Bill Tilland, Option, no 74, 1 mai 1997

The popularity of computer music being what it is, even a distinguished electronic musician/composer like Appleton is heard largely on compilations or in retrospectives like this one, with selections spanning 30 years of artistic labor. Appleton himself admits that three of the early pieces “almost sound like music composed by someone else.” And yet there is a discernible stylistic continuity to the 10 works on this disc, partly due to Appleton’s heavy use of the Synclavier (an instrument he helped to develop) and partly due to his copious use of sound and vocal samples to create his “memory tales.” All of the selections are of interest, but my own favorites are the four somewhat longer tracks which allow Appleton to develop his ideas. Two of these tracks document Appleton’s exploration of Russian cultural history and his own heritage; they include samples of Russian newscasts and indigenous recorded music. Another of the longer pieces, In Media Res is a Synclavier tour de force which uses drone elements, including sampled bagpipes, and at times sounds like a hyperkinetic version of vintage Terry Riley. Times Square Times Ten is a musical “dig” in downtown New York, starting with street sounds, then subway clatter and snippets of old popular songs, announcements and radio broadcasts, along with the apparent creaks and groans of subway ghosts. The CD ends, humorously, with some clever sampling of the Andrews Sisters singing in an old Chef Boy-Ar-Dee commercial. Appleton’s work requires the listener’s full attention, but it consistently demonstrates wit, creativity and technical skill.

… consistently demonstrates wit, creativity and technical skill.