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The Music Library: Graphic Art and Sound
 (Fuel Publishing) Book/CD

 Library music is known by a variety of names: mood music, source music, background music. Released on albums that were never available commercially, library music was nevertheless intended for commerical use in radio advertisements, film soundtracks, and television programs. In the 1960s and 1970s, such records were loaned to television, radio, and film producers to suit every potential mood, scene, or situation. Need to create the perfect sultry backdrop for a love scene? Set the frenetic pace for a chase sequence? Create a spaced-out atmosphere for a sci-fi film? Chances are there was an album on hand to fit the bill.

The brainchild of Trunk Records founder and celebrated record collector, Jonny Trunk, and designed by London’s Fuel design group, The Music Library: Graphic Art and Sound compiles examples of library music album art along with a series of choice cuts from UK record collectors. Though it was designed to suit a broad variety of needs, neither the music nor the graphic design featured in this superb collection looks or sounds blandly generic. It’s as if, freed from the commericial imperative to make a hit, the artists and musicians took unusual liberties, even as they worked within general templates of genre and style. The cover art is a revelation with bold, often wonderfully strange imagery, from the odd assortment of geometric shapes, beneath a watchful, bloodshot eye on the cover of Informatic 2000 to the blood-red man-inside-wolf graphic on Astral Sounds’ Red Kite. As for the music, other than Delia Derbyshire of BBC Radiophonic Workshop fame and imaginary soundtrack pioneer Basil Kirchin, there are few well-known names among the artists here, but the ear-catching grooves and melodies are undeniable. Quite honestly, there is not a dud in the box. Highlights include the avant music-box charm of P. A. Dahan and M. Camison’s “Super Carousel,” the quirky, proto-new wave synths of Sauveur Mallia’s “Synthetic Neutron,” and Guy Pederson’s amazing, ecstatic fusion freakout, “Kermesse Non Heroique.” A fascinating treat for library music novices and aficiondos alike.

 

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