Contact review by Silver Apples

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  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Silver Apples: Contact

Sound — 10
The avant-garde electronic band Silver Apples were making electronica music long before it was dubbed cool. "Contact" was the group's second and last official LP released in 1969. The reason for there demise after this point was a lawsuit that would envelope between the group and Pan Am airlines which forced the group to go into hiding until things settled down (luckily Pan Am doesn't even exist anymore). The issue was the album cover featuring the band members in a plane cockpit with drug paraphernalia causing the lawsuit against Kapp Records and Silver Apples. Everything you hear on here as on the debut album "Silver Apples" (1968) is solely performed by the two group members alone with Simeon Coxe using oscillators on the first album with the addition of drums and Danny Taylor on drums as usual. The bottom is always important and in this case it relies heavily on the drums to back the whole melodies and strange sounds being played and the rhythm and tempo is always well kept and never stale. The only other instrument that appears on here is banjo played by Simeon. He used his own primitive synthesizers (oscillators) that he had devised himself.

The two groundbreaking albums that they did release during the late '60s would anticipate experimental electronic music of the '70s and krautrock and even underground dance music and indie rock of the '90s. They started out as an actual rock band called the Overland Stage Electric Band but Simeon's use of 1940's vintage audio oscillators would alienate the group to the point that it would reduce the whole band to Simeon and Danny Taylor. The group named themselves the Silver Apples, after the William Butler Yeats poem "The Song of the Wandering Aengus." The arsenal of oscillators eventually grew (according to their first LP liner notes) to include "nine audio oscillators piled on top of each other and eighty-six manual controls to control lead, rhythm and bass pulses with hands, feet and elbows." Simeon devised a system of telegraph keys and pedals to control tonality and chord changes, and reportedly never learned to play traditional piano-styled keyboards or synthesizers.

Lyrics — 9
With their legacy firmly rooted in place, Silver Apples decided to take to the studio a year later, and also take a lot of drugs with them. With a roster of just two constant members in main man, Simeon, and human-battering ram Danny Taylor, they wrote nine otherworldly experimental tracks, that still stand up to anything that is self consciously avant-garde today. To list the number of bands that owe their entire careers directly to Silver Apples would be pointless, boring and pretentious, but the number is high, and scarily enough, doesn't seem to be getting any less as each year goes on.There is a spacey and universal cosmic approach to lyrics and the the whole process of songwriting and synthesized melodies really gets better than the debut which was also amazing but I feel this was better because they were getting stronger in their material mainly having a great mutual collaborative relationship with Taylor letting Simeon take over and lead the group. "Ruby" has a great dreamy setting with square dance beat and splendid banjo playing, it really shows a great unique edge here sounding like nothing else and creating music that is just amazingly its own self in a time with a lot of cliches in music, and it really goes against standard mainstream music at that time but still carries a punch of psychedelic rock in the mood the music conveys totally different amidst an era when everyone was using the guitar too much and not varying between the plethora of instruments available that most people don't know or care about.

"Fantasies" is a bizarre little ditty revolving around a cacophonous rolling drumbeat, coupled with a simple and minimalistic synthesizer riff. In this track it is extremely interesting to note Simeon and Taylor's improvisational relationship, with the former regularly stating, "change course... now," whenever a new bout of mind bending improvisation is about to occur. "Confusion" is a brilliant and raucous track that is clearly attempting to emulate the experience of being on drugs and it does it extremely well, just generally the slow pace of life in space are all captured in the haze of about a tonne of L.S.D. Drones play a vital part in crafting the Silver Apples sound, and on "Gypsy Love" it is no longer an issue to contain them, the band stretches out into a tense 5 and a half minute epic, with Simeon seemingly mentally drained at the end of it. Opening track "You and I" is another similar affair, mixing the hippy ideals of all-consuming and suffocating love, with the instrumental steel and mechanic grit of the future. Each track really does take it's own place in the album, a point in which Silver Apples seem to have became almost experts in. "I Have Known Love" declares more solidity and ability to write a more pop sounding song with a great and beautiful melody in a playful fun song. "A Pox on You" is another darker and vengeful and darker song about ex-lovers and Simeon really pulls out some good vocals there to personify the character portrayed in the song quite marvelously.

Overall Impression — 10
This electronic duo would come years before a similar duo called Suicide in the late '70s who had a song called "Ghost Rider" off their self-titled album which really shows how this New York based band that came all the way from Tennessee years ago and disbanded shortly had so much impact. The only band that really was significant up until Suicide would have to be White Noise. Throughout the whole album the nature of the songs offer echoic and interplanetary soundscapes flirt with the more identifiable aspects of human nature; love, jealousy, anger, and basically having a good time. It's just highly innovative and groundbreaking for it's time, both of there albums are just draw breakers for having been made in the '60s.

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