1975: Pictures at an Exhibition

TomitaCapitalizing on the early 70’s popularity of reinvented “Electronic” adaptations of Classical classics, Isao Tomita focuses on the 1874 suite by Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky, titled, Pictures at an Exhibition. Isao Tamita creates a very dark and dreary wall of impending, electronic-doom-music… AND IT’S AWESOME!

70’s Electro was made famous in large part by Walter/Wendy Carlos’ invigorating take on the works of Ludwig van Beethoven in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Although the back sleeve accurately indicates that (up to that time) electronic instruments had only been around for nearly 50 years (with the ethereal launch of Leon Theremin’s well, Theremin in 1927), there were only a small handful of “Electronic” albums obtainable by the social conscious. Four that I can think of are 1) the groundbreaking Soundtrack to Forbidden Planet in 1956, 2) George Harrison’s first studio album (yes, THAT George Harrison), 1969’s Electronic Sound, 3) Walter Carlos’ 1968 debut, Switched-On Bach, and 4) the 1966 release of The In Sound from Way Out! by Perrey and Kingsley.

Tomita BackCreating electrified modernizations of decades-old classics must have been difficult for some to digest in the mid 1970’s… boy were those narrow-minded purists in for a treat when Disco hit just a few short years later.

The late 60’s/early 70’s electronic movement is definitely something to explore. To say it is little more than a Classical suite or symphony with an electronic filter would completely sell this infant-like genre depressingly short. The guitar, invented in the 13th Century, didn’t get electrified until the 1930’s. Electronic music has yet to hit its centennial mark… imagine its overwhelming future. Isao Tomita did, and it’s evident by his work on Pictures at an Exhibition.

Album Review: The In Sound from Way Out! – Perrey-Kingsley

CoverHaving to check, TWICE, that the beginning of this album was indeed on 33 1/3 (instead of on 45rpm, duh), I’m willingly forced to adjust my expectations so that they’re broad enough to ingest the enormity of this electronic Grand Canyon (other alternatives could be, the Pacific Ocean and/or Nic Cage’s forehead).

Labeled as Space Age Pop, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley cut and paste an album containing, what they imagined the music of their future (our past) had to offer. HOLY FUGG, DID THEY MISS THE MARK! But, as you continue to listen to this borderline children’s album (because it’s so unbelievably and unquestionably playful), the creative objective takes backseat to the subconscious joy that The In Sound offers to the willing cerebral cortex via the fordable musical river known as the human ear canal (canals if listening in stereo).

It would be soulfully wrong to do a write-up of this album and NOT comment on the Beastie Boys (RIP MCA).  Grand Royal’s 1994 release by the Beastie Boys, similarly titled, The In Sound from Way Out! offers no similarities with regard to the grooves, but whose cover and title were based off of this 1966 classic. It was actually the Beastie Boys’ cover that I initially saw, and I had no earthly idea that it was an homage until I saw my Perry-Kingley’s In Sound in a small record shop off Clark Street in Chicago. It sometimes takes one a bit of time to dig back through the pages of music history to find historic references to modern pop culture (well, as modern as 1994 at least).

End of side 1In Sound

Now, back to the album at hand (and in ear… sorry about that). It’s really a shame that no one has ever invented a form of dance that could accompany this kind of audio bliss. It would have to combine the Chicken with Square or Ballroom Dancing, but, you know, served with like 12 pots of coffee. Sure, there have been a few advancements in humanity over the past 46 years, but there has also been some MUCH needed social growth that has fallen way too short. The Way Out Dance tops that list.

I don’t mean to discredit the technical achievement that Perrey-Kingsley display on this album, and I furthermore don’t want you to see this as an unlistenable album. For the adventurous listener seeking something uplifting, cheerful, very dated and somewhat historical (if you’re a Beastie Boys fan), or someone just wanting to hear what 1966’s version of the “future” was, The In Sound from Way Out! definitely deserves at least one spin.

Having said that, I can’t imagine hearing any of these tracks reverberating off the walls at any of the clubs here in Los Angeles (not that I have any idea what kind of music is played at these clubs), or softly emitting from the stereo at your next casual dinner party.

What I’m saying is that you need to be in the mood to listen to this album. Some people, I imagine, never feel that mood strike. And that’s fine. Others are amazed when they discover a 28-year-old connection between their favorite band and an album they never knew existed, purchase said album, then are extremely disappointed when they giddily give it a spin. I fault high expectations. But I don’t fault the music. I’ve grown to appreciate it. Perhaps, you will too.

End of side 2

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Lovingly edited by Jillian Kenney. Reluctantly edited by Jason Hardwick.