Laurie Spiegel

The Expanding Universe

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Perhaps it is only fitting that 2012 brought Laurie Spiegel newfound fame via an appearance on The Hunger Games soundtrack, followed by this sweeping reissue. At the time she recorded the pieces featured here, computers were still rare and fairly unique things to be working with, outside of extremely high-end work, and the world of computer composition was still comparatively small and limited, as Spiegel herself notes in the accompanying essays. By 2012, the sheer omnipresence of technology put a new perspective upon her work, while the ability of informally trained or self-taught musicians, much as Spiegel was for many years, was duly heightened. The original release of The Expanding Universe is and remains its own striking milestone in electronic composition, everything from its interview-as-album-art to its four powerful and beautiful key pieces, especially the lengthy title track. The Unseen Worlds reissue acts as a lovely complement to the original, transforming it into a two-CD archive of Spiegel's work from the mid- to late '70s. Among other familiar tracks are numerous new (to the general listener) ones, and the result is breathtaking. "East River Dawn," a celebration of New York coming to life, is as rich and wonderful in its sweet and bright build as any other top-shelf celebration of the Big Apple, while "The Orient Express," her self-described train song from 1974, provided an earlier example of electronics as locomotion than Kraftwerk did three years later. Spiegel's expanded liner notes discuss the full technical range and equipment brought to bear, as well as track-by-track notes are striking, and include such lovely personal touches as her noting how her dogs enjoyed the soothing "The Unquestioned Answer."

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