Recently in Music Category

Shutting it down for the night

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Two tunes though - been on a real Joe Bonamassa kick recently:

And these folks from Mongolia - masters of overtone singing (really hard to do - I have tried!) - Altai:

Tip of the hat to Irons in the Fire for the link to the last one.

UPDATE at the bottom - the dress' designer

From The Hollywood Reporter:

GRAMMY AWARDS: A PRO-TRUMP STATEMENT ON THE RED CARPET
Scandalous dresses on the Grammys red carpet aren’t what they used to be. It wasn't deep cleavage or a thigh-high leg slit that had tongues wagging about singer Joyce Villa on Sunday night. It was her red, white and blue gown emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” in front, and “Trump” across the train.

It’s a controversial statement coming from an artist in an industry that’s largely in opposition to the new president’s social policies, not to mention from a woman who identifies as bi-racial.

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Nice music and great voice - Vagabonds:

Her YouTube channel is here: Joy Villa 
Her website here: Joy Villa

UPDATE - from Gateway Pundit:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Designer Of Make America Great Again Dress Is A PRO-TRUMP IMMIGRANT
On Sunday night Joy Villa stunned the world when she showed up to the Grammy’s wearing a Make America Great Again dress.

The Gateway Pundit was contacted by Andre Soriano, the man who designed the dress, for an exclusive interview.

Andre Soriano immigrated from the Philippines to the United States when he was only 16 years old to pursue a better life and to pursue his dreams of working in the fashion industry. Andre now owns his own highly successful business named Andre Soriano based out of California.

And not to belabor the point, that would be LEGAL immigrant.

Why God gave us necks

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I am in the process of rewiring my music synthesizer setup and found a great place for cheap Chinese-made audio cables. (Monoprice) I need close to a hundred of them and it would take me 15 minutes to prep and wire each one plus the connectors are about $4 per pair. I can buy these cables pre-made from Monoprice - a USA -based company who deals with Chinese manufacturers - and I pay just under $4 each. I did a small order a few weeks ago and was impressed by the quality. Today, I spent some time unbagging a much larger order.

Why did God give us necks?

As a place to hang patch cords of course.

Any synthesist will know that.

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Well crap - 2017 has its agenda too

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Two losses in the music world:

Poured over my copies of Keyboard when they hit the newsstand. They were the go-to place for reading about new music/performers/equipment/software.

Here is a 31 minute documentary about William - fun music and a true pioneer:

Audio Cables

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I do electronic music and one bane of this hobby is that you never have enough patch cords. You are always trying to link something to something else and having to unplug another module to free up a spare cable.

On an EM email list, Monoprice was mentioned as having good stuff at a reasonable price. I second that - just recieved 50 patch cords of various length today and they seem really well made - gold plated connectors, braided fabric covers and generous heat shrink to secure the plugs. Planning a studio re-wiring job in the next two months and will be buying from them instead of making my own - they are that cheap and that good.

A musical in-joke

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2016 strikes again - George Michael

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From The Beeb:

Ex-Wham! singer George Michael dies
The star, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and later continued his success as a solo performer, is said to have "passed away peacefully at home".

Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42 GMT.

Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, sold more than 100m albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

Not very much into his style of music but he was a good singer and performer and will be missed. 53 is way to young. No cause of death listed.

Cute idea - Marshall

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Fun thing for the music room:

Analog synthesizers - Moog

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Great article and ten minute video on a guy who found and restored a large Moog synthesizer from 1967 - from Reverb:

Restoring an Original '67 Moog Modular Synthesizer
For nearly half a century, a piece of synthesizer history sat in storage at Roosevelt University in Chicago along Michigan Avenue. Circuits decaying, connections dirty and corroded, long-ago attempts at repair abandoned.

And then Mike Borish came along.

The real-estate-broker-turned-electronics-technician found out about the forgotten gem from a client who worked at the university.

After confirming with a professor exactly what it was that the client had seen - Unit 1029, one of only several dozen modular synthesizers built in the 1960s by R.A. Moog, synth pioneer Bob Moog’s first company - he knew what he had to do.

Borish had to open it up, get his hands in there, and bring it back to life.

Moog's genius was to make every parameter controllable by a voltage. He standardized on one volt per octave. This is an exponential shift - one octave below Concert A is 220 cycles per second (or Hz after Heinrich Hertz), add a volt and you are at Concert A at 440Hz, add another volt and you are one octave higher at 880Hz - you can see that this is not a linear progression. This was very difficult to do electronically but Moog persisted until he had a circuit that worked well and the rest of the world thanks him for it. It made the instrument musically useful.

Fast forward to today and all of Moog's patents have expired. The same technological advancements that have made computers so amazing have also happened for the rest of electronics so now there are builders who took the original Moog designs and have recreated them with current-day components. You have the same incredible depth and richness of sound but the machines stay in tune when the room temperature changes, the inherent noise is essentially non-existent and they are a lot more reliable. I am very pleased to own a large system from Roger Arrick at synthesizers.com

New music from Iceland

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Cryptochrome - more human

Gorgeous work - more here: Cryptochrome

One of my more favorite modern composers - from FACT Magazine:

Pauline Oliveros, experimental composer and pioneer of “deep listening”, dies aged 84
Pauline Oliveros, the composer whose concept of “deep listening” had a profound impact on the trajectory of 20th century experimental music, has died aged 84.

The news was reported by flutist Claire Chase on Instagram and confirmed by friends of the composer on her Facebook page.

As a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, Oliveros collaborated with Terry Riley, playing in the first performance of Riley’s ‘In C’, and modular synthesist Morton Subotnick. She later became director of the Center, where she developed a philosophy of listening as a ritual and healing process, an approach she described through her coinage “deep listening”. Her Deep Listening Band specialized in performing recording in resonant or reverberant spaces, and her touchstone album Deep Listening was recorded in 1989 in a disused cistern 14 feet beneath the ground.

Her practice emphasized the difference between hearing and listening, as she told an interviewer in 2003. “In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place. We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”

The cistern in question lies about three hours to the Southwest at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, WA: Dan Harpole Cistern

Oliveros played in Seattle frequently when I first moved there - fascinating musician. Her website: Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute.

From Rolling Stone:

Mose Allison, Iconic Blues and Jazz Pianist, Dead at 89
Influential blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison, whose songs were covered by an array of rock veterans, died Tuesday at the age of 89 of natural causes. Allison's daughter, Amy, confirmed the musician's death to Rolling Stone.

Though primarily known for his piano playing, Allison also garnered acclaim for his voice, crafting a repertoire that drew on Delta blues, bebop, early American pop and even European classical, per NPR. Consequently, Allison's earliest labels struggled to find the best way to market him, with Prestige pushing him as a pop star and Columbia and Atlantic billing him as a blues artist.

But Allison ultimately defied such categorization, as his songs would go on to be covered by an extensive and diverse collection of artists including the Clash, the Who, Elvis Costello, the Gories, Van Morrison, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers, Leon Russell, Hot Tuna, the Yardbirds and the Bangles.

Crap.

From FOX News:

Rocker Leon Russell dies in Nashville at 74
Leon Russell, who performed, sang and produced some of rock 'n' roll's top records, has died. He was 74.

An email from Leon Russell Records to The Associated Press says Russell died Sunday in Nashville. The email cites Russell's wife as the source of the information. Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that at the time of his death. He had been planning on resuming touring in January, the email said.

Besides his music, Russell was known for his striking appearance: wispy white hair halfway down his back and that covered much of his face.

Russell played keyboard for the Los Angeles studio team known as the Wrecking Crew, helping producer Phil Spector develop his game-changing wall of sound approach in the 1960s.

He wrote Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady" and in 1969 put together Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour, which spawned a documentary film and a hit double album.

As a musician, primarily a pianist, he played on The Beach Boys' "California Girls" and landmark "Pet Sounds" album, Jan and Dean's "Surf City," the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," and the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." He also played guitar and bass.

The house I live in was built by Larry Knechtel - another member of the Wrecking Crew. We are losing some great ones.

Move over Pentatonix

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I love Pentatonix - their A Capella song arrangements are superb. But, they are not the only game in town - meet VoicePlay:

Here is Pentatonix with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah:

From Variety:

Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen Dies at 82
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and novelist who became a singular international presence as a singer-songwriter, has died. He was 82.

A statement on his official Facebook page read, “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”

Only last month, Cohen released his final album, “You Want It Darker,” a deeply introspective work that focused thematically on mortality.

A nice obituary - he will be missed.

Digital music - piano player rolls

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A great 1980's video tour of a company that makes player piano rolls - they are still in business: QRS Music Technologies

I love the Apple ][ still cranking away. Iffen it ain't broke...

A new band and dammit, I missed them

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Just got turned on to Stary Olsa and it turns out that they were playing 50 miles South of here last August 24th. They are from Belarus so I do not know when they will be here next.

Here they are on YouTube: Stary Olsa Their traditional stuff is gorgeous too.

Just the title alone: Icons & Idols: Rock n' Roll 2016 Featuring Property From The Estate of Frank & Gail Zappa

Over 800 items up for bid including household furnishings, his recording studio equipment and instruments as well as memorabilia from other performers - Elvis, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Prince, the Beatles, etc...

Seeing if there is a small piece of studio equipment for sale cheap just to have something of his in my music room. There are some large speaker cabinets for $150 but shipping from LA would kill me and I have no space for them.

An interesting Raspberry Pi project

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I have been playing around with a couple of $35 Raspberry Pi single-board computers and having a lot of fun. Just ran into the Cosmo project.

There is a music application called CSound - a complete synthesis and signal processing system written in software. It can be made to run on the Raspberry Pi and the Cosmo project is a plug-in card and control box to enable real-time synthesis and signal processing. The examples are not my cup of tea but it looks fascinating regardless.

If you have gone to a movie theater and heard the wonderful crescendo for the THX sound system - that was written in CSound.

I am very much a knob guy - my musical instruments need to have knobs and not some touch-screen with layers and layers of menus I have to navigate. I want to reach out and touch something.

That being said, this is just plain brilliant:

I own some Behringer equipment - their signal processing stuff is really well done. I am going to pass on the Deep Mind though but still, looks like a lot of fun.

Die Antwoord

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I love their music - this is a funny video where a bunch of older citizens view (and comment) on their music videos:

Some get it, some do not.

Well crap - RIP Don Buchla

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When electronic music synthesizers were first being developed, there were two schools of design - the East Coast machines made by Bob Moog and others were controlled by voltages*** and the step of one volt would result in the change of one octave of frequency. This made performances of written music fairly easy and the programability meant that an artist could go on stage night after night and play the same music.

The West Coast designs were intended for spontaneous sound generation as well as some musical performance. They did not enjoy the one volt per octave control that Moog's designs offered but they were a lot cheaper and more oriented to improvisation. Don Buchla at Berkeley, CA was one of these makers ( Serge Tcherepnin in Hollywood, CA was another ).

Don passed away today - from the UK Guardian:

Don Buchla, modular synthesizer pioneer, dies aged 79
Don Buchla, the groundbreaking synthesizer inventor, has died age 79.

He was considered a true iconoclast with an uncompromising vision of what synthesizers could be. His impact on electronic music was vast; Buchla independently invented the first modern synthesizer, at the same time as Robert Moog, in 1963.

Although Moog is often credited with having invented the first modular synthesizer, Moog even admitted during his lifetime that Buchla was the first to have a full concept of how to put all the modules together to add up to an instrument.

“He invented a whole new paradigm for how you interface with electronics – much more human, and a whole new thing,” says Buchla’s close friend Morton Subotnick.

His company is still going strong: Buchla Electronic Music Instruments - some fascinating designs.

I am very much in the East coast camp - I like using a keyboard and prefer linear music instead of an Aleatoric mash of bleeps and bloops.

*** As a side note, designing a circuit to do one volt per octave control is actually a very complex bit of engineering. Consider a "Concert A" at 440 vibrations per second (noted as Hz after physicist Heinrich Hertz). Play an "A" one octave below and that is 220Hz, play one octave above and you have 880Hz. Up another octave and you are at 1,760Hz. The scale is not a linear one, it is exponential and converting a linear value to an exponential one is tricky and the simplest circuit (that everyone uses) is horribly temperature sensitive so you have to compensate for that. Earlier Moog synthesizers that I played in college (40 years ago) would require you to re-tune if the HVAC came on. I was running a tape recorder and layering audio so needed to keep everything in tune.

Dangerous place

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I love music as a hobby - play keyboards and synth but I also record and microphones are always a weak link in the chain. Someone just turned me on to this place:

micparts, aka Microphone-Parts.com, is based in Sonoma County, California, with additional technical staff in Los Angeles. 

The company's mission is to provide high-quality components and kits for DIY audio enthusiasts. We've analysed the best microphones in the world, and found ways to provide circuits and capsules that deliver the same tone and superior performance specifications -- at a fraction of the price of vintage gear.

They are reproducing the sought-after "vintage mics" with what seems to be great success. A Neumann U-87 sells for around $4,000 in decent condition. Their S-87 microphone sells for $569. Not buying anything today - already have a couple of nice mics but something to keep in mind...

Island Songs

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Just beautiful - from Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds:

More here: Island Songs

Ólafur's Facebook page is here. Exquisite work.

Alright - one more:

I think my Dog's a Democrat

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Great song from Bryan Lewis:

Ho Li Crap - quite the guitar

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Description from the luthier and then music (starting at 3:00)

Luthier: Linda Manzer Musician: Henrik Andersen

Music Box and Modulin

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Remember the Musical Marble Machine?

Here is the same person - Wintergatan - has come up with two more - the music box and Modulin - a modular synthesizer played like a violin

Beautiful stuff!

Early electronic music synthesizers

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One major name in early electronic music was Daphne Oram - she co-founded the seminal BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Doctor Who soundtracks and a lot of film scoring) and developed a system of creating sounds and compositions using drawings. She had designed a music synthesizer where the notes were entered on a strip of translucent film which was run through a scanner and sensors would program the synth to produce the sounds. Her vision for the full machine was thwarted by the technology of the time and it was never fully realized during her lifetime.

From The University of London - Goldsmiths:

Student builds Daphne Oram’s unfinished ‘Mini-Oramics’
A Goldsmiths, University of London researcher has built a music synthesiser and sequencer designed – but never realised - by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram more than 40 years ago.

PhD student Tom Richards has spent the last three years poring over an unfinished project by Daphne Oram (1925 – 2003), one of the central figures in the development of British experimental electronic music.

Oram was the co-founder and first director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and is credited with the invention of a new form of ‘drawn sound’ synthesis – Oramics, which was recently the subject of the ‘Oramics to Electronica’ exhibition at the Science Museum.

And the machine in question:

Dr Mick Grierson, director of Goldsmiths’ Daphne Oram Archive, and Tim Boon head of research at the Science Museum, invited Tom Richards to do a practice led PhD on the subject of Oramics. Tom decided to re-imagine and then build Mini-Oramics.

“The rules were simple. I had to imagine I was building the machine in 1973, interpreting Daphne Oram’s plans and using only the technologies that existed at that time.”

Tom is now working with six contemporary composers, giving each of them a few days to play with the Mini-Oramics machine.

One of the composers, London-based sound artist Ain Bailey has recently been working with the MiniOramics synthesiser. “It’s a fantastic instrument. I’m not a formally-trained musician, so it’s been great to work with an instrument where I can create the sounds graphically,” she said.

Very cool! Some more on Daphne Oram

Not really my style of music (more into melodic ambient) but Daphne was a major figure too often overlooked in music today. Nice touch that Tom is inviting other people to use the synthesizer - developing some new fresh voices.

Keyboard player extraordinaire for P-Funk and Talking Heads.

I had heard of his passing from an electronic music mailing list but did not realize that he lived about 15 miles away from here - from The Bellingham Herald:

Bernie Worrell, masterful P-Funk keyboardist, dies in Everson
Bernie Worrell, the ingenious “Wizard of Woo” whose amazing array of keyboard sounds and textures helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced performers of funk, rock, hip-hop and other genres, has died.

Worrell, who announced early this year that he had stage-four lung cancer, died Friday at age 72. He died at his home in Everson, according to his wife, Judie Worrell.

A bit more:

Worrell was among the first musicians to use a Moog synthesizer, and his mastery brought comparisons to Jimi Hendrix’s innovations on guitar. Anything seemed possible when he was on keyboards, conjuring squiggles, squirts, stutters and hiccups on Parliament’s “Flash Light” that sounded like funk as if conceived by Martians. On Funkadelic’s “Atmosphere,” his chatty organ prelude, like a mash-up of Bach and “The Munsters,” set up some of Clinton’s more unprintable lyrics.

He was an original - will be missed.

RIP Dr. Ralph Stanley - from his Grandson Nathan Stanley's facebook page:

"My heart is broken into pieces. My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago. He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with Skin Cancer. I feel so lost and so alone right now. He was my world, and he was my everything. He was always there for me no matter what. I just cannot get a grip on this. My Papaw was loved by millions of fans from all around the world, and he loved all of you. If he was singing snd on sage, he was happy. That's why I did so much to make it possible for him to travel in the last two years. Because he wanted to. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to face in my life. The only thing that gives me peace, is knowing he is in paradise and I'll see my best friend again. I love you papaw with all of my heart. As long as I live and breathe, your legacy will never die. You will forever be in my heart."

He was amazing - great musician and wonderful person.
Here is a wonderful hour-long documentary: The Life & Times of Ralph Stanley

The Wrecking Crew

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Great video about the session musicians who backed most of the music from the 1960's and 1970's.

Guitarists Glen Campbell and Tommy Tedesco, drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, Carol Kaye and Leland Sklar on bass, and keyboard players Larry Knechtel, Don Randi and Leon Rusell, among others.

Larry Knechtel built the house that I live in. I live on thirty of the acres of the large farm he used to own. Met him a couple times during the sale process. He does not speak in this film - he is sitting behind the wood front of a Hammond B-3; a large man with graying hair. Amazing musician and a really really nice guy.

Tip of the hat to Terrierman's Daily Dose for the link.

From the UK Guardian:

How a mysterious ghost ship brought cosmic disco to Cape Verde
In a calm morning in March 1968, a shipment carrying the latest Korgs, Moogs and Hammond organs set off from Baltimore harbour, heading for an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro. The sea was steady, the containers safely attached. And yet later that same day, the ship would inexplicably vanish.

A few months later, it finally reappeared. Somehow, the ship had been marooned on the São Nicolau island of Cabo Verde (now Cape Verde, but then a Portuguese territory 350 miles off the west coast of Africa). The crew were nowhere to be seen and the cargo was commandeered by local police. But when it was found to contain hundreds upon hundreds of keyboards and synths, an anti-colonial leader called Amílcar Cabral declared the instruments should be distributed equally among the archipelago’s schools.

Overnight, a whole generation of young Cabo Verdeans gained free access to cutting-edge music gear. According to Frankfurt-based rarities label Analog Africa, this bizarre turn of fate can be directly credited with inspiring the island’s explosion of newly electrified sounds following independence in 1975, and has now been documented on its on its latest compilation, Space Echo – The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound Of Cabo Verde.

The schools were the only places with reliable electricity. Here is a video:

Great story - never heard it before. Always loved the music from there. Morna and Fado really tugs at the heart. Check out Cesária Évora if you want to hear some really good music. Here is one - many more on YouTube:

playdough

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An Icelandic band: Cryptochrome

I like!

More here: The Reykjavik Grapevine And Facebook.

Also, Cryptochromes - the geek-fu is very high with these people. Here too...

Crap - RIP Isao Tomita

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From The Japan Times:

Isao Tomita, Japanese pioneer of synthesizer music, dies at 84
Isao Tomita, the synthesizer pioneer who composed the score for Tezuka Osamu’s anime “Kimba the White Lion” and NHK drama “Hana no Shogai,” died of heart failure Thursday at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital. He was 84.

On Sunday, a message on Tomita’s official Facebook page said he was working on a new musical titled “Dr. Coppelius” and that he knew he might not see it finished.

One of the true pioneers of electronic music - he will be sorely missed.

Of course, there is the obligatory jam session:

Must be too much pollen in the air here - my allergies are kicking up and my eyes are watering...

The Lords of Synth

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Great ten minute parody of Vangelis, Georgio Moroder and Wendy Carlos:

More here:

Adult Swim Parodies Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, & Wendy Carlos In Lords Of Synth Short
In the tradition of Too Many Cooks and Unedited Footage Of A Bear, Adult Swim released a new “infomercial”/mockumentary/etc short titled Live At The Necropolis: Lords Of Synth. It’s a satirical video that features “Xangelix,” “Morgio Zoroder,” and “Carla Wendos” (in place of Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, and Wendy Carlos presumably) synth-battling at the Necropolis. It aired on Adult Swim at 4AM and is now online.

They did a great job of parodying their music styles. Nice Moog too...

These folks were the soundtrack to my 20's and 30's - amazing music. Some people are running a kickstarter to film a full documentary:

Tangerine Dream Documentary
They used synthesizers in a time when it was just a small side issue. They incorporated sounds from outer space and heartbeats in their revolutionary and unconventional sound and enriched countless classic movies with their unique soundtrack: They are TANGERINE DREAM!

We want to explore the world of Tangerine Dream for the first time in a feature-length documentary. This band became famous as one of the pioneers of electronic and experimental music worldwide. They had the desire to achieve the ultimate sound.

Our goal is to uncover the band's musical evolution, their style and their philosophy behind their art. For this reason we will depict the musical heritage of this revolutionary band and its visionary founder Edgar Froese. Furthermore we will show previously unpublished footage from Edgar's private archive.

Looks like a wonderful project and they have a good team of people driving it.

A new Kickstarter project - Moog

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Readers will know that I am a big electronic music junkie and have a large analog synthesizer at home. Analog music synthesizers were pioneered by Bob Moog who developed the idea of voltage control and engineered the first practical circuits.

From Kickstarter:

ELECTRONIC VOYAGER: Retracing BOB MOOG's Sonic Journey
From Robert Fantinatto and Jason Amm, the Director/Producer team behind the acclaimed modular synthesizer documentary, "I Dream Of Wires," comes a new documentary feature, "Electronic Voyager." In association with The Bob Moog Foundation (moogfoundation.org), we aim to create a definitive and personal documentary about the life of iconic synthesizer pioneer, Bob Moog (1934 - 2005). Through the eyes of Moog's own daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa - also a dedicated Moog archivist and historian - we want to give viewers an insight into the man behind the iconic Moog brand.

I Dream Of Wires is an awesome film - highly recomended to anyone into electronic music. Looking forward to this project!

Prince playing with a couple other guys

Hang out until his amazing solo about half-way through - more musicianship in his left pinky than the rest of them combined.

He will be missed.

Epic Music

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A website that delivers what it says: Epic Music streaming 24/7

Also, links on the page to Jazz and rain, Relaxing Music, and Christmas Music

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