The enigmatic “mad professor” of synths is releasing a compilation of his earliest experiments.
Trained as a mathematician and atomic physicist, Peter Zinovieff was turned on to electronic music in the 1960s by a pre-Radiophonic Workshop Daphne Oram, who showed him how to compose by splicing tape together. Frustrated by the difficulties of working with long reels of tape, Zinovieff decided to build his own electrically controlled studio in his garden shed in Putney, the first computer housed on a private estate.
The likes of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk and Karlheinz Stockhausen all passed through Zinovieff’s studio in the 1960s and 1970s to try out his computer and the vast collection of oscillators, filters, amplifiers and other kit he’d built from ex-Army electrical components. In 1969, he launched his company Electronic Music Studios with the EMS VCS3 portable analogue synthesizer, which became a studio staple and is still in demand by analogue-loving musicians today – we named it as one of the 14 synths that shaped modern music.
Still composing aged 82, and recently hauled back into the spotlight by Russell Haswell, Zinovieff has now announced a complete retrospective of his early work from his initial experiments in 1965 through to the dissolution of his studio and the bankruptcy of EMS Synthesizers in 1979.
The Electronic Calendar: The EMS Tapes is a 21-track collection featuring many examples of pioneering techniques like vocoder effects and using a computer as a sampler. The two-disc set includes extensive liner notes, photos and Zinovieff’s own diary entries compiled by Sonic Boom, aka Pete Kember of Spacemen 3, who’s releasing it on his Space Age Recordings label on June 22.
Check out this short documentary for more background on Zinovieff and some brilliant archive footage, and see the tracklist below.
1. Chronometer ’71
2. Birthday Song
3. Four Interludes For A Tragedy
4. Glass Music
5. Tristan (Short Section)
6. China Music
7. Tristan (Long Section)
1. Agnus Dei (Excerpt)
2. Zasp Parts 1-3
3. Un Known 1
5. Un Named 1
6. January Tensions (Excerpt)
7. June Rose
8. Un Named 2
9. A Lollipop For Papa
11. March Probabilistic (Excerpt)
12. Un Named 3
13. Raasay Digitised
14. Now’s The Time To Say Goodbye