Okay, perhaps Moogfest has a built-in advantage in its theme. Affection for Moog among synth aficionados is akin to affection for chocolate or unicorns – perhaps not universal, but darned widespread and passionate.
But looking at the lineup for Moogfest, it’s apparent how the name of just one early pioneer of electronic musical instruments can resonate across genres. The festival, which once began as a humble gathering of a few names in music, continues to expand its roster of artists as the weekend of October 26-27 approaches in Asheville, North Carolina. And while electronic music fans might balk at the number of sheer bands, perhaps that says something about the state of live music festivals in the United States: it really is an eclectic scene of artists, and they really are indebted to rock-and-roll, and they really do like things like Moogerfoogers and Voyagers (among other things).
There are some more experimental entries, though, too, returning Moogfest to some of its earlier roots, the titan being none other than Morton Subotnick. Subotnick’s ongoing legacy surely pits him as one of the great composers in electronic music, and an innovator in interaction and design, to boot. (What I think is harder to measure, in fact, is Subotnick’s impact on other artists, composers, and designers, though that’s the topic for another time. And oh yes, he used Buchla synths and not just Moog modulars. The Moog name can be a great window for people into the wider landscape of instrument history.)
From our friends at the fest, we’re happy to share a Spotify playlist of some of the music. There are some terrific tracks in there — some of my favorite Four Tet, Squarepusher, Prefuse 73, and Carl Craig cuts make the list, but watch in particular for Subotnick’s landmark “Silver Apples of the Moon,” to say nothing of hearing Orbital cover Doctor Who (by Derbyshire/Grainer at BBC).
It’s the third edition of the festival “under new ownership” – there was a New York rendition for a time, and a more informal gathering before that. (I do hope that the unofficial alternate Roguefest happens again this year – organizers, let us know.) But it appears that Moogfest is really coming into its own in the new format.
Explosions in the Sky
The Magnetic Fields
GZA presents Liquid Swords
Pantha Du Prince
Shpongle presents The Masquerade
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin
Mouse on Mars
Prefuse 73 with Teebs
Morton Subotnick presents From Silver Apples to a Sky of Cloudless Sulfur
Bear in Heaven
Harold Budd with Keith Lowe*
Buke & Gase
Wick-It the Instigator
From the festival’s 2011 highlights, here’s a look at the atmosphere of the event in video reel form: