Many records get labelled as pioneering, but there are few that deserve it quite as much as Morton Subotnick's 1967 debut. Notable as both the first piece of electronic music commissioned by a record company and as the first piece of both classical and electronic music written for an album format, 'Silver Apples of the Moon' is a true milestone in the history of the electronic genre.
Vinyl LP £20.49 WSM02
Reissue LP on Waveshaper Media. Audio has been remastered from the original, pre-mastered digital tape transfers. All-new, full-colour gatefold jacket, includes a scan of the LP's original Nonesuch-edition liner notes. Limited to 1000 copies.
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Vinyl LP £15.99
180g vinyl reissue LP on Karl Records. Remastered all-time electronic music classic! Edition of 500 copies.
Tape £7.49 WSM02TAPE
Cassette reissue on Waveshaper Media. Audio has been remastered from the original, pre-mastered digital tape transfers. Limited to 300 copies.
What is music? I think the most widely used definition I’ve come across is that music is organised sound. Does that mean that disorganised sound isn’t music? That’s not something that computes with me. Some months ago I was running a bath and my 3 year old son was listening to the tap running, turned around to me and said "Daddy, that’s music". That’s my boy! I could have cried. To me anything can be music, everybody hears things and interprets them differently.
So anyway 1967 Morton Subotnick unleashes his pioneering masterpiece ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’. A record so radical at the time that many dismissed it as being noise and nothing approaching music. Some however got it. Not only did Subotnick introduce sounds to the world that had never been heard by human ears he also helped break the notion that music had to adhere to a conventional set of notes and scale, much in the same way that Free Jazz musicians and Musique concrète practitioners helped destroy the template of what music should be, therefore opening up an entire world of sonic possibilities.
Subotnick was at the absolute cutting edge of synthesis technology and was a radical free thinker and so I kind of imagine ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’ as the record Louis & Bebe Barron might have made in 1956 had Subotnick’s technology been available to them when they created their landmark ‘Forbidden Planet’ soundtrack. With these tools a whole new infinite sound palette became available to create a new musical language rooted in experimentation. As a result ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’ remains a milestone in the evolution of electronic music, a foundation for all electronic music that would come after. Subotnick was/ is a true visionary and the record is just a glimpse into the mind of an absolute genius. Sure the lack of recognisable structure, melody, hooks, actual songs or whatever isn’t for everyone but remember Wendy Carlos was reciting Bach works electronically at the time which Subotnick and others felt was regressive and in no way harnessed the possibilities of electronic music. His response was imagined alien languages and code bleeping and gurgling, bright liquid metallic textures, fictional sounds of undiscovered worlds deep into the outer reaches of the universe. Subotnick made the machines come alive, as if they had a voice of their own and he was having some kind of dialogue with them.
A seminal record to say the least and apparently the first ever purely electronic music to be commissioned to vinyl. This is the only vinyl reissue since its release 47 years ago, especially remastered for this vinyl edition. No serious electronic music collection should be without this important work. Having said that if you can’t handle modular synthesizers wibbling and blooping away then maybe it’s best to stay clear.
Almost 50 years down the line and it still sounds futuristic. I can’t imagine what it must have been like hearing this at the time of release with a head full of proper 60’s LSD! Not that you need drugs, because this my good people is a real trip!
8/10 Sam 7th April 2014
Definitely what space must really sound like. And totally trips the neighbors out!
9/10 Nod 11th March 2014
Opinions vary and all that but whoever gave this a 6/10 doesn't know what they're talking about. It's so much more than just a curio.
6/10 Richard Twyman 11th March 2014
A musical curiosity but not melodic - and very random - electronic polyphony - echoes of this appear in early Pink Floyd in the noisy bits. It is worth a listen for its pedigree and probably as a collection piece but it could also be useful for clearing a room or ending a party
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