First off, you’re probably wondering “What in god’s name are the two drawings up-top doing in an album review? Has Gumshoe gone soft in the, you know?”
Well, I’m introducing a new Gumshoe Grove feature called “Sound Art.” Sound Art is a collaborative project between my wife and I, wherein I play her a full-length LP and she sketches whatever the music moves her to.
I, lacking any real artistic talent, then color in random sections …
The album I chose for the first edition is one of the trippiest pieces in my record collection and anyone else’s, for that matter: Zero Time by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band (“Tonto” being an acronym for the Original New Timbral Orchestra), on Embryo Records, 1971.
Zero Time makes sense for Sound Art because it’s such a vivid collection of synth madness, vocoder stretch marks, low-end molasses-burble, sonic swirls and sample-delica it’s impossible NOT to have visions of some kind while imbibing it.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say the top drawing looks like Rainbow Brite’s beating heart. No? But seriously, the sight of a tissue-ous mass feeding off whatever is around it echoes perfectly the palpitations beating away in the backrooms of Zero Time.
The drawing for Side B? To me it looks like a grip of balloons being cocooned by a tyrannical tornado but sticking together in the face of the sheer force of it all … or something.
There are so many groups that siphen a bit of Zero Time — the brainchild of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, whom collaborated with Robert Moog and then formed T.O.N.T.O., the world’s largest moog synth — for their creations I can barely scratch the surface of who these guys influenced directly or indirectly (and hey, White Noise‘s 1969 synth-cake-with-Moog-icing An Electric Storm, not to mention their Dr. Who theme, a personal Gumshoe all-time favorite, slipped Tonto some punch, too), but here goes:
- Black Moth Super Rainbow, especially their vocoder mystique and synth worship;
- The soundtrack to the original Terminator by Brad Fiedel, brutal and wonderfully dated as it is (as I suspected, it goes for $44.00 — to start — on Amazon FOR THE CD!!!);
- Aphex Twin; pretty much all of his stuff;
- Falling Lights/Wolf Eyes/Nate Young/etc.
- Harmonia/Brian Eno/Cluster and that whole crowd, though I’d chalk a lot of the cross-pollination up to syncronicity …
There are a million others out there that have somehow toked off this unholy, RIGHTEOUSLY STONY record and come up smiling, it’s just a shame more haven’t had the pleasure. I found my copy on vinyl for $10, so it can’t be THAT hard to find, right? Get to work (and watch the video below if you have any doubts) …