Considered as the first piece of electronic music to accompany a ballet, Totentanz is the arrestingly abstract and mightily expressive result of Warner Jepson’s experiments with tape and Don Buchla’s groundbreaking synthesizer, the Buchla 100. Totentanz, originally self-released in 1972, reveals a composer relieved of convention.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Jepson was part of an informal circle of Bay Area artists that included Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Morton Subotnick and Steve Reich. A fixture of the legendary San Francisco Tape Music Center, Jepson was among the performers who realized the world-premiere of Riley’s seminal minimalist composition In C and worked closely with postmodern dance figure Anna Halprin as well as the Welland Lathrop Dance Company.
Jepson’s affection for the performing arts meant that he was thrilled to be commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet Company to compose a piece to accompany Carlos Carvajal’s beguiling, danse macabre-inspired Totentanz. Jepson, who passed away in 2011, incorporated concrete sounds from his collection as well as creations on the Buchla 100, which had recently migrated to Mills College. As the composer once wrote, “Don Buchla’s box ... offered numerous sound possibilities without a map.”
- First-time vinyl reissue. Limited edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl