Early electronic-music magazine Synapse digitized | Bleader

Early electronic-music magazine Synapse digitized


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The debut issue of Synapse
  • The debut issue of Synapse
Sometimes it's nice to be reminded just how fast technology is actually moving, and this morning I got a big nudge. I’d never heard of the short-lived music magazine Synapse, which published just 12 issues between 1976 and 1979, focusing on nonacademic electronic music. Most of the features focused on major figures in pop, rock, and jazz who embraced synthesizers, including Devo, Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer, Tangerine Dream, and Frank Zappa, and there was also an emphasis on gear and systems. These days, when so much music is made using relatively cheap home computers, it's kind of mind-boggling to remember that just a few decades ago synthesizers were outrageously expensive, usually cumbersome, and often starkly limited in function.

I learned about Synapse because some kind soul has digitized every page of all 12 issues. There are genuinely fascinating interviews with Ralph Hutter and Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, who aggressively disparage the consumerism of American culture, as well as with Robert Moog and others, but just as entertaining are the advertisements from various synthesizer manufacturers. The articles on technological developments are a little dense for someone like me, but they reflect an era where possibilities were beginning to burst wide open, even while most music fans had no idea what was going on at university research labs and private studios. I've only dipped my toe into these issues, and there are clearly many more hours of amazement and edification to be had.

Today's playlist:

Eldridge Holmes, Deep Southern Soul (AIM)
Charlie Spand, Dreaming the Blues: The Best of Charlie Spand (Yazoo)
Homayoun Shajarian & Dastan Ensemble, Mayeh-ye Dashti/Mayeh-ye Isfahan (Celestial Harmonies)
Valgeir Sigurdsson, Draumalandio (Community Bedroom)
Davy Graham, Godington Boundary (President)

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