Jørgen Plaetner

Jørgen Plaetner: Electronic Music

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If Danish electro-acoustic music pioneer Jørgen Plaetner had any of his electronic music released on record or CD during his lifetime, outside of a single piece, Passerer on the Dacapo compilation Electro-acoustic Music from DIEM issued in 1989, it is not known to many people. One need not wait any longer: Jørgen Plaetner: Electronic Music, an excellent compilation of Plaetner's electronic and electro-acoustic works dating from 1962-1974, has been issued in Dacapo's "open space" series. Plaetner's involvement in electronic music was certainly a well-kept secret outside of Denmark: with only minimal resources at hand, he built his own electronic music studio in 1960. The earliest works on the disc, Modulations and Nocturne were recorded in 1962 and 1963, and it is hard to believe that these pieces are more than four decades old. Even as composers working in research laboratories were then trying to develop tape loops analogous to the structure of twelve-tone rows and teaching computers to sing songs like "Bicycle Built for Two," Plaetner was working in dense, multi-layered thickets of electronic sound not at all unlike the industrial techno music of the future. As in the case of neglected American electronic pioneer Raymond Scott, Plaetner was interested in the practical side of electronic music more than in trying just to make newer, weirder sounds. Once his basic vocabulary of gestures was established, he seldom deviated from them except to expand their sense of interaction with other acoustic sounds, such as the flute in Nocturne, or with text, as in The Lovers (1965).

It seems as though Dacapo rescued these pieces just in time, as the master tapes of Modulations, Hieronymus Bosch, and Nocturne are all showing telltale signs of deterioration. Certain of Plaetner's electronic pieces are now believed lost, an unfortunate situation found to be the case repeatedly with the work of many pioneers, as the worldwide legacy of electronic music before 1975 is finally revisited, evaluated, and accounted for. For those who wish to broaden their knowledge of early electronic music, Jørgen Plaetner: Electronic Music is manna from heaven and should not be missed.

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