When Venezuluan electronic composer Angel Rada found himself at university in Germany in 1970, he dove deep into the relatively new field of electroacoustic music, while also doubling in Chemical Engineering, ultimately earning his doctorate in both. Rada had access to Moog synthesizers and began pushing his explorations further and further out, but it was the discussions he had in the engineering department that led to his biggest breakthrough.
“I began to be aware that, in the universe, nothing is standing still,” Rada recalls. “Everything changes from one state to another, and every object is formed by moving atoms interchanging electrons. My perception evolved to a second stage focused on the relationship between quantum physics and Buddhism.” But even the most intrepid fan of early electronic music may be forgiven for not knowing about Rada’s oeuvre, as most of it was only released in his native Venezuela. Thankfully, this month, the Spain-based label El Palmas Music reissues Rada’s 1983 debut, Upadesa, which follows from the label’s handy 2020 compilation, Tropical Cosmic Sounds from Space. (For further exploration, the label has also digitally reissued a run of his ‘80s albums.)
“Venezuela is a small country, but it has everything, it is so rich in many ways,” DJ and label head Maurice Aymard wrote via email. As a Venezuelan artist based in Madrid, reviving Rada’s music was crucial for him. “The amount of genres that Latin America has is countless: cumbia, merengue, salsa, porro, son, guaguanco, Latin jazz, soul, funk and yes, even electronic music. It was unbelievable to me that an artist like Ángel Rada could produce this kind of sound living in a tropical Latin country, but with so many influences from around the globe.”
Born in Cuba, Rada’s family came to Venezuela when he was still a baby. By the age of 13, the young Rada began his musical training in earnest with his uncle, the chorus conductor of the Caracas Cathedral. He soon moved on to studying theory and piano at the José Ángel Lamas School of Music, before his pursuits finally took him to Lübeck University in northern Germany.