Review

David Borden

Music for Amplified Keyboard Instruments

Spectrum Spools • 2015

Spectrum Spools used to be rather reserved when it came to reissues, even though label-curator John Elliott has proven his right touch for lost jewels with re-releases by Robert Turman und Franco Falsini. Now, the time has come for »Music for Amplified Keyboard Instruments«, the majestic works of David Borden, a wrongly neglected pioneer of electronic and minimalistic music. In 1981, Borden’s record was released on a small Dutch label without being receiving much attention. And yet, the music (which was recorded with the help of Borden’s Ensemble Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company, the first synthesizer-ensemble in music history) is an excellent and frosty example of early ambient. It also proves Borden’s delicate sense for counterpoints, trained through the Renaissance’s polyphony. Both parts of »Continuing Story of Counterpoint«, one of which was dedicated to Robert Moog, blatantly remind us of Philip Glass’s music, while at the same time coming through with a completely different handling of melodies and synthesizers. In later years, Borden rerecorded his Counterpoint-cycle of 12 parts with a bigger range of instruments, so this is the only completely electronic version. Those expecting overtone spectra to change all the time, will probably be surprised – out of practicality, Borden usually worked with one sound per track, especially since his compositions were not produced as mere studio-recordings but rather to be performed on stage. These crazily fast movements, carried out by six hands at a time, are part of the fascination arising from this music – its mechanical precision still always depended on the human behind.