Why not start with a bang? This is a record that sounds like Perrey and Kingsley fell in with the wrong crowd and accidentally became members of Ashra. Erdenklang – Computerakustische Klangsinfonie [Earth Sounds – Computer Acoustic Sound Symphony] is a lush, stunning record of symphonic melodies, brooding ambience, and cut-up sounds composed entirely on the Fairlight CMI. And to top it all off, it was released a full year before the Art of Noise made Fairlight sample collages their signature on the EP Into Battle With the Art of Noise.
In addition to having the most German sounding names of all time, Hubert Bognermayr & Harald Zuschrader were both part of the Austrian rock band Eela Craig, whose releases ranged from a spaced-out concept album on Catholic high mass [which must be heard to be believed] to the kind of standard prog-rock that you would find in your uncle’s basement. Previous to Erdenklang, Bognermayer & Zuschrader also released the unnerving and wonderful album Sternenklang, a collection of classical religious and children’s song covers made using only [you guessed it] a Fairlight CMI.
But back to Erdenklang. Replete with scintillating synth pads, emulated woodwinds, and moments of maniacal sample-based polyrhythms, this is the kind of album you can effortlessly put on repeat for a few hours. Without one trace of cynicism, a track like “Erdentief,” which sounds like it was pulled from the soundtrack of a madcap 16-bit RPG, flows effortlessly into sprawling synthscapes and samples of flowing water. Starting off mellow and almost classical, the album hits its crescendo on “Eden,” which contains cut-and-paste sampling complex enough to put old Perry & Kingsley to shame.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, Wendy Carlos herself had this to say about the LP:
“With the appearance of Erdenklang by Bognermayr and Zuschrader the medium of electronic music has crossed another threshold … To me it has been a long tedious way for this to happen … More than a medium is advanced. We might say that the symphony itself has come of age…”