Moog This!: Hear a Playlist Featuring 36 Hours of Music Made with the Legendary Analog Synthesizer

Part of what makes elec­tron­ic music so wide-reach­ing and son­i­cal­ly far-see­ing, so to speak, is its diver­si­ty of influences—classical com­po­si­tion, avant-garde the­o­ry, punk and funk ener­gy, the sounds of fac­to­ries and city streets worldwide—and its range of inno­v­a­tive instru­men­ta­tion. But fore­most among those instru­ments, many clas­sic ana­logue syn­the­siz­ers of old are now found in vir­tu­al envi­ron­ments, where their pots, keys, patch bays, and pitch wheels get sim­u­lat­ed on lap­tops and MIDI con­trollers. Some­thing is lost—a cer­tain “aura,” as Wal­ter Ben­jamin might say. A cer­tain tremu­lous impre­ci­sion that hov­ers around the edges of syn­the­siz­ers like those designed by Robert Moog.

Moog’s cre­ations, writes David McNamee “ooze char­ac­ter” and are “the most icon­ic syn­the­siz­ers of all time. FACT.” For this rea­son, Moog’s ana­log cre­ations still hold mar­ket share as mod­ern instru­ments while remain­ing lega­cy items for their trans­for­ma­tion of entire gen­res of pop­u­lar music since the 1960s, even though the engi­neer-inven­tor had no musi­cal train­ing him­self and no real inter­est at first in mak­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly usable instru­ments.

“Mas­sive, frag­ile and impos­si­ble to tune,” a func­tion Moog ini­tial­ly dis­missed, once the Moog was made portable and lib­er­at­ed from spe­cial­ized, wonky domains, it became a pri­ma­ry com­po­si­tion­al tool and both a lead and rhythm instru­ment.

The Moog’s fuzzy, wob­bly, warm sounds are unmis­tak­able; they can purr and thun­der, and the breadth of their capa­bil­i­ties is sur­pris­ing giv­en their rel­a­tive sim­plic­i­ty. We’ve told their sto­ry here before and fol­lowed it up with a ten-hour playlist of Moog and Moog-inspired clas­sics. Today, we bring you the playlist above, “Moog This!” which takes a left­field approach to the theme, and will catch even seri­ous elec­tron­ic music fans off guard with its selec­tions of not only obscure new sounds inspired by leg­ends like Gior­gio Moroder and Vangelis—the music of Firechild, for example—but also tracks from these leg­ends that sit just to the left of their most famous com­po­si­tions.

Rather than the usu­al, bril­liant­ly futur­is­tic Don­na Sum­mer dance track “I Feel Love”—the Spo­ti­fy cura­tor here goes for the sim­i­lar-sound­ing, but much more elab­o­rate instru­men­tal “Chase” (top), the only track here from Moroder. Rather than the era-defin­ing “West End Girls”—the Pet Shop Boys’ per­fect down­tem­po 1984 pop song—we get “Men and Mag­gots,” from their moody 2005 score for Sergei Eisenstein’s per­fect silent film, Bat­tle­ship Potemkin. That’s not to say there aren’t any vocal tracks here, but they are most­ly of the abstract, high­ly effect­ed vari­ety, like those from Boards of Cana­da and Air.

All in all, “Moog This!” the playlist shows what the syn­the­siz­er is capa­ble of out­side the con­text of main­stream pop, while still cap­tur­ing the qual­i­ties that make it an ide­al vehi­cle for acces­si­ble, emo­tion­al music, a pleas­ing ten­sion so well har­nessed by the ana­log synth-obsessed Stranger Things sound­track, which, like most of the tracks here, man­ages to sound both like the sound­track of a much cool­er past and of very cool future.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Moog Syn­the­siz­er Changed the Sound of Music

A 10-Hour Playlist of Music Inspired by Robert Moog’s Icon­ic Syn­the­siz­er: Hear Elec­tron­ic Works by Kraftwerk, Devo, Ste­vie Won­der, Rick Wake­man & More

The Scores That Elec­tron­ic Music Pio­neer Wendy Car­los Com­posed for Stan­ley Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange and The Shin­ing

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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