Back in 1960 when he was a strapping egghead of 31, Karlheinz Stockhausen, the father of taped electronic music, had a vision: Every major city in the world would build an auditorium for the appreciation of “space music.” Stockhausen’s prediction was simply the optimistic ramblings of an intellectual who had everything to gain by the prediction coming true, so I wouldn’t blame him for Hawkwind.

Nevertheless, formalist electronic music of the type Stockhausen pioneered in the ’50s has, over the past few decades, gradually moved out of the museums and into clubs. Unlike Stockhausen, the artists who make a living performing this kind of music came to it from the technology end. Stockhausen, a student of Messiaen, reportedly took a year to put together “Gesang der Junglinge,” a 13-minute, five-channel song “for boy soprano and electronic sound” that was designed to be played as a recording in a church. The composition was condemned by philistines, most of whom couldn’t comprehend the idea of paying good money to sit in chairs and listen to a tape. With the help of a desktop computer and the latest version of music-manipulation software such as PowerTools, Stockhausen could have assembled “Gesang” by lunchtime.

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