Episode 1: Pioneers aired Friday 2 November and is available to stream here and to download here and here. This is what was played:
Arnold Schoenberg - String Quartet 2, 4th movement
Anton Webern - Variations for Piano, Op 27
Erik Satie - Musique d'Ambleument: Carrelage Phonique
Marcel Duchamp - Musical Sculpture
Parham Pickett Apollo Syncopaters - Mojo Strut
Charles Ives - They Are There!
Charles Ives - The Unanswered Question
Henry Cowell - The Tides of Manaunan
Luigi Russolo - Risveglia di una Citta
Pierre Schaeffer - Etude Aux Chemins de Fer
Les Baxter - Moon Moods
Tchaikovsky - Valse Sentimentale
Percy Grainger - Free Music (for Four Theremins)
Les Baxter - Lunar Rhapsody
Joe Meek - I Hear A New World
Sun Ra - Love in Outer Space
Billy Riley - Flying Saucers Rock N Roll
Sun Ra - Message to Earthmen
Sun Ra - Blues on Planet Mars
Gyorgy Ligeti - Atmospheres
Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason - You Mean More to Me Than Any Scientific Truth
Jeff Mills - Landscape (Utopian Dreams)
Michael Bundt - La Chasse Aux Microbes
Drexciya - Dripping Into A Time Of No Future
Walter Huston - Lost in the Stars
Pioneers started with the grandpappy of twentieth century exploratory composition Arnold Schoenberg, the final movement of his Second String Quartet, considered his first deep dip into atonality. It also features a soprano, singing the words of mystic writer Stefan George, his poem Entruckung (Transport) evoking Schoenberg's reluctant voyage into the unknown and of the new freedoms - and vertigo - opened up to modern composers:
I feel the air of another planet
And faces blow over me through the dark
Faces that even now kindly turn themselves toward me.
And trees and byways that I once loved now pale
So that I hardly recognize them and you bright one
Beloved shadow - summoner of my agonies -
Are now extinguished completely in the deep glowing
so that after the rapturous tumult
with a devout countenance calming
I surrender myself in sound, circling, hovering,
Groundless gratitude and unspoken praise
Surrendering myself helplessly to the great breath.
A clamorous pain overwhelms me
In the roar of consecration where fervent cries
Beg in the dust of supplicants in tumult:
Then I see how pale clouds slip
Into clear sun-filled spaces
Clouds that embrace only the furthest mountain passes.
The earth trembles white and soft as whey.
I rise up over monstrous ravines,
I feel as if I were swimming over the last cloud
In a shimmering crystal sea.
I am only a spark of the holy fire
I am only a roar of the holy voice.
- Nostalgic, counterfactual image of what the future might have been, but is not, fueled by a dissatisfaction or discomfort with the present, to which retro-futurism provides a nostalgic contrast.
- Particularly a dissatisfaction with modern futurism, and the almost total lack of imagining of an exciting and alternative future world. In some respects, an extrapolation of the present to the future produces disappointing, or even ghastly results, exemplified in contemporary dystopian visions of the future.
- Dissatisfaction with the modern world itself. A world of high-speed air transport, computers, and space stations is (by any past standard) 'futuristic'; yet the search for alternative and perhaps more promising futures suggests a feeling that the desired or expected future has failed to materialize.
- Like some of the theories behind practitioners of Hauntology and Hypnagogic pop, Retro Futurism is fuelled by an idea that much of these early modernist, 'futurist' experiments had yet to be fully exhausted, that there is still more work to be done.
Episode 2: Lab Coats will look at electronic innovations kickstarted by composers working in academic centres and institutions in the early-mid twentieth century.
Broadcast midnight Friday 9 November on Melbourne's RRR 012.7FM www.rrr.org.au.