Boomkat Product Review:
Jeremiah Chiu flexes his cables at Los Angeles' Vintage Synthesizer Museum on 'In Electric Time', using a mind-boggling arsenal of gear to evoke some of early electronic music's most enduring staples. RIYL Raymond Scott, the Radiophonic Workshop, Mort Garson.
Last spotted collaborating with string player Marta Sofia Honer, Taiwanese-American multi-instrumentalist Chiu got snagged on synths when he was still a teenager, and since then has become fascinated not only by their possibilities, but their history. 'In Electric Time' is a virtual voyage thru the Vintage Synthesizer Museum, and Chiu whirls us through the vaults, using the kind of gear you'd usually need Bezos money to spring for. There's the fabled Serge modular, a gaggle of Roland boxes (Juno-60, the Jupiters, the SH-101 and a couple of drum machines), Yamaha gear (the Vangelis approved CS-80, for example) and Korg bits (MS20, MS10, Trident MKIII and others), plus a few outliers like the Elka Synthex and the Gleeman Pentaphonic. And Chiu shows everything off by capturing the essence of what made those vintage productions so crucial - the idiosyncrasies of eccentric, creative analog instruments.
By the time he arrived at the museum, Chiu was well prepared. He'd spent years researching many of these synths or tinkering with clones, so he let the instruments guide him, and got stuck into their complicated CV and mixer setups. 'In Electric Time' is fully improvised, and took Chiu two days to record, giving it a level of immediacy that's often lacking in so much overworked contemporary DAW productions. It's nostalgic gear of course, but there's a joy here that quickly froths to the surface.
Short, sharp ideas like the feathery 'ElectroComp 101' and the nervous, rhythmic 'For Voices' break up Chiu's longer, more developed ideas, like the 7-minute 'Rococco Rondo', a watery, Harmonia-esque reverie spirals around a rugged analog bassline. On 'Brush with Thin Air', he captures the outer-space mystery of some of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's best soundtrack material, and on the title track, touches the ramshackle brilliance of early Carl Craig, adding a trace of Jean-Michel Jarre for good measure.