Review: David Buddin – The City of God

Dave Buddin The City of God (Dick Move Records, 2016)

My interest in electronic music was ignited after seeing the science fiction thriller, Forbidden Planet. Life was never the same after hearing those alien sounds by Louis and Bebe Barron. I was first introduced to David Buddin during my tenure with Cellular Chaos. Buddin carries the spirit of electronic music from the past, well into the present day, for a new generation. The tracks on this album are accompanied by vocalist, Stephanie Leke.  She cleverly uses her soprano voice, singing snaky melodic lines with wide intervallic leaps, on top of David’s unorthodox chordal and linear support. While the two may seem far apart, actually they’re not. They both find common ground within each song as the music progresses.

“The City of God is the fifth cantata in a cycle of six. They are collectively called The Genesis of Projection, after a line from Emerson’s essay ‘Nature’ wherein he discusses human history and its manifestations. In all of these works, Buddin employs a single series of six pitches.  They are transformed and permutated in all kinds of orderly ways to create a myriad of different surface structures and textures.  The intervals between adjacent pitches, articulate time spans that he uses to “project” large and small scale rhythmic complexes, as well as the overarching form of the entire construction.   The whole enterprise stands in marked contrast to the emotive, amorphous garbage that his generation is notable for.  It is, to paraphrase E.E. Cummings, a reality whose universe a single leaf may be.” — Liner notes.

“The electronics are all being played via MIDI from a computer through a Korg Triton and a Sequential Circuits Prophet 600. David manually programmed the tones on the Prophet, but he didn’t physically play a note (which is why it all sounds so precise). It was being played directly from the score.” — producer B.J. Rubin.

Listeners may find this music unusual. However, a close listening allows one to detect a brilliant internal logic. David’s well thought out score is the real star that produces this complex multi-dimensional soundscape, truly a polyphonic wonder. This is much more engaging than most of the material that’s under the umbrella of this genre today, much of which tends to be of the ambient variety. David Buddin actually makes electronic music in a sense that’s closer to what I was introduced via Forbidden Planet. He doesn’t use those specific sounds. His choice of chords and alternative voicings gives his music a distinctive flavor, one that’s uniquely an original creation. His use of chime like keyboards, is very effective in the mix of these varying timbres of floating electronic lines. Each song takes listeners to a different place. Some of the music reminds me of Cecil Taylor’s approach to the piano, in terms of his use of space and timing. While studying for his doctorate in music, Buddin was mentored by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Charles Wuorinen. He also studied with John Cage and Salvatore Macchia.

David Buddin’s The City of God is available online from Dick Move Records. This is a record label by BJ Rubin, the star, producer, and creator of “The BJ Rubin Show.” Interested listeners can catch this program on cable. Check local listings for the channel and times in your area.

Personnel

  • David Earl Buddin – Keyboards and Synths
  • Stephanie Leke – Vocalist

Recorded at David Buddin’s home, vocals recorded at Seizures Palace by Jason LaFarge

Tracks

  1. Paradise Is Open
  2. Invocation
  3. With Flowers You Write
  4. Father of Everlasting Grace
  5. Magnificat
  6. Gladsome Light

–Marc Edwards, March 6, 2017