Further Out

Robin Edgerton, Douglas Wolk, CMJ (College Media Journal), no. 514, March 24, 1997

Jon Appleton has been composing and constructing electronic music since the early ’60s, and a professor at Dartmouth for nearly as long. This career retrospective begins in 1966, with a few abstract tape pieces typical of the period (layered machine sounds, Moog cascades punctuated by sharp points). But he quickly turned a humorist’s ear to the world of sound — his Chef d’œuvre mixes amplified and distorted cooking noises with the overlapping, stretched and pinched voices of the Andrews Sisters singing a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee commercial. Times Square Times Ten peruses the elaborate soundscape of the New York landmark, then messes with it: sidewalks seemingly breathe and twist, subway and truck rumbles become overpowering, the whole area becomes taken over by a giant wind chime, then by elfin voices from a wax cylinder. Other highlights include a piece for altered voices that ends up sounding remarkably similar to Native American chanting, but disorientingly not quite, and two pieces made from responses people in airports gave to the question “What do you think of this new electronic music?” — made, respectively, in 1969 and 1996.