Angus MacLise, New York Electronic, 1965

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 06.13.14 in Reviews

Angus MacLise has as cool a counterculture pedigree as could ever be imagined: Fluxus artist, student of Aleister Crowley, friend of William Burroughs, collaborator with composers like La Monte Young, drummer for one of the earliest incarnations of the Velvet Underground. The list goes on, but the point is already made: MacLise was a major force in all manner of media, with mystical inclinations and a keen sense of where to position himself as well.

Archival recordings of the era’s many early electronic charms

His reputation, musically at least, has rested for the most part on a series of tribal-sounding jams and cut-up tape experiments he made in the 1960s and ’70s, but it turns out he was active at the time as a pioneering electronic musician too. New York Electronic, 1965 features archival recordings exhumed by Andy Warhol associate Gerard Malanga, and they come slathered with a surfeit of the era’s many early electronic charms. “Electronic Mix for ‘Expanded Cinema’” stands as the manifesto, with a nearly 28-minute running time and a sense of sonic expansion; this is experimental electronic music with little interest in even the most remote of “musical” conventions. It’s all sound and atmosphere and jarring gestures.

Three shorter pieces labeled “Tunnel Music” are smaller-sounding and more internalized, made up of little synthesized elements like upper frequencies plummeting through space and suggestions of rickety rhythms. The last three tracks — “Trance #1″ as well as “Two Speed Trance” and “Four Speed Trance” — signal MacLise’s involvement with the Theatre of Eternal Music, along with La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, and John Cale. It’s closer to what is most commonly associated with MacLise as a musician at the time, but that doesn’t make it any less welcome.