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Patrick Moraz

Future Memories Live | Patrick Moraz

Article from Electronics & Music Maker, December 1982

We analyse his 'Future Memories Live' LP.

Last month we looked briefly at Patrick's career with Refugee, Yes and The Moody Blues. Now he has his own studio in Geneva, where he performed a set of live improvisations for Swiss TV which are captured on the 'Future Memories' album. This month we look in detail at the musical content of this fascinating LP, and part of the musical philosophy which went into its production.

Future Memories represents a set of metamorphoses for keyboards, an inter-related series of pieces designed to display the possibilities of high musical technology and its relations to more traditional styles of music-making.

Each of the three major pieces is an 'instant composition', an improvisation based on different musical ideas and using different musical forces. The overall concept is realised when the common factors become clear to the listener; "the album constitutes a whole, in terms of musical and technological progression. All the music was instantaneously composed and performed in front of the TV cameras."

That Patrick Moraz would turn to live improvisation was perhaps inevitable. His early background was less in the field of popular or rock music than in that of ethnic or jazz music. In each area the improvisatory tradition is strong; whether in the Brazilian percussion rhythms which dominate the narrative sections of 'The Story of i', or in the jazzy piano solos of Future Memories, spontaneous composition provides a driving force, a certain life and fire denied to more conventional music.

Jazz piano improvisation has a long tradition and a catalogue of styles - blues, boogie-woogie, stride - which give a choice of techniques, what Moraz would call 'musical dialects', denied to modern instruments. Future Memories is an attempt to develop a series of dialects for electronic instruments as well, and appropriately enough the context is that of electronic communication, the TV studio.

The acoustic/electronic and musical/visual relationships are parallel; the visuals are synchronised by the music, and yet the content of the music is partly determined by the visual context. "In the piano pieces, one can hear some weird little noises in the background; these are the TV cables and the cameras being manoeuvred during the performance, and although we tried to 'noise-gate them' we could not completely eliminate the feel of their presence... it will give the listener the assurance that he is hearing exactly what was recorded that day and that the performance was really done live on TV."

The LP version of Future Memories inverts the running order of the TV show. Originally the pieces represented a sort of musical history, with increasing complexity of instrumentation. Under this format, the running order would be as follows;

Black Silk Part 1, Part 2
Instant piano composition: Bosendorfer Imperial.
Eastern Sundays Part 1, Part 2
Instant piano, percussion and synthesisers composition. Bosendorfer Imperial, glass bells, Paiste gong and cymbals. Jupiter 4, Clavitar, Oberheim 4 Voice, Minimoog, Micromoog, Roland space echo, flangers and compunoise.
Metamorphoses Movement 1, Movement 2, Movement 3
Instant electronic composition. Yamaha CS80, Minimoog, Moog Taurus, Mellotron Mk IV, Oberheim 8 voice, Hammond C3, Clavinet, Micromoog, ARP Pro Soloist, Custom Double Minimoog, Yamaha CP70 piano, Obie Sequencer, Roland Vocoder, Roland Compurhythm, Mellotron Mk II, Jupiter 4, Oberheim 4 voice, Clavitar and pedals. All instruments direct injected through studio mixing desk to monitor system, except Leslie speakers and Clavinet.

The album then becomes a sort of competition, a contest to establish whether the 'themes, melodies and harmonies' produced by the electronic instruments can match those of the acoustic piano and percussion for delicacy, subtlety and expression.

Black Silk, the piano piece, opens with slow chords under a rapidly repeated tritone in a minor mood. After a rapid right-hand arpeggio there is a repeated interval which returns to the repeated tritone. A brief major excursion with jazz phrasing is followed by an ascending series of chords in which the left hand repeats the material played by the right.

The bass figure starts to repeat under a modulating series of chords and the use of jazz phrasing and broken notes increases until a fully-fledged boogie-woogie section begins. These two sections are repeated, with the right-hand material becoming increasingly complex with sections of chromatic scales, occasionally interrupted by heavy repeated chords.

After a rallentando and mild discords the piece breaks up to isolated individual notes and ends on a gentle trill.

Eastern Sundays Pt. 1 opens with clock-like repeated piano notes over gentle metallic rustlings, with the introduction of a fluid eastern-flavoured solo line.

Heavy piano chords and a phased gong introduce a slow up/down arpeggio sequence and more of the solo line which uses pitch bending and long, slow filter 'twangs'.

In Part II the arpeggio speeds up and the metallic tinkling percussion is contrasted with electronic percussion. Piano chords build to a detuned sequencer, churning white noise effects and the re-introduction of the solo lead sound, which draws together the two halves of the composition. The steam engine-like rhythm continues before fading out in abstract synthesiser sounds, white noise and birdsong effects.

Metamorphoses Movement 1 begins with an electronic hi-hat and sequencer pattern which is randomised in terms of pitch, phrasing and tone. Phased chiffs of white noise and a bass drum beat are introduced and heavy flanging and sample and hold effects appear. Every pattern is heavily accented and randomised rather than regular and mechanical; as the sequence re-emerges heavy Mellotron male choir sounds and a deep Moog bass are introduced.

An electric piano solo over the rhythm leads back into a heavier section with very unusual staccato Mellotron effects.

Movement II fades in a sequence with sample and hold treatment followed by a similarly treated polyphonic string sound. A fluid solo begins to dominate until Mellotron voices and strings fade back in.

Movement III sees the re-emergence of the rhythm and randomised sequence. A phased lead solo using filtermodulation and pitch bending becomes more rapid and the heavy vocal sounds are repeated.

The piece is filled out by strings and polyphonic synthesiser 'twangs', then brassy chords. Abstract sounds begin to take over until the strings are re-introduced, bending upwards before a final restatement of the voice theme. There is a slow fade, leaving almost inaudible birdsong effects.

It is for the listener to decide whether the competition has a winner or whether no resolution is achieved. Moraz will go on to integrate acoustics and electronics either way; they achieve a form of co-existence in his music, a state chosen for the title of his collaborative album with pan flute player Syrinx.

On Coexistence, the orchestral arrangements of the synthesisers back the expressive tones of the panpipes on five short tracks, and one longer piece in four movements. Again the contrast is between the traditional in the form of the wooden pipes and the modern in the form of the synthesisers and Aphex processors used; the similarity is in the expressiveness wrought from each.

Patrick Moraz' music remains a collection of ideas and enigmas which only the individual listener can resolve.

Future Memories, Coexistence and an additional single were the subject of last month's special offer and are still available from E&MM price £6.99 (inc. p&p, add 90p overseas).

Next month Patrick explains his approach to improvisation for the Future Memories LP.

Future Memories Instrumentation

1 Yamaha CS80
2 Minimoog
3 Volume Pedal CS80
4 Minimoog Morley Pedal
5 Taurus bass pedals
6 Roland Space Echo
7 Mellotron Mk IV
8 Oberheim interface
9 Oberheim 8 voice
10 Volume pedals
11 Filter pedal
12 Seat
13 Hammond C3
14 Clavinet
15 Micromoog
16 Pro Soloist
17 Gauss Monitors
18 Power amp
19 Double Minimoog
20 Yamaha CP70
21 Obie Sequencer
22 Roland Vocoder
23 Roland Compurhythm
24 Pro Soloist on stand
25 Mellotron Mk II
26 Roland Jupiter
27 Oberheim 4 voice
28 Clavitar on stand
29 Volume pedal

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Publisher: Electronics & Music Maker - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Electronics & Music Maker - Dec 1982

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