Kees Tazelaar – On The Threshold Of Beauty: Origins Of Electronic Music In The Netherlands, 1925-1965


V2_/nai010 Publishers, ISBN-13: 978-9462080652, English, 232 pages, 2014, The Netherlands

The field of media art is experiencing a shared need to write its own history through the contextualisation of seminal experiences in the past, something which may lead to an extremely inspiring experience for the tech-immersed younger generation. But in this scenario, accurate reconstructions with original documentation are extremely important for effectively communicating the past. This book is an excellent example. It extensively reconstructs a fundamental period of forty years (1925-1965) in the Netherlands, discussing pivotal moments for electronic music in general, postwar advances, the most famous musique concrète influences and the legendary Philips Pavilion at Expo 58 in Brussels. The centre of gravity here is Philips’ unique research trajectory and its huge impact not only on the Dutch economy but also on the whole paradigm of research through its unique laboratory (as the mythical Natlab was until its latest reincarnations). High-tech research supported sophisticated artists who were freely experiment with new inventions, creating a thrilling atmosphere for creating new art. The pioneering work of this enlightened research facility was purely visionary, a precognition of a future that in some cases spread all over the world, and in others hasn’t even happened yet. Lavishly illustrated, with precious and rare documents, the book often seems to travel the reader back in time, giving him a privileged guided tour. There is also a dedicated website hosting more than sixty excerpts from the tracks mentioned in the text.