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Cecil Leuter - Spectacular Stereo Sounds CD (album) cover

SPECTACULAR STEREO SOUNDS

Cecil Leuter

 

Progressive Electronic

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Ricochet
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cecil Leuter's electronic career offers two solid, complete records between 1969 and 1971, both years being early enough in the history of Moog (but perhaps not in that of prog electronic), for the "pioneering" in this effort to be emphasized generously, with certain good reasons. Pop Electronique's importance weights heavily or exaggeratedly, depending on tastes, the consensus revolving around Leuter's technical contribution and vision, but not forgetting how "simple" the level of the work sounds like, being interesting at best for the Moog-driven art, but plain and particular as far as the electronic style goes, plus strangely sprinkled with pop and "freakbeats" (missing, therefore, the true quality of "serious" music). Close to Pop Electronique, Leuter collaborated with at least another artist when releasing short albums (Peter Bonello, Georges Teperino, Andy Loore), made TV music and, presumably, worked heavily and experimentally, without necessarily getting to major achievements.

Spectacular Stereo Sounds, released also on Neuilly records, could possibly be a more mature view on basically the same style Leuter used two years prior, but, for sure, Pop Electronique is frozen in history as the more important album - benefiting from many re-releases from various companies nowadays, while this album doesn't seem to have been issued more than once. Interestingly, Leuter keeps the subtitle `Les Sons Electroniques" - where I see the word game "les sons - lessons" - on both Pop Electronique and Spectacular Stereo Sounds, while the choice of the actual title is weak(er) for what the material stands for. On one hand, I'd personally say the accent would fall at most on "spectacle" rather than "spectacular", the "spectacle" being alike a game of sound fireworks, a mechanical imaginative experimenting or anything similar. Meanwhile, fans and experts should find the sound a bit bland as to be "stereo" (and spectacular, in addition!).

The importance of Leuter's music stays the same, whether we're talking about the 1969 classic or this one right here. As this album isn't something to go crazy about - in fact, you should have a cold nerve in order to listen to this, given that you're fully hit by a program whose musical sensibility is close to nule - it's obvious the pleasure will come from how rare and important this product is. Pop Electronique stays the rarity and the front-mentioned work, but Spectacular Stereo Sounds is really at the same level, almost entirely. Aside from this, its abstract, experimental and interesting taste should wake up the same kind impressions, nothing more and nothing less. On Cecil Leuter's - aka Roger Roger's - albums stands written "piece of history", without talking of masterpieces. He works on the same basics, so it's again not really the case of a plain "pop electronique" session, but in fact of a concept-locked moment with lots of technical covering and programming and with, aside, the character of a pioneering, "elementary" study. The point of novelty remains embracing the Moog's instrumentation, while the electronic instrumentalism is strict, mechanic and low-varied.

The pieces have a somewhat programmatic title, that either suggests the effect of the music (Pulsations Electronique, Bombe Atomic), either is a metaphorical suggestion for a musical content that's plain, abstract or, on the contrary, bit too rigid (Glissandorama, Fantome Lunaire, Agonie des Planetes, Materie en Fusion, Dialog dans l'Espace). Anyhow, what's relevant in the work of this pioneer-artist is that its senses are richer than what you hear. Missing only its very special value.

In terms of how well could you enjoy this album, its composition has actually an advantage in short "musical moments" and a quality that's anything but "amateurish". On the other hand, no chance hearing the kind of "melody" music, so getting prepared for a straightforward experiment of electronic compositions is, why not, vital. Cecil Leuter keeps making science out of the Moog as far as the music on this particular instrument was developed until that time. By paradox, the style is almost monotonous, the technique doesn't go far either, yes differences between the pieces are the main proof of variety. Differences in the approach should be felt throughout the 18 total pieces (Retombées Nucléaires is split in two parts) as well, as the first part of the album is crafted with easy, "pop", slick effects and pedals, while the middle part of the album works suddenly on interiorized, "mono"-sounding moments. At the end, the taste for randomness and for combining more instruments (implicitly, more rhythms, tones, effects, loops etc.) rejoices. For me, there's no "pop" in Cecil Leuter's work, because this electronic chemistry couldn't entertain cheaply anyone. I already mentioned earlier that some of the ingenious arrangements symbolize a sort of natural or cosmic effect, but even the elementary bites of electronic notes have their essence of their own. Sometimes Cecil Leuter plays with noise, frequencies and abstract nuances, otherwise the process is just too still, and most of the times the vibe of experimenting is close to achieving an entirely mechanical, artificial purity.

Spectacular Stereo Sounds is far from outstandingly progressive. Even if the Moog is a big gun during the classic electronic prog years, this particular album isn't more than one of the "studies for Moog". Again though, "pop" just isn't totally fit for the deep grain of this effort, even if "simple" is the word for its compos and evolving phasings. Thinking in terms of pop electronic, Jarre's genuine debuts are worse examples, while a fair number of solo artists (pre- or post-entering a big band or group) have schemed a similar way of music, in this approximate period. Thinking in terms of progressiveness, the 70s hold the quintessential, this album belongs to Leuter's late 60s style and it's definitely up to the listener whether to believe Leuter's music is proto-, pre-progressive or not prog at all. 1971 is already a late year for electronic prog pioneering, it's not the case of Leuter being crucial. The classic prog electronic music stays mostly defined by its splits on ambient, "kosmiche", space, synth-driven or kraut/psych-evolved music, styles that aren't even hinted in Spectacular Stereo Sounds.

While never being a true fan of Terry Riley and especially Carlos Wendy or the Oriental representative Tomita, listening and liking Cecil Leuter - recommended as part of this "family", more or less - ended up successfully. Spectacular Stereo Sounds should really end up together with Pop Electronique in any electronic music collection, in case the hunt for rarities such as these one ended with positive. They're both from the same class, having, on average, the same quality as well.

Ricochet | 3/5 |

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