Attilio Mineo Conducts Man in Space with Sounds
Released: June 1998
Attilio Mineo is one of those obscure artists who created music so far ahead of its time that we are still trying to catch up to it today. Man in Space with Sounds is a treasure that had been buried for 35 years. It first appeared in 1962 as part of the Seattle World's Fair (you know, the one that gave us the Space Needle and the monorail). The music was used for an exhibit called "Man in Space." But all that is irrelevant. What we have today, in 1999, is music that is reminiscent of science fiction soundtracks from Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still to Terminator 2 and The Fifth Element. But the music also resembles some of the earliest tape-loop experiments by people like Stockhausen, where traditional musical elements were combined with samples and sound effects. Mineo manages to blends orchestral scores with sound effects so that there is almost no distinction between them. The strings and horns are as "alien" as the alarm sounds and the theromyne wails. What really makes this music contemporary with 1999, however, is the thing that probably killed its commercial appeal in the 1960s--the narrator. At the start of each track, a narrator offers a brief comment, designed to guide the visitor through the fair. The comments are full of kitch, entirely optimistic, and absolutely mundane. But set aside this music, they reveal a rather odd tension buried beneath the verneer. So while the narrator is spouting the wonders of the future, the music is responding not with happy, cheery glee but with an odd foreboding. This dichotomy says more about humanity's ambivalence toward the 21st century than anything else I've heard in a number of years.
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