Index of Artists
Browse by Artist: FIRST, DAVID
Electronic Works 1976-1977
"When people think of composer David First, they go straight to his late '70s avant punk band, The Notekillers and their influential 1980 single 'The Zipper.' Prior to his time in the basements of Philadelphia, he had already played in Cecil Taylor's ensemble and, after the Notekillers broke up, he moved to New York City in the early '80s, taking root in the downtown NYC avant garde scene. It was there that First honed his abilities with experimental composition and ambient drone, a craft he continues to practice today. Though this narrative made sense, there was a piece missing in the puzzle of First's musical background. In 1976, two years after playing with Taylor and the year before starting the Notekillers, he enrolled in a class in electronic music at Princeton in the department headed at the time by legendary electronic composer Milton Babbitt. During his time at Princeton, First was introduced to the classical electronic music studio there, a lonely outpost of the famed Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center which housed one of the very first Buchla 100 series systems acquired by Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening. Unfortunately, due to the introduction of digital technology within the music world, this system was left to languish in the studio unattended and nearly forgotten. First fell in love with this equipment and seized the opportunity to compose using the Buchla 100 synthesizer, at first experimenting only with electronic synthesis but later adding in his signature guitar stylings to make these compositions unique to the academic output typical of university music. Thankfully, these compositions were recorded by First at Princeton on various reel to reel tapes and stored away for over 35 years. It wasn't until the summer of 2012, when David First and Ryan Martin (of Dais Records) decided to revisit and transfer these reels to compile an album presented here as a selection of genuine, uninhibited exploration into modular electronic synthesis. Limited to an edition of 500 copies with liner notes by David First."
Privacy Issues (Droneworks 1996-2009)
"Featuring Chris McIntyre and Peter Zummo, trombones; 'Blue' Gene Tyranny, keyboards; and The Black Jackets Ensemble.
'This was something unexpected and truly different: pulsing electronic textures that derived their rhythm from the beating patterns of closely-tune pitches -- as if Alvin Lucier and Philip Glass had gone on a blind date to CBGBs' David put the beat in beating patterns.'
- from the liner notes by composer Nic Collins (on his initial exposure to First's music in 1987).
Long overdue overview of composer David First's drone works. This special and specially priced set (3 CDs for the price of 2) is comprised of nine works composed between 1996 and 2009.
'1996 was the beginning of a new period for me,'
'I had spent the prior five or six years creating a lot of music for other players and larger ensembles -- culminating in 1995 with a couple of mountings of my opera,
The Manhattan Book of the Dead
. I was a little burned out on this and decided to return to a more personal, intimate format -- one that ended up including an even more extensive exploration of tunings, alternative compositional softwares and how my playing techniques interacted with these things. I think I just wanted to go deeper and have more control over the results. During the ensuing years I've had a few pendulum swings -- forays into beat-oriented pop music with lyrics & vocals and, of course, the re-animation of my rock band from the late 70s -- the Notekillers. But I've continued, through all of the changes, to maintain my grounding in my love of the drone & associated acoustical phenomena -- a love affair that began in my teenage psychedelic years and will, no doubt, be a most significant aspect of my music path for as long as I am at it. The tracks here represent almost every major work created from 1996 to the present and I'm grateful that they will be heard by a wider swath of people than those who lived in NYC or happened to be at one of my touring performances during these years.'
Index of Artists