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4 September 2017

Dick Hyman - 'Moog: The Electric Eclectics of' (Command)

I've never had an amazing charity shop find - no rare private press Christian psych originals for $1, or even a decently obscure classic or anti-classic. About the best I can do is this, which was only $0.25, many years ago and has lingered in my collection even though I rarely listen to it. Moog is pretty good though, moving between novelty/lounge exotica sounds ('Topless Dancers of Corfu', 'Evening Thoughts') and pure synth fuckery ('The Moog and Me', 'Tap Dance in the Memory Banks'). 'The Minotaur' is the true killer jam, with an addictive pulse that reminds me of Can or some motorik Kraut thing, and noodling, melodic solos with huge tone sweeps that remind me of British (perhaps Cantebury) prog. Hyman's compositions have a lot of air in them, allowing the high and low tones to really reverberate. This record sounds beautiful, even when the vibe is a bit too goofy to fully enjoy. 'Four Duets in Odd Meter' is a sparkling adventure through ecstatic electronics; the titular odd metre gives it an unsettling feel that somehow is still inviting, drawing me into its imagination. I situate this as coming from the final wave of mid-century Americana, where there was some strange fantasy that this could be the music of the future - where machines and computers were distant dreams, rather than tools of enslavement or at least narcissism. And marketed, of course, through pop/sci-fi ideas as the album artwork indicates, but with a rather commercial (or perhaps a better term is accessible) musical edge, at least if you were to compare this to, say, Luening & Ussachevsky. And I suspect that as time passes, this will sound increasingly interesting, in a paleofuturistic way; we are definitively in an era where we cannot dream of a future any longer, unless it's cast as some Silicon Valley-driven capitalist bullshit. Aesthetically, we're stuck, which is what Mark Fisher wrote a lot about before he died, so this Dick Hyman record could be Exhibit A from the final generation of imagination, and inspire us to once again dare to dream.

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