Over the past 100 years, there have been a handful of people that every musician and every music fan should hold revered, as they’ve managed to change how the music we love sounds, how its produced and sold, as well as the access towards instruments, recording gear and equipment for musicians of all stripes. In particular, without Les Paul and Leo Fender, both of whom were important figures in the development of the electric guitar and the amplification of life music, most of the modern music that we love, and that I find myself writing about the most would be impossible. And if you know anything about electronic music, synthesizers, sequencers and the like, you’re likely extremely familiar with Robert “Bob” Moog, who was behind the development of the synthesizer for commercial consumption in the early 1960s, and the founder of one of the most popular, well-known instrument companies in the entire world. Certainly, as synthesizers and sequences have become smaller and cheaper, it’s lead to incredible developments — including at times, the increasing use of synthesizers and other electronics in dance music, pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz and other genres.
Although Bob Moog was born in New York, Moog’s company, Moog Music is located in Asheville, NC, where Moog spent the last 30 years of his life. And continuing on with Moog’s reputation for creativity and experimentation, the folks at Moog have spent the past couple of years inviting artists across a variety of genres to the Moog Sound Lab, a retro-futuristic room filled with from ceiling to floor with a wild variety of synthesizers, processors, programmers, drum machines and other electronic devices. All of the invited artists are free to experiment with any devices they feel fit, and then the artist would record a radically different version of a song from their catalog. Now, if you’ve been following JOVM for a bit, you know that they’ve invited The Black Angels, Deltron 3030, Escort, Publicist and Sylvan Esso, among others.
Sylvan Esso, the collaborative effort between Amelia Meath (vocals) of Mountain Man and Nick Sanborn of Megafaun have been blogosphere darlings over the past year or so, as the project is a radical departure from both Meath’s and Sanborn’s primary projects, as synths and other electronics are used to create swirling atmospherics and pulsing grooves for Meath’s coquettish and easy-going vocals.
Meath and Sanborn recently returned to the Moog Sound Lab to re-work “H.S.K.T.” off their critically acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut. The album version pairs Meath’s vocals with an percussive backtrack with layers of gently undulating synths in a song that’s mischievous and danceable. The duo’s Moog Sound Lab version is a subtle yet thorough reworking of the song, as this version quickens the tempo of the synths so that the song now sounds as though it were drawing influence from Donna Summer‘s “I Feel Love” and Soft Metals‘ “Lenses” while also retaining the original’s mischievous nature. (Check out the original version above, and the Moog Sound Lab version below.)