Man in Space With Sounds
Subliminal Sounds/Forced Exposure
Say what you will about popular taste, the benefits of the marketplace, or “accessibility,” but there’s nothing quite like a commissioned artist. In this case, the artist is composer Attilio Mineo; his patron — the Seattle State World’s Fair of 1963. Written entirely for the fair’s “space age” ride, the Bubbleator, “Man in Space With Sounds” is music designed to “take you across vast frontiers straight into the heart of the future!” Unfortunately, “Man in Space” was only sold during the ’63 Fair, driving the current vinyl price up to $200. Only now has Mineo’s work been re-released on CD.
The 13 pieces on the CD present atmospheric, ambient soundscapes designed to provoke feelings of wonder and amazement in the face of humankind’s glorious technological future. Yet, despite the clear adoration of the possibilities of science, one can’t help but feel the tension that the repetitive string arrangements also lend to the music. It could be 20/20 hindsight, but Mineo’s sonic vision seems to present mixed emotions about technology’s role. As a cheery educational film-style narrator gushes over the benefits of science, Mineo’s suspenseful orchestrations provide an ironic counterbalance.
Perhaps most interesting to today’s listeners is Mineo’s early incorporation of electronic sounds into his music. In pieces such as “Soaring Science,” the constant repetition of a monotone Sputnik-beep brings a fascination with as well as a fetishization of the electronic as a source for sound. Other songs feature oscillations , distorted instruments, and assorted unidentifiable sounds that show a willingness on Mineo’s part to highlight the musical properties of noise way before contemporary “electronica” was even a vague conception.
DJ’s searching for novel samples and voices, armchair music historians, and lounge aficionados will all find something worthwhile in “Man in Space.” Even divorced from its home, the Bubbleator, “Man in Space with Sounds” reminds us of a time when technology seemed to be the “gayway to the future!” Forced Exposure, fax (617) 629-4774