Daphne Oram, Andrea Parker & Daz Quayle: Private Dreams and Public Nightmares (Aperture)
Daphne Oram is an historical figure in electronic music, but I’ve only just recently discovered her legacy. This collaboration between electro-meets-experimental producers Andrea Parker and Daz Quayle (Il.Ek.Tro) is an unlikely journey from the two. Using Oram’s library recordings as source material and inspiration, their pieces here veer far left of center, exploring the nebulous outskirts of dark ambient, drone and post-industrial sounds. It’s difficult for me to tell what is source material vs. what’s newly created, and that’s perhaps a testament to how faithful Parker and Quayle are to Oram’s aesthetic. “Frightened of Myself” starts with a repetitive, industrial thud of decay, but it slowly but surely evolves into something quite stunning over the span of 14 minutes. Their live recording of “Are You There…?” is similarly dark and sinister, with pronounced bass stabs and unusual manipulations under and overhead, with a broad and expansive evolution from start to finish. I prefer some of the more “musical” shorter pieces like “Oddments,” with an odd tick-tock coupled with dubbed out delay on its various samples and fragments, or “Ghost Hamlet,” the piece that probably sounds the closest to the collaborators’ own electro sounds, but still very much rooted in the timbre of the source material. The melancholy, subtle melodies that round it out are a supremely nice touch. The affected vocal interview that kicks it off in short introductory track “Women’s Hour” is a nice complement to the disembodied voices peppered throughout the album, giving some insight into Ms. Oram before diving headlong into Parker and Quayle’s surreal takes on her unreleased recording archives. Very cool and dark stuff, a nice double-sided coin of the past and present, pointing toward the future.