Walter (or Wendy) Carlos performing Moog interpretations from of The Beatles, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Burt Bacharach, and Johann Sebastian Bach? Hell yes! Sign me up! Released in 1975 on Columbia Masterworks (and this truly is a masterwork), By Request is a great little novelty album perfect for lazy Friday afternoons with little-to-nothing to do. Enjoy your records responsibly, kids, and happy Friday!
“The combination of country music and the Moog brings it all together with a “Now” sound that will hold up for a long time to come.” Betsy Rothner knew this, and now, so do you. Gil Trythall, the brilliant mastermind behind this gap-filling, genre-breaking, crossover album “was born in Tennessee and still lives there with his Moog and some other people.” I hope Mr. Trythall’s Moog is paying its fair share of the bills or those “other people” might start to get uppity and turn Tennessee into a flour spilling, brick breaking riot fest (reference to the album cover).
I have no Earthly idea where I got this album, or why it exists to begin with, but somebody, somewhere in time thought they’d jump on the Walter/Wendy Carlos inspired Switched On bandwagon and capitalize on the 15 minute frenzy. This is NOT an album you’d simply throw on in the background at your next, vegetarian dinner party. This is niche music with a demographic consisting only of Gil Trythall’s roommates… the illusive “other people.”
Capitalizing 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.
Creating 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.