This is what happens when an American jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer meets a mini Moog synthesizer in the late ‘60s, a harsh period of time when electronic music was mostly about hardware sonic experiments and improvisation. This weird album was released in 1969, preceding ten more albums that Richard ''Dick'' Hyman previously released under his own name.
As a piano player, Dick Hyman explored the earliest periods of jazz and has researched and recorded the piano music of musicians Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. He recorded a series of Avant-Garde LPs using a Minimoog synthesizer focused in the instrument, and this is one of them. He also recorded some of the most appreciated albums from the Space Age Pop and also worked for TV, scoring 12 film soundtracks for Woody Allen.
It doesn’t seem to be so pretentious if I call this the early beginnings of techno music, as we know it today. Of course, the shape of techno music was radically different at that time, than what has become in the past ten years, but the electronic sober atmosphere this album articulates is still there. You can feel its presence from the first synths played on the opening track of the album, ''Topless Dancers of Corfu''.
''The Minotaur'' is the longest track of this album (more than 8 minutes length) and is definitely the highlight of the LP. The Moog’s presence can be felt so concrete on each of the tracks, so alive and kicking, that you just can’t stop thinking that this little devil synthesizer got its own life and now strives to get out of its shell. And who else can do a better job than this Columbia University graduated pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, increasingly, versatile composer that is Dick Hyman. The (more) funk-ish song ''Give It Up Or Turn It Loose'' together with the mind-blowing ''Kolumbo'' also found their place in my list of favorites from this album.
It somehow resembles to Bruce Haack’s early work; take, for example, ''The Way-Out Record For Children'' and ''The Electronic Record For Children'' from ’68 and ’69, or the album ''Captain Entropy'' from ’74, or even the most known LP of Bruce Haack, ''The Electric Lucifer''.
On these ‘electric eclectics’ you meet all kind of naïve synth melodies, weird and twisted electronic experiments, not so easily digestive for an easy listener, an impressive cohort of sounds from out of space all mixed up with an insane and precise care for the holy sound manipulation.
It is, indeed, a quite different and funny listening experience. How else can a pair of ears from 2014 relate to an album from ’69? As I dig deeper through the tracks, I can paradoxically alter the past and make it my own present time. This is how the music from the past sounds like, but can be taken in consideration as music from a far future as well; there’s no doubt about it.
Tracklist:A1. The Topless Dancers Of Corfu
A2. The Legend Of Johnny Pot
A3. The Moog And Me
A4. Tap Dance In The Memory Banks
A5. Four Duets In Odd Meter
B1. The Minotaur
B2. Total Bells And Tony
B3. Improvisation In Fourths
B4. Evening Thoughts