Religious Records

Our resident archivist Jack Dangers gets all spiritual with some religious records from his archive. Meat Beat Manifesto fans might like to think of as bit of “God OD”

I’ve pulled out some obscure electronic classical records with a religious theme this month – it’s a genre!

‘Neue Psalmen Der Studentengemeinde Bonn’ (‘New Psalms From The Student Community In Bonn’) is a seven-inch from 1969 by Reinhold Weber, Heinz Herich and Manfred Buschmann. It’s really good, but very odd – a creepy, religious piece for children, with track titles like ‘Nothing Scares Me Anymore’ and ‘God Is Reality’.

It’s made up of strange synth noises with a German narrator talking over the top. It looks like it’s part of a series, with a further three titles advertised on the back of the sleeve. There’s one copy on Discogs at the moment for sale at over £100!

Next up, and the cheapest at between £30 to £50, there’s ‘Invocations’ by Richard Kostelanetz. I suspect that it was made in the 1970s, but it was released on Folkways in 1983. It’s a one-hour long experiment in “speech-music”.

Kostelanetz recorded over 60 ministers reciting prayers in two dozen languages. He then mixed them on a 24-track tape machine and put them through treatments to create “duets, quintets and choruses that come together on the scale of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion”. On the back sleeve, he writes that his “purposes are profoundly ecumenical”. It’s also profoundly terrifying. It would have made a good soundtrack for ‘The Exorcist’.

Finally, there’s Henry Sweitzer’s ‘Te Deum – An Electronic Realization’ from 1979 – possibly the only record he ever made. ‘Te Deum’ is an ancient Christian hymn from AD 387. I’m not sure if this is a version of that, but this one, which makes up the whole of the A-side, is all droning atmospheres and brass parts from an ARP Omni and a Synthi AKS.

On the B-side it gets weirder. ‘Open Windows’ is a wonky electronic piece with loads of extreme synth filtering and delay. At one point, a snatch of ‘Frère Jacques’ plays in between some swooping madness from the Synthi. The other track, ‘Study On A Waring Blender Futura 950’, has a sleeve note explaining what it is: “Classic studio techniques involved in shaping source material from a Waring Blender”.

From celebrating God through the glory of the oscillator on side one to doing musique concrète with a blender – that’s quite the mix, if you’ll excuse the pun. This one seems to go for anything between £60 and £200 – and you can get a vintage Waring blender on eBay for about 30 bucks!

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