“Rites of the Pagan quietly exploded in LP form around 1960, the vision of Elisabeth Waldo, an acclaimed concert violinist who was drawn to music of the ancient Americas with all the energy of an obsessed archaeologist. She formed a musical ensemble incorporating authentic pre-Columbian instruments, and composed tunes based on impressions of primitive cultures and mystical rituals. These pieces were, I believe, not so much intended to reproduce authentic tribal music as to paint a sort of naive picture (ala Rousseau) of these peoples through her own composer’s lens. The effect is, even after so many years, extraodinary, transporting the listener to an alien world populated by early humans…Ms. Waldo performs these works like a gypsy virtuoso, both possessed and playfully, without ever overpowering her ensemble, and the result is a surreal sense of being let in on an unhinged pagan ceremony far from familiar civilization. To me, this stuff foreshadowed much of the work of The Residents.” (Solo Godspeed — Amazon customer review)
Much like Flashstrap, Yma Sumac was a natural & immediate reference point for my first encounter with Waldo’s cinematic “Pre-Colombian” constructions. Rites of The Pagan is a beautiful and deeply fascinating slice of classic exotica, though I must say that these claims to authenticity; i.e. Waldo as a “musical archeologist”, come off like high-minded silliness. Don’t get me wrong–This is astonishing music, made in large part from painstakingly reconstructed Native American instruments, but as for the ritual pretensions and Waldo’s compositional approach; Well…..By the way, Rites of the Pagan was featured in Re/Search Publications’ 1994 book, Incredibly Strange Music, Vol. II.
320 vinyl rip by yours truly. Enjoy.