Friday, 10 September 2010

Silver Apples @ Deaf Institute, Wednesday 28th July

It’s a shame that this Now Wave / WOTGODFORGOT show falls during the sleepy summer gig months. The crowd is healthy enough and Silver Apples co-founder Simeon Coxe (often known simply as Simeon) is clearly appreciative of all the plaudits he receives, but, as innovators so ahead of their time in the late '60s, Silver Apples perhaps deserve greater recognition than from the fanatical few.

The journey begins, though, with a musician more than capable of filling Simeon’s sonic shoes, Denis Jones. Although the gathered few are sparse for his set, Denis enraptures attentions towards a blend of cacophonous crescendos through forthcoming album Red+Yellow=’s ‘Rage’, ‘Clap Hands’ and ‘Sometimes’, while the old favourite, debut album closer ‘Beginning’ is greeted by a knowing hush of anticipation; immaculately uplifting.

The short film, Play Twice Before Listening, sets the scene. Silver Apples originally recorded music in the late 1960s and disappeared for years due to the demise of the record label, KAPP, that had released their first two records. KAPP's sale and eventual absorption into MCA Records was shepherded along following an attempt to defend itself in a legal wrangling against major airline Pan Am, who took offence to the Apples’ second album cover and its depiction of a flight crash scene.

If that image was to prove prescient, it also symbolised the relevance of Silver Apples in an era defined by social change, political protest, technological advancement and, most importantly, the purported moon landing. Looking back, Simeon’s adaptation of vintage 1940s oscillating electricity machines into a primitive dance music arsenal renders a fitting soundtrack to such a phenomenon.

This is not a pension tour, though. The rekindling of the flame in the mid-1990s must have felt more like unfinished business. Although short-lived in one respect, with original drummer Danny Taylor passing away soon after in 1998, his death also led to the rediscovery of undamaged recordings for the third album, entitled The Garden, which was proposed for 1970 but waited nearly 30 years for release.

So, when Simeon, alone, takes the stage at Deaf Institute it feels like the continuation of something that has not yet reached completion. Kicking into a canned boom-chk undercurrent to cosmic wobbles, the fedora-clad innovator is noticeably grateful for his second chance.

Not bogged down by reliance upon too many hits in the back catalogue, Simeon is free to experiment; swooshing, floating, warping through many a musical galaxy; orbiting the SONAR-esque ‘I Don’t Know’ and the almost poppy ‘I Don’t Care What The People Say’.

Following the spiralling sonic lure of ‘Oscillations’, Simeon doffs his hat to salute raucous applause; ahead of its time in the '60s and still unique enough to merit recognition.

Words & Pictures: Ian Pennington

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