David First, Electronic Works: 1976-1977

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The avant garde composer dusts off his college thesis.

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Blake Gillespie | January 21, 2014

David First

When we read of early synthesizer use, the narrative often involves experimentation that was met with irreparable resistance, like Buffy Sainte-Marie's Illuminations in 1969 that wouldn't find an audience until decades later as goth took shape. Academically, it tends to resonate better but that's not getting you on the cover of Rolling Stone in the 70s or a slot on the festival circuit now.

It took electronic composer David First's work with The Notekillers, particularly on 1980 single “The Zipper”, to enter the conversation, but his post-Notekilers work in the avant garde scene of New York City in the early 80s has never had a true origin. With the help of Dais Records, David First is finally willing to reveal the source of his experimental compositions and ambient drone. It all began when First started fussing with a forgotten Buchla 100 synthesizer gathering dust in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. David Firsts: Electronic Works 1976-1977 is a collection of avant garde works, as a young First tinkered with the Buchla 100, plugging his signature guitar styling into the machine to create arrangements that are blisteringly macabre and alien to its era.

Restored from the original reel to reel recordings, Electronic Works is five mutable transmissions that range from blippy, spastic kill screen sounds to a bliztkrieg of machine terror. While, closer “Moody” borders on a tranquil jazz trip, if only in relation to the remainder of the collection. It's a glimpse into a defining year for David First, one we're only catching up to over 30 years later.

David First's Electronic Works 1976-1977 is out now on Dais.

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