Tag: Patrick Cowley

New Audio: Electronic Music Pioneer Patrick Cowley’s Posthumously Released, Early Experimental and Psychedelic-Tinged Electronica

Born in Buffalo, NY, the highly influential and forward-thinking electronic music producer and artist Patrick Cowley relocated to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late 70s, Cowley’s synthesizer and production techniques landed him a gig writing and producing songs for legendary, gender-bending disco superstar Sylvester, including the sultry and propulsive, smash hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” 

Around the same time, Cowley managed to create his own brand of party music, known as Hi-NRG, which was also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound” and by 1981, he had released a string of 12″ singles as a solo artist, including “Menergy” and “Megatron Man.” Interestingly, 1981 was an incredibly busy year for the legendary electronic music producer and artist: he co-founded Megatone Records, which released his debut album Megatron Man. 

During that same year, Cowley as hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness. which would later become known as AIDS. Recovering for a brief spell he went on to produce Sylvester’s smash hit “Do You Want to Funk” and Paul Parker’s “Right on Target,” as well as his sophomore album Mind Warp. Tragically. Cowley died two weeks after his 32nd birthday from an AIDS-related illness.  Since his death, Patrick Cowley has become one of electronic music’s most influential and forward-thinking artists and producers.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, his previously released work has seen posthumous re-issues, including a re-issue of Mind Warp a few years ago. 

With growing attention on the late electronic music pioneer’s work, a collection of previously unreleased material written between 1973-1980 was recently discovered. Dubbed Mechanical Fantasy Box, the 13 previous unreleased songs will be released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same name, and the compilation is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. Interestingly, these songs were written and recorded  before drum machines and programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis with the material being highly experimental. Sonically, the material flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic, ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. 

Some songs were mixed from 4-track stems by Joe Tarantino and all of the compilation’s 13 songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl edition comes housed in a black and white gatefold jacket Gwenaël Rattke featuring a photograph by Susan Middleton, liner notes by bandmate Maurice Tani and an 8.5×11 insert with notes. But more important, proceeds from the compilation will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV sine 1982. 

Clocking in at just a smidge under 11:30, Mechanical Fantasy Box’s first single “Lumberjacks in Heat” manages to be a trippy synthesis of John Carpenter soundtracks krautrock-inspired prog rock and psychedelia as the composition is centered by layers of shimmering and fluttering bursts of synths and some propulsive and forceful drumming.   Interestingly, much like Kraftwerk’s legendary and influential work, this previously unreleased single manages to simultaneously be of its time and remarkably contemporary — as though it could have been part of the retro-futuristic wave. 

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New Video: The Disco and Synth Pop Inspired Visuals and Sounds of Chrissy and Hawley’s Feminist Anthem “I Got A Life to Lead”

Now as you may also know, as the story goes both Chrissy and Shoffner are originally from Kansas, which the duo immediately bonded over and they began working on material that effortlessly meshes both of their unique styles into something rather seamless. Their self-titled debut’s latest single “I Got A Life to Lead” has the duo pairing Shoffner’s bitterly and frankly incisive lyrics telling off a selfish, needlessly combative, soon-to-be former lover, with a sleek and sensual production that would make the legendary Giorgio Moroder proud — as tambourine, shimmering and undulating synths, a propulsive motorik groove, stuttering drum programming, a sinuous bass line, a subtle yet noticeable string sample and an anthemic hook to craft a song that’s not only a certified disco-influenced club banger and a great tell off to any asshole soon-to-be former lover, who you’ve gotten sick and tired of and a decidedly feminist anthem in the veins of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” — but while openly saying “I’ve moved on from the foolish bullshit.”

The recently released video borrows liberally from 80s tropes and follows Shoffner singing and swaying along to the song as though she were in a karaoke bar — but shot in a seductive and hazy hues of purple, green and red, complete with views from several different TVs and a brief appearance by Chrissy pressing buttons. And in some small way, the video should remind folks of how deeply influenced the Chicago-based duo are by late period disco and 80s synth pop but while putting a subtle modern feel on it.

New Video: The Coquettish Sounds and Playful Visuals of Up-and-Coming Chicago-based Electro Pop Duo Chrissy and Hawley

As the story goes, Chrissy and Shoffner are both originally from Kansas — although they met in Chicago and began working together on an album that effortlessly meshes both of their unique styles — and as you’ll hear on their latest single “My Top Twenty,” off their soon-to-be released self-titled debut effort, Chrissy pairs a propulsive production of shimmering, brief bursts of twinkling keys and wobbling synths and skittering drum programming with Shoffner’s coquettish vocals singing lyrics about the connection between love and your favorite albums. And in some way, the duo’s latest single reminds me quite a bit of the propulsive and shimmering sounds of Soft Metals impressive Lenses album and classic house music — although “My Top Twenty” is far more coquettish and airier.

The recently released music video is an appropriately lighthearted and goofy video that features the duo’s Hawley Shoffner singing the song at a karaoke bar while the video within the video features Shoffner pensively wandering around parts of Chicago and goofing around in the karaoke-styled visuals you’d expect to see in a karaoke bar.