I have to be honest, besides a vague awareness of the name I wasn’t all that familiar with Silver Apples. I knew they were instrumental in pushing electronic music into the ears of folks that would go on to revolutionize the genre. Experimental electronic, Krautrock, motorik beats, and the whole German electronic music scene of the 70s seems to owe a great deal to Silver Apples’ self-titled LP from 1968. And after some investigating and headphone studying with that album I’d have to agree. A mix of what would later be called motorik beats(courtesy of drummer Danny Taylor), wonky, noisy synth excursions, and Silver Apples’ poet/synth laureate Simeon’s poetry all added up to something quite revolutionary. I can hear their influence in a lot of modern bands and records as well(the Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, especially.)
After a 90s revival, a car wreck which resulted in Simeon breaking his neck, and then the subsequent death of drummer Danny Taylor in 2005, Simeon has put Silver Apples back together and has released a new album called Clinging To A Dream. Listening to the record, it’s hard to tell the difference between Silver Apples of 1968 to Silver Apples of 2016. They’re still as adventurous as always, with even darker tones and chilly layers than before. Simeon still dabbles in the abstract poetry and his synthesizer game is top notch. Even without the excellent Danny Taylor behind the drum set, there still remains a focus on rhythm and beat.
In other words, Silver Apples haven’t lost their touch.
Really, I can’t think of a band that’s come back from an 18 year hiatus and has sounded as vital and in the game as Silver Apples. There’s no attempts to mellow out the sound or dampen their artistic integrity by pulling back on the darker edges. Those edges, if anything, are sharper than ever. “The Edge Of Wonder” opens with bass, keys, and Simeon’s voice singing cleanly about “Neptune’s metronome” before drums come in. There’s elements of Scott Walker in here as the song floats along on a pleasant high. “Missin You” has a spectral feel, like spirits floating above the proceedings. Like Danny Taylor and even the not so long gone Alan Vega dispersed some of their essence on this track. “Nothing Matters” sounds like a descent into madness, while “Fractal Flow” sounds like early 80s UK alternative mixed with early 60s beat poetry. “Concerto For Monkey And Oscillator” sounds like an experimental piece that mixes elements of Steve Reich, Morton Subotnick, and a nervous breakdown. “The Rain” closes out the album on a note that isn’t quite uplifting, but not a downer. It sounds like someone making peace with the lousy hand the universe dealt.
Clinging To A Dream is the sound of an artist doing what he does best against all odds. The 78-year old Simeon sounds like an artist as lit up by the light of creativity as bright as he was over 45 years ago. This isn’t a record revisiting past accomplishments. This is a record engaging those creative ghosts and screaming to the heavens with them.