Suzanne Ciani is a name that should be familiar to many of you. Considered to be one of the true innovators of electronic music, Ciani found great success as a sound-designer for television and radio commercials in New York in the 70s and 80s. After a very lucurative career, she returned to California and began a 2nd career as a recording artist; her music is often generalized as ‘new age,’ not surprisingly.
There is just a ton of information online regarding Ciani and her work; I suggest you start here and here. Also if there is anyone out there who wants to redesign her website HOLY SHIT it’s like 1997 up in there. Jesus. Anyhow, I was at an estate sale recently, some real eccentric types; in the LPs were such gems at the United States Of America, Holy Modal Rounders, and The Remains. Not your typical 60s rock albums. The piles of musty old magazines included graphic-designer fav U&lc, an old issue of Viva, and something called TECHNOLOGY, which was on its 2nd edition, 2nd issue by March of ’82. Sorta like OMNI minus the fiction, TECHNOLOGY featured this profile with Ciani, which I think may have been lost to time… until now. I offer it to you here:
Author is one Stephen Kindel. The focus is very much on the economics of being an in-demand synthesist, which may have just been some 80s yuppie zeitgeist shit, or maybe some part of the magazine’s editorial mission. Either way, it’s Karl Marx’s fucking nightmare. Enjoy! Oh, and here she is around the same time on Letterman, doing some sorta wacky proto Liz Lemon-meets-Kate Bush schtick. Love it.
In ’06 or ’07 I found a Farfisa VIP 233 organ at the flea market. It languished at the market for a few weeks, but even I was surprised when the seller accepted my offer of $120 for the thing. I was taking a pretty big risk buying it, as these things are insanely complex and therefore not-really-worth-fixing if they have voice problems. As it turned out, the big heavy beast worked perfectly. I recently came across the original 1972 advert for the VIP-233 and it reminded me that I once owned one of these things:
It’s a versatile unit, and it sounded great… that being said, despite all its attempts to encroach on Hammond territory, it always sounds very Farfisa-y and can’t really do the Hammond thing very well.
I came across these photos of my actual unit, taken back in 2007: I shot some images of the thing so that I could sell it on Craigslist. At the time, we wanted more of a Hammond sound and the VIP-233 just was not getting used much. The piece sold in a matter of days for… i think… $650? A kid came up from Brooklyn and was thrilled at the deal he got. OK so gonna get nostalgic for a minute: in this series of photos, you see the 233 in the piano booth at my old studio on Bridgeport’s far east side – the American Fabrics Building – the same bldg that is now the home of the Preservation Sound shop. Subtle index of time-passing? Check out the ashtray and lighter on the little end table. I don’t think I know anyone who smokes anymore… and a mere seven years ago, pretty much everyone I knew, myself included, did. I suppose we have Mayor Bloomberg to thank for that?
The space depicted above was completely gutted and transformed into an art studio years ago; while my new studio has certainly been a major upgrade, it’s great to see the old spot. I don’t think I had the VIP 233 for very long; I could only find one production that features it. Check out the track below. This is the band Stylofone; you may know these guys from their later work with MGMT and The Acrylics. At about :30 in, you can hear a little moog-esque glissando; this is the unique ‘Slalom’ portamento effect the the VIP 233 offers.
We’ve covered the Lyricon earlier on PS dot com (click here), but this thing is just too wacky and awesome to ignore. Any wind-controller users out there? DS and i were at a fkkn crazy studio-liquidation sale this weekend and some dude walked out with one of those Akai wind controllers for $10… seems like a good deal. Mkkn fusion-flute y’all!!!! Herbie Mann electro!
The Micromoog of ’77. Not a ton of control options on this lil’ guy, but they are still affordable at around $700usd. I should probably pick one of these up before they become as unaffordable as the most of the other vintage Moog models…
For our exclusive download of vintage German (!!!) MiniMoog and SonicSix catalogs, click here…
Curious to see the first-ever Moog advert? Check this previous article.
I came across a few more EML (Electronic Music Laboratories) bits that I will share with you. I’ve written a little about EML before, as they were based in Connecticut and lets face it, I am never getting out of this state. Anyhow, click here for our first EML article, and click here for coverage of the 1976 EML SynthKey, which was likely the first synth with aftertouch.
I’ve yet to be contacted by anyone who worked at EML in the 70s. Folks, if yr out there, drop a line… the world needs to know…
How are y’all doing on this snowy day… listening to some mid-seventies Tangerine Dream LPs and flippin thru a giant pile of old DOWNBEAT mags that I picked up at an estate sale this past wknd along with an enormous radio. Here’s a few ARP bits+bobs that caught my eye. Anyone have the above-depicted demo record?
For previous ARP coverage at PS dot com,
I know that this will be a polarizing thing to say, but I can’t stand Frank Zappa’s music. I have tried. Oh brother I have tried. Also he seems like a total fkkn prick in every interview I have ever read with him. Like one of those a-holes who acts like he’s having a bad time at the party, but rather than leave the party, dude just hovers around radiating bad vibes.
Now, on the plus side, total prickishness can sometimes turn into comedy gold. As-in this 1977 interview in Downbeat mag. Faced with a fairly straightforward question about the role of electronics in music, Zappa delivers a diatribe which ends in the condemnation of summer-homes. Enjoy…
Today: yet another installment in our ongoing series on Keyboard of the 1970s. Click here for part one. As per usual, if you are still using these things today, drop us a line and let us know! Except for the Rhodes. There’s nothing new to say about those fkkn things. So keep yr Rhodes to yrself thanks.
Above: the Univox Compac Piano. We had one of these things for a minute in high school. I think it was $100. Really terrible sound. Click here for previous coverage of this atrocity.
Perhaps the most advanced analog polysynth ever offered, the Octave-Plateau Corp.’s Voyetra 8 was introduced in 1982 and offered incredible digital control over an 8-voice analog synth with a pretty deep sequencer. I’ve uncovered a few period adverts for this beast and I’ve posted them below. Anyone using of these nowadays? How does it compare to (X)? BTW, I love how the somewhat coarse ‘industrial’ styling of the device is mirrored in the very prosaic graphic design of the adverts; there is no attempt to use any ‘trendy’ or (god-forbid) ‘sexxy’ symbolism to promote this product. THIS IS A SERIOUS FKKN SYNTHESIZER.