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Caldara - A Moog Mass (1970)


Caldera was the duo Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, who met at Media Sound in New York where they engineered and produced music for film and television. They befriended Bob Moog in 1969 and worked through Moog distributor Walter Sears to acquire their first Moog components. Margouleff became the maestro of the Moog at Media Sound. He was hired by producer John Hammond to program the Moog for the album Space Hymn (1970) by Lothar and the Hand People. During this same time, Margouleff and Cecil helped Bob Moog conceive and package large Modular systems for studio use while Bob Moog himself was readying production of the Minimoog. The pair gradually created a large, custom modular system of their own that they dubbed The Original Neo-Timbral Orchestra (TONTO), and as a recording duo they called themselves Tonto’s Expanding Head Band. By 1971, they worked at Motown on synthesis for a series of highly innovative albums by Stevie Wonder. Somewhere between Lothar and the Hand People and Stevie Wonder, they produced this first record of their own music, A Moog Mass. This was a concept album revolving around the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, a 13th Century Catholic Hymn to Mary. The creepy image of Mary on the cover might make you think you were looking at another satanic mass album. But, not to worry. This album was very Catholic, Latin and all. This might seem like an odd choice of subject matter for a Moog record, but at the time composers and producers of electronic music were exploring many genres of music with the hope of producing another blockbuster like Switched-on Bach. A Moog Mass is remarkable for several reasons. It is important as an early collaboration of Margouleff and Cecil and it skillfully combined music composed for the Moog with cello and harpsichord plus spoken word and electronic vocalizations. Perhaps most interesting, it represented an early exploration of voice synthesis techniques although it is unclear if this was done using an actual vocoder (Moog was selling one by 1970) or a more creative use of the synthesizer’s fixed filter bank modules for voice modification. Wendy Carlos, whose famous synthesized vocalizations would appear on the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange (December 1971), reports that she was working on this technique long before she worked on music for the film. Her creative approach to voice synthesis used a ten-band Moog fixed-filter bank and corresponding envelope followers and voltage-controlled amplifiers to encode and decode the vocals. Caldera’s vocalizations were also wonderfully harmonic and uncannily like those of Carlos, so it seems that they were using filter banks instead of a vocoder as well. The Billboard reviewer assigned to write about A Moog Mass wasn’t sure what to make of the album, writing, “So straight it’s freaky. Or so freaky that it’s straight. And when was the last time you had a talk with The Man Upstairs?” (November 14, 1970). (source)



2 komentarze:

Savage Saints pisze...

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Anonimowy pisze...

I have passed this album by many times on the net so have never known just what it was. I think I assumed it was in the 'Switched On Bach' vein, an album I still believe is a huge waste of such a revolutionary instrument. For some reason I decided to check it out and discovered a name I've come across before: Malcolm Cecil and TONTO. Looking forward to listening to it. Many thanks.

-Brian

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