Boomkat Product Review:
This deeply immersive first solo album by EMS legend Peter Zinovieff since 1974’s brief "A Lollipop for Papa" arrives as a posthumous testament to his probing research and practice, one that has informed several generations of synth-worshipers around the world via his Electronic Music Studios (EMS) which he co-founded with Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. It arrives just weeks after his death on June 23 this year, and is an "extended computer work" based on hydrophone recordings of blue whales, a time-warping excursion into an underwater realm essential for fans of Roland Kayn, FUJI||||||||||TA's "Kōmori" or Jana Winderen's complex, detailed field recordings.
After founding London's EMS in 1969, Zinovieff spent the rest of his life quietly sculpting the curve of contemporary music, developing game-changing synthesisers like the VCS3 and the Synthi 100, and working alongside artists ranging from collaborator Delia Derbyshire (White Noise, BBC Radiophonic Workshop) to Pink Floyd, Bowie, J.M Jarre, Todd Rundgren and countless others, as well as presenting the first ever performance of unaccompanied computer music during pioneering concerts in London in 1968. Legendary status assured, it’s all the more remarkable that Zinovieff released very few of his own compositions, with this recording marking up as his first since 1974’s ‘A Lollipop for Papa’ and 2015’s unofficial ‘Electronic Calendar’ compilation, and his more recent 'RFG Inventions for Cello and Computer' collaboration with Lucy Railton which was issued by PAN last year,
The material here was assembled between 2013 and 2017, and derives from recordings oceanographer Susannah Buchan made off the coast of Chile. For 30 minutes, the piece plunges us into a nuanced, prototypical sort of hybrid analog-digital soundsphere, drawing on the eternally mysterious sound of blue whale communications as the basis for an unusual work thrumming with natural sounds woven thru the magick of computer music, effectively conveying its ability to induce the strangest otherworldly sensations. It's only the occasional washing of salt water that brings us down to earth; the rest is fluttering and communicative, filtered and distant.
Never one to shy away from big ideas, the piece unfolds in five parts that practically document Zinovieff in a one way dialogue with the largest mammals ever to have existed on earth, rendering their cryptic comms in richly reverberating electronics of the sort that dreams are made of. Sadly, Peter passed away only weeks before its intended release date, but leaves behind an inspirational legacy, with this recording framing his work at its most timeless and transcendent.