A new album by EAE

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Liner Notes

How does the Electronic Art Ensemble’s music achieve both craft and abandon? How does it enfold tech sophistication and a living heart? What does virtuosity mean in electro-acoustic music performance?

From their formation in 1978 to their hiatus in 1982, the Electronic Art Ensemble became emblematic of the experimental ethic and timbre-based music of that era. Their music elicited excellent reviews for its virtuosity, tight compositional forms, and exciting interactive performances. 

Each of the players went on to other endeavors. Then, in late 2022, after forty years apart, the four members of EAE sequestered in a New England studio for a week to make new music.

Technology had moved a long way. All four players still contributed electronic sounds and all still felt some resonance with the ongoing search for a timbre-based music. But added to Steve’s Buchla synthesizers were a host of alternate controllers and the newest tools of digital synthesis. Russ’s real-time mixing and routing was now supplemented by an array of powerful audio processors. At the same time, EAE gained tonal nuance from Clive’s processed electro-acoustic guitar and further evolution as a synthesist, while Greg finally brought acoustic piano together with his electronic vocabulary.

But the instruments they play only tell part of the story. The compositional depth you will hear in this collection emerges from three interacting factors. 

First, each player created their instruments with craft and intelligence. This opened some musical pathways and closed others. It gave each player a distinctive voice and musical trajectory.

Second, the virtuosity of the players enables the level of real-time interaction that makes these pieces snap with life. 

Third, these compositions achieved their elegant forms through sensitive editing and mixing. Following the musical ideas set down in the live studio sessions, Clive worked for nearly a year to bring greater shape to the abundant and complex tracks.

What you hear in these powerful, touching, playful, and profoundly original works retains the magic of real-time performance. EAE was always a performing group. Their countless hours of rehearsing brought about a rapport that has endured and even matured despite their forty-year pause. They still bring with them aesthetic demands that stretch each player, and the shared friendship, kindness, and patience that allows for risk and discovery. 

Virtuosity. Attuned interaction. Compositional vision. Listen to the interplay of the individual elements and recall again that this music was created and performed live, with all the sonic effects and spatial placement done in one pass, captured just as it happened, and you get a sense of the musical communication that traversed those forty years. Enjoy!