Silver Apples / Contact

Silver Apples

1969

Obscurometer:


Although Silver Apples only released two albums before their demise (and 90s comeback), they are today regarded as one of the founding fathers of krautrock and the dance/electronica movement.

This is in no small part due to their main instrument, a primitive synthesiser christened the Simeon after the lead singer, which according to the liner notes consisted of “nine audio oscillators piled on top of each other and eighty-six manual controls to control lead, rhythm and bass pulses with hands, feet and elbows”.

Therefore, for readers not especially enamoured by harsh, discordant sounds, it may be better to turn back now. For the rest of us, however, we have songs like Oscillations, where Simeon does his best to sound like Love’s Arthur Lee while the synth beeps and shimmers. You & I, the first song from Contact, is a lover’s lament that “there ain’t no time for the little things,” with what sounds like an aeroplane taking off in the background.

This is not to say that the albums are totally inaccessible. Indeed, without the background synth and the slightly off-key backing vocals, I Have Known Love could be a Beatles song. Moreover, other instruments do occasionally get a turn, which can be seen in the flute sounds of the tribal Seagreen Serenade and in the banjo-driven melody of both Ruby and Confusion. Program is another highlight, driven by a combination of sampling and a frenetic drumbeat.

And yet, the synth is omnipresent, morphing into a wailing, Indian-influenced sound on Gypsy Love, and a cosmic, spacey sound on the closer Fantasies. Indeed, when the two-album compilation does occasionally fall flat, it is often because the duo try to cram too many ideas into a song. However, one cannot help but be won over by an album that provides the foundations of the major musical trends of subsequent decades.





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