Hugh Le Caine is now recognized as the inventor of the first electronic instrument, the Sackbut. Compositions Demonstrations 1946-1974 gathers most of the recordings he left to posterity. Le Caine didn't see himself as a composer, preferring to refer to his music works as demonstration pieces for his inventions. Producer Gayle Young, who also wrote a biography of the man, sequenced the material chronologically following three categories. The "Compositions" occupy the first third of the disc and feature the most interesting pieces for the common electronic music lover. They go beyond the mere exercise to offer some memorable moments of music produced with early technology. "Dripsody," which uses the sound of a single drop of water, is a classic piece of early musique concrète. "Invocation" and "Nocturne" are also strong examples of tape manipulation and use of sine waves. A short section of "Humorous Sketches" follows. Le Caine's vari-speed exercises sound crude by today's standards. The last half of the CD presents archival recordings featuring his inventions (the Sackbut synthesizer, the Touch Sensitive Organ) and his demonstration pieces. Often the inventor himself explains the particularities of his instruments. This section will only be of interest for the historically inclined. Everything possible has been made to clean up the tapes, but the sound quality remains poor in some cases. The booklet contains detailed notes for each track and photographs of the instruments. For anyone interested in Le Caine's work, this is the definitive collection.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture