Wendy Carlos

Wendy Carlos

Clockwork Orange Complete Original Score

East Side Digital

Wendy Carlos

Sonic Seasonings

East Side Digital

Wendy Carlos

Tales of Heaven and Hell

East Side Digital

To this date, the strains of Carlos’ Moognificent “March from ” A Clockwork Orange ” brings forth images of seething, pacing graduate students. Anybody who has seen A Clockwork Orange will have associations this vivid (though different) when listening to this. Carlos brought together glorious strains from Beethoven, Rossini, and other sources, and funneled them out through an analog sensibility that makes these blasts from the past sound like the popular tracks on a space jukebox. This particular version of the soundtrack includes comprehensive and revealing liner notes from Chris Nelson and Wendy Carlos, and features “Timesteps” in its full, thirteen-minute length, thanks to the CD format’s extended length. The track is an interesting sonic composition, not as recognizable as the other music on this record, but certainly compelling and fascinating in its subtle intricacies.

At around the same time as Clockwork Orange , Carlos and fellow conspirator Rachel Elkind released Sonic Seasonings , a set of four compositions — Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, each about twenty minutes — that incorporate appropriate sounds of nature, synthesized sounds to fill in for those natural sounds that couldn’t make it, and several touches that could have been termed “ambient” or “new age,” had the terms been in existence back then. The double-CD set includes Land of the Midnight Sun , two 1986 compositions which seem to have been previously unreleased. Overall, Sonic Seasonings is meant to be heard in a dark room with headphones. Change is slow but inexorable, as in the real seasons, and the beauty is not so much in the details as it is in the transitions. Though this is the most experimental of these three records, it’s not necessarily the most difficult listen.

“Clockwork Black” is the central piece to Tales of Heaven and Hell , Carlos’ most recent and thoroughly modern release. Tales was written to be spooky, and it succeeds, throwing in a few angelic moments amidst the darkness. With every modern tool at her disposal, Carlos has assembled a complex arrangement of sounds from various sources using the latest in digital editing software and hardware. The aforementioned piece revisits moments from the movie soundtrack, in fleeting but recognizable instances. But overall, the album stands on its own, having a quite personal musical progression through its pieces, deliberately setting and shifting moods. Very powerful stuff.

Wendy Carlos is a pioneer in electronic music whose work is often overlooked, even as today’s electronica start strive endlessly for that perfect “retro” sound. Unlike these descendants, Carlos never picked an instrument for its phat sound, only for its capacity of expression. This trio of albums proves that easily, as Carlos’ talents and grasp of musical language shine through each of these completely different releases. http://www.wendycarlos.com

East Side Digital, 530 N. Third St., Minneapolis, MN 55401

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