Dusted Reviews

Tod Dockstader - 8 Electronic Pieces

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Tod Dockstader

Album: 8 Electronic Pieces

Label: Locust

Review date: Jan. 13, 2004

Tod Dockstader would not have you assess his modules of ‘organized sound’ under the banner of music. Nor does he wish for you to restrict the work to musique concrète (in the liner notes for 8 Electronic Pieces Dockstader discusses his love of the idea of musique concrète, but not the outcome of pieces by artists like Schaeffer, whose music Dockstader damns as “kind of...dull. Extremely simple.”) And certainly 8 Electronic Pieces, a CD reissue of a self-released LP that was originally optioned by Moe Asch at Folkways in 1961, doesn’t really fit any pat maneuvering toward tape music or ‘early electronic music’ terminological allegiance. Which is not to say that Dockstader’s work is entirely out on a limb – although within the social climes of avant-garde music of the mid-20th century, Dockstader was definitely, definitively an ‘outsider’ (both the social and the aesthetic resonances of the term apply) – but that it’s rather of itself. The product of a film editor’s romance with the endless malleability of sound, 8 Electronic Pieces has a sonic remit and a drama that’s both highly instructive and charmingly approachable.

Of course, most of the elucidatory work regarding the pre-history of electronic music has already been done; thanks in no small part to the ides of reissue culture, the terrain has already been mapped. Dockstader’s history is as out in the open as his more celebrated ‘peers’.

Ultimately, what one hears in 8 Electronic Pieces is an artist sourcing joy in the simple thrill of the mutation of sound. Captured through both concrete and pure electronic means, he approaches his clutch of sounds with a sculptural view. The first half of 8 Electronic Pieces assembles small studies which bristle with drama, pieces which capture the strange, pervasive sense that one’s aural knowledge has been not-too-subtly re-aligned, wrenched out of one’s immediate perceptual/cognitive frameworks and reinscribed in mutant languages.

The final two pieces on the disc are the strongest. As Dockstader extends the length and the reach of his constructions, one begins to feel like the ecouter academic Katy Stevens invokes in her work on aural spectatorship in the cinema. It’s an ear’s-eye view of the breadth of Dockstader’s abilities, a catalogue of sounds that, while at any point clearly set within the dialogue of early electronic music, expands outward to catch the myriad resonances of the ear’s wonderfully distorting work. It’s the sound of someone thinking of sound, around sound, and through sound.

By Jon Dale

Other Reviews of Tod Dockstader

Aerial #1

Aerial 3

Read More

View all articles by Jon Dale

Find out more about Locust

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.