Liner Note Author: Trevor Wishart.
Recording information: University of York Electric Music Studio (01/1970-12/1972).
Photographer: Trevor Wishart.
This album truly is something different. Predating Wishart's excellent "Red Bird" (reissued in the 1990s on the CD Red Bird/Anticredos), Journey Into Space was composed over the course of three years (1970-1972) and self-released the next year in the form of two separate LPs sold by the composer himself. In early 2002, the Paradigm label reissued the complete work on one CD. With its total duration of 79 minutes (quite ambitious in those days) and its then-unique amalgam of concrete sounds, tampered bits of free improvisation, and scored musical events, the work stands out. Yes, as Wishart himself points out in the new liner notes, some transitions are crude. Someone listening to it without a historical perspective could easily find many examples of naïve sound juxtapositions and overtly explicit symbolism (especially when compared to the complex networks of symbols found in "Red Bird"). Nevertheless, the piece still holds a pioneering freshness and commands respect. Plus, those who prefer tape compositions that follow a narrative will be charmed by the underlying allegory that takes listeners from a "Birth Dream" to a "Journey" in which a man's "day in the life" parallels a rocket launching and the eventual expanded understanding of life found in the metaphysical "Arrival." The space theme, most probably inspired by Neil Armstrong's moonwalk (still a news event when Wishart started to work on this) is what dates the piece. Furthermore, it gives it some sort of psychedelic aura -- the sequence in which the man wakes up and prepares to go to work can't help but recall Pink Floyd's "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast." The instrumental passages include contributions from a cast of York University alumni, including students Jonty Harrison and Steve Beresford. Despite its flaws, Journey Into Space remains a fascinating listen and an important document from a key period in avant-garde music history. ~ François Couture