Trip The Moog Fantastic

I’ve previously gushed about my love for Moog lounge music before, and the fact that this rather peculiar genre doesn’t get more respect confounds me. While there are Moog albums that are nothing more than quickly hobbled-together cover tunes of modern favorites, there are some that are genuinely interesting and well-made. Even some of the covers albums are good when taken for what they are. Here are three complete albums, all out-of-print, all fine examples of classic Moog and synthesizer-driven music. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore (and don’t point me to The Moog Cookbook to prove me wrong, it’s just not the same).

For those of you who don’t like this stuff, I’ll have some remixes of 80s tunes later this week, so calm down.

Stardrive – s/t
This. Album. Is. Fucking. Amazing.
This is the full text from the back of the record sleeve:

Stardrive is a ridiculously unique rock band put together by an equally spacey musician-inventor to combat the dullness found in synthesized music. After years of living with electronic music, Robert Mason decided it was time to do something different with a synthesizer. As it was, the existing machines could play a lot of notes and make very bizarre sounds but they couldn’t function as keyboard instruments. They couldn’t play chords. They could maneuver, They couldn’t be…FUNKY.

Experimenting with all the existing models of machinery and finding them of no use to his musical aim, Mason decided to build his own synthesizer. Two years and countless short circuits later, we have Stardrive…the first rock band on earth to feature a synthesizer as LEAD instrument. No tedious blooze guitar. No lisping vocalists. Just Mason and his extra-special, extra-terrestrial machine, zipping through fuckafide space like greased lightning. Taking you to a rock realm where the only glitter you can see is in the stars. Beyond musical cliches. Beyond space. Twilight Zone, anyone?

Those are some ambitious linear notes. According to the little information I found out about these guys on the net, Mason’s synthesizer was the very first one that could be played like a keyboard. If that’s true than holy shit that’s very impressive. It’s almost as impressive as the technicolor pirate shirt the dude is sporting on the back cover (I got to buy a scanner!)

As implied by those totally modest linear notes, Stardrive called itself a funk band. For the most part that label works, especially on the opening track “Funkascensions” and on the closing “Journey.” All those tunes are missing is some Bootsy Collins. If you thought the early electronic albums I posted in the past were kind of silly and just barely music, then you should check this one out. It’s very music 70s instrumental funk…with an insane synthesizer thrown in. This is a lost gem just waiting to be rediscovered (and sampled the funk out of).

Dick Hyman
Moog: The Eclectic Electrics Of Dick Hyman
The Age Of Electronicus
Dick Hyman (aside from having one of the most unfortunate names in history) is most well-known as an incredible jazz pianist who can play in a variety of styles. In the 60s however, the dude became enthralled with the Moog and in 1969 released Moog: The Eclectic Electrics of Dick Hyman. It was one of the first (to my knowledge) Moog albums to be comprised mostly of original compositions. Most before it were collections of classical music done Moog style (see Wendy Carlos’ excellent “Switched On” series for examples of those). Electric Electric was re-issued on CD sometime ago and has since gone out of print again. It is a crown example of “lounge” music and a must-listen for fans of electronic music. And if you’re listening to it and occasionally find yourself thinking, ‘I know I head that before’, that’s because Beck sampled it. This is one of the very first records I ever recorded to my computer, so don’t bitch to me if it has problems because I was still learning then and working with a shit turntable.

The Age Of Electronicus came out the same year as Eclectic Electrics but it’s not nearly as diverse or entertaining as that groundbreaking album. It consists entirely of covers, including two Beatles remakes (Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, and Blackbird). Hyman’s takes on some of the songs are great though, especially the instrumental classic “Green Onions” and the James Brown tune “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose”. The latter of those two was actually put on the CD re-release of Eclectic Electric. It’s a fun record.

3 Responses to “Trip The Moog Fantastic”

  1. jsd says:

    i discovered Dick Hyman when the Beastie Boys rapped “I’m electric, like Dick Hyman/ Bet you’d expect to catch the crew rhymin'”

    nice post!

  2. dbg says:

    Not heard these before – I love the Moog so this has been a brilliant education for me.

    Any more like this is more than welcome.

  3. King AdBeck says:

    If “fuckafide” ain’t in the dictionary, it sure as hell should be.

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