There is a certain nostalgia here both in the sound of this album and its provenance. David Lee Myers (1949- ) is perhaps best known for his work under the rubric of Arcane Device from 1987-1993. Under that name one finds 23 albums on the discogs web site.
Myers has collaborated with people like Asmus Tietchens (1947- ), a German electronic composer (with a hefty discography), Kim Cascone (1955- ), an American electronic composer and producer, Marco Oppedisano (1971- ), an American guitarist and composer, Ellen Band, an American electronic composer, and Tod Dockstader (1932-2015), among others. His output has been in the electronic music genre, i.e. no live components and he works in a style which he calls, “feedback music”. Like Dockstader, Myers has worked outside of the academy and has relied upon home made electronics and techniques he has developed over the years to produce a rather unique musical style.
More so than the other mentioned collaborators Myers’ work with Dockstader is the “thread” to which the title of this review refers. The release of the long out of print early work of Tod Dockstader was effectively the genesis of Starkland Records. With the release of Quatermass (1992) and Apocalypse (1993) Dockstader was forced out of obscurity and motivated to begin composing and releasing recordings again. Those Starkland releases were of some long out of print LPs from the early 1960s and Dockstader, who had been working in the music industry but no longer releasing his compositions was inspired to bring that aspect of his work again to the public. Two of those efforts included the collaboration of David Lee Myers, Pond (2004) and Bijou (2005). (After Dockstader’s death Starkland surprised the musical world by releasing heretofore unknown gems from the composer’s archive in From the Archives (2016).)
It is both beyond the scope of this review and beyond this reviewer’s expertise to comment meaningfully about the compositional processes by which Myers achieves his ends but, thankfully, the liner notes by Dan Visconti provide significant insight in this area. One can assume that his innovations in electronics as well as the devices themselves will become a treasured part of the history of electronic music along with the recordings themselves.
There are ten tracks here all written in 2015, and all utilizing Myers’ “feedback music” techniques. The CD booklet includes both some of Myers’ beautiful circuit sketches as well as photos of some of his self made electronic processing equipment. (This actually seems to echo the similar production of the booklet from that “From the Archives” disc of Dockstader’s work.) Also worth noting is that the mastering is done by Silas Brown whose expertise contributed so significantly to the success of that last Dockstader disc.
The listener is free to dwell on the technical notes and ponder how these sounds and processings come together to produce the final product or simply let the experience flow over you. There are doubtless many riches to be found in the pursuit of the technical and the analytic. But the most important thing is that you listen, just listen. This reviewer’s first hearing of this disc was on a long, leisurely late night drive which allowed an uninterrupted experience of the entire disc. It was only later that I chose to take in the liner notes and booklet. And while these enhanced the experience the tracks are sufficiently substantive in themselves to carry the listener into Myers’ unique technological vision which is unlike any other save perhaps for that of the aforementioned thread to Dockstader.
Though related by this thread, Myers’ vision is truly like none other in the field of electronic classical music. If anything this seems to be a nearly lost thread, one of the self-sufficient tinkerer and explorer who shares his discoveries with anyone who dares to listen. So, listen, I dare you. You won’t be disappointed.
Release date scheduled for November 10, 2017.