Ilhan Mimaroglu

Mimaroglu: Agitation

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Turkish composer Ilhan Mimaroglu has led an interesting double life -- although his day job was as a producer of jazz and pop records at Atlantic during its most prosperous days, Mimaroglu was also an electronic music pioneer who was one of the figureheads of the Columbia-Princeton University Electronic Music Studio. His most prolific efforts in the electronic music realm were made in the 1960s and 1970s, and Mimaroglu's fierce, intrepid, and openly political style of music making occasioned much comment and controversy in that turbulent era. While much of key electronic music of that day has found its way to compact discs, before the debut of this Locust Music release practically nothing of Mimaroglu had yet appeared in the digital realm.

Agitation is a collection of three rather long pieces originally released on two Folkways LPs: Tract, To Kill a Sunrise, and La Ruche. These pieces combine urban street sounds, snatches of television, odd bits of rejected studio tapes, news reports, actors reciting texts, and electronically generated sounds. Nevertheless, the main musical aspect results from the manner in which Mimaroglu blends these elements together, not in the elements themselves. There is clearly a program to all of this music, and the story told flows seamlessly from one event to the next, achieved through expert layering and editing of the materials at hand. At certain points there are turns of phrase that seem dated in the digital era; certain other ideas, such as a fragment of a synthesized pop vocal in the first few minutes of Tract, are forward looking in their approach to an astonishing degree. There are also some startling moments, such as the multilayered bed of screaming in To Kill a Sunrise, that are in a class of their own. Overall, Mimaroglu's work remains provocative and has lost little of its power to shock.

Locust Music is a small label out of Chicago that re-releases classic electronic music in addition to more contemporary sound art and psychedelic pop. While Agitation may not be easy to find, it is an essential re-release in the milieu of the electronic avant-garde of the 1970s.

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