Music from the Electron Brain

Squarewaves, noises from line printers, fans, rectifiers and drum memories, and of course – Mozart-covers. A typical situation for the early days of digital music. Here’s a vinyl release with all that, which I heard about the other day from Coma at Modland. It was probably released in 1970, and documents a few years of music making with the FACIT EDB 3 and the DATASAAB D 21 in Sweden. These were early works in the Swedish computer industry (since 1953) and it seems that it was not primarily used for military purposes, like elsewhere.

Just like Music From Mathematics (1961), this record combines abstract sound experiments with more poppy songs. Like the first computer music, there’s also covers of famous songs. It’s interesting that the sounds of the machines are included on the record. They are typically forgotten when it comes to documenting computers. But here you can hear all the noises, just like in the modern renaissance of computer peripherals music (oh yeah) and some of Pixelh8’s works. (By the way,  it seems that printer music was made in Sweden already in 1966, to impress some exchange students from Tanzania.)

One of the songs is also featured in another LP from 1978 (which includes pioneering arpeggio works from 1970). The author of that album told me that he heard computer music in Sweden already in 1959 (while Peter Samson made 1-bit Bach stuff).

A great feature with the record is the voice-over that sounds like an unreal office man from the 1950s. “The square waves come straight from the electron brain inside the computer”. Listen for yourself here: side A and side B.  Zeela recorded the vinyl from loudspeaker to microphone to reel tape to computer, so the quality is even better than the original!

UPDATE. A few related things:

  • Zeela’s photos of the record.
  • Jan W. Morthenson’s song Neutron Star from 1968 was made with the Datasaab D21, which apparently annoyed the EMS-studio. Available for illegal pirate megadownload here. Clicks n cuts 30 years too early.
  • A Danish release with Göran Sundqvist’s music, claiming it was made with an EDB computer (while in fact it was the D 21).

2 Responses to “Music from the Electron Brain”

  1. dumbmood Says:

    Wow, Tom Dissevelt music at 3:18 in that youtube video you link from DATASAAB D21! Nice!

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