Various Artists

Not Necessarily "English Music"

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Released as a companion CD to Leonardo Music Journal, Vol. 11 (but also available on its own), Not Necessarily "English Music" is a lot more than your usual magazine-with-CD item. Curated by renowned composer/music writer David Toop, the double-disc set offers a wide overview of what was going on at the experimental music front in England during the 1960s and 1970s. The oldest track is a tape piece from 1960 by Daphne Doram. The earliest come from Hugh Davies and the Campiello Band, both recorded in 1977. Most of the material is offered to the public ear for the first time here or was only available for a very brief period ages ago (with one exception, Derek Bailey's "Improvisation 5," taken from Solo Guitar, Vol. 1). With recordings from different eras and in various settings (studio, live) and intentions (for release or only for private use), the listener can expect unsteady sound quality. But the tracks more straining on the ear make up for it with historical relevance or just plain excitement. It seems Toop has not left anyone out. Listeners find examples of the work of AMM, the Scratch Orchestra, and the Spontaneous Music Orchestra; improvisers like Steve Beresford, Evan Parker, and John Stevens; sound sculptors and experimentalists like Hugh Davies, Max Eastley, and Ron Geesin; even the jazzier crowd is represented by Steve Miller & Lol Coxhill, Mike Cooper, and Chris McGregor. Lining up all those names, all those early pieces performed at a time when there were no institutions to support the musicians, no well-funded festivals, clubs, and magazines, amounts to a historical document that commands respect for the British. In Not Necessarily "English Music," newcomers and collectors alike will find an essential collection.

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