Violinist, composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad started his career in New York in the early 1960s. As a member of the Theater of Eternal Music (a.k.a. the Dream Syndicate) alongside John Cale, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Angus MacLise, he participated in now-legendary and often legendarily loud drone performances with many pieces having no beginning and no end. During a fateful trip to Germany in 1972, Conrad met with avant-rock visionaries Faust and made the very first record to bear his name.
Outside The Dream Syndicate, originally released in Europe only in 1973, is a stunning debut. Two side-long tracks—“The Side Of Man And Womankind” and “The Side Of The Machine”—show just how far Conrad had moved beyond his minimalist peers. Werner Diermaier’s repetitive drum beat and Jean-Hervé Peron’s stripped-down bassline conjure a tense, ascetic groove, while Conrad’s seamless violin, initially so controlled, reveals a surprising adaptability. The music shifts almost on a subliminal level, pushing and pulling to the drone’s internal pulse.
It is hard to imagine Conrad’s trajectory from downtown Manhattan to a farmhouse in the German countryside that ultimately resulted in Outside The Dream Syndicate, yet no other record captures—so completely and instantly—the intersection of avant-garde and rock forms. Outside The Dream Syndicate remains ahead of and bracingly outside of its time.
This first-time vinyl reissue and long out-of-print CD release have been carefully been carefully mastered from the original master tapes and include liner notes by musician Jim O’Rourke and author Branden W. Joseph.