The Squid's Ear Magazine

White, John: Electric Music [2 CDs] (ANTS Records)

English experimental composer and musical performer John White recorded the pieces on this 2 CD retrospective set between 1980 and 1995, a combination of serious, popular and novelty pieces, often exploring areas of contradiction, particularly linear and rhythmic, within an unlikely sound-world in which parameters such as volume, timbre, texture and speed remain fixed.

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product information:

Label: ANTS Records
Catalog ID: AG22
Squidco Product Code: 30047

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: Italy
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels w/ booklet
Music composed and performed by John White, in London, UK, between 1980-1995.


John White-composer, performer

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Here is a new, exciting, step in the discover of the genius of John White, the maverick master of British Experimental Music. This double CD represent one of a thousand in between the musical facets of his enormous output. As Dave Smith says in his liner notes: "Most of the pieces recorded here date from the period 1984-6. They reveal a delight in exploring areas of contradiction, particularly linear and rhythmic, within an unlikely sound-world in which parameters such as volume, timbre, texture and speed remain fixed.

As a contrast, scattered through the album are five brief, apparently zany Nintentions from 1993. (...) John's attitude to electronic machinery has often been relatively lo-fi (at times, decidedly so) as demonstrated in the recordings of Livebatts! - a performing trio featuring battery-driven instruments with Jiggs Coldiron and Andrea Rocca.

The sound sources used on the present recordings are closer to those of pop musicians of the time and the general approach can be considered in opposition to the laborious and expensive world of institutional electro-acoustic music." In the words of John White: "(Electronics) It's like flower arrangement - just picking out things which were there before you... it's a perfect medium for irony".

These pieces are the perfect counterpoint to the visual works of Surrealists and Dadaists, whose unusual, ironic and disturbing beauty is well summarized by the infamous Lautreamont's quote: "Beautiful like the chance-meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella" ".-ANTS

Artist Biographies

"John White (born 5 April 1936 in Berlin) is an English experimental composer and musical performer. He invented the early British form of minimalism known as systems music, with his early Machines.

White was born in Berlin to an English father and German mother. The family moved to London at the outbreak of war. Originally a sculptor, White decided on a composition career when he heard Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie. He studied composition at the London Royal College of Music from 1955-58 with Bernard Stevens and analysis privately with Elisabeth Lutyens. Upon graduation, White became the musical director of the Western Theatre Ballet, and then professor of composition at the Royal College of Music from 1961-67. He is a skilled pianist and tuba player and has written extensively for both instruments.

In the 1960s and 1970s he was closely associated with English experimental composers such as Cornelius Cardew and Gavin Bryars. His Royal College of Music pupils have included Roger Smalley, Brian Dennis and William York. White's association with younger composers, including Christopher Hobbs, Dave Smith, Benedict Mason, and John Lely has led to many British ensembles, including the Promenade Theatre Orchestra, Hobbs-White Duo, Garden Furniture Music, the Farewell Symphony Orchestra and other groups.

John White is also the long-standing and inspiring[opinion] Head of Music at Drama Centre London.

White's style is informed by what Dave Smith called an 'apparently disparate collection of composers from the world of "alternative" musical history', including Satie, Alkan, Schumann, Reger, Szymanowski, Busoni and Medtner. These composers have influenced his piano sonatas, which White has been writing since 1956, but other influences on his wider work include Messiaen, Rachmaninoff, and the electronic pop ensembles Kraftwerk, and The Residents. Although it is so eclectic as to cover a wide range of styles, White's work has been called ironic, 'experimental', and even 'avant postmodern'. Although White had worked in what could be called an 'experimental' style since 1962, he composed music using indeterminate means after 1966. His work today includes music having numerical or other systems processes.

As of 2010, White has written 172 piano sonatas, 25 symphonies, 30 ballets, and much incidental music for the stage, all in a highly eclectic style (or, more accurately, range of styles). His stage music includes commissions by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. His recent projects include a set of song cycles, one of which consists of settings of friends' addresses."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:


1. The Merry Samurai's Return From Work 7:22

2. Idleburger Salsa 3:45

3. Nintentions 1 1:22

4. Singles Bar 4:25

5. Fluter's Tango 8:49

6. Nintentions 2 1:05

7. Boschwalzer 4:49

8. 11th Symphony 38:32


1. Breakfast At The Academy Of Martial Arts 6:44

2. Trent's Theme (from "The Assignment") 3:44

3. Nintentions 3 1:05

4. Blues Theme (from "The Assignment") 4:31

5. Russian Tea Room (from "The Assignment") 6:44

6. Nintentions 4 2:32

7. Tyrolean Apres-Ski Muzak 5:22

8. Ricercar 14:48

9. Nintentions 5 2:08

10. 16th Symphony 14:31

Sitcom Theme (from "A Piece Of My Mind") 0:46

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Electronic Forms
Electroacoustic Composition
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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