Friday, January 27, 2012
Em 1967 Simeon Coxe lll e Danny Taylor formaram uma das bandas mais diferentes e inovadoras de toda a história da humanidade: Silver Apples. Em apenas dois discos (“Silver Apples”, de 1968, e “Contact”, de 1969) eles criaram praticamente toda uma linguagem musical que hoje em dia podemos apenas chamar de "moderna", dada a novidade do seu som. A dupla ainda gravaria um terceiro disco, mas vários fatores impediram seu lançamento na época (e acabaram levando a dupla à dissolução, em 1970). Cada um seguiu seu caminho, até que em 1996 Simeon resolveu reformular os Silver Apples, primeiramente gravando material novo (o single “Fractal Flow”) e, na sequência, retomando as apresentações ao vivo. O ano de 1998 marca o lançamento de “The Garden” (o famoso terceiro disco, gravado originalmente em 1970) e também a volta de Danny Taylor como baterista dos Silver Apples. Em 2005, Danny faleceu, infelizmente, mas Simeon continua com o Silver Apples, fazendo cada vez mais shows, especialmente em grandes festivais pelo mundo todo!
Eu conheci os Silver Apples uns 15 anos atrás, mais ou menos, pelo que me lembro e, desde então, eles têm sido uma das maiores inspirações pra a música que eu faço. Gosto muito da simplicidade das gravações e das texturas sonoras criadas pelos osciladores (e pelo cérebro brilhante) do Simeon. Uns 3 anos atrás tive o prazer de contatar o Simeon (e o Ron Fenhagen, manager dele a algum tempo) pela primeira vez e, desde então, temos nos falado por emails e tenho corrido atrás de shows para eles no Brasil. No final do ano passado conversava com o Gutie, produtor do Festival Rec Beat (em Recife) e um dos assuntos foi sobre a possibilidade dele trazê-los para o Rec Beat e foi isso, deu certo, teremos Silver Apples no Brasil! As apresentações serão em fevereiro próximo (a agenda certinha, com todas as datas, eu publico na sequência). Enviei um email com cinco perguntas pro Simeon, que ele me respondeu com rapidez e com toda a simpatia e carinho que sempre demonstrou. É legal ver que alguns dos maiores gênios são também as pessoas mais simples e queridas!
ASTRONAUTA - Simeon, recentemente você fez alguns shows com o Hans-Joachim Roedelius (das bandas Kluster, Cluster e Harmonia), em um projeto chamado Silver Cluster. Eu gostaria de saber como aconteceu este contato entre você e o Roedelius e se, na época do Cluster (alguns anos após a gravação dos dois primeiros álbuns dos Silver Apples), você e Danny Taylor sabiam da existência da cena alemã de música eletrônica (e das experiências e pesquisas anteriores feitas pelo compositor Karlheinz Stockhausen) e também se tinham conhecimento do que viria a ser conhecido posteriormente como “krautrock”?
SIMEON – Nem eu nem Danny tínhamos conhecimento do fenômeno “krautrock” até depois da dissolução dos Silver Apples e de tomarmos rumos separados. Nossas influências eram americanas (rhythm and blues, soul e rock). A apresentação com o Roedelius foi idéia do Geoff Barrow, do Portishead. O Portishead era responsável pela curadoria do festival All Tomorrow’s Parties e escolheu artistas que eles gostavam. O Portishead me convidou para tocar “We Carry On” com eles, como música de encerramento do festival (vimeo.com/30698090) e foi bombástico!
ASTRONAUTA – Existe uma gravação dos Silver Apples com o Jimi Hendrix (lançada no disco “Selections from the early sessions”, 2008). Eu li que este encontro aconteceu nos intervalos das gravações suas e dele. Em algum momento existiu a possibilidade deste encontro acontecer novamente? Vocês mantiveram o contato com o Hendrix depois desta gravação?
SIMEON – Sim, por várias semanas, enquanto estávamos gravando no mesmo estúdio, nos encontrávamos quase diariamente. Nós falamos sobre Danny gravar a bateria na música, mas isso nunca aconteceu. Danny não tinha certeza de qual poderia ser sua contribuição, dada a natureza quase não-rítmica da música.
ASTRONAUTA – Em 1967 o sintetizador (especialmente o MOOG) estava surgindo no mercado e começando a se popularizar. No ano seguinte Walter Carlos lançou seu álbum “Switched-on Bach”. Na época, você e Danny tinham conhecimento disso? Em algum momento você pensou em incluir um sintetizador no seu set de osciladores?
SIMEON – Em 1969 um amigo nosso comprou um dos primeiros Moogs e convidou-nos para dar uma olhada. Nós mexemos um pouco nele, mas pareceu um pouco grande e complicado, com todos aqueles cabeamentos para se fazer, etc. E custava MUITO caro. Nós estavamos criando a reputação de construirmos/montarmos nosso próprio equipamento, então nunca usamos algo comprado em loja.
ASTRONAUTA – Eu percebo que a música criada por você e pelo Danny estava muito a frente do seu tempo, especialmente pelo fato de que, no periodo que vocês gravaram seus primeiros dois discos, estava começando a aparecer um movimento musical (o rock progressivo) no qual a grande quantidade de notas e escalas eram fatores determinantes para a música acontecer. Os Silver Apples estavam muito mais ligados a uma música minimalista. Isso era uma coisa intencional ou simplesmente aconteceu?
SIMEON – Era espontâneo. Nós não eramos musicólogos, não sabiamos diferenciar “minimal” de “maximal”, apenas nos sentíamos emocionalmente mais ligados à abordagem mais simples da música e tocávamos o que sentíamos. Eu nunca achei que a abordagem “progressiva” da música, com suas combinações de notas confusas e acordes complexos, continha algum sentimento – era apenas showbiz.
ASTRONAUTA - Você ainda tem todos aqueles osciladores que usava nos anos 60? Os osciladores que você utiliza hoje em dia (e os sons sampleados, que você também utiliza nas apresentações) são os mesmos que você utilizou nos primeiros dois discos?
SIMEON – Nem todos eles. Em 1979 alguns foram destruídos em um furacão que inundou a cidade de Mobile, no Alabama, onde eles estavam guardados. Mas eu ainda possuo alguns deles e achei substitutos para outros na internet.
Para maiores informações sobre os Silver Apples: www.silverapples.com
Festival Rec Beat 2012: www.recbeat.com
Ah, e este foi o "mapa de palco" enviado pelo Ron Fenhagen para o Rec Beat!!!
Simeon Coxe lll e eu, depois da passagem de som no Sesc Vila Mariana no dia 17 de fevereiro de 2012:
In 1967 Simeon Coxe lll and Danny Taylor formed one of the most odd and innovative bands in the history of mankind: Silver Apples. In only two albums - "Silver Apples" from 1968, and "Contact" from 1969 - they created a musical language that we can only call “modern”, given to the fresh feeling of their sound. The duo also recorded a third album but several facts didn't allow its release at the time and the duo ended up taking a dissolution in 1970. Each went its own way until 1996, when Simeon decided to reformulate the Silver Apples, first recording new material (the 7’ single "Fractal Flow") and subsequently returning to the live performances. 1998 marks the release of "The Garden" (the famous third album, originally recorded in 1970) and also the return of Danny Taylor as the Silver Apples’ drummer. In 2005, Danny sadly died. Simeon continues with the Silver Apples, making more and more shows, especially attending big festivals around the world!
I've first heard Silver Apples some 15 years ago, more or less, as I remember and, since then, the Silver Apples has been one of the greatest inspirations for the music I play. I really like the simplicity of their music and the sonic textures created by Simeon's oscillators (and his brilliant brain). Three years ago I had the pleasure of contacting Simeon (and Ron Fenhagen, his manager) for the first time and, since then, we have spoken by email and I kept trying to book them for shows in Brazil. At the end of last year I was talking with Gutie, producer of Festival Rec Beat (in Recife) about possibilities to book Silver Apples in Rec Beat and that’s it, it worked fine, we'll have Silver Apples in Brazil! The shows will be next February (the full tour dates I will post here soon). I sent an email with five questions to Simeon and he answered quickly and with all the sympathy and affection he has always shown. It's nice to see that some of the greatest genius are also simple and nice people!
ASTRONAUTA - Simeon, you recently played some shows with Hans-Joachim Roedelius (from the bands Kluster, Cluster and Harmonia), in a project called Silver Cluster. I'd like to know how this contact between you and mr. Roedelius happened and if, at the time of Cluster (only a few years after the Silver Apples have recorded their first two albums) you and Danny Taylor knew about the German electronic music scene (and composer Karlheinz Stockhausen's experiences and researches) and about what later came to be called "krautrock"?
SIMEON - Neither Danny nor I became aware of the Krautrock phenomenon until after Silver Apples disbanded and we went separate ways. Our influences were American (rhythm and blues, soul, rock). The show with Roedelius was the brainstorm of Geoff Barrow of Portishead. Portishead were curating the All Tomorrows Parties festival and chose musicians that turned them on. Portishead invited me to perform "We Carry On" with them as the final song of the festival (vimeo.com/30698090) and it was a blast!
ASTRONAUTA - There is a recording of Silver Apples with Jimi Hendrix (released on the album "Selections from the early sessions", 2008). I read that this meeting took place at intervals of recordings of you and him. At some point there was a possibility of meeting again? You kept the contact with Hendrix after this record?
SIMEON - Yes, for several weeks while we were both using the same recording studio we would see each other almost daily. We talked of having Danny add drums to the track, but we just never seemed to get to it. Danny was not really sure what his contribution could be, given the almost a-rhythmical nature of the piece.
ASTRONAUTA - By 1967 the synthesizer (especially the MOOG) was emerging in the market and starting to become popular. In the following year Walter Carlos released his album "Switched-on Bach." At the time, did you and Danny knew about that? At some point, did you come to think about using a synthesizer in your set of oscillators?
SIMEON - In 1969 a friend of ours bought one of the early Moogs and invited us over to see it. We messed with it for a while but it seemed a bit cumbersome with all the patches that had to be made, etc., and it was WAY expensive. We were fast getting the reputation of having built/assembled our own gear so we never used used a "store-bought" one.
ASTRONAUTA - I realize that the music created by you and Danny was far ahead from its time, especially by the fact that in the period that you recorded the first two albums, there was an emerging musical movement (progressive rock) in which the amount of notes and scales were primary factors to music happen. Silver Apples were much more attached to a minimalist music. This was something intentional or just happened spontaneously?
SIMEON - It was spontaneous. We were not musicology people, we didn't know minimal from maximal, we just felt more emotionally attached to the simpler approach to music and played what we felt inside. I never thought that the "progressive" approach with dazzling note combinations and complex chords had any FEELING to it - it was all show-biz.
ASTRONAUTA - All those oscillators that you used in the '60s, do you still have them? The oscillators you use today (and the sampled ones you also play on the shows) are the same one you used in the first two records?
SIMEON - Not all of them. In 1979 some of them were destroyed in a hurricane that flooded Mobile, Alabama where they were stored. But I still have some of them, and have been able to find replacements on the internet for others.
For more infos about Silver Apples: www.silverapples.com
Festival Rec Beat: www.recbeat.com
BTW, Silver Apples stageplot (Ron Fenhagen sent it):
Simeon Coxe lll and me at Sesc Vila Mariana (São Paulo) on february 17th, 2012:
Thursday, January 19, 2012
In the begining of the 80's Roland Corporation - the japanese company founded by electrical engineer Ikutaro Kakehashi - was about to complete a decade of existence as a well established company in musical instruments market, having as its flagship the drum machines and monophonic and (from 1978 on, with the launch of the Jupiter 4) polyphonic synthesizers. In 1981 the company released two models that would become a big aesthetic reference of electronic music in the following years: TB-303 (a Bass Machine which, according to my knowledge, was the instrument responsible for the appearance of Acid House in the second half of the 80's in Chicago) and TR-606 "Drumatix" (Drum Machine). Initially both were designed to be used together and with the intent to "replace" the bass player and the drummer.
The operation of the TR-606 is very simple and its programming, in real time, is useful for creating unusual patterns (although the number of sounds is limited to only one bass drum, one snare, a high tom and a low tom, open and closed hihat and only one cymbal). These sounds have individual output volume knobs, but the TR-606 has only two audio outs: a normal output and a headphones output. The programming of a TR-606 is restricted to choose the instrument through a selector and choose where it will be within the pattern through 16 keys, with an indicator light for each. There is also a "mode" switch (which can vary between record and play a track or record and play a pattern). A time control knob and volume/power off complete the beautiful design of the TR-606.
Some of the bands and musicians who used a TR-606 to record that I can mention are: OMD, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins, The Sisters of Mercy, Nine Inch Nails, Big Black (Steve Albini's band, who used a TR-606 to record and credited just "Roland" as the drummer), Moby (who has an amazing and incredibly huge collection of vintage drum machines), Crystal Method, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Smashing Pumpkins (in the song "Eye", from David Lynch's "Lost Highway" movie soundtrack) and Luke Vibert, among others.
My good friend Renato Yada (who played bass for almost two years in my solo band) gave me my TR-606 as a gift. One day he told me he was moving from his house and had found an old Roland drum machine and that it had been used to record the albums of the brazilian band "Fellini" (from my friend Thomas Pappon. Thomas is also the bandleader of "The Gilbertos", a band that I had the honor to play my vintage keyboards in some shows to release their third album, "A noite sonhamos", recently in São Paulo). I was very happy with this gift and even happier when I saw that the drum was working fine and in very good conditions. I used the TR-606 in half of the songs from my new album, "Zeitgeist/propaganda", as well as I used it to overdub some sounds of my Roland CR-78. The serial number of my TR-606 is 136.700.
photos: Kay Mavrides
This ad was scanned from a magazine at the time of release of TR-606/TB-303 and I found out on the Internet:
I recorded this video as a demo of my TR-606 in October (2011):
And here are some videos of bands and artists I've mentioned above!!!
Footage from the film 'Lost Highway' with the song 'Eye' by The Smashing Pumpkins:
According to Renato Yada, my TR-606 was used on the first albums recorded by brazilian band Fellini! "Rock Europeu" is from Fellini's first album, "O adeus de Fellini" (Baratos Afins, 1985). This song can also be heard on the compilation album "The sexual life of the savages" (Soul Jazz Records, 2005):
"Steelworker", the first track from the first EP ("Lungs", Ruthless Records, 1983) recorded by Steve Albini's Big Black:
Moby showing his huge and amazing collection of drum machines:
And I used mine on "Wir sind nicht allein" and many other songs on my third album, "Zeitgeist/propaganda"!!!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The drum machine Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 appeared in 1978 and stopped being manufactured in 1981. It was the first drum machine of the company that used Intel microprocessors, allowing digital control of certain functions. The main difference of the CR-78 to the previous drum machines made by Roland (and Ace Tone, the company that gave rise to Roland) is that it not only offers preset rhythms but also allows programming new rhythms (through the WS-1, a device sold as optional at the time and now very rare). At the same time, Roland put on the market the CR-68 (the difference was basically that CR-68 do not have this possibility of programming rhythms).
This drum machine has a total of 34 (different presets divided in two banks, A and B) which can be added to each other. One nice feature of this instrument is that if you press a button to change or cancel one preset, the rhythm will wait until the next bar to make this change. This is also true for the drum rolls (fill-ins) when the switch is in manual mode. Very useful and versatile for those who use the CR-78 in real time!
On the front panel, buttons and sliders allow the user to cancel voices (cymbal/hi-hat, bass drum, snare drum and cowbell/claves) and also to increase or decrease the volumes of the "tambourine" and "guiro", add "ring modulation" (named "metallic beat " here), alter the balance between bass and treble and choose the fade-in and fade-out of song to be long, short or nonexistent. There is no digital control for the time, just a simple knob but the CR-78 accepts external clock for timing. A light indicates the strong beat of the bar (when it is operating with the external clock, both the light and the time knob do not work).
Some artists who used this model in their recordings were: Phil Collins (on the song "In the air tonight"), Blondie (in the introduction of "Heart of Glass"), Roxy Music ("Same Old Scene"), Ultravox (with some modifications made by Warren Cann and used in the hit "Vienna"), the Glove (the side project of The Cure's band leader Robert Smith and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees, in their sole album, Blue Sunshine, 1983) Hall & Oates ("No can do", "Private Eyes" and "Kiss on My List", among others), OMD ("Enola Gay"), Grace Jones (in her version of "La vie en rose"), Annie Lennox ("No more I love you"), John Foxx (a CR-78 was used throughout the album "Metamatic", 1980) and Gary Numan (on the album "Telekon", also from 1980). In the booklet of Fatboy Slim's "You' ve come a long way, baby" (1998) a CR-78 appears among many other cool equipments.
I bought my Roland CR-78 in the second half of 2006. Some years before Fernando Bohrer - an ex-band mate of my friend Felipe Messa (from Pupilas Dilatadas, the brazilian punk rock legendary band) - had commented that there was an old Roland drum machine in a studio in Porto Alegre and probably it had never left the studio because it was in very good condition. I remembered this conversation and I phoned him asking to send the drum machine to São Paulo, when Felipe Messa would come to town. He brought it to me and when I opened the box I could hardly believe when I saw that my CR-78 was just like new, only missing the caps of some sliders. But the biggest surprise was that Fernando Bohrer had kept the original manual and sent it with the drum machine! The only change made in that drum machine was the addition of a voltage selector switch on the back. The serial number of my CR-78 is 893988.
photos: Kay Mavrides
I recorded this video on january 30th, 2011!!!
Here are some videos of bands and artists I've mentioned above:
Phil Collins "In the air tonight"
Phil Collins showing the CR-78 and playing the intro drum rolls of his song "Hand in hand" (from the album Face Value, 1981)
Blondie "Heart of glass" (the CR-78 can be heard in the intro of the song)
Roxy Music "Same old scene" (the CR-78 again in the intro)
Ultravox (with Midge Ure) "Vienna" on Top of the pops, 1981. Warren Cann using his modified (and transparent, shaped into an acrylic box) CR-78!!!
OMD "Enola Gay"
Grace Jones "La vie en rose"
John Foxx "Metal Beat" (from the album Metamatic)
Gary Numan "I die: you die"
And I used mine on "Welcome to the central lab (to Dr. Robert Moog and Peter Zinovieff)" and many other songs on my third album, "Zeitgeist/propaganda"!!!
(Welcome to) the central lab (to Dr. Robert Moog and Peter Zinovieff) by astronautapinguim
Roland CompuRhythm CR-78 owner's Manual:
This one is an original ad of the time, I found on the Internet: