This pretentiously titled collection purports to "trace the music of those who have, since the beginning of the recording era, pushed the envelope of musical technology," thereby "chronicling the beginnings of the electronic music scene." Put together by Wired's music editor (who knew they had one?), the single disc falls far short of its goal--the selections are alternately intriguing and clueless and tend to segue rather jarringly. No distinction is made between the creative use of technological invention in the service of genre-bending music (Brian Eno, Can, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich) versus those who just have some cool toys to play with yet achieve little beyond novelty with them (Todd Rundgren, Tangerine Dream, DJ Spooky, Ben Neill). That said, about half of the disc does feature superlative material, notably Can's funk-prog classic "Spoon," Sonic Youth's detuned-pop masterpiece "Schizophrenia," and Eno's insanely pretty, proto-ambient tape-loop work "2/1." Music Futurists is not a bad mix CD, just a misguided, poorly presented one. --Mike McGonigal
There are some GREAT choices here: SPOON, from CAN is one of their best and most developed pieces; SUN RA's infamous PLUTONIAN NIGHTS is as good a single example of his unique vision as one could ever find - DJ SPOOKY, when in his exploratory mode, is a sheer God (Find his ultra-rare "NEST" CD that was only included with an issue of now-defunct NEST Magazine for a larger proof). TODD RUNDGREN was at his absolute zenith on his LP "A Wizard A True Star" -the track here from that album: INTERNATIONAL FEEL/NEVER NEVER LAND is a pure gem. Anderson's O SUPERMAN is as necessary and important an inclusion as REICH's PULSE. The CD attempts to cover a wide breadth of genres, going back to earliest occurrences (ESQUIVEL's GRANADA) of futurist music in a pop world.
Admittedly their are a few lame choices: DEVO, in their early years, were incredibly original and vital. BEAUTIFUL WORLD comes just at the end of their era of significance - Many better tracks on the LP it comes from, -and an utter gold mine on the albums before it. DOLBY was a minor but early 'new wave' crossover artist that many will recognize (I would have included early OMD in it's place: "Electricity", "Enola Gay" or even "Stanlow" -to represent this aspect of an incredibly multi-faceted musical movement). Which single ENO piece do you include? 2/1 is a great choice -not the VERY best, but truly gorgeous and also fulfilling the real "ambient" side of this disc. TANGERINE DREAM were one of THE most important electronic artists of all time. CLOUDBURST FLIGHT is powerful and well crafted - from the end of their truly meaningful period. Don't relegate them to the slush pile because of their later weak works and resultant rep among younger listeners.
This CD serves as an introduction to many worlds, all worth exploring. What catches my ear may not be the same for someone else. WIRED has covered a lot of ground in 1 disc -even without Mort Garson, Buchla, Pascal Comelade, ZNR, Todd Dockstader, John Cage, Varese, and 500 other truly innovative and important artists. What IS here fairly represents a seriously wide spectrum -including the poppier side, which, much as it is not my thing, still is significant to many. No doubt the Wired editor(s) who put this together were not as deeply steeped in this enormous universe of futurist sound as could be hoped (probably being only in their 20's at the time, with much yet to explore). The point is: IF you are at all futurist in your musical tastes, you will find some great departure points to explore from, in whatever direction resonates best with you. If you can find the CD, grab it.