Friday, November 11, 2022

He Be The Prophet

Randall Roberts on a soon to be excavated 1986  recording of Sun Ra exploring the potentials of a Prophet VS synth: 

"In the summer of that year while in Boston with his band, Sun Ra splashed down in a high-tech studio called Mission Control. Among the many synths and sound generators he approached was a newly released Prophet VS (“Vector Synthesizer”). The programmable digital keyboard, created by genius electronic synthesist Dave Smith, was remarkably sophisticated. Ra took to it and started playing. A recording of that session, called Prophet, will see release in December [on Modern Harmonics].

"You can thank gravity, the force of the cosmos and the magnetic field that a studio engineer as able to hit record, capturing for posterity the Space Traveler’s first experience with this particular synthetic future. Not that Ra was inexperienced. From an early age, the artist and composer took to new musical technology. Notes Ra biographer John Szwed in Space is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra, the composer “kept up with new developments in music technology, especially those involving electricity, and dreamed of the possibilities of composing for instruments with new musical timbres."

That's the same synth that Keith Levene used on "Careering". Actually no, the Prophet 5 was the one he used - the Sun Ra one is a later, digital iteration. 

A pal of mine who shall remains nameless owns a Prophet 5. So I have actually touched one. He's a vintage synth junkie who actually had to conceal his habit from his wife, hiding the gear in closets and then pulling it out for a jam when she was off at work. 

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