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.
with Aymeric De Tapol, CIA Debutante, Deux Boules Vanille, Frankreich, Leda, Nein Rodere, Phantom Horse, Toresch, Vincent Dallas, In C: Terry Riley by oscillators performed by Soia, Vassereau, Senelas
16:00 - 16:30 Aymeric de Tapol
16:40 - 17:10 Nein Rodere
17:30 - 18:10 Phantom Horse
18:20 - 19:10: Leda
19:40 - 20:30 In C
20:45 - 20-57 Vincent Dallas
21:15 - 21:50 CIA Debutante
22:10 - 22:50 Frankreich
23:15 - 00:00 Toresh
00:15- 01:00 Deux Boules Vanille
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What is it like to be the forgotten-about member of a duo? I don’t mean like Art Garfunkel or John Oates, who weren’t as beloved but, by the band’s name’s nature, were impossible to truly forget about. I mean “you have a band with two guys, one that everyone knows, and one that nobody remembers.” You can be forgiven for feeling this way about The Postal Service – if you ask most people, “Who was in The Postal Service?” they’re going to remember Ben Gibbard, but are they going to remember Jimmy Tamborello’s name? Probably not, unless you’re talking to a huge dork who will also point out to you that The Postal Service happened because of Tamborello inviting Gibbard to sing on “(This Is) the Dream of Evan and Chan” on Life Is Full of Possibilities by Dntel. Is that kind of dork writing this article? Mind your own business.
Despite the overwhelming success of The Postal Service, Tamborello’s Dntel project (much like his short-lived pop duo Figurine, which featured Tamborello and singer/Dntel collaborator Meredith Landman) never reached the acclaim that it truly deserved. When he made another Dntel album in 2007 – after the monumental whirlwind success of Give Up, the one-and-only record the duo released togethe – he called it Dumb Luck (a fitting comment on the nature of his band’s massive success) and packed it with other guests, like Conor Oberst, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, Markus Acher of The Notwist and Rilo Kiley frontwoman (and Postal Service collaborator) Jenny Lewis. The record didn’t capture the attention of the indiesphere in the way it should have, and Tamborello receded from the limelight, punctuated by an anniversary Postal Service tour that, sadly, did seemingly nothing to help his star shine more easily. It would take another five years for him to release 2012’s Aimlessness, and since then, he’s released an excellent-but-not-groundbreaking record every other year.