Silver Apples were one of the first groups to emerge from the primordial slime that followed the invention of the synthesiser.
Often reverting to home made equipment, the duo sketched out some dazzling electronic designs, matching the psychedelic atmosphere of the late 60s to their dazzingly inventive techniques.
Two albums followed, each strikingly ahead of its time, before Silver Apples passed into the history books, for a time at least.
Reforming in the 90s, a new generation of post-rave experimentalists welcomed the group, whose work suddenly made sense in a fresh context.
Founder Simeon Coxe III drove Silver Apples to fresh acceptance, with their staggering live performances becoming the stuff of legend.
Sadly, Simeon Coxe III died earlier this week, but his work retains its uncanny potency.
Here, The Horrors’ synth mangler Tom Furse writes for Clash about Silver Apples, and their astonishing legacy.
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Simeon was doing things in 1968 that we now consider classic hallmarks of experimental music, and possibly helped to define the fuzzy line we draw around a certain type of underground sound. Home-made instruments of curious design, drummer and synth duo, sampling found sounds, etc.
These albums could have been last week and we’d still applaud their imagination. They were a synth-pop duo before there was synth-anything. While others were busy at music colleges doing experiments with static oscillator tones and giving themselves a pat on the back for being revolutionary, Simeon saw an opportunity for song and melody and made the oscillators dance and sing.
This is one I would play at old Horrors haunt The Cave Club, it was probably one of the records I would play first in my set to say ‘ok, things are going to get a bit weirder now’. That deep oscillator drone and then THAT beat comes in.
There weren’t a lot of people using delay like Simeon was using it, which isn’t unusual for Simeon, but was unusual in pop music at the time – he’s really using tricks every techno producer uses now.
Simeon was using it to build up rhythms and hooks where most people were just using it because it sounded kinda cool.
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There’s an inherent sadness or off-ness in Silver Apples. All the instruments being a bit out of tune probably helped, but tracks like these have a deep melancholy in them hidden amongst what sounds what quite a naive tune.
In another era Simeon may have been a folk bard singing haunting stories but instead he found himself in the late 60s surrounded by odd poetry and oscillators.
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‘Ecstatic Meditations’ will be released on October 23rd.
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