Vespers (1969) and Chambers (1968), the two works featured on this LP, witness Lucier rethinking the material and conceptual possibilities of music at every turn. First released as Lucier's contribution to the Sonic Arts Union's lone LP, Electronic Sound, in 1972, Vespers is a work generated by two equal actors the performers and the space that they occupy. Conceived following a chance encounter with hand-held echolocation technology the Sondol, a pulse oscillator that emits short, sharp pulses at variable repetition speeds, producing echoes from the reflecting walls of a space to register relative location and orientation it stands as one of the first works in history within which the decisions made during the performance are solely based on acoustics, allowing sound to be equally the content and structural determiner.
Written as a poetic "prose score", for the realization of Vespers, each performer is equipped with a Sondol and asked to move blindfolded within a defined space, moving from one point to the next using only echolocation, taking what Lucier describes as "sound photographs" that reveal discrete details of the given area. As the recording unfolds, the aptitude of this image becomes increasingly clear. While an aesthetic relationship to the movement of musical minimalism, embarked upon by a number of his peers, has often presented itself within Lucier's work, of all of them this is arguably most present within Vespers. Despite the radical leap it presented within the history of the sonic arts, Vespers was not the first of Lucier's works that began to specifically address the relation between sound, perception, and space. Notably Chambers, composed the year before in 1968 and embedded with the wry humor which lingers below much of the composers output, explored the theme on a brilliantly miniature scale.