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Robert Scott Thompson
The Strong Eye
Total Time: 66.24
Record Label: Aucourant Records
Catalog Number: AUREC 9201
UPC: 649783920121
Type: CD
Released: 1992

$11.98

Robert Scott Thompson, an acknowledged leader in the field of computer music composition, has produced a the long-form work, THE STRONG EYE, conceived as a full-length developmental composition of nine distinct movements. This disc epitomizes "future music" with its novel timbres and fascinating sound complexes. It has become a favorite of sound samplers as a resource of new material. While the basis of this recording is the avant-garde side of contemporary classical music, THE STRONG EYE also appeals to fans of both ambient and electronica. It presents a stunning melding of stylistic influences and calls forth images sublime and fantastic. Thompson refers to his work in this genre as "sonic biology" and "acoustic alchemy." This recording has been widely broadcast around the world and has been featured at important international festivals. THE STRONG EYE was composed, recorded, and produced in 1991, at the Danish Institute of Electroacoustic Music (DIEM) under the auspices of a Fulbright Research Scholar Fellowship.

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REVIEWS

“By infesting his music with his own feelings and spirituality, Thompson achieves more than most of his peers.”

- All Music Guide


“A serious and highly successful artistic endeavor. Remarkable work!”

- Larry Bounds


“If Steve Roach and Morton Subotnick were to collaborate on a project, it might sound something like this. Bravo!!”


- Across the Universe

___


The connection between this work and RST's ambient music will be apparent to well informed listeners. Here the treatment of musical materials is delicate and evocative providing ample opportunities for introspection and reverie. Highly recommended listening. Like RST's more recent long-form ambient works - Music for a Summer Evening, Sapphire and Siren (ambient), The Strong Eye is an evolutionary and engaging work or nearly 70 minutes. Conceived as a continuous exploration of sound-space from beginning to end.

The first release in the 'computer music series' of Aucourant Records, 'The Strong Eye' presents 9 tracks which are 'composed, recorded and mixed in the digital domain'. Samples of voice, flute and cello have been manipulated with 'compositional algorithms, sound synthesis and digital signal processing'. A fractured continuity underpins the pieces - created from manipulated fragments which coalesce almost organically, as moment to moment change builds coherence, and questioning melodies emerging from chord sequences. There are many exciting sounds - the cascade in the middle section of 'Spontaneity knows its own discipline' or the crashing 'Oceans of desire'. Components shift between instrument evocations - piano in 'Spontaneity...' or the vibraphone, bells and guitar of 'Realcage' for example - and obviously computer generated twittering and undercurrents. The three central works form a suite that fills over half the disc which allows for more development and exploration than the shorter, focussed pieces. 'Breath' opens to a gentle wash then flute samples modulating a melody, a deep drone creates a pause before more complex flute, and there follows an extended interplay between the synthetic and flute meditating on the concept of breath. This continues into 'Electric actuality' where a high pitched computer section leads into the reintroduction of the flute and a complex drum rhythm, followed by a long fade with some very jagged eruptions. 'Wreckingyard' flows from it, and is a more fractured, percussive work featuring some wonderful hollow sounds, growling and cello moments, and has a mellow, tonal close. Marvelous wind chimes feature on 'The spacious present', shimmering across the sound field before being joined by long synthesized notes: I would have preferred the wind chimes to continue as the synths seem almost out of place in this context, but it is not long before the chimes are back with whistling computer winds. 'Lonestar' is a gentle, stately progression, contrasting with the concluding 'A geometry of invisibility' an intricate computer-showpiece: long, everdescending tones, atonal echoing chords, moog-y distorted keyboards and percussion all in a very dense framework. Overall, this is a 'warm' computer music. RST shows incredible skill in manipulating, choosing and placing his sounds, and there is a continual tension between what is real and how it emerges from the computer: some parts could be live while others could only have been created through his processes. It is not as meditative or relaxing as the other pieces by RST which I have heard, but it is complex, engaging and rewarding.

"The Strong Eye" is a vibrant album of computer music by Robert Scott Thompson. The manipulated music comes at listeners from everywhere and impacts, psychoacoustically, every sense. The music provokes emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually. The feelings are undeniable. It goes beyond psychoacoustic to psychoactive and psychotropic. This early experimental work is the culmination of four years of research and ten years of preoccupation by Robert. It is also the harbinger of glorious works to come from Dr. Thompson!

Jim Brenholts, 2000 

 
The Strong Eye involves nine distinct movements of computer-generated music which Thompson refers to as "sonic biology" or "acoustic alchemy." Strange sounds, tweakings and avant-garde noises jump around the edges of the spacey sounds in the middle. This is a fine computer/new age release. 
 
This is a work of vision! A very strong work that combines the best formal qualities of academic electronic music with the hypnotic timbres of popular space artists such as Steve Roach; in fact, if Roach and Morton Subotnick were to collaborate on a project, it might sound something like this. Robert has obviously taken great care to refine every aspect of this composition during the several years it took to work on the sound synthesis. The care shows. There are surprises at every turn...incredible samples! I like the fact that this is a continuously segued work. Listening in one sitting is a very rewarding journey. I am not sure if this release is as "radio-ready" as Deeper in the Dreamtime, but I know I will be playing the whole thing on my show. Let's hope the radio is wise enough to pick up on it. This is a "Silver Apples of the Moon" for the digital age. Bravo!!
 

Kevin Holms-Hudson "Across the Universe" WEFT-FM

 
A serious and highly successful artistic endeavor. Exquisite flute samples and articulation. I truly wish more people could appreciate this type of music. I have been listening to this CD for over a week now. It gets better and better, grows in depth, with each listen. Remarkable work!

Larry Bounds

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