Tape music fans pay attention now, this re-issue of Dutch tape-pioneer Dick Raaijmakers’ complete tape work is about as crucial as it gets. Basta has long been making a name for itself issuing shockingly well-presented boxsets of the early electronic music of Raymond Scott among others, but this triple disc package is a real revelation. Dick Raaijmakers may not be a household name to many of you; he didn’t have the profile of Iannis Xenakis or Karlheinz Stockhausen or the semi-mainstream pull of the Radiophonic Workshop, yet his forward thinking experiments have proven to be an inspiration for many contemporary musical alchemists and his work has easily stood the test of time. Over three full length cds Raaijmakers’ compositions and experiments are framed quite perfectly and show his sonic innovations from 1959 all the way to 1995, with revisions coming from the man himself when the set was originally put together in 1996. Shockingly through 35 years of composition his pioneering virtuoso spirit never lost its edge, and from the first production ‘Tweeklank’; a buzzing slice of hazy psychedelic electronic oddness all the way to ‘Vier Fanfares’ (which remoulds recordings of typical brass fanfares) there is a sense that you are listening to the mind of a true original.
What’s so wonderful about Raaijmakers is that while his music is pleasing to academics, it retains a warm auro which is tough not to totally fall in love with. Take ‘Ping Pong’ for example, one of Raaijmakers’ most talked-about pieces, in which he wired up a game of ping pong (played incidentally by two respected composers…) and managed from this to create a piece of ‘left-right’ phasing music which falls somewhere in-between Steve Reich and Autechre. At all times you’re totally aware of the human aspect; this is a game of ping pong, it’s just the recording of it which makes it sound so peculiar and revealing. I can’t stress enough how powerful these three discs are, and coming with a large and detailed book (in English no less…) giving you a potted history of the composer’s life and work there could be no better reason for throwing yourself into the world of Dick Raaijmakers. Incredible music - Essential purchase!