as of 01/27/2022 (Details)
Before there was ambient music, in a time before the New Age, there was Wendy Carlos's Sonic Seasonings, a double LP released in 1972. Taking the form of Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Carlos orchestrated four side-long soundscapes designed, according to producer Rachel Elkind, to be "part of the decor." Using only her Moog synthesizer and environmental sounds, Carlos created prototypical ambient music, predating Brian Eno's similar work by a few years. Carlos weaves gentle, often reedy synthesizer melodies through chirping birds on "Spring," phase-shifted church organ drones across crystalline bells and wind on "Winter," and she seems to simulate an alien space landing on "Summer," mimicking nature with her synthesizer. An added treat on this special double CD is a 40-minute, unreleased, two-part suite from 1986 called "Land of the Midnight Sun." Using her Synergy synthesizers, Carlos orchestrates slow-motion melodies and overlapping minimalist layers that recall Steve Roach's "Structures from Silence." Sonic Seasonings is the first wave of a batch of Wendy Carlos reissues. While many of Carlos's classical, "Switched-On" orchestrations have an antique, dated charm, this original composition sounds fresh and current. In attempting a music that wouldn't draw attention to itself, Carlos achieved a prescient work of subtlety and depth on Sonic Seasonings. --John Diliberto
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