The release of this CD of John Eaton's early music for synthesizers is a major historical event. For one thing, Eaton's music is so personal and powerful that it's an exceptional demonstration of early synthesizers, including the Syn-Ket, built in 1964 in Rome, Italy, by Paolo Ketoff, and an early Moog synthesizer. But there's more to it. What is probably the first live performance with an electronic music synthesizer took place in April 1965 when John Eaton performed his 'Songs for R.P.B.' at the American Academy in Rome, Italy, for piano, Syn-Ket, and soprano (the soprano was Michiko Hirayama, a remarkable soprano living in Rome, who sings on this CD).
All of the music on the CD, and in fact almost all of Eaton's music since the 1960s, is microtonal, which gives his sounds a special kind of flavor. And Eaton's interest in musical theater spills over into his non-theater music as dramatic themes and gestures. In 'Thoughts on Rilke' (1966), for example, scored for two Syn-Kets and a reverberation plate, Ms. Hirayama teaches the Syn-Kets to sing. 'Duet' (1967) is the first piece for both Moog synthesizer and Syn-Ket, and it's also a sketch for 'Blind Man's Cry' (1968), based on a poem by Tristan Corbiere. The wildest piece on the CD is 'Concert PIece for Syn-Ket and Symphony Orchestra' (1966), based on microtonal clusters and pulsing electronic sounds. And the CD ends on a lighter note with 'Blues Machine' (1968), and 'Bone Dry' (1968), performed with rhythm sections, and intended to be the first electronic rock single