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Various Artists — Synthesizer Classics
(Purple Pyramid no#, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-08-24

Synthesizer Classics Cover art

Here we have some (mostly) well-known synthesizer players covering (mostly) well-known classics of electronic music. It starts out rather nicely with Derek Sherinian’s arrangement of themes from “Tubular Bells” using keyboard instruments in place of the original’s guitars and whatnot. While it doesn’t add anything significant to the piece’s legacy, it’s enjoyable. Rick Wakeman’s take on the 1977 hit by Space, “Magic Fly,” is for the most part indistinguishable from the original aside from a few recognizably Wakeman-esque licks on the lead line and updated drum sounds. The tune “Pulstar” from Albedo 0.39 by Vangelis gets a pretty straight interpretation by Geoff Downes which smooths out some of the quirky percussion in the 1976 original. The “Chase” theme from Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack for Midnight Express is done by Jordan Rudess almost as if it were a Rick Wakeman tune from the late 70s, taking the purely electronic original and making it sound more like a band is playing it. Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene Part 4” gets a faithful rendering by Patrick Moraz that strays very little from what it sounded like in 1976 barring some slightly different synth patches. Another movie theme, this one from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, is more or less identical to its source material if you haven’t heard it for a while — maybe Thijs van Leer has polished some it's rough edges. Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France” gets a modernized treatment by Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez, credited here as Nyte Jewel) which sounds like a beefed-up dance remix with female vocals. And we finish off with Larry Fast doing the 1985 disco tune “Visitors” by Koto. This is a tune I was unfamiliar with, but a little research turned it up — a catchy bit of electronic dance music similar to what Moroder and others were doing at the time. Fast’s version avoids some of the more dated 80s sounds and fits well among the other more well-known pieces. There you have it. Synthesizer Classics is a fun exercise which doesn’t add much to these pieces of music, but fans of the players involved might enjoy it.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Mike Oldfield, Rick Wakeman, Jean-Michel Jarre, Larry Fast (Synergy), Patrick Moraz, Jordan Rudess, Various Artists, Kraftwerk, Geoff Downes, Thijs van Leer


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