Analog Ultra-Violence

J. Christopher Arrison on how the Moog came to represent a new sound of evil for the movies: "This ingenious re-purposing of classical themes through multi-layered analog synthesizers remains as powerful today as it did over four decades years ago. But like Kubrick’s brutal and graphic imagery, [Wendy] Carlos’ contribution to electronic music was not without controversy." [Cultureramp via Tettix]


  1. FTA: “Carlos zealously guards her copyright; hence, actual performances from Switched-On Bach cannot be found online.”  That statement is incorrect.  It should probably have read: “Carlos foolishly guards her copyright; hence, actual performances from Switched-On Bach can only be obtained through piracy.”  The oldest torrent now seeding Switched-On Bach has been continuously available for seven years.  If RIAA were to account for the losses Wendy has suffered, I’m sure it must be in the billions by now.

    1. I read “…Switched-On Bach cannot be found online” as a challenge.  Since I already have both the album and the sequel on vinyl, I felt no misgivings about creating a backup by ripping them to my computer.  The method I chose to accomplish this involved a search, saving an nzb file, firing up a reader, and creating a descriptively-named destination folder.

      I had both albums neatly filed away and was listening to various tracks in 8 minutes.

      “Cannot be found online”?  Really?

  2. Carlos’s realization of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto is, to put it bluntly, the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs—live, canned, or intuited—I’ve ever heard.

    Glenn Gould

    She’s a mad genius. Her Beauty and the Beast featured compositions using microtonal scales with 144 possible notes per octave (for comparison: the piano has 12).

  3. Wendy Carlos continues to tinker and create. Leery of the spotlight, she sporadically maintains an endearingly simple website.

    Would that that were so!  The most recent update there dates from March 2009.  I suppose you could say that was sporadic.  Hope she’s doing okay.

  4. “I think [Wendy] Carlos has done something completely unique in the field of electronic realisation of music—that’s the phrase that they use… I think that [her] version of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rivals hearing a full orchestra playing it, and that is saying an awful lot.”

    Is it really necessary to gender reassign a quote from Kubrick from 1972? I mean, if you follow the link to Sound & Vision, what Kubrick said was [Walter] and [his], and it was more or less accurate to say that at the time. I get the who sensitivity angle, but at this point we’re into revisionism.

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