Boomkat Product Review:
An important cornerstone of American electronic music for many reasons, Tod Dockstader’s Eight Electronic Pieces  sees its first vinyl reissue in 50 years thanks to Superior Viaduct’s États-Unis series. Consider this an essential addition to any collection of early electronic and tape composition!
Dockstader’s momentous contribution to the field of electronic music was the result of a personal artistic endeavour, laboriously recorded for three years after-hours at the New York radio station where he worked as an engineer, whilst the vast majority of other composers working with tape and electronic material at that time were afforded the benefits of time and money that came with academic funding.
However, perhaps due to this lack of funding and effectively being forced to follow his path without peer review and the dogma of crenellated academia, Dockstader’s first release sounds remarkably different from his contemporaries, and could be said to effectively prefigure the independent, experimental inclinations of post-punk or IDM by nearly 20 years.
It may be clear to hear the influence that works by Pierre Henry, Edgar Varèse or John Cage hold over these 8 pieces, but it’s also not difficult to hear where they differ; there’s a far more animated and playfully abstract element to their construction which resonates with say, the most wilfully obtuse and elaborate, paradigm-messing instrumental works of This Heat or early Irdial artists, for example, as much as the aforementioned pioneers.
Whilst initially ignored by both academia and the record industry, Eight Electronic Pieces’s ground-shattering mosaics of swerving oscillators and shredded tape would find its place on Smithsonian’s legendary Folkways catalogue within the same year of its self-release, which serves to illustrate its position as a bridge between folk art and academic musique concrète practice, whilst not necessarily a part of either prism. It’s a thing unto itself, or simply “organised sound” as the artist himself puts it.
Incredible stuff which has lost none of its otherworldly magnetism since 1961. Highly recommended!