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Jeffrey Uhlmann
Circuit Theory
VMD10

Tracks:

1. Interrogation Room 03:41
2. Iridium 03:11
3. Night in an Ancient Forest 03:30
4. Power Station - Heart of the City 03:25
5. Sea of Europa 03:07
6. Steel Catacombs 03:06
7. Titanium Vapor 03:08
8. Voyager 03:23
9. Walking Bass 03:30
10. Soulful Machine 03:04
11. Answer Why 03:10
12. Electrical Storm 03:06
13. Core Memories 03:02
14. Dying Planet 03:59
15. Heavy Atmosphere 03:02
16. Funeral Tones 03:01

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews:

Circuit Theory (1978) is a collection of 3-minute aleatoric experimental electronic pieces, each created entirely from a sequence of sampled (random) tones generated by a Micromoog and passed through chorus, analog delay, and the Micromoog's own filters via feedback loops. There was no active control while recording and no overdubs. The perceived layers of sound and energy derive from the careful programming, i.e., pre-twiddling of knobs, to achieve feedback on the edge of chaos.

These early recordings using the Micromoog display a remarkable range of sounds. That this little one-oscillator synthesizer could provide such rich textures shows the skill of Jeffrey Uhlmann in realizing these musical compositions. "Trevor Pinch, author of Analog Days"

Delay and feedback on tracks like "Steel Catacombs" and "Walking Bass" exhibit virtual polyphony with seemingly separate bass lines, while feedback on "Soulful Machine" emerges as a kind of proto-melodic phrase. The final track, "Funeral Tones", is a good example of Jeffrey's use of feedback to simulate mournful wails erupting from tones emulating a church organ.The techniques explored on this album would be applied with more stylistic focus on albums such as Ethereal and Impulse. Tom Rhea's liner notes for the CD reissue of the latter album apply equally well to Circuit Theory:

When Jim Scott and I birthed the Micromoog we didn’t know Jeffrey Uhlmann. But we imagined that somebody like Jeffrey Uhlmann was out there-someone capable of wringing much of the musical potential out of our instrument’s design-and perhaps surprising us in the bargain. Someone capable of refracting their musical ingenuity through the musical tool we had conceived and produced. Someone like Jeffrey Uhlmann, whose Impulse (1979) album stands not only on its own musical legs, but also as an interesting artifact of a bygone (?) era of analog voltage controlled synthesizers.

In a sense, I’ve still not met Jeffrey Uhlmann, but I feel like I know him pretty well, as we’ve engaged in that communion called music, and I’m delighted that he’s given the Micromoog the kind of workout that illustrates some of the lesser known capabilities of the instrument.

Jeffrey Uhlmann’s Impulse album goes to show us, that in the present era of ultra-sophisticated digital whizbangs, it is-and was always possible to make a lot of music using an instrument conceived and developed in the Jurassic Era of electronic musical instruments.Those who work with limited means-like a Micromoog, and in an early era of an art form-analog synthesis, necessarily must blaze a trail that latter-day practitioners might neither understand nor appreciate. But those who made some of those early musical tools-or lived through that era, will understand, and will simply applaud.

Thanks Jeffrey! I’m applauding.

Dr. Tom Rhea
EP/D Department, Berklee College of Music
(Author, Micromoog Operation Manual)

 


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