To some degree, Visionary Sound Arts as the movement it has become is rooted in the development of experimental music in the second half of the twentieth century by artists such as John Cage, and by the development of electronic music and the refinement of the instruments of electronic synthesis.
Early electronic pioneers in the Fifties and Sixties like Morton Subotnick (his classic album, "Silver Apples of the Moon," considered by many to be the first fully realized electronic work) and Wendy Carlos, who had great success with "Switched on Bach."
Wendy Carlos has released a series of intriguing works. Her "A Clockwork Orange" is the perfect electronic background for all young chellovecks. I think "Sonic Seasonings" is probably the best early combination of natural sounds and synthesis (compiled with "Land of the Midnight Sun" on double cd, it's a double treat.) "Beauty In The Beast" is a fascinating exploration of super just intonation and other exotic tunings (for those who enjoy the challenge of a strange listen.)
Somewhere in the Sixties, we also note the emergence of the incredibly gifted Terry Riley. His recordings, "In C" and "A Rainbow in Curved Air" both serve as some early anchors in western visionary sound arts for the minimalist repetition trance works using percussive pulse. "Shri Camel" is an exotic synth exploration of the raga. It creates beautiful paisleys & mandalas. I highly recommend "Shri Camel."
An impressive amount of German electronic music appeared quite early. Tangerine Dream became the dominant exponent of the genre sound many have come to call "electronica." "Force Majeure" is a prime TD recording. I've also enjoyed the "Sorcerer" movite soundtrack, although it is rather primitive by modern standards. Of their more recent works, I suppose I enjoy "The Dream Mixes."
Kraftwerk arrived soon after Tangerine Dream with a fresh sound that had greater appeal. They scored huge hits with albums like "Autobahn" and "Computer World." The compilation, "The Mix," is a great fun electropop disc I can heartily recommend. It is a compilation of their pop hits, but completely redone with an updated, more elegant and smoother sound. The recently released, "Tour De France Soundtracks," was completely satisfying for me as an avid listener, perhaps because they maintain the same great sound of "The Mix" while reworking the "Tour De France" material AND proffering new work which is classic Krafterwerk in feel and mood. These guys ARE the Electromasters.
Klaus Schulze is an inspired electronicist who has produced a vast landscape of work. I wouldn't know where to start you, but I own his double cd compilation, "The Essential 72 - 93," which a decent intro, i think. "Body Love" and "Picture Music" are rather accessible, while more serious electronic music aficionadoes seem to gravitate toward "Timewind" and "Irrlicht," which are more intellectual and require good attention.
Jean Michel Jarre made a number of strange and amazing electronic recordings of which both "Oxygene" and "Equinox" stand out not only as major successes in the commercial appeal of pure synthesis, but also as impressive and satisfying on repeated listening. "Magnetic Fields" is good, but not sublime as the first two. After this, Jarre wandered off into the excesses of digital sampling and i tuned out... Jarre did reemerge in the late 90s, with a disc that was supposed to be an extension of "Oxygene," entitled, "Oxygene 7-13." It got mixed reviews. I never heard it. The first two i mentioned are boss.
Uwe Schmidt, also known as "Atom Heart," has had a truly Odd and exciting career thus far. I discovered his work via his project "Senor Coconut." Particularly intriguing was his covering of Kraftwerk songs in a Latin cha-cha style! He has also worked with Bill Laswell & Tetsuo Inoue as "Datacide" and he recently released a disc as "Geez 'n' Gosh," titled, "My Life With Jesus." It is rather annoying comedy music, but might sit well with people who dislike born-agains.
Dean De Benedictis has recently released an interesting disc titled, "In Vitro Tide." It is a "portrayal of technology now becoming an evolving species of its own...[presenting] the music from the point of view of the machines themselves." A more challenging listen, but with some very rewarding moments. His, "A Lone Reply," is much mellower, minimal.
Cyber Zen Sound Engine is an interesting new eletronica project that shows promise. The first disc, "Moonscapes: How Stones Become Enlightened," is a minor miracle of science fiction electronica. While presenting a distinctive, signature sound which was intellectually stimulating, i found its tuning made me a little uncomfortable. The following disc, "The Intercepted Trans- missions" (in collaboration with Matt Borghi, a Detroit synthesist,) brings the vibrations into an impressive healing mode, resolving my resonance reservations. Bravo!