Archive for the drum machine Category

Mort Garson- Plantasia

Posted in closet favorite, drum machine, easy listning, home recording, ineffably poignant on July 10, 2010 by jonathanghess

Plenty has been written about Mort Garson, who passed away not long ago, in 2008. I’m not going to recount his full, creative musical life here, except to remind you that he was the composer of the music for one of the coolest cod-psychedelic LPs ever, “The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds“. If you don’t have it yet, get it, love it, live it.

“Plantasia” is Mort’s final LP, released in 1976. It was one of a covey of media purporting to connect a plant’s health with the environment around it, a concern that now seems quaint and unique to the era (environmentalist sarcasm). One suspects an exaggerated communion of hippie and houseplant facilitated by something else, something herbal in origin. At any rate, Mort’s credentials are beyond reproach, and the sounds he gets from his synth, echoplex and drum machine are way ahead of their time.

The first example, “Symphony for a Spider Plant” sounds for the world like the melodic cousin of Eno’s “Somber Reptiles”. The second track, “Swingin’ Spathiphyllums”, has an analogue delay breakdown that is phrased exactly like those in Dub reggae. Both have a moody, melancholy feel that evokes pure yet brainless life energy, pulsing up through the dark soil for no goddam reason at all.

symphony for a spider plant mp3

swingin’ spathiphyllums mp3

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Henri Salvador- Hello Mickey!

Posted in cartoon music, drum machine, home recording, ineffably poignant, my favorite song on June 24, 2010 by jonathanghess

I won’t go into a big introduction for Henri Salvador; if you aren’t familiar with him already and you want to know more, click here. Needless to say, as you can see by the cover image above, he exudes fun-loving charm.

Until this beat-up LP arrived in the store, I hadn’t heard of him. The major joy of working in a record store was having the opportunity to explore just such relics (because there’s few better words to describe a physical artifact like this), and discovering magic!

Hello Mickey! mp3

The crazed sound of this tune is a result of enormous talent, personality, and the fact that Henri played all the instruments and produced the recording himself, at home. Not many musicians were doing this in 1970! When one player calls all the shots, the sound is pure personal expression- and very, very few one-man bands that I’ve heard express such positivity mixed with a unique, ineffable poignancy as Henri Salvador. Why would a song about Mickey Mouse’s Birthday slip into a minor chord b-part? Only a Gallic genius of the highest magnitude would know, and he’s passed on…. The whole record is great- I’ll transfer more of the LP later and post more here.

This particular LP sleeve is pretty special, too. It belonged to the French American International School of San Francisco, which at the time was located around the corner from the shop (this is a prime example of availability directly corresponding to regionalism, something record buyers come to anticipate). The LP bears the marks of innumerable childrens hands, and it’s pleasing to imagine how many little listeners have been exposed to the sounds on this record over the decades.

Something about the layout and artwork on the back cover just slays me- some quality of melancholy, like a broken toy (ah, the Frenchness of it all!).

Click to really see…