In my neverending quest of finding new and unusual music, I came across a record with “Interplanetary Folk Music” in the title. Intrigued, I checked out the reissue of the early 1980’s release titled “Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos / Visiting”. What I found was not folk music per se, but early electronic music by a man named Craig Leon. Leon’s known for production work with the likes of The Ramones, DMZ, The Fall, Blondie, Richard Hell and Suicide and in his later years became a respected contemporary classical composer. The record was first released on John Fahey’s Takoma record label, re-released by Leon in 1982, bootlegged over the years as a cult recording; now getting a full 2xLP re-edit/re-recording/remaster/reissue by Leon and RVNG Intl. records out of Brooklyn NY.
At first, I imagined this to be some kind of new age hippie electro record; instead I’m treated to beautiful looped pieces created with “the Oberheim OB-X, Roland JP-4 and Arp 2600 synthesizers propelled by primitive rhythms programmed on a prototype of Roger Linn’s nascent drum-machine, the LM-1. “ Whatever the hell all that equipment is, it sure sounds nice. The old analog synthesizer sound leaves me with a warm feeling in my gut and a head filled with hypnotic rhythms.
Like the record title may state, Nommos / Visiting sounds like electronic music created in outer space after the aliens have visited indigenous African tribes and brought their music back with them. But, no, alleged human Craig Leon (and his wife and collaborator Cassell Webb) are behind these compositions, created in a rather short time in Austin, Texas in the early 1980’s.
This kind of brilliantly produced music needs to be played loud or on headphones to get the full effect. After listening to this, I can understand the argument that Leon’s Nommos / Visiting should be considered a masterpiece along side of his more well known contemporaries works. An absolute surprise and pleasure to discover this music, it gives me hope that the aliens will find some beauty in this world when they finally(?) come to visit.
Favorite song title: “She Wears A Hemispherical Skullcap”
Have a listen below and pick it up here.