So I’m sitting in my comfy chair with a cup of dark roast at my side enjoying the glorious sounds of synthesizers on my Chromebook. It really is a perfect Saturday morning if you ask me. My oldest is home from school for a week(she’s on her spring break), we’re having a taco fiesta in honor of the boy’s birthday, and we have lots of new blu rays to enjoy over the weekend. I only have to work Monday and Tuesday then I’m off the rest of the week. The oldest and I will be heading to Fort Wayne in the later part of the week for some father/daughter time at various bookstores, records shops, and maybe an art museum. We’ll see what happens.
But right now, it’s all about synthesizers.
I’m trolling through Youtube looking up various live videos of S U R V I V E, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and the like. Started out looking for S U R V I V E. I’d really love to take the boy to go see them, but they’re not playing anywhere remotely close(SXSW, but that’s not close.) As much as I love listening to synth music, listening and watching are two different beasts. I can listen all day, but watching…well I’ve come to find out that it’s all in the presentation.
For example, check out this video from 1975 with Tangerine Dream performing at Coventry Cathedral:
Now that completely kicks my ass. Moody, weird psychedelic effects on the film, gothic shots of the church with candles lit throughout, and the guys completely lost in the music. And really, that opening shot of the modular synth open and foreboding like some monolithic sci fi device is just absolutely incredible. That’s how you perform synth music live.
Here’s another great one, Klaus Schulze peforming in Germany in 1977:
Slow panning shots of Schulze sitting surrounded by mounds of wires, keys, and what looks like a fur as he turns knobs to help make the noise of infinite space all the more brooding. I also love the tape reels running. I can only imagine how some mind-altering substances could make this experience even better, had you actually been there in that room.
Then there’s Jean Michel Jarre’s performance of Oxygene somewhere I’m not quite sure:
I’m guessing this was originally shot in 3D, as by the strange tracers surrounding everything on the video. Bonus points for that. Of course without 3D glasses you start to see double after about 10 minutes, so be warned. Still, it’s another cool video showcasing the otherworldly beauty of analog synths. Looks like the visual effects would’ve been unbelievably cool. And it’s Oxygene, so there’s that.
Hell, Jan Hammer performing “Crockett’s Theme” is even cool:
All it takes is some swaying from the player, some colored lights, and the look of confidence. I’m won over. I was never a big Hammer fan, but this is pretty damn cool.
Brian Ellis’ Reflection does some cool stuff live, too:
The video is a little wonky, but you get the gist. Lights, mood, and a little attitude goes a long way.
Then there’s S U R V I V E at Moogfest:
Four guys lined up side by side with synths in front of them, wearing their street clothes, in a room that looks like the shipping and packing area of what looks like a warehouse. No colored lights, no darkened room, no fog machines,…just four dudes staring down at keyboards with no expressions as onlookers have conversations on what looks like some nondescript afternoon. The music sounds great, it really does. But this music requires further stimulation in a live setting. It requires some fanfare, some pomp and circumstance,…hell, even a damn pantsuit would be okay.
But hey, S U R V I V E got it right here:
The video’s not the greatest, but you get it. Fog machines, colored lights, and the mystique of the analog synth. That’s more like it. It’s amazing what a little pizzazz does to the proceedings.
Anyways, this is where I’m at this morning. Time for another cup of java.