Positronic Vibes : Steve Moore Talks Vinyl Reissue, Song Covers, and New Music

Here’s another in my series of interviews regarding SFI Recordings and vinyl reissues. Today is the amazing Steve Moore talking about SFI’s vinyl issue of his cassette-only release Positronic Neural Pathways which was released in 2013 via VCO Recordings. Like my recent Majeure(AE Paterra) interview, this talk took place last year. We talk about some albums that are obviously already out, but we also hit up some things you might not know about, like the Halloween-themed kids album he did for Amazon. And we get into the Monroeville Mall, and the Brown Derby. So dig in. And then hit up SFI Recordings and snag this ambient classic on vinyl.

Steve Moore is one prolific artist. Between albums with AE Paterra in Zombi, film scores, solo records, and even a children’s Halloween record with Amazon, the Pittsburgh-area musician and composer(now based in New York) has been an integral force in the electronic/synth music community for the better part of 20 years.

In Zombi he tows the line between classic 70s horror scores and prog rock with a touch of Krautrock thrown in for good measure. A fine balance between Goblin, Rush, and Tangerine Dream, but with the sensibilities of a band that rocks as hard as any metal band.

His solo work is much more refined. Combing private press vibes with New Age, ambient, and techno, Moore isn’t afraid to make a record that helps us float off into space or get us on the dance floor. Or even float us off to a dance floor in space. And his scores combine all of those elements, making for some of the most engaging standalone listening experiences I’ve encountered in the last decade(The Guest, Cub, The Mind’s Eye, and VFW to name a few.)

One of Steve’s more ambient-heavy releases was 2013s cassette-only Positronic Neural Pathways. Deep diving into private press vibes and digging into the sonic world of cats like Steve Roach, Klaus Schulze, and Suzanne Ciani, Moore created this blissful electronic world that continued what he began on Primitive Neural Pathways. This fall SFI Records is releasing a limited colored vinyl run(300 copies) of Positronic Neural Pathways. Newly remastered for vinyl with new artwork by the amazing Telepath Design, we get to bliss out to this hazy ambient classic the way the universe intended, on vinyl.

I got the chance to talk with Steve about the release. Plus we talked about his recent covers releases with AE Paterra and Daron Beck(of Pinkish Black) called Zombi & Friends, getting back into film scores after a year of silence, and growing up at the Monroeville Mall.

J Hubner: So first off I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed ‘The Haunted Library’, the kids album from 2019. When I first came across it I wasn’t sure if it was you or another Steve Moore as it totally has that early 90s ‘Goosebumps’ vibe to it, mixed with a touch of Walter Rizatti. But once you get into it I can definitely hear you in there. How did the album come about, and how did you get involved with Amazon to release it?

Steve Moore: Thank you! The album was Amazon’s idea. They wanted an album of music people could play at Halloween parties or for trick or treating, and a friend of mine who worked for Amazon asked if I’d be interested in giving it a shot. They didn’t want anything too dark because it had to work for kids, so I wrote a bunch of tunes and tested them out on my daughters. My daughters helped come up with the track titles as well.

J Hubner: Despite 2020 being what it was, you and AE Paterra still put out an amazing new Zombi record called ‘2020’. This year you’ve got a brand new Zombi EP called ‘Liquid Crystal’, which is another killer set of tunes. You’re also releasing a collaborative LP with Bluetech on Behind The Sky called ‘Liminal Migration’ which is stunning work. Loved your contribution to the ‘Portals’ comp last year as well.

How did ‘Liminal Migration’ come about? 

Steve Moore: Thanks! Evan and I have been talking for a while about doing some type of split LP, ever since working on the Portals comp. Our schedules finally worked out and we each had some interesting ideas to present to the other. It was a fun collaboration, Evan has great sensibilities that really compliment my sparse, austere ideas.

J Hubner: SFI Records is releasing a remastered vinyl issue of your 2013 album ‘Positronic Neural Pathways’. It’s quite a shift from your work in Zombi, as well as your more recent film score work. Has a more New Age, Private Press vibe that I find very calming. Can you tell me a little about about that album and what you were going for with that release? 

Steve Moore: SFI is releasing ‘Positronic Neural Pathways,’ which was my follow-up to ‘Primitive.’ Originally a cassette/digital-only release on VCO in 2013. It definitely continues in the vein of ‘Primitive,’ with lots of vintage drum machines and distinct melodies. With those albums I was majorly inspired by early Jean-Michel Jarre and Michael Garrison. I love how their synth recordings have such strong pop sensibilities.

J Hubner: Were you influenced by early 70s ambient and New Age electronic artists and Private Press releases? If so, who were some artists you pulled inspiration from? 

Steve Moore: Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Michael Hoenig, Suzanne Ciani, Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann, Malcolm Cecil.

J Hubner: How did you get involved with Andrew and SFI Records? 

Steve Moore: I met Andrew at a music festival in Pittsburgh. He was wearing a Tangerine Dream shirt, I commented on it and he mentioned that he makes them, and that he’d be glad to send me one (which he did). We kept in touch and have lots of projects in the works!

J Hubner: I wanted to ask you about the recent covers series that you, AE Paterra, and Daron Beck started. It’s since gotten Bryan Richie(The Sword, Galactic Protector) involved, too. First, how did you guys get started on these? They’re brilliant, man. 

Steve Moore: It all started with Daron and I joking that we should cover “Guilty” by Streisand/Gibb. Then we actually did it, and it turned out pretty nice, so we decided to run with it. Some of the other covers were requests, but most of them came from Daron and me messaging ideas back and forth. These covers have been great exercise for all of us and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future Zombi started writing smooth music.

J Hubner: I’ve always seen this thru line from Zombi to Pinkish Black. You each are definitely on your own sonic trips, but I guess it makes me feel good to know Zombi and Daron Beck get along. Have you toured together in the past?

Steve Moore: I met Pinkish Black in 2014, I was on tour playing with Goblin and they were the opening band. We hit it off immediately, and the following year when Zombi’s Shape Shift came out we had Pinkish Black join us on tour. Daron’s even come to visit a couple times, pre-pandemic, we’d go out and do karaoke. I miss karaoke.

J Hubner: With 2020 being such a heavy time for the world and jobs, but especially in the film industry, there wasn’t much in the way of Steve Moore film scores. Have you been able to sign on to any new film projects this year? Begos have anything cooking that you can add your magic to? I was secretly hoping you would’ve been involved with Wingard and GvsK. 

Steve Moore: Ha, yeah I was secretly hoping I’d be involved with GvsK too. Last year was very slow, I scored one feature and two shorts, none of which are out there yet. But things are picking up, I have a lot of work coming up (including a new Begos sometime in the not too distant future).

J Hubner: In my conversation with Tony I’d asked him if he hit up the Monroeville Mall very much growing up in the Pittsburgh area. He said you worked there. What was that like? Did you have DOTD fans stopping in looking for Foxmoor and the Brown Derby? It’s the mecca of malls for us of a certain generation. I still watch Romero’s ‘Dawn’ at least twice a year. 

Steve Moore: Dude going to the Brown Derby was like a special night out for us haha. Yeah man, I grew up in Monroeville, so we went to the mall every week from the time I was a kid through when I left for college. I worked at a couple shops there too so I got to see some of the behind the scenes hallways and stairways from the film. It’s always been an intensely sentimental film for me because of that, I totally remember when the mall looked like it did in DOTD.

J Hubner: So what do you have lined up for the rest of 2021? New albums? Film work? Maybe a cover of Steely Dan’s “Your Gold Teeth”? I’d love to hear you lay into that electric piano solo at the end. 

Steve Moore: Tony and I are working on new Zombi tunes right now and trying to book a tour for next Spring. There will definitely be more covers but we’ve got some business to take care of first.

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