Posted tagged ‘Synergy’

The dawn of electronica?

January 24, 2008

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, another acquired taste.

I’ve long dug keyboards, from the boogie-woogie piano I heard on my dad’s records from the ’40s and ’50s to the Hammond organ on so many great tunes from the ’60s to the fierce yet elegant piano work of Warren Zevon from the ’70s on.

And, yes, to synthesizers. Tonight, we have Side 1 from “Sequencer.” It’s the second album from electronic music pioneer Larry Fast, who started recording as Synergy in 1975, a year after he worked with Yes on “Tales from Topographic Oceans.”

This is another album for which I can’t tell you how I came to know about it. Either I read something about it in Rolling Stone or was hepped to it by Mike, the guy who ran the record store in my Wisconsin hometown.

Regardless, there are four cuts. The first three are original compositions by Fast, who also backed Peter Gabriel from 1976 to 1986. The fourth cut is a cover of Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas.”

I could not begin to describe how Fast created the analog electronic sounds on this record, so I’ll leave it to him. Fast has extensive notes on “Sequencer” on his web site. You know about “Classical Gas.” The short stories behind the other compositions, partly told by Fast:

“S-Scape” — Influenced by Prokofiev via Woody Allen, and by Pete Townshend and the Who.

“Chateau” — A baroque, almost classical piece. One of the few pieces Fast put together on a piano rather than an electronic instrument.

“Cybersports” — Imagine a soundtrack for the earliest video games, like Pong.

synergysequencerlp.jpg

“S-Scape,” “Chateau,” “Cybersports” and “Classical Gas,” Synergy, from “Sequencer,” 1976. It runs 17:25.