Barry Schrader

Lost Atlantis/Trinity

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This CD salvages two electro-acoustic works composed by Barry Schrader in the mid-'70s on the Buchla 200, a keyboardless analog modular synthesizer. Not only were these pieces realized on a little-known instrument, but also they were originally quadraphonic. Few are the composers who truly mastered Buchla's innovative instruments and the quadraphonic electro-acoustic repertoire has been all but lost, so this CD is a very welcome release, both in terms of music history and listening enjoyment, for these two works remain fascinating, regardless of how they were conceived. "Trinity" (1976, 15 minutes) is a rather formalist exercise in theme and variations, where the theme consists of sound shapes instead of notes. It is dry, but it exploits and showcases the possibilities of the Buchla 200 to a nice extent, while featuring a high level of aesthetic elegance. In comparison, the 40-minute "Lost Atlantis" (1977) is gorgeously evocative, its sound poetry often reminiscent of Francis Dhomont's Cycle de l'Errance. A suite in ten parts (grouped into six tracks), the work depicts the lost continent as described by Plato in his Critias. The music is imbued with mystery, its reliance on non-melodic material empowering it with an ageless appeal that could as well be ancient. Schrader makes use of a wide palette of tones and textures, and his sense of space and drama create a mysterious place in which the listener is eager to lose himself or herself. "The Gardens of Cleito," especially, achieves a touching form of grace that is light-years away from the rigors of "Trinity." Recommended.

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