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Silver Apples – Whirly-Bird / Oscillations

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Silver Apples - Whirly Bird Oscillations

Since first appearing in 1968, Silver Apples‘ “Oscillations” — and perhaps to a lesser degree the flipside track, “Whirly-Bird” — have gradually become to be recognised as key pioneering moments in the history of electronic music that they most assuredly are. Play Loud! have pulled out all the stops for this, the first re-release of the single since its first appearance nearly half a century ago, giving it the remastering treatment along the way and faithfully reproducing the Kapp Records sleeve in facsimile.

In his 1985 survey of the form, Electronic And Experimental Music, Thomas B Holmes lists “curious duo” Silver Apples in the section detailing key electronic music acts, wistfully concluding, “I think I may be their only remaining fan”. That was of course well before the internet made everything ever recorded instantly available, no matter how ignored or misunderstood at the time of its release. Silver Apples have long since received their rightful recognition as both pioneers and an act who remain (in the shape of sole surviving member Simeon) more than capable of getting a dancefloor moving without need for nostalgia to fuel their timeless mix of wonky electronics with irresistible grooves.

“Whirly-Bird” is the more insistent track, rollicking on a clatter of Danny Taylor‘s percussion while Simeon’s home-built oscillators (named in his own honour) provide the motive pulse, their vocals paired in ecstatic, blissed-out paean to what sounds like it might be some kind of cosmic rotor-winged craft. Or maybe it’s just what the stuttering, churning VCOs sounded like at the time — and still do. But it’s “Oscillations” which remains the duo’s crowning glory, an untouchable combination of wheezing bleeps, Taylor’s muscular drumming and the Simeon’s shimmering, unearthly interjections sprinkling, shining and rubbing up the tune until it sparkles in a frenetic collision of accessibility with what were then avant-garde and largely unexplored sounds of a whole new way of making music.

Delivered in a welter of accreting tones and with all the pulsating, plangent honesty that Simeon could muster, have there ever been more evocative song lyrics written about the substance of and joyfulness to be found in electronic music? “Oscillations, oscillations / Electronic evocations of sound’s reality / Spinning, magnetic fluctuations, waves of wave configurations / That dance between the poles off sound and bind my world to soul” — how could anyone resist?

-Linus Tossio-

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