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Artist: LEON, CRAIG
Title: Early Electronic Works - Nommos Visiting
Format: CD
Label: Aparte
Country: France
Price: $24.00
"Nommos Visiting is an electronic work based in speculative fiction, written in 1979 by American composer Craig Leon. It was inspired by a 1970s New York exhibition devoted to the art of the Dogon people of Mali. The Dogon are renowned for their cosmogony and for their sculptures evoking their religious beliefs, received from extraterrestrial visitors, known as the Nommos, a group of amphibian humanoids who came to them from the region of the double star Sirius. Leon explains, It was an attempt to imagine the music that the Nommos brought with them to Earth from their home planet, thereby influencing the development of our own music." - Aparte.

Artist: LEON, CRAIG
Title: Nommos
Format: LP
Label: No Label
Country: USA
Price: $15.00
"CRAIG LEON, producer of late 70s albums by Suicide and Blondie among many others, recorded two solo records in the early 80s of proto-techno minimalist drone, including NOMMOS, for John Faheys Takoma label. Long considered a classic of electronic and cosmic music, as well as being a total anomaly for Takoma, NOMMOS is an album that sounds as if it could have been produced any time from its actual conception in 1981, up until the present. A pure mass of eye blinding expanse set adrift into the world. One time pressing, paste on front and back covers."

"Most people should recognize the name of this artist. However, most people will recognize the name of this artist when its paired with a production credit, not as...well, the artist. Craig Leon is, of course, one of the seminal NYC punk/New Wave producers who brought us so many excellent things from that scene, ranging from Suicide to Blondie. And hes continued his production work on up to the present day, of course. Still, very few people know about the electronic albums hes made himself. And thats a shame, because theyre fine, fine drone-a-delic stuff. Especially his first, "Nommos". Used as a soundtrack for a dance work by Twila Tharp (as was a lot of nifty NYC stuff from this general period), "Nommos" is supposedly based on African rhythms and the like. But really, its always reminded me more of some sort of missing link between the proto-industrial rhythm and drone of Suicide and the whole minimalist drone/static/repetition method as in Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, etc. Youve got the rhythm generator thing going on. Youve got the synthdrones. Youve got the constant repetition. The whole hypnotic but not necessarily relaxing vibe. Much of the album uses the nifty-but-simple trick of comb filtering to make the drums/rhythm box ring on a certain pitch. And then over this, Leon builds up layers of more drones. And more. And even more. And then sometimes, as in "Donkeys Bearing Cups", also adds a bunch of evil, headwarping processing to this. End result: hypno-brainmelt. On the first side of this, both "Ring..." and "Donkeys..." are fairly fast-paced affairs, constantly rhythmically pulsing, droning, buzzing...like the discoid equivalent of some mutation of LaMonte Youngs "The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys" pieces. But "Nommo" slows things way down, with this discontinuous, jerky, almost bluesy-type beat, over which everything just slowly builds chordally, like some weird heat-mirage architecture. Its a serious eyes-roll-back-in-head sort of thing...blissy, hypnotic...off in a kosmische sort of zone, but at the same time not really having that kosmische sound to it. Side two kicks off with a harsh, bzzzaaating rhythm, also jerky, and incomplete-sounding. But in this case, instead of building up a chord, Leon builds the components of the rhythm pattern. One bit here, another bit off in the reverb zone out there somewhere, and so on as this insectoid buzz-hum starts to key up and ripple away, a bit disquietingly perhaps. Then a voice...an actual voice, yes...and then another, joins this, sometimes tunelessly, making odd birdcall-like sounds, ahhs, wails, vocal line fragments, and so on. Whoevers doing this isnt credited, but I can say that it reminds me some of Meredith Monks primal-vocal type work. Eerie, spacy...quite trippy. Then BAM!!! suddenly were dropped without warning into the fast, frantic rhythm-box groove of "She Wears a Hemispherical Skull Cap". Its abrupt, almost startling, because you get locked into the former and chucked headlong into this. But as a chordal, hymnlike polysynth starts to arch over this, you just sit back and go yeahhhh.... as the dronebliss just washes over you in one long I-chord being played out and with. Theres things here that, like I said, remind one straightaway of Suicide. But its never really as abrasive an experience as Martin Revs great work with that duo. Instead, its more blissed-out. You could also draw some comparisons with some of the more motorik Kraut stuff; theres a sonic kinship here with, say, Clusters "Zuckerzeit". But its the obvious minimal/drone school linkages that really draw things together here, from the buzzdrone beats to the washing chords and hummmmmmmming synths. Head music? Oh, yes...yes, indeedy. But also, the sort of head music that anyone with an astute ear for an electronic beat can gravitate to. As for where to get this these days...no idea. Its odd that Takoma, which is usually known for folk-type releases, put this out, because its about as antithetical to a folksy-sounding record as one can get. But its very much worth hunting down if youre into the robotiker groove-trance brainhum sound its got." - Julian Cope. Very highly recommended!
SOLD OUT

Artist: LEON, CRAIG
Title: Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 : Nommos/Visiting
Format: Double LP
Label: Rvng International
Country: USA
Price: $24.00
“Craig Leons seminal synthesizer albums Nommos and Visiting are finally re-editioned in definitive form as the Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 for RVNG Intl.s archival series.

Issued respectively by John Faheys Takoma record label in 1980 and Leons Arbitor private press in 1982, Nommos and Visiting were the twin brainchildren of studio wizard Craig Leon. Leons production was pivotal in realizing the debut recordings by Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell and Suicide. While those albums broke ground in new worlds of sound, Leons own debut album was arguably, if not literally, more alien.

In 1973, the Brooklyn Museum hosted a comprehensive collection of sculptures by the Dogon of the Republic of Mali, a tribe whose religion is based in reveries and recollections of a visit from an extraterrestrial species they named Nommos. Years after experiencing the exhibit, Leon remained fascinated by the idea of alien visitors sharing not just stories of their home-planet, but musical traditions as well. For the classically trained Leon, a puzzle was presented and a challenge in place: what would music sound like if handed down from an ancient alien species? And how best to imagine it?

Upon meeting Fahey in the late 70s, Leon pitched the concept as an opportune time to employ the latest and greatest synthesizer technology available. An avant empathist and eternally free spirit, Fahey enthusiastically green-lighted the project for his Takoma imprint. After a secluded week in an Austin, Texas studio with his partner, wife and collaborator Cassell Webb, Leon returned with a collection of incorporeal melodies generated by the Oberheim OB-X, Roland JP-4 and Arp 2600 synthesizers propelled by primitive rhythms programmed on a prototype of Roger Linns nascent drum-machine, the LM-1.

Issued by Fahey with zero expectation of the same radio airplay Leon accomplished with his pop productions, Nommos now stands as an innovative example of cosmic-synth composition that wasnt made for its time or any other. For this edition, Leon has in fact re-animated Nommos by re-recording the exact audio signals as preserved in the albums original studio notes. Every patch, tape-delay speed and outboard setting was transcribed as first scored, materializing the best possible audio of an album whose masters were unaccessible to Leon due to a major label merger milieu from years ago. Additionally, the re-master of Visiting was supervised firsthand by Leon. As its title suggests, Visiting materialized in 1982 as a conceptual continuation of Nommos. The album is in equal measure more improvisatory and constructed than its predecessor. Both albums were intended to be listened to as a set in the first volume of Leons Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music (the title was an homage to Harry Smiths influential collection of folk music issued two decades prior). A creative evolutionist, Leon made subtle edits and compositional additions to both albums to enhance the connectivity and encourage infinite interpretation.

While reissues and bootlegs have appeared to relieve the demand for these records, this collection will stand as definitive versions authorized by Craig Leon himself. The vinyl edition will be housed in a 2xLP set that includes detailed artwork and two essays by Leon. The first tells the complete story of the stargazing Dogon people and their prescient understanding of cosmology. The second details Leons adventure in creating the Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1, an epic story bookended on this side of history as one seamless synth classic.” - Rvng International.

Artist: LEON, CRAIG
Title: Nommos
Format: LP
Label: Superior Viaduct
Country: USA
Price: $19.00
"First appearing incongruously on John Faheys Takoma label in 1981, Nommos remains enshrouded in impenetrable mystery-from its understated artwork to the rich assemblage of analog synths contained inside. According to Head Heritage, Nommos is the "missing link between the proto-industrial rhythm and drone of Suicide and the whole minimalist drone / static / repetition method of Terry Riley and La Monte Young." Best known as a producer, CRAIG LEON worked on landmark debuts from Suicide, Richard Hell, The Ramones and Blondie. Rather than ape the early NYC punk that he helped foster, Leons own music is filled with lush textures and pulsating rhythm boxes. Comparisons can be made to German innovators such as Cluster and La Dusseldorf, yet Nommos is an unbalanced cosmos marked by anxious melodies, aggressive shifts and spiritual overtones. The name "Nommos" itself refers to mythical deities worshipped by tribes in West Africa. Some scholars have argued that the myth has extraterrestrial roots. While these are significant details for understanding the albums peculiar meditative qualities, there was little context for these sounds upon their initial release. Even today, in the cold light of the early 21st century, Leon sounds fiercely contemporary. This first-time official reissue is mastered from the original analog tapes and pressed in a limited edition. Includes digital download card." -Superior Viaduct.
SOLD OUT

Artist: LEON, CRAIG
Title: Nommos
Format: CD
Label: Superior Viaduct
Country: USA
Price: $20.00
2014 release. "First appearing incongruously on John Faheys Takoma label in 1981, Nommos remains enshrouded in impenetrable mystery--from its understated artwork to the rich assemblage of analog synths contained inside. Best known as a producer, Craig Leon worked on landmark debuts from Suicide, Richard Hell, The Ramones and Blondie. Rather than ape the early NYC punk that he helped foster, Leons own music is filled with lush textures and pulsating rhythm boxes. Comparisons can be made to German innovators such as Cluster and La Dusseldorf, yetNommos is an unbalanced cosmos marked by anxious melodies, aggressive shifts and spiritual overtones. The name “Nommos” itself refers to mythical deities worshipped by tribes in West Africa. Some scholars have argued that the myth has extraterrestrial roots. While these are significant details for understanding the albums peculiar meditative qualities, there was little context for these sounds upon their initial release. Even today, in the cold light of the early 21st century, Leon sounds fiercely contemporary. This first-time CD release is mastered from the original analog tapes." - Superior Viaduct.

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