Most people reading this haven't had much exposure to Gordon Mumma, ifany. I can't exactly blame them however as very few recordings are inprint or easy to come by. However, a full article has surfaced in TheWire recently and Tzadik has just released this collection ofrecordings from 1963-1985.
On Brain in The Wire, you'll hear freakedout starjamming whack electronics by Mumma but on the recordings here,the end result sounds far more related to the originating instruments,themselves, their sound naked, mangled, and manipulated. Five pieceshave been assembled in reverse chronological order, and ironicallyenough progress away from organic instrumental interplays to moredistanced, distorted and electronic end-results. Mumma began as a hornplayer and pianist and along with Robert Ashley co-founded The AnnArbor Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in 1958. Mumma'shome-built equipment was referred to as cybersonic (way back then,yeah) and while I could regurgitate information about circuitry andelectronic process, I'll leave that for the liner notes. What I can sayis that it's amazingly fascinating to hear people manipulating soundfrom an academic discipline in ways that current improvisational groupsappear to be edging on but not even trying out yet. With the number ofcollectives in scenes like Milwaukee, Montreal and Boston, my ownpersonal observations are that the performers are either more on oneside of being completely electronic or the other side of beingcompletly organic, rarely combining the worlds into something bothinteresting and pleasing (nevermind being sticklers for composition andnotation). The selection is minimal and the ensembles are mostly Mummaon either horn or "cybersonics" plus one other person, with theexception of the noisiest piece on here, "Horn," which features Mummaand Ashley along with two others, as Mumma plays the horn and not'cybersonics' (as he does every other piece). Unfortunately it's such asmall window on the world of Mumma and I feel the closer, "Medium SizeMograph 1963" is being cut off somehow, but I have a strange feelingthere are more recordings due to surface soon.