Electronic education

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From our vantage point in the year 2000, it’s hard to imagine a time when electronic music was new, yet it has its humble origins in a time when electricity itself wasn’t yet taken for granted. Appropriately enough for our present retrospective mood, the makers of the much-lauded electronic music documentary Modulations have extended their look at electronica’s roots to examine its infancy and adolescence.

The composers represented on Early Modulations are true pioneers – inventors, explorers and visionaries obsessed with "the new." Vintage Volts is the music of academics and the avant-garde – endless experimentation in laboratories stocked with the latest technology spawned alien sounds with no rules to restrict them or instructions to guide their creators.

Here are the rudiments of turntablism, cut-up sampling, tape manipulations, and electronic pulses and drones made with early monstrous modular synthesizers and punchcard musical programming that took as much patience as vision to tame.

All nine compositions included here force the listener to give pause to appreciate both the works’ timeless merits and their historical contexts. With extensive liner notes, Early Modulations is the perfect way to find our electronic evolutionary ancestors and understand their vision for a still-unfolding future sound.

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