The name ‘EMS’ seems to crop up a lot these days. The historic studio is famed for its pioneering work in sound art and ‘text-sound’: some of the earliest examples of experimental electronic music owe EMS for their creation. But a sizeable chunk of the most exciting music from 2017 also seems to have been made here. From Jesse Osborne-Lanthier to tuuun to Punctum, they have all seemed to have some of that EMS magic brush off on recent releases.
So what is it about EMS that is so special? Well, on a superficial level, it houses some classic vintage synthesisers, most notably the Buchla. But much, much more important is the social infrastructure that underpins the space. Thanks to 100 years of Swedish Socialism, anyone can book time to use the equipment, sign up to classes, and blossom as an electronic musician. As Daniel M Karlsson wrote, the studio stands as “a monument to common ownership guarded from those who would seek to tear it down on principal”. But how did we get here from the avant-garde studio of the 60s? What did we do to deserve this? What is text-sound anyway?
In this very special episode of Stray Landings FM, we went to EMS to speak with the director of the studio, Mats Lindström, and contemporary EMS composer, Maria W Horn about its history, aesthetics and politics. Listen below.
Legacy Support - Akzidenz [Unreleased]
Ångermanländska Bilder - Maria W Horn [Forthcoming, XKatedral/Portals]
EMS On Its Own - Knut Wiggen [Unreleased]
Spirit of Ecstasy, Racing Car Opera - Åke Hodell [Fylkingen Records]
Don’t Make Me Leave My Car - TMRW [Ambitious Tapes]
Gesang Der Jünglinge - Karlheinz Stockhausen [Deutsche Grammophon]
Gloria II, Domine Deus - Ákos Rózmann [Unreleased]
Undular - Caterina Barbieri [Cassauna/Important Records]
Special thanks to Mats Erlandsson for technical support.