatory ensemble roughly contemporaneous with AMM, Musica Elettronica Viva and Kraftwerk. His Elektroakustische Musik is part of a series of discs on the German Cybele label devoted to Becker's collected works. Mega-Hertz does not appear here, however the disc is devoted to three extended electro-acoustic pieces dating from the '70s.
The first piece, "Ferrophonie," makes use of metal sounds processed live through four synthesizers and created for presentation at the Industriemesse Hannover through a grant provided by Kl”ckner-Werke AG. "Ferrophonie" is interesting, the kind of music Einstrzende Neubauten might have made in 1981 if they'd had good equipment. Anyone who has ever attached a microphone to a truck suspension spring or to the coil from a common alarm clock will recognize some of these sounds. In preparing "Ferrophonie" for disc, however, neither Becker nor Cybele has worked to transform this tape from its live context into something easily apprehended without the visual aspect of performance: there are long gaps in the recording where nothing is happening. Much the same is true of "Passagen," a more conservative work that melds typical serialist gestures with electronically modified percussion, Herbert Henck's piano and an extraordinary vocals contributed by Sprechstimme specialist Gisela Saur-Kontarsky. Saur-Kontarsky's voice is put through a ring modulator, but what she is doing on her own is more interesting without it. "Aus Alpbachs Hain und Flur" makes pioneering use of amplified insect sounds as its basic sound source, but rather quickly the massed crickets recorded in the Tyrolean forest give way to dated synthesizer. Becker's electro-acoustic music is more interesting in what it represents in theory rather than in practice. And while Elektroakustische Musik is certainly worth enjoying as a historical document of electronic music in the '70s, it is easy to pin Becker's music down, rather like pinning an insect to cardboard, whereas it is harder to do so with the work of such contemporary figures as Xenakis, Stockhausen, and even Kraftwerk. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis