Phillip Werren – Electronic Music (1968-1971)
Released by Cast Exotic Archives, 2006
In 1971 Phillip Werren released a 4 Lp box through Simon Fraser University of his early Electronic Work which was recorded at S.F.U., McGill University & Radio Warzawa, Poland. Only 100 copies where ever made. A few years ago I discovered this record and was completely blown away. The Lp has heavy elements of tape collage, Modular Synthesis, voice, and experimental thought. Some of the pieces where conceived by psychedelic and occult influences. Much of the record was done with a Buchla 100 Series,the first of their modular synthesizers. I tracked down Phil in Toronto where’s he’s been living a number of years. Phil taught music composition and theory at York University in Toronto from 1977 to 1997,where he headed York’s Electronic Music Studio.
The Album was created for the most part at the height of the late 60’s at Simon Fraser University. “1968 was a year of great upheaval: at SFU, Canada’s Berkeley, 114 people were arrested for their part in the protest over the firing of the entire faculty of the Political Science and Anthropology department. Marcuse, Baba Ram Dass and others came to speak to us at peril to themselves; acid and mescaline abounded and apocalypse seemed to fairly shout out at us in the rarified atmosphere of Burnaby Mountain. The neo-fascist architecture of the university seemed to beg for anarchy and chaos and linear thought itself seemed doomed to extinction.”
“The electronic music studio at SFU was at that time probably the most sophisticated studio in Canada. After working in studios at Columbia and Radio Warsaw, both of which were small and somewhat limiting, I found it impossible to continue composing with the Princetonian precision in which I had been schooled. The SFU studio contained the most recent synthesizer designed by Don Buchla. I only vaguely understood what it did and realized that I would have to put aside my rigid preconceptions of how one sound should follow another. The sequencer, a device which can generate a sequence of sound events in a more-or-less random pattern and at times seemed to have a life of its own, became for me a sort-of window through which I could see/hear a universe of sound I had never imagined possible. It was necessary for me to Òstep backÓ from these sequences of sound-events, to control them in some other way: through the mix of one sequence with another in time and space.”
This album is a rarity of Canadian Psychedelic Avant-garde history, up there with the early works of Bill Bissett, The Nihilist Spasm Band, and Intersystems. Also in line with early America works by Robert Ashley, Tod Dockstader, and Gordon Mumma.
Phil and his Engineer friend Tony Crea have transferred the original tapes to digital and cleaned it all up for this CD reissue. Original artwork on the cover was created by local Vancouver artist James Felter.
Composed By, Synthesizer [Buchla System 100, Moog Modular System], Electronics [Vari-speed, Krohnhite Band-pass And Notch Filters, Ampex Two And Four Channel Tape Machines]
1-1 – Phases I – 44:11
1-2 – Phases II – 31:24
2-1 – Phases III – 23:18
2-2 – To Phyllis – 14:05
2-3 – Whale Piece – 5:38
2-4 – Polish Wedding Music – 14:55
2-5 – Vortex – 14:31
Phases I (1969)
Part of the cyclical work based on the poetic images of W.B. Yeats, created in collaboration with Wilfrid Mennell and Philippa Polson. Premiered at Simon Fraser University Theatre, April 1969.
Phases II (1969)
Part II of Yeats cycle, created in collaboration with Wilfrid Mennell and Philippa Polson. Premiered at Simon Fraser University Theatre, June 1969.
Phases III (1970)
Part III of Yeats cycle. Premiered at Simon Fraser University Theatre, April 1971.
To Phyllis (1971)
Commissioned by Phyllis Lamhut for a dance premiered by her company in New York, March 1971.
Whale Piece (1970-71)
Score for Streams, choreographed by Edith Feinstein and performed by the SFU Dance Workshop, January 1971.
Polish Wedding Music (1967)
Composed at Radio Warsawa, Poland, 1966-67. Premiered at the Vancouver Art Gallery, September 1968.
Excerpts from this composition were used as the sound track for the Al Razutis film, Aaeon. Premiered at Simon Fraser University Theatre, April 1971.
Assistance from the President’s Research Grants Committee of Simon Fraser University (Vancouver BC) in making the original recording possible is gratefully acknowledged.
All compositions were created in the Simon Fraser University Electronic Music Studio, Vancouver BC, except Polish Wedding Music, composed at Radio Warzawa in Poland. Polish Wedding Music and Vortex were originally two-channel compositions. All other music has been dubbed from the original four channel tapes to two channels for this recording. All recordings should be played at full volume
There is now a Lp reissue available now via Manufactured Recordings,