New World Records

BECKER, JOHN J. - Soundpieces 1-7

""John J. Becker (1886-1961) is the least known of a group of composers who, by reputation, became known as 'the American Five,' analogous to the better-known 'Russian Five' or 'French Six.' Becker's cohorts consisted of Carl Ruggles, Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger, and Charles Ives. Ives, born 1874, was the oldest of the group and Cowell, born 1897, was the youngest, and in the 1920s and '30s they were known as the most radical and dissonant of American composers. Becker could be briefly summarized as a confluence of dissonance and Catholicism. He became known as one of the leading proponents of a style invented by musicologist/composer Charles Seeger (1886-1979), who had been one of Cowell's mentors, known as dissonant counterpoint, an idiom in which the traditional rules of counterpoint were reversed to produce maximum dissonance rather than consonance. In his own writings about Becker, Cowell emphasized his ties to Renaissance church polyphony, calling him 'a Sixteenth-Century modern.' For a promotional pamphlet Becker produced, Cowell wrote that Becker 'bases his style on the art of the great vocal polyphonists, de Lassus, Palestrina, Victoria, etc. Using their breadth and religious feeling, he has poured his own modern materials into the old polyphonic forms.' Elsewhere Becker can fall into a kind of modernist simulacrum of Classical-era style, in conventional four-part textures differentiated by the harshness of dissonant intervals between moving lines. He picked up Cowell's passion for tone clusters, often pitting black keys on the piano against white (in common with some other early moderns like Stravinsky and Ornstein), and he made a notational fetish of large sharps and flats that were intended to apply to an entire chord. In his music, he said, there was no dissonance, because 'dissonance replaced consonance as the norm.' Along with the Symphonia Brevis, the Concerto Arabesque, and a motoric percussion ensemble piece called The Abongo (which the percussion-loving Cage expressed admiration for), Becker's seven chamber works abstractly called Soundpieces have proved the most public part of his output. This is the first recording to bring them all together, and indeed the first commercial recording of several of them. That John Becker will remain the least-celebrated member of the American Five is probably inevitable. But at his best he achieves considerable eloquence in the then-new idiom of dissonant counterpoint, and a textural momentum and energy that seem all his own."" - New World Records.
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After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.

This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).

Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.

Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.

Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.
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