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Silver Apples - Silver Apples  CD (album) cover

SILVER APPLES

Silver Apples

 

Proto-Prog

3.53 | 23 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars SILVER APPLES were one of those proto-electronic rock pioneer bands that emerged in the experimental and anything goes late 60s and despite not being a household name like many other acts of the era, still managed to sow its seeds in the fabric of the rock world only to find them sprouting several years later. The band was essentially a duo that composed of Simeon Oliver Coxe III, who simply went by The Simeon and Danny Taylor. Both members emerged out of the early rock band The Overland Stage Electric Band playing regularly in the East Village, NYC, but after Simeon's fascination with a 1940s audio oscillator that he was trying to incorporate into the band he soon found himself parting ways bringing drummer Danny Taylor along for the ride.

After some inventive tweaking of his beloved oscillator the duo set forth to record an extremely experimental album for the time following in the wake of the great year of 67 when The Beatles changed all the rules with "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club." The band called themselves SILVER APPLES and followed the cue of perhaps the only other similar band that came before, namely Fifty Foot Hose. They released this eponymous debut release on Kapp Records a mere six months later and a mere few months after the other great American electronic pioneers The United States Of America.

Upon first listen, this one may sound somewhat familiar as the innovations on this album have been well integrated into the fabric of the rock world the ensuing decades. Where SILVER APPLES differentiated themselves from the other electronic pioneers of the era were in the fact that they didn't use electronic effects as mere atmospheric generators shrouded around the rock aspects of music. They actually melded it all into the rock music itself thus creating some of the first synthesized minimalism in a rock context, the likes of which would reverberate into the Krautrock world of Neu!, Can and most of all Kraftwerk and would in turn influence bands like Suicide and other so-called synth punk acts. The technique was far ahead of its time and found its way into tons of 70s dance music and even 90s indie rock.

The opening track "Oscillations" sets the tone for the entire album to follow. It starts the show with an oscillator changing pitch before a groovy 60s drumbeat joins in. While many experimental albums can literally transcend all time and the era in which they were created, SILVER APPLES is one of those bands like The United States Of America that is firmly rooted in the 1968 time continuum and employs both groovy percussion and period vocal styles as well. The juxtaposition of the familiar with the unorthodox is what makes this an interesting mix. While some may feel the connection to the time is what drags this down, i feel the exact opposite as i don't believe experimental music needs to divorce itself from its respective era of creation. In fact, i love being drawn into the subculture of an era i was not a part of. SILVER APPLES firmly places itself amongst the psychedelic pop of the tumultuous 60s and ups the ante by eschewing the ubiquitous aspects of period psychedelic music by removing guitars and bass and replacing it with unusual electronic embellishments.

Simeon was brilliant in that he managed to forego the traditional instruments by his ability to control tonality and chord changes with his own invented system of telegraph keys and pedals in which he could alter the pitches. While psychedelic rock with beatnik flower children vibes are the mainstay, there are many influences on board which were hitherto unincorporated into the rock arena as well, the most striking example being the Native American powwow drumming that pummels most boldly through tracks like "Dust" which slowly ratchets up the intensity to an energetic and satisfying finale.

While i don't always find highly influential albums to be the most interesting listens in their own right, i am pleasantly surprised how well SILVER APPLES pulls off their debut album with the constant pulsing drones, the monochromatic periods of sustained chords that evoke a mysterious sense of tension that milks a certain mood for all its worth while the percussion dances around energetically in stark contrast. While the vocals do evoke a 60s feel, they evoke an occult underground type of fringe music. This would have been the nerdy outsider's type of music of the day. Although SILVER APPLES didn't experience the greatest success at the time as this was probably just a little too far ahead of its time, this debut album has gone on to become very regarded and one that i find matches the hype surrounding it.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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