Moog (Technically ARP) Tchaikovsky

My continued self-imposed Twitter exile has brought me more joy than I could’ve possibly imagined. Not only am I now joyfully unaware of what millions of worthless fuckball asshats have to say about important issues regarding society and the environment, I also have more time to dedicate to my writing and even some art projects I’m working on.

I mean, as I write this, it’s 7:30 on a Sunday morning. This is usually the time where I would be diving headfirst into Twitter, not only using it as a launching board to read several news stories across the web, but also to read reactions to said stories. And let me tell you, there’s no worse way to start your day than reading what Nazis think about climate change. In addition to being needlessly rage-inducing, it also is a real shitter on my productivity.

So now, instead of me wasting an hour of my life on needless bullshit that doesn’t matter, I can instead use that time to write about late-70s electronic covers of classical music.

You know, the important stuff.

Kraft & Alexander
1812 Overture, Op. 49
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a
I’ve lost track of how many Moog and Moog-like (new phrase, I coined it) albums I’ve covered and written about in the 10+ years of Lost Turntable. I’m fairly certain one of my very first posts was a write-up on a Beatles Moog record. I’m not going to look that far back because it’s just embarrassing.

Regardless, I’m sure I spend many of those posts talking about how nearly all of these albums came in the wake of Wendy Carlos’ massively successful “Switched-On” series, which took classical compositions (and other works) and reworked on the then-new technology of modular synthesizers.

This doesn’t surprise me, it never surprises me when a trend, no matter how obviously limited, is milked for all its worth by the less-creative peers of the originator. But I am continually surprised by just how many of these albums there were, and for how long they were made.

1812/Nutcracker Suite (herein referred to as 1812) was released in 1977, nearly a decade after Carlos’ original Switch-On Bach album. Could there have really been an audience for this stuff for so long? And for so much of it? I’ve lost track of how many Mooglike albums I own, probably over a dozen at this point, and I routinely see more that I don’t buy; either because they look too stupid even for me (I don’t need Moog Nashville, thanks) or because they’re so rare in my resident country of Japan that they’re priced beyond the point of me caring (I refuse to spend $30 on an album of Moog pop music covers). If I went out of my way to buy every single Mooglike album on the market, even just limiting myself to the initial wave that came out in the 1970s, I’d probably fill an entire record shelf with them. I just can’t believe they lasted as long as they did.

Like I said, 1812 came out in 1977, which is rather late in the game for this genre. As such, its rather advanced when compared to similar releases. For example, this was not recorded on a Moog. It was record on various ARP synthesizers, including the Odyssey which was actually able to play more than one note at the same time, unlike the earlier synthesizers used on the Switched-On records. It also makes use of the ARP Pro Soloist, a super-early example of a preset electronic synthesizer (no big bulky patch units required). As such, it has a slightly more lush and “big” sound than some previous albums of its type.

That doesn’t necessarily mean its better. I still prefer the early works of Carlos. Her performances have more personality, and I appreciate the (relative) stripped down sound they have compared to this. But I do enjoy this record quite a bit, if nothing else for the rather ambitious subject matter. I’m sure a lot of other “Switched-On” type records tried to tackle The 1812 and Nutcracker Suites, but I think this is the only one to perform both in their entirety.

1812 is credited to two performers, Jack Kraft and Larry Alexander. It’s hard to find much on Jack Kraft, that’s what happens when you share a name with a college basketball coach, but I think this was his only credited release.

This is also Larry Alexander’s only album, although he has a long list of credits working behind the scenes. He did remix work for Paul McCartney and Lou Reed, among others, and also worked in the studio with artists like Sisters Of Mercy and Diana Ross. He was an engineer at The Power Station, a famous studio where artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and, yes, The Power Station all worked at one point or another.

I wonder if any of them ever heard this record?

4 Responses to “Moog (Technically ARP) Tchaikovsky”

  1. Randy Francis says:

    Wow! I haven’t seen this in years. Thanks for posting!

  2. Drain says:

    Don’t blame you for your Twitter exile, I’ve pretty much exiled myself from the news because I know my hair to going grey out completely before Der Fuhrer’s term is up from the nonstop bullshit that occurs each day. It’s the only way to maintain sanity while occasionally peeking in to see how much worse shits gotten.

  3. Darren Trent says:

    Twitter exile means you are missing this:

    https://twitter.com/donaeldunready

    Because you know he will hate it

  4. Lost Turntable says:

    I have a feeling that between him stealing money from children’s cancer charities, dooming the world to a climate death, and murdering innocent people in the Middle East, he won’t care about this.

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