From the New York Times, which offered up a nice round-up of geeky offerings, both musical and otherwise:
One of the most forward-looking things I heard at Moogfest was 50 years old. Herbert Deutsch, a composer who collaborated in the invention of the first Moog synthesizers, played a tape recording that Moog had sent him in 1964. It was a demonstration, using familiar melodies, of the swooping, unruly, proudly artificial sounds that Mr. Moog had just created with the synthesizer prototype that he was calling “the Abominatron.” In comments between the tunes, he asked Mr. Deutsch “what you think the potential of a contraption like this is.”
He added, “It doesn’t sound like much when I play it. Maybe someone with more musicianship and imagination can get some good things out of it.”
He was right about that.
More remarkable than an alien landing was what happened to the historic venue on Saturday night. In gold leggings, a lime sweatshirt and black bucket hat, MIA swaggered on stage and kept swaggering for a too-short two hours, culminating in a female-only audience stage invasion for Bad Girls that swiftly became an ass-shaking contest.
She and her dancers acted as though they were claiming the stage as an act of bravado, swinging around sweat towels and erupting into movement as and when they felt like it. Sometimes they burst into synchronicity (the four of them capering back and forth the stage like cartoon thieves was a great moment) but everything else was freestyled. By the time she got to Paper Planes, MIA had managed something miraculous – she’d made this genteel venue feel like an illegal rave.
Make Noise are Asheville-based analogue synth makers, and they make some really cool modular synthesizers. On display were a few different synths, including the Shared System, which is used by artists on the Make Noise record label. These synth systems are housed in keyboards, so festival-goers were able to noodle on them in proper fashion.
Make Noise also offers a variety of standalone analogue modules, so that people can build their very own synthesizers. All Make Noise modules are made to Eurorack specifications, which specifies the dimensions, power supply, and signal standards. Likewise, they recommended that anyone interested in using individual Make Noise modules or entire systems can use Eurorack-specific MIDI keyboard, such as Kenton Pro Solo or Kenton Modular Solo keyboards.
And finally, from Huffington Post, on “the joys of Moogfest”:
With its mile-wide grid of locally owned vegetarian cafés, sushi bars and sustainable clothing shops, Asheville’s pedestrian-friendly streets provided the perfect backdrop for middle-aged techno geeks, twentysomething hipsters and hippies of all ages to converge in a swirl of analog ambition.
For the musically serious, Moogfest offered scientific demonstrations, such as the one in which keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson (of classic prog rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer) played a newly constructed, hand-soldered Moog Modular System built by the company’s engineers from an original schematic that applied the same techniques used by its founder when he developed the first voltage-controlled synthesizer back in 1964.
For the rest of us, there were the concerts, which took place in a combination of indoor and outdoor venues including nightclubs, theatres and a festival stage adjacent to Moog headquarters under an overpass gilded with psychedelic murals.
Photo courtesy of Moogfest.