FOUR SHORT CD REVIEWS
 

From Amazon.com web site reviews Mind blowing electronica - The autechre of the 80's, September 15, 1999 .

Review of The McLean Mix and the Golden Age of Electronic Music

Reviewer: davethay@hotmail.com from Zurich Switzerland

Pure concentration on form and sound. Painstaking, nightmarish and beautiful. Barton Mclean's 'Etunytude' is one of the most sophisticated and beautiful pieces of electronica I've ever heard.

- Plastic Aquatica

Jazzbeat, Oct., 2000 THE GOLDEN AGE OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC (CRI)

Husband and wife Priscilla and Barton McLean started their recording odyssey inside a home made studio which included wall to wall synthesizer stacks. Merging sci-fi blips and bleeps with Pink Floydian synth waves, the sounds emenating from the McLeans' abode must have had the neighbours up in arms. Just in case you weren't in the neighbourhood, here's a nifty little compilation to ease your curiosity. The McLeans lean heavily on the technology at hand, embracing their toys with giddy vigor. Recommended for those electro buffs who devour terms like spring reverb, Synthi 100 and the Fairlight CMI.

American Record Guide, March/April 1998

Review of The Golden Age of Electronic Music

The McLean Mix is on the road again! Barton and Priscilla McLean have spent a good deal of time since the 1970s bringing their electronic sounds to the public and CRI has presented them before. Here they reissue a number of pieces originally available on Folkways and Priscilla's Dance of Dawn from a CRI LP. Although the sounds of this music are fascinating in their variety and both McLeans deal in primarily pleasant sounds often evoking nature, it is difficult for me to feel the result as much more clearly organized than your average ambient soundscape, so telling one piece from another is a major test of concentration.

Telling the two composers apart is another test. Priscilla opens with a 22 minute work called Invisible Chariots which includes percussive sounds made by tennis balls on piano strings, steak knife bounced on violin strings, etc., and is quite entertaining. Barton follows with Song of the Nahuatl, suggested by a pre-Columbian poem and concerning the relationship of man with nature. Nature gets the best of it;: this 17-minute piece is full of passages that sound like harmonic glissandos on a variety of imaginary instruments and evokes for me the images of birds flocking over a desert. Dance of Dawn gradually awakes from dead silence to all kinds of nature sounds, mixed here with disturbing buzzes and effects. It lasts 22 minutes.

Perhaps I am ready to generalize by this time. Priscilla's music tends to have more dynamic range than Barton's. Both Invisible Chariots and Dance of Dawn contain several passages that merely hint at sound -- are almost inaudible. Doubtless we are being influenced by subliminal demonic suggestion. Her shorter Night Images continues the large dynamic range, also including some interestingly-bent harmonic progressions. Finally, Barton's Etunytude leaves us with a pleasant variety of simultaneous timbres sounding in places like a gamelan orchestra that melts into strings or woodwinds mid-note. This kind of pointillistic beauty seems to characterize his compositions. Altogether, the McLeans seem to be having fun in their studio, though I note that all of the music is from the 70s through 1982. What have they done lately, I wonder? [See The Newest Music in this issue -- Ed.]

  1. D.Moore

American Record Guide. March/April 1998

Review of The Electric Performer The Newest Music

McLean: The Inner Universe; Where the Wild Geese Go; Dimensions II; Dimensions III; Dawn Chorus

Priscilla and Barton McLean are both composers of music that combines performers with some form of electronics. Priscilla McLean's pieces tend to grow from small, quiet beginnings into complex, teeming soundworlds. Sometimes the sounds recede back into quietude, and sometimes they just break off. The miracle is in how varied her music is. The Inner Universe for piano and electronics, given a fine performance here by the composer, is an excellent example -- and a thoroughly listenable piece. Barton McLean's music is somewhat less "directional"; it floats in time, with gestures appearing nowhere without interrupting the flow. David Burge plays McLean's Dimensions II with his usual combination of understanding and musicality. --Hicken

  1. DI.

Review from Forced Exposure.com

Artist: The McLean Mix
Title: The Golden Age of Electronic Music Label: CRI
Format: CD
Price: $14
Catalog Number: CRI 764

Very desirable and eye-opening issue of obscure and brilliant electronic works by this husband and wife team, taken from old CRI and Folkways LPs, recorded during the years 1973-82. Subtle, flowing, surreal-tinged abstraction that is very worthy of re-discovery.

Permission for copying and use in normal university class work granted.

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