Robert Moog – pioneer of the Theremin and manufacturer of the first commercially available synthesizer – makes a suitably eccentric host for this intriguing but inevitably confused overview of synth history. We learn lots of things: that ‘Moog’ rhymes with ‘vogue’; that early Moogs cost as much as a good house and a car; that Rick Wakeman bought his first Moog off an actor who thought it was broken because he could only play one note at once; that they made Moogs out of wood so that they wouldn’t seem so ‘suspect and harmful’; that Bob Moog is a complete space cadet. Fjellestad has unearthed some fine early footage (a lecture from Gershon Kingsley, a hilarious beer commercial from Eddie Kalehoff) and adequately explores two eras of Moog history – prog rock (Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson) and the new electronica rebirth (Stereolab, Tortoise, Luke Vibert, DJ Spooky, Mix Master Mike, etc). But there are too many baffling ommissions – Walter Carlos, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Tonto’s Expanding Headband, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, rave culture… Somebody will hopefully explore this in greater length at another time.
Friday February 18 2005