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18 Feb 2017

Calda(e)ra "A Moog Mass" 1970 US Electronic,Experimental,Avant Garde Ambient

Calda(e)ra  "A Moog Mass" 1970 US Electronic,Experimental,Avant Garde Ambient
One of the most beautiful Moog albums ever produced. Also called Caldera, they later became better-known Tonto's Expanding Head Band. This is an electronic re-interpretation of the Stabat Mater by 18th century composer Antonio Caldara making heavy use of Moog Synthesiser but maintaining a classical style. Fantastic early use of the Moog with (creepy) speech synthesis effects..... awesome !!
 A Moog Mass is an obscure electronic version of the infamous hymn to Mary. This album by Caldera is a bit different than other electronic artists on this site for a couple reasons - spacey, cosmic and experimental sounds are traded out for harpsichords and moogs played in the medieval style, and vocals are included that are vocoded to the point where the language being sung is incomprehensible. A Moog Mass is a strange combination of new technology (for the time) and extremely old musical material and concept, but it seems to work pretty well in my opinion. I certainly wouldn't compare this to anything by Tangerine Dream or Schulze, or anything else I've heard; based on all of the electronic music I've heard, A Moog Mass is unique. The best thing that I could compare this to would be a combination of Daft Punk vocals and Justice's musical epicness, minus the dance tendencies.
This album really is very interesting, and definitely not bad. The only part of the album that I don't care for are the male spoken introductions to each track that are backed by hypnotizing spacey sound effects, because it doesn't fit with the music at all.

If you ever have the opportunity to listen to this album, I'd definitely recommend that you do so. Something different like this is always good to experience at least once. I found A Moog Mass to be a greatly enjoyable and refreshing listen, like some experiments tend to be, but I do realize that this album is nowhere near essential listening colorofmoney91 ..................... 

Earlier this month Moog Music announced that it would recreate three of the sophisticated modular-synth systems that made the company famous in the 70s. System 55, System 35, and Model 15, as they're rather prosaically known, are straight-up battleships compared to most modern synths—enormous and heavy, with intimidatingly cryptic interfaces and solid walnut cabinets.

They're also going to be very expensive. The 55 units of System 55 that Moog plans to build will cost $35,000 apiece; System 35 will be $22,000 a pop, with only 35 copies made; and the smaller Model 15 will run you $10,000 for one of its 150 iterations. "The modules are built from the original circuit board films," says the company's PR, "by hand-stuffing and hand-soldering components to circuit boards. . . . The front panels are photo-etched aluminum . . . to maintain the classic and durable look of vintage Moog modules."

And since we're talking about vintage synths and nostalgia, what better choice for today's 12 O'Clock Track than a 45-year-old Moog rendition of the Stabat Mater, a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary that meditates on her suffering during Jesus's crucifixion.

This setting of the hymn is by Italian Baroque composer Antonio Caldara, written around 1725, while he was serving as music master to the imperial court in Vienna, a position he held until his death in 1736.

Caldara: A Moog Mass was released by the Kama Sutra label in 1970, and many people on the Internet now assume it to be the work of a group named Caldera, in part because some editions of the LP misspell the composer's name that way. (And a "caldera," of course, is a huge basin formed by the collapse of overlying land into an emptied magma chamber after a volcanic eruption. This would admittedly be a cool thing to name a band.)

The ensemble on this recording doesn't have a name, but its key members are Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil, soon to become known as UK electronic duo Tonto's Expanding Head Band; they're perhaps best remembered for their extensive collaborations with Stevie Wonder. "Tonto" refers to the massive integrated battery of analog synths they used in the project, christened the Original New Timbral Orchestra—according to Wikipedia, it fills a "semicircle of huge curving wooden cabinets, 20 feet in diameter and six feet tall," and it's still the largest instrument of its kind ever built.
Cecil delivers the spoken English verses at the beginning of each of the seven movements of the Stabat Mater. Radical vocal treatments and speech-synthesis techniques make this stately, melancholy music feel almost otherworldly, underscoring the elaborate stylization of its grief. The cello blends surprisingly well with the Moogs; the harpischord, not so much....By Philip Montoro ................

Here's a real strange one!Caldera produced one album, the electronic oddity called A Moog Mass, which combines Switched-On Bach type multi-part Moog arrangements with some other keyboards (mostly organ and harpsichord) and vocals (often treated or vocodered) for a version of a Catholic mass. The album was released in 1970.A kinda of Christian electronic weird psychodelic music!Superb by all means!
One of those vintage obscurities, A Moog Mass features music composed and played by Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil who would later become Tonto's Expanding Head Band. A vocoded speech is laid on top of their electronic score. There is another band with the name "Caldera" which is a Latin Jazz ensemble and has nothing to do with them..............

Continuing on the religious themed albums for the day, we find Caldera with their Moog Mass. This album hits me in a couple of soft spots. I'm typing these reviews out accompanied by my trusty Moog Voyager on the table, so obviously I've got a yen for hearing that sort of instrument. I also receive an irrational amount of enjoyment from the Electric Prunes' Mass In F Minor (admittedly even more that the legitimate Prunes releases), which this disc just seems to beg comparison with,.

Now for those of your coming in for your Moog fix, this isn't necessarily the best place to find the signature space-defying filter sweeps. Much of the synthesis seems to be relegated to a somewhat annoying vox/vocoder sort of sound (I guess you'd run the mic through the filter and max out the resonance) while some of the harpsichord, strings, and organ sounds seem to be organic; that or these guys were master synth programmers, which I sort of doubt. "Who is the Man" does introduce us to a nice ball-busting synthetic brass sound that will continue through the album though, so you'll find something here to like. When the Moog does take on the organ parts, it's a lot of fun too.

Ditching the rock and roll approach of Mass In F Minor, A Moog Mass stays relatively true to a solemn old school Catholic service, albeit filtered through a, uh, Moog filter. There's occasional narration from a fellow with a nice cultured accent who keeps making me think that we're going to slip into Moody Blues territory (this never happens if you're wondering). I guess it does approach a sort of 'Switched On Gregorian Chants' vibe, but the couple of acoustic instruments present fill up the sound and keep that from happening.

Once again, like the Mass In F Minor this is an amazingly short album not quite topping out at 25 minutes. But it does provide a welcome contrast with that earlier disc. If your overly pious aut and uncle show up for a pious radish dinner while you're having a great booze-up in the next room, playing this will hopefully make everyone happy.................

These albums were conceived by two very different entities laying claim to the "Caldera" name. The intriguingly titled A Moog Mass was the brainchild of Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil, who would later work together as TONTO and provide kozmik texturing for Stevie Wonder's funky pop expeditions. Too bad this album is such a dull proposition: it's exactly as described, a surprisingly long half hour of vocoded Latin text and Mooged baroque. Somewhere deep in the exotica camp, A Moog Mass might well be treasured but man, it sure ain't recommend for our purposes. Maybe I'm just too sensitive when it comes to Xtian doctrine but c'mon, even the Electric Prunes were occasionally funky. Still let's give it props for the truly unhinged cover pic of the Virgin Mary. The latter Caldera (on Capitol) is a Latin-jazz ensemble (without the Latin texts, natch.) The jacket also credits Raul De Souza on trombone and various Earth Wind & Fire members on "Positive Energy". Unfortunately this is mostly an unremarkable jazz/funk fusion (typical of the era) that remains quite earthbound for its entirety. I've seen at least one further release from this ensemble but didn't bother to bring it home. [DW]...............

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Margouleff / Moog programming, interludes, Synthetic Speech Techniques
- John Atkins / Moog keyboards, harpsichord (continuo)
- Robert White (tenor) / Moog diction
- Toby Sacks / cello (continuo)
- Malcolm Cecil / spoken words (English text)

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I. The Mother Stood / Stabat Mater
II. Who Is the Man / Quis Est Homo
III. Share With Me the Pain / Tui Nati Vulnerati
2. IV. Virgin of Virgins / Virgo Virginium
V. Make Me Carry the Death of Christ / Fac Ut Portem Christi Mortem
VI. In Flames May I Not Be Burned / Flammis Ne Urar Succensus
VII. Christ, When I Leave This Life / Christe, Cum Sit Hinc Exire

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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