CD Review: Music to Moog by Gershon Kingsley

I got 2 CDs for Christmas, both of which were synth-oriented and included the music of Gershon Kingsley. I specifically wanted the second one for his recording of “Pop Corn”.

Gershon worked with Perrey on the “In Sound from Way Out” (1966) and ” Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out” (1967, reissued in 1971 as “Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog”) (from the wiki entry). After this, they followed solo careers, with a lot of Perrey’s music showing up on CD 2 of “The Out Sound From Way In” 3-CD set. To learn more about Gershon’s material, you need to check out things like “Music to Moog by” (1969), “God is a Moog” or the movie “Silent Night, Bloody Night,” which he scored (1974).

(Image taken from the Tower Records site.)

Music to Moog by (2007, Tam-Tam Media) consists of 11 tracks, mostly covers. Unfortunately, there’s no liner notes, meaning that this reissue really doesn’t help us learn more about Gershon’s approach to these songs outside of what we hear of them.

Hey, Hey – A kind of psychedelic 60’s piece where the main lyric is people chanting “Hey”
Scarborough Fair – Traditional Yorkshire ballad.
For Alisse Beethoven – Beethoven’s Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor
Sheila – Unknown ballad
Pop Corn – Gershon original
The First Step – Sounds like a 1970’s TV drama theme
Twinkle, Twinkle – A 60’s pop reworking of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
Nowhere Man – A reworking of the Beatles song
Sunset Sound – Soft pop
Trumansburg Whistle – Kind of a love song
Paperback Writer – Beatles cover

Funny enough, when I ripped the CD with Windows Media Player, it somehow managed to screw up the track numbering and “lost” “The First Step“. Anyway, these are all supposed to have been composed on the Moog, and Gershon takes advantage of just about every feature on it. Lots of frequency filter sweeps, and envelope shaping. While many of the songs sound campy now, like “Paperback Writer” and “Hey, Hey“, the main value this CD provides is as research material for students of electronica. “Pop Corn” is a great song, and “Twinkle, Twinkle” is as catchy as it is weird with its use of the LFO to modulate the audio oscillator pitch. I like “For Alisse Beethoven“, but it’s got a “wall of sound” feel that makes it come across as “muddy” to me. “The First Step” sounds a lot like a 70’s TV drama opening theme, which makes it kind of ahead of it’s time.

Again, I consider this CD to be reference material for anyone wanting to mess with synthesized sound. It’s also good if you’re a fan of the old Moog synth. Highly recommended.

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