The label run by The Wire contributor Jennifer Lucy Allan and James Ginzburg returns with a rare collection of live recordings and orchestral works from Terry Riley’s and Pandit Pran Nath’s associate Bartlett
Arc Light Editions will release two albums by the late British electronic musician Martin Bartlett: a sketchbook of live recordings titled Anecdotal Electronics and a collection of electroacoustic and orchestral works called Ankle On.
Born in Croydon in 1939, Bartlett spent much of his life in Canada. He studied under Terry Riley and Pandit Pran Nath, and his acquaintances included Pauline Oliveros, John Cage and David Tudor. He made instruments, regularly working with Don Buchla, and in 1968 invented the black box modular synthesizer with William Hearn. A prolific writer, he penned prose recalling sailing trips, among other writings, as well as academic articles. He also co-founded the Vancouver arts space The Western Front. Yet in spite of all his activities, his work has gone relatively unnoticed. A new wave of interest in Bartlett the musician came a few years ago when artist and film maker Luke Fowler found himself watching a tape of him performing in 1982. “I was struck by a few things,” he said. “The diversity of the music performed (going from intense noise to micro-tuned aleatoric patterns, and melodies to spoken word and acoustic instruments) [...] and the bizarre performance practices associated with the antediluvian analogue/digital instruments played (the black box, a Serge modular and Bartlett’s short-lived homebrew computercontrolled digital synth, the Apogee motor).” Fowler eventually made the film Electro-Pythagorus (as featured in The Wire 401), which followed Bartlett's his life from 1986–92. Bartlett died of an AIDS related illness in 1993.
Anecdotal Electronics and Ankle On are available for pre-order now. Listen to “Muscle Music” below.