Feb 7, 2016

Sundaze 1606


Today's artist is a New York student of electronic music influenced by experimentalists John Cage and Terry Riley, Kim Cascone later moved to San Francisco and founded the Silent label. The label was best known for recordings by Cascone projects PGR, Heavenly Music Corporation, Thessalonians and Spice Barons as well as a 1992 tribute to acid named Fifty Years of Sunshine (featuring Nurse with Wound, Psychic TV, Hawkwind, Timothy Leary). After his frenetic release schedule of the early '90s, Cascone took time out to work as a sound engineer for Thomas Dolby's Headspace studios. He returned to active recording with 1999's Blue Cube, his first album as Kim Cascone. Cathode Flower followed later that same year and was followed in 2001 by Residualism on Ritonell through Mille Plateaux.

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American composer and sound designer Kim Cascone may be more recognizable in his former role as head of Silent Records, the label he founded in the mid-'80s, but his recordings as Spice Barons, Thessalonians, PGR, and, most often, Heavenly Music Corporation or his own name, have been equally as visible. A soundtrack composer throughout the early '80s before striking out on his own, Cascone formally studied electronic music arrangement and composition at the Berklee College of Music in the early '70s before studying in with Dana McCurdy at Manhattan's New School in 1976. Subsequently working as assistant musical supervisor under director David Lynch on both Twin Peaks and Wild at Heart.

Cascone left Hollywood for San Francisco in the mid-'80s to pursue solo composition, forming Silent Records in 1986 after self-releasing his first PGR album, Silence. Though far more abrasive and conflicted than much of his later work, PGR's use of texture and compositional chance is a constant throughout the whole of Cascone's oeuvre. A number of PGR titles followed -- both on Silent and the RRRecords, Noctovision, and Permis de Construire labels -- and Cascone has since gone on to record primarily as Heavenly Music Corporation, releasing the bulk of his work through Silent. Deriving the name from the seminal recording by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp on their 1973 collaboration No Pussyfooting, HMC's focus, with some exceptions, has been on beatless ambient, beginning in 1993 with In a Garden of Eden (composed just prior to the birth of Cascone's son, Cage), and working through a series of releases in the mid-'90s. Working toward increasingly abstract aural sculptures, HMC's dabbling with the club culture most new ambient composers look to for inspiration has stretched no further than the sparse rhythms that pervade Consciousness III and some of Lunar Phase, with the lion's share of his material drawing from early electronic and musique concrète composers such as Morton Subotnick, John Cage, and Luciano Berio.

In 1996 Cascone sold Silent Records and Pulsoniq Distribution to work as a sound designer/composer for Thomas Dolby's company Headspace. After Headspace, Cascone went on to serve as the Director of Content for Staccato Systems, a spin-off company from CCRMA, Stanford University where he co-invented an algorithm for realistic audio atmospheres and backgrounds for video games called Event Modeling.[6] He returned to making music in 1999 and has since been releasing records using his own name[7] on various labels as well as his own label, anechoic (named after his last Heavenly Music Corporation release), which he established in 1996. Cascone has released more than 40 albums of electronic music since 1984 and has recorded/performed with Merzbow, Keith Rowe, Tony Conrad, Scanner, John Tilbury, Domenico Sciajno and Pauline Oliveros among others.

In academic writing, Cascone is known for his paper The Aesthetics of Failure, which outlined the use of digital glitches and systemic failure in the creation of post-digital and laptop music. He is also on the Advisory Board of the academic sound journal Interference based in Dublin, Ireland.

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The four albums that Silent Records founder Kim Cascone recorded as Heavenly Music Corporation are creative highpoints in the rebirth of ambient via the burgeoning rave scenes of the 1990's in the USA, Britain, Europe and the Asia Pacific. The San Francisco-based Silent came to epitomise for many the open spirit of ambient techno's "golden era". Although the prolific Cascone has recorded much experimental electronica before and since, HMC offers by far his most accessible and uplifting music and arguably his most enduring.


The liner notes of the seven-track In a Garden of Eden release make a number of vaguely flaky claims; it was created for use in a "technomystical chill room" in Goa, India, uses a process of "sublingual hypgnosis" to induce a "theta state" in the listener's brain and actually warns against driving an automobile or operating heavy machinery while listening to it. The record is the sort of thing one would expect after reading this; a completely ambient collection of synth washes and burbles of the mellowest variety, occasionally verging on new age territory and always retaining a soothing appeal.

In A Garden Of Eden and Lunar Phase are blissful "environmental" ambience of a rare standard. Imagine the surface attractions of the best new age music married with depth and substance, music that actually delivers its promise of tranquil gardens, esoteric worlds and psychedelic mind trips. On both these albums a myriad of sound pictures - gardens, oceans, forests - are created with exceptional skill. The rich, floating harmonies slowly build and dissolve in the most intoxicating way, a blend of spiraling tones, floating chords, nature sounds and occasional feather-light percussion or gently throbbing bass patterns. On Eden the liquid sounds of the chill room at early rave parties are a tangible influence. The music was originally created for a "technomystical" chill room in Goa India, once a popular party destination for Westerners and not incidentally also one of the birthplaces of psy-trance. The slow ebb and flow of Lunar Phase takes its inspiration more directly from nature, based on a 24-hour ambient radio station in Japan that soundtracks the movement of the tides.

The Heavenly Music Corporation - In A Garden Of Eden (flac 262mb)

01 Cloud Structure Silence 5:07
02 The Quiet Mind 4:41
03 Ambient To Be Here 8:05
04 Dawn Chorus 5:25
05 Beautiful Dream 5:00
06 In A Garden Of Eden 14:07
07 Reentry 6:59

The Heavenly Music Corporation - In A Garden Of Eden (ogg   115mb)

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The second Heavenly Music Corporation outing is a more upbeat affair, Consciousness III leans more heavily on the drum programming and motoric pulses of early techno, or at least an ambient version of it. Cascone at the time called it "a gentle kick against the aural ambi-niotic sack that encloses us all". For sheer mystical power the title track is unrivalled in Cascone's work, a series of exquisitely beautiful pulses and melodies built around a single minor chord and simple snare/kick pattern. Although this albums structures are clearer and sharper than Garden Of Eden or Lunar Phase, texturally and melodically it's just as rich. It's not really techno; it's more a the rebirth of ambient trance for the techno age, owing as much to the German psy-ambient of the 70's as it does to the early dance music of the Detroit or Chicago.

Heavenly MC - Consciousness III  (flac  327mb)

01 Flowers & Beads (Vocoded Transmission) 6:05
02 Consciousness III 6:36
03 Innerdimensional 11:26
04 Crystalline Entity 7:54
05 Cloud Chamber (Satori Transmission) 7:02
06 Dolphin Pod (Subspace Transmission) 8:01
07 Sunfish = Starflower 6:40
08 Riding Windhorse (Buddhafields) 7:09

 Heavenly MC - Consciousness III   (ogg   132mb)

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The most ambitious of Cascone's HMC albums, Lunar Phase is also the most successful, fusing thick, echoing textures with shimmering melodic lines and subtle, largely beatless rhythms. Composed in part for broadcast on the Japanese ambient satellite/radio station St. Giga, the album is a solid, consistently high-quality work.

The Heavenly Music Corporation - Lunar Phase (flac 290mb)

01 Energy Portal 11:10
02 Seafloor Starlight 10:19
03 Lunar Phase 6:32
04 St. Giga 11:49
05 Nautilus 6:28
06 Cloudless Light 5:02
07 Orgone 6:16

The Heavenly Music Corporation - Lunar Phase  (ogg   122mb)

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Some of the music on the final HMC album Anechoic is quite abstract, with intriguing alien soundscapes and atmospheres that anticipate the composer's move back into more avant-garde territory and experimental computer music. Other tracks, however, are more tonal and euphoric. The endless swirls of "Octal" particularly show HMC's genius for relaxing the body while stimulating the mind. It's an underrated release and one of the last great albums on Silent Records, which passed from Cascone's hands in 1996 and disappeared into financial oblivion a few years later.

The Heavenly Music Corporation - Anechoic (flac 333mb)

01 Bioscape II 5:20
02 Geosynchronous 3:06
03 Sphereless 6:10
04 Xmorphia 4:00
05 Parabolic Contour 4:47
06 Anechoic 6:37
07 Electron Blue 13:11
08 Octal 7:11
09 Tangent Cluster 10:55

The Heavenly Music Corporation - Anechoic  (ogg   150mb)

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apf said...

Thank you so much!

Peter Tron said...

hi rho!

i left a message a week back asking about basic channel.
everything's all good now, i've found it!



Anonymous said...

Hi Rho X

You have surpassed yourself again, I have been a massive fan of Kim Cascone's abstract stuff for a while.

Hope you will upload his some of his other stuff too like Blue Cube.

Kindest wishes

Roger the Dodger

Anonymous said...

Great post - thank you. I am having trouble downloading Lunar Phase, however, in both formats...please can you help?

Anonymous said...

Ohh - no worries - after the umpteenth attempt I have now managed to download the ogg version. Thank you!