Tomita’s Engulfed Cathedral

I spent an increasingly disheartening half-hour searching through piles of CDs buried in a corner; I have too many CDs, and surely a clear-out is due, and at times such as this I can see the positives in digital downloads over physical – is it inevitable that someday I’ll opt for a download over a CD? Anyway, as is ever the case in such moments, I failed to find what I was searching for, but instead stumbled upon a quite-forgotten Tomita CD; Snowflakes are Dancing. Its an electronic album from the mid-seventies based upon some of Claude Debussy’s works; my old friend Andy had it on vinyl back in the mid-eighties. I had fallen in love with Debussy’s Clair de lune many years ago (anybody recall the Disney animated short?) and Tomita’s version was always a favourite. Andy used to play both that and The Engulfed Cathedral late in the evening, sometimes. Hugely atmospheric music, and sounding quite unique here (the nearest I can compare to Tomita is possibly Wendy Carlos, but that’s still pretty wide of the mark). John Carpenter did his own electronic rendition of The Engulfed Cathedral in his film Escape From New York, which is where I suspect most of us of my generation first encountered it.

So anyway, I never found what I was looking for in that pile of CDs, because I succumbed and put the Tomita CD on the player instead, listened to The Engulfed Cathedral for the first time in years. Glorious. Its like years falling away, so strange. Anyway, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a YouTube link to it:

4 thoughts on “Tomita’s Engulfed Cathedral

    1. Matthew McKinnon

      I have WAY too many CDs as well. Thousands I have found a useful middle-ground: they are all stored in the loft, but I have two iTunes libraries on the go…

      One is a standard one for the iPod / phone etc.
      The other one is the audio files ripped uncompressed onto a hard drive [it took me almost a year to accomplish this, putting CDs in the CD drive one after the other in the background whilst I worked at home – that was a useful process because in going through them all physically I could weed out the ones I could part with and sell on. I mean, if it’s a CD you can rip it anyway before you sell it and still have the music].

      That allows me to listen to things at full quality either from the computer, or by putting an album on a flash drive and playing it through the ‘big stereo’ downstairs.

      But the main advantage is space. Instant access to all my CDs without having them clutter up the house.

      1. I sort of did this myself, or started it, but am beginning to think I need to start afresh with a new external drive as when I originally did it I ripped them to mp3 at 320 kbps and should really have done so at FLAC or something. I originally did it for convenience rather than posterity, just to put things on usb sticks to play in the car on work commutes, so it sufficed at the time, but now… Well, it was something I’d done piecemeal over a few years and it lacks a uniform approach. There are CDs I’ve done and others I haven’t, so that when I want to hear the ones I haven’t ripped, I have to search out the disc (hence my vain search yesterday).

        And yeah, a big sort through and boxing stuff in the loft seems the way to go- just such a big daunting task I’ve put it off. Another issue I have is that I love my liner notes, and have so many Intrada and La La Land discs, I can’t imagine hiding them in the loft, but the solution of jewel cases in the loft, the booklets in wallets handy on a shelf etc, feels wrong.. Problems, problems…. meanwhile, I keep buying CDs…

    2. Yeah that’s one of those weird things that might have been brilliant but suspect would have been terrible. I’ve been watching a documentary series on Sky Arts about film soundtracks, and they covered the 1970s a week ago, and it struck me how so many of the films I consider are so great from that period – Jaws, Star Wars, CE3K, etc- are probably because of the great scores they had. Imagine Jaws without that John Williams score, or Superman: The Movie for that matter. Maybe a lot of the films made now that we tend to sneer at would work so much better if they had more traditional, active scores. I’ve mentioned Alien before, how that Goldsmith music instantly pulls me in everytime that main title starts, its utterly brilliant. Appreciate it wasn’t Goldsmiths actual main title, I’d have to give Terry Rawlings some credit here, but that sequence is one of the best openings for any movie I know.

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