Arcane Device / David Lee Myers

Engines of Myth

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Sandwiched in time between the cold swirling compositions of the electronic pioneers of the '60s and the digital explosion of the late '90s, the music of David Lee Myers remains a timeless mystery to the ear. First released by ReR Megacorp in 1988 and long out of print, Engines of Myth introduced Myers' unique set-up of feedback-producing time-delay electronics and his Arcane Device persona. The music draws from '60s electronic music (Pierre Henry, Arne Nordheim, and Tod Dockstader in particular) and '80s industrial music, but chooses a path that is neither. "Lathe" is a beautiful, mesmerizing drone of disembodied electronic voices and remains a classic. "Prayer Cloth," "Keen Tooth," and "Deaf Men Hear No Tales" still have the power to intrigue and charm. All pieces but one are short, five minutes long or less, allowing the listener to scrutinize each piece with unfailing attention. The one exception is "Deaf Men Hear No Tales," the last track on the original LP, a gorgeous orgy of ethereal sounds clocking in at 13 and a half minutes. The 2003 CD reissue adds Improvisations for Feedback, a double 7" EP released a few months later in 1988 by RRRecords. These four tracks showcase a different side of Myers' work as Arcane Device. First of all, in addition to the live feedback, he uses voice, frequency modulation, and a computer for some tracks. Second, the music loses its contemplative mood to become busy, nervous, and occasionally harsh -- only "Live -- Back" comes back to the textures developed on Engines of Myth. This reissue finally allows listeners to enter Myers' soundworld from the start, and it's a rewarding point of entry.

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