For the fourth volume of Electroshock Records' Electroshock Presents series, compiler Artemiy Artemiev decided to dedicate the whole disc to one of the strangest instruments ever built: the ANS synthesizer. Created by Russian scientist Evgeniy Murzin and completed in the late '50s, the ANS (named after Russian composer Anatoliy Nikolaevitch Scriabin) produces music by reading drawings on a glass disc. Murzin built only one machine, still functional in 1999 and available to music historians at the Lomonosov University of Moscow.
The ANS synthesizer coupled the basic electronic possibilities of the Moog synthesizer (to be developed a few years later) with the language of musique concrète. Many important Russian composers of the mid-20th century wrote for the ANS. The two best known outside Russia are classical composer Alfred Schnittke and electroacoustician/soundtrack composer Edward Artemiev. Also featured on this record are works by Oleg Buloshkin, Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, Alexander Nemtin, Schandor Kallosh, and Stanislav Kreitchi. Although the pieces vary a lot, they all share an eerie out-of-this-world feel and would all fit as the soundtrack of an old sci-fi movie. This music is a cross between early musique concrète (Pierre Schaefer, Pierre Henry) and the German electronic school of the early '70s. Although sound quality is not fantastic (some discs suffer from disintegration, which translates in pops and cracks), the historical importance of these recordings make this CD a treasure.