t  h  e   i  n  n  e  r  f  i  e  l  d 
s  y  n  t  h  i    d  r  e  a  m  s    m  a  k  e  s    g  i  r  l  s    s  c  r  e  a  m
And then there was pop music. After Wendy let her Moog go loose on Bach, the Moog, in the hands of all kinds, also 'treated' famous pop stars like the Beatles. Even country music wasn’t safe for synths anymore. More and more people got used to the sound of synthesizers and started to use them on normal music. And thus we saw the release of the light weighty single ‘Popcorn’ by Hot Butter. Original it was meant to be part of Gershon Kingsley’s ‘Music to Moog By’(!), released in 1969. But Stan Free went along with it in 1972 after which nothing could stop synthi-pop.

Soon thereafter synthesizers could be found in the studio and on stage by no-one less then Stevie Wonder, Roxy Music, Billy Preston and a Greek named Vangelis. Vangelis roots going back to Aphrodite’s Child (Demis Roussos!) started to write music for the French TV-series L’Apocalypse des Animoux (1973). It was a new way to create music on synthesizers rather than to use a complete orchestra and it was cheaper! In fact the same goes for Isao Tomita, who used the synthesizer to create an atmosphere with the intent to remind the listener to Claude Debussy’s watery music (La Mer) for his record Snowflakes are Dancing.

From Here to Eternity from Giorgio Moroder was quite the opposite way of creating music. The predicate “only electronic keyboards were used in the making of this album’ was more than just a slogan. This was for real and meant to be successful. The thirty minutes of the album were enough to attract lots of producers and later DJ’s and makers of so called ‘house music’. Moroder became even popular after he added his synths to Donna Summer’s voice for her song “I feel love” (1977); maybe the first openly flirtation with synths which suggested sex. The groove was set.
 
Synthesizers now were so popular that every group had one and – maybe more important - could afford one. More and more smaller versions appeared on the market en were often easy to use. Now their predecessors were giants like the symphonic rock groups with virtuoso musicians, who in their ability to show off, sometimes forgot the make music. They were ‘punished’ by the new stream: Punk. But after Punk came all kind of waves, for instance the so called ‘new wave’. That music, influenced by German synthesizer and experimental groups like Kraftwerk , Can and Neu was very much based on the sound of electronic machines. And so we see a huge flow of bands and musicians making the later on named ‘synthi pop’. Between the most famous were: Ultravox (left) , Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Human League, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Japan, Tubeaway Army, Depeche Mode, Devo, Heaven 17, DAF, Tears for Fears, Thomas Dolby, Rupert Hine, Soft Cell, Yazoo, Eurythmics, Art of Noise, Front 242, Pet Shop Boys and lots, and I mean lots, of others. Their success was enormous and, yes indeed. the girls were screaming, since a lot of these bands existed only of (young) boys.

In the same period there was also music with a darker side, more bleak so to speak. This wasn’t popular music in the true sense of the word. These groups were searching for borders in music, ready to destroy them. Cabaret Voltaire (left), Chrome, Tuxedomoon, Throbbing Gristle, Residents and New Order to name a few. Endless beats by primitive drum machines, samples, screams (but not from the girls this time), music which wasn’t that comfortable, and yet, it had something that lured the innocent in their camps, for good! They had their own way of making things clear. Listening now to this music it sounds outdated, but some elements sound remarkable fresh. What a view.

The next step of the evolution of all the electronics in music was dance. It seems a logical step and is often reprised in music history, first the experimental, followed by the elemental and closing with dancing, together or not. Mellow pulsating rhythms, repetitive moments, samples, lengthy music: Orbital came, the KLF, the Future Sound of London (left). But also artists like Bjork and the spacious trippy (?) sound of Portishead, Tricky, Moby, Aphex Twin, Autechre and the Orb.
The more harsh side on this one had bands like the Prodigy (named after the Moog Prodigy synthesizer), Metalheadz and Radiohead.

It’s a short ride in a fast machine, but all these bands and people were in one way or another influenced by electronics, the art itself or musicians from the near past. Most of this music is not my cup of tea and I admit, it’s far away from the experimental sounds and music mentioned elsewhere on this site., but on the other hand I think this page belongs here too. Without the pioneers of sound this music wouldn’t have existed at all. Lucky for lots of people, they danced on it, so they were taken by the music and that as where all the music is at.


Papathanasiou Vangelis



Giorgio Moroder 


Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark










Throbbing Gristle



The Prodigy