In its series of four CDs gathering the complete works of composer Herbert Brün, the Electronic Music Foundation devoted an entire disc to his Sawdust project. It results in the most focused album of the series, both in terms of genre and time period (1976-1981), but also the most difficult. When Brün began writing his computer music program, this field was still in its infancy stage. Technology was crude, computer memory calculated in kilobytes (if you were lucky). Thus one needs to approach this CD as pioneer work, a testimony to the composer's patience and resourcefulness in creating a program able to control and assemble waveforms. The track list generally follows a chronological time line, allowing the listener to witness the development of both the program and Brün's use of it. "Dust" is a simple piece made of simple tones. Such pure sound waves can be annoying, certainly not pleasant to the ear. "More Dust" and "Dustiny" show the music growing ever more complex and rich in possibilities and structures. "A Mere Ripple," in the composer's own words, "likes neither its composer nor its listener." Very difficult indeed, it remains nonetheless the most fascinating piece in this set. Another highlight can be found in "More Dust With Percussion," and not only because of the relief the three percussionists bring at this point.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture