Archive for the ‘Moog’ Category

Moog (Technically ARP) Tchaikovsky

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

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?

The Moog Strikes Bach

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Wrote some whiny self-indulgent stuff on the other site. Go check it if you’re interested.

003

Hans Wurman – Moog Strikes Bach (Complete Album Download)
I’ve often shared Moog covers albums, and I think it’s something I’ll continue to do until I stop finding weird Moog covers albums.

There seem to be hundreds of these out there, many of which were released in the years immediately following the surprise runaway success of Wendy Carlos’ Switched On Bach.

At first taste, Moog Strikes Bach would appear to be an exceptionally derivative example of this trend. Shit, it even has Bach in the title. And while this album does owe the entirety of its existence to Hooked On Bach, there’s actually a lot to like here.

For starters, it’s not really a collection of Bach pieces, despite what the title says. There’s only one Bach composition on here. The majority of the album is actually Mozart, but I guess they couldn’t come up with a “funny” pun with his name. The Mozart stuff is good, but of all the tracks on this record I really prefer some of the less covered ground. This is the first Moog album I’ve come across that has interpretations of Prokofieff and Rachmaninoff on it, so it gets points for originality if nothing else. Also the “Variations on Paganini” track is a 10 minute banger that features some really crazy and out-there synth work that I feel was a little bit ahead of its time.

I tried to dig up some information on Hans Wurman, but I could only gather the odd bits and pieces. He was a composer and pianist, but I don’t think he ever released anything of his own commercially. But he did love him the Moog. In addition to this record he released a Moog cover of “Carmen” and a collection of Chopin Moog covers as well.

He’s also credited as an engineer and performer on a few other Moog releases as part of the Electronic Concept Orchestra. I actually own two of their releases, Moog Groove and Electric Love, and while both feature some truly amazing covers, I can’t really recommend them.

Outside of that, I can’t find much on him aside from a pair of credits at the IMDB, including one for a horror movie called Bog about a giant gilled monster. Gonna have to dig that one up.

Like I said, this is a pretty great record, and a big step up from the typical rip-off rush job Moog records that were coming out at the time, especially in the classical market. Get your Moog on and give it a go.

Return of Trip The Moog Fantastic

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Past few posts have been nothing but 80s/90s gold. Well, now for something COMPLETELY different. This is the kind of shit I listen to when I really want to forget about the real world.

Marty Gold
Moog Plays The Beatles
Okay, before I get to the wackiness involved with this I have to make a confession. I stole these MP3s.

Well, not really. I do own this album. But when I recorded it way back when it was on my shitty turntable that spun too fast. I didn’t want to post those versions, but I also didn’t want to dig the LP out of my massive stacks of unorganized records and re-record it either. Luckily an awesome blog called 36 15 Moog posted it and the author of that blog kindly gave me permission to steal from him. I recommend everyone check out that AMAZING blog if you want even more Moogy madness. His recording equipment is amazing because this copy sounds crystal fucking clear. Dude gets props in my book. I just added that blog (and other outstanding blogs by the same guy) to my blogroll. Check them out.

Now, with that out of the way we can discuss this amazingly stupid record. It’s an early entry in the Moog craze, coming out in 1969, just a year after Wendy Carlos’ amazing Switched On Bach started the craze, and it’s particularly sly in combining the Moog mania with the tail end of Beatlemania. As Moog novelty records go it’s fairly good if not at all experimental or adventurous. I have worse Moog records for sure though, it’s hard to make “Eleanor Rigby” unlistenable after all.

The Electronic Concept Orchestra
Moog Groove
I know very little about this “group.” I use quotes because I’m pretty damn certain it was most likely just a couple dudes with a Moog, a drumkit and a dream. The back cover of the record (which you can read here) is one of many Moog album linear notes to go off on the “new sounds” that the Moog could create. That seemed to be a fascination with the Moog when it first came out. Everyone wanted to hear a “new sound.” I suppose that makes sense, and you could probably mirror that fascination with the auto-tune/robovoice of today. That being said, Moog Groove isn’t really packed with “new sounds” as much as it is packed with old sounds done in a slightly new way. I can’t imagine anyone from 1969 buying this record and upon first listen proclaiming “My god! I’ve never heard a sound like this before! My ears, they are awoken from a slumber that I didn’t even know they were in!”

The selection is a little weak as well. Like every single fucking Moog album ever made it includes a version of “Aquarius” from Hair, as well as its own fair share of Beatles covers. The take on “Grazing In The Grass” is pretty fun though. It’s also fun to compare the two version of Penny Lane and Hey Jude on both of these albums to see how different artists used the Moog. While Marty Gold used a simple guitar-like sound for the melody of “Penny Lane” The ECO went for a faux-vocal approach, which fits the song much better in my opinion. Both are stupid fun regardless. Enjoy and I’ll probably have some more “normal” music up later this week. In the mean time if you want to hear some amazing Moog-based music check out this post. If you want to hear some hysterically odd Moog tunes go here. You should check out this other post if you want to here some pre-Moog electronica. And click at your own risk here if you’re retarded and horny for even more Moog.