Thursday, June 4, 2009

SIlver Apples - Silver Apples

Submitted by AA Wallace (Rapper, Frontman)

In the last twenty years or so loop based drumming has become quite popular. It is not uncommon to see a mix of acoustic and electronic drums on a single kit, or various brains, trigger pads, samplers, or whatever else drummers can buy. I don't know where the money comes from, every drummer I know is broke as shit, but someone is buying all of this stuff, and given the success of Tony Verdosas VFX cymbal line, it isn't going away anytime soon.

When you ask various drummers what influenced them to start building bionic drum kits you get varied responses. Some use them to practice their time at home (metronomes won't do anymore, I guess), some are influenced by electronic drum and bass acts, some by early krautrock or new wave bands like Kraftwerk, Joy Division or Devo, and some just like to have every gadget and toy available on the market.

Once you get the basics down with loop drumming the possibilities are endless, you can basically do whatever the fuck you want as long as you catch up to the loop eventually. It's a good way to practice internal time, but it shouldn't be the be-all end-all of your playing. You can depend on loops indefinitely, and it sort of makes your job easy.

Danny Taylor didn't have it so easy.

Before all these gadgets and gizmos were available in every music store, Silver Apples were experimenting with electronics in a different way. They had audio oscillators. Nine of them. Stacked on top of each other with dozens of manual controls. Simeon Coxe would be at the helm, controlling them, while Danny Taylor sat behind the kit and tried to make sense of it all.

Taylor didn't set out to be the pioneer of electronic drumming, it sort of just happened. Their original band was pretty standard, but as Coxe began bringing in oscillators to practice, members started quitting, they thought it was getting too weird. Whether out of curiosity or necessity Taylor was the only one who stuck by Coxe's side, and they renamed themselves Silver Apples.

Their debut album, Silver Apples (I know let's see how many times I can write Silver Apples), was obviously made to showcase Coxes new toys, but Taylor gets to show his stuff as well. The fact that he could play in this band is impressive enough, but the beats on songs like Whirly-Bird and Program have a light jazz feel to them, while Dancing Gods is purely tribal, it has a primitive feel to it despite the advanced state of the technology at the time. Velvet Cave has him all over the kit but he never loses time, he is as much a machine as the oscillators.

Taylor didn't get to set all the electronic parts to a metronome or a steady tempo, he had to rely on inner rhythm to pull this off. He played acoustic drums in an electronic way, not the other way around.

Think about that next time you shell out four grand for a set of Rolands.

Audio/Visual Evidence: Download The Album Why Don'tcha.

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