Copyright laws being what they are, quite a few budget-priced compilations of early electronica have reached the market in recent years. This is probably the best, for three reasons.
First up, it's just outstanding value for money. Three CDs for twelve of our English pounds is a monstrously good deal in these straitened times.
Second reason: it's beautifully done, and comes across as a real labour of love. The packaging design gets just the right balance between irony and affection for yesterday's hypermodernism, and the hugely informative liner notes by compiler Kris Needs are a model of clarity and enthusiasm, with none of the self-importance that sometimes plagues writing about experimental music.
Finally, it's brilliantly eclectic. The usual suspects (Stockhausen, Xenakis, Varese, Schaeffer, the Barrons et al) are present and correct but there are appearances from many less well-known composers, Sun Ra, exotica's own Martin Denny, and Hollywood soundtrack fave Miklos Rosza. We also get the brilliantly eerie Movement VI of the Turangalila Symphonie from Olivier Messiaen, who was the godfather of all these mad, brilliant sounds but who is rarely highlighted on compilations like this. And there's a big slice of work from Joe Meek, which fits in surprisingly well with all the more hifalutin' stuff.
Oh, and it's a great listen (though, like me, you may find it's better to play it when you're the only one in the house, in the interests of domestic harmony). The music is surprisingly diverse and accomplished given how primitive the technology is by contemporary standards, and it's all so damned imaginative. And compared to today's domesticated and familiar electronica, it all sounds remarkably raw, wild and daring. In that sense, this is still the music of an almost unimaginable future.