Epigram / Microgram (CZ)

by Leo Chadburn

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Cosmosynth! 02:15
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about

Recorded in 2002 and released "from the archive" in 2013, 'EPIGRAM / MICROGRAM' (CZ) uses nothing but the sounds of the Casio CZ-101 synthesizer, with its characteristic digital fizz and shimmer, to create spacey instrumentals.

Each track explores one compositional idea, as étude, or aphorism: simple explorations of texture and harmony.

The CZ-101 originates in the work of Isao Tomita, whose most famous album was 'Snowflakes Are Dancing' (1974), a post-Wendy Carlos collection of pieces by Claude Debussy played on Moog synthesizers. He embraced digital technology in the early 1980s, calling on Casio to develop a bespoke system for him: the 'Cosmo Synthesizer', which made its debut on Tomita's 'Dawn Chorus / Canon of the Three Stars' in 1984.

The CZ-101 is the domestic version of that instrument: toy-sized and cheap, but full of potential for strange new sounds. You can run it on battery power. Vince Clarke bought a whole rack of them. Its phase distortion algorithms and unusual, eight-stage envelopes give it a distinctive voice. It can buzz and moan, or sing eerily.

The demos of these tracks were written on multi-track tape machines in my extremely modest studio. At the time, I was listening to minimalist and "English Experimental" music alongside the quirky electronica on labels like Planet Mu and Tigerbeat6. I re-recorded and mixed the album in ProTools, distributed a handful of CDR copies to friends, then forgot about it. I made the first tracks under the name Simon Bookish the following year, still built on synthesizers, but breaking away from process music.

This year (2013), I was reminded that 'EPIGRAM / MICROGRAM' exists through conversations with Kerry Yong, who has made a specialisation of performaning high-modernist music on Casio keyboards. With an eleven year gap, I feel able to be relatively objective about the music; I like its modesty and small scale. And I like those cosmic noises.

credits

released April 2, 2013

Written, programmed and performed by Leo Chadburn.
Additional production and mix by Tom Haines.
Art and design by Daniel Kluge.

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Leo Chadburn / Simon Bookish London, UK

Leo Chadburn (London, UK) AKA Simon Bookish is a composer of experimental and 'avant-pop' music, vocalist and writer. His unpredictable work includes music for classical ensembles, dramatic solo performances that merge his voice with electronic music, and music for film and installation art. It has been broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 3 and 6 Music, Resonance FM and internationally. ... more

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