In 1964, Dr. Robert Moog introduced the world to a completely new type of instrument that would go on to change the course of music history and instrument design.
Moog built his first theremin at 15 and by 19 had set up R.A Moog Co selling DIY Theremin kits. His love of electronic music led him into New York’s burgeoning experimental music scene and a meeting with electronic engineer Henry Deutsch opened his eyes to the possibilities of a portable electronic music studio; in Deutsch’s words “I want to make these sounds that go wooo-wooo-ah-woo-woo.”
An avid concert-goer, John Bowers was disappointed by the quality of sound reproduction that the best equipment of the early sixties had to offer and set about modifying loud speakers in his garage. Bowers & Wilkins was born from these experiments in bringing the music closer to the listener and has revolutionised the course of loud speaker design.
“If you can make a better product, you will sell it.” This simple sentence lies at the heart of Bower’s appoach to the company he founded and is still the driving force today.
“Moog Synthesisers are not just the best in their field, they invented the field and we are extremely proud to collaborate with a company that values innovation and acoustic excellence in the same way we do” – Danny Haikin, Bowers & Wilkins Brand Director.
Collaboration was always key to Moog’s success and Moog’s most successful collaborator was Wendy Carlos. Switched-On Bach was one of the best-selling classical albums of all time earning Carlos three Grammys and introduced a huge new audience to both electronic music and the Moog synthesiser.
Fifty-one years on from Moog’s first synthesiser, and ten years after his death, Bowers & Wilkins and Moog Sound Lab have put together a unique studio in London under the visionary eye of sonic innovator Paul Smith.
Featuring audiophile quality monitoring by Bowers & Wilkins including 802 Diamond speakers, Moog Sound Lab is a completely unique studio of a wide range of Moog analogue synthesisers old and new. 800 Series Diamond have been Abbey Road Studio’s reference monitors of choice for the past thirty years.
Finlay Shakespeare, Moog Sound Lab’s engineer explains the importance of choosing the right loudspeakers:
“the best sound synthesis equipment deserves some of the best sound processing and capture equipment, and to then be played through some of the best loudspeakers available – hence the choice of the Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond loudspeakers. The result is an incredibly powerful sound, but particularly within the delicate precision in the reproduction of every aspect of synthesized and processed sound.”
“We have a great respect for craftsmanship and fidelity, and Bowers & Wilkins has been top of class in both for decades. It is an absolute pleasure to partner with them to have the Moog Sound Lab acoustically realized by the 802 Diamond Series” – Emmy Parker, Moog Brand Director
The studio is a world class, self-contained unit that features one of a very few existing re-engineered classic 1970’s System 55 modular; an original Taurus Bass Pedal unit along with modern day polyphonic Voyager and Phatties tower racks.
Comprising of 36 handcrafted modules housed in 2 hand-finished solid walnut cabinets it is a highly sophisticated, dynamic analogue synth providing limitless sonic potential and inspiration. Shakespeare, Moog Sound Lab’s engineer describes the project as “beyond the stuff of dreams. Each part of the equipment feels as an instrument should”.
Creativity and collaboration underpin the project. Initially based in Surrey University at the beginning of this year, a succession of artists and musicians including The Grid, Mica Levi and Simon Fisher-Turner set up shop in the studio with the brief to create whatever they wanted. Studio-quality downloads of the Surrey recordings will be available to buy from Society of Sound next month.
The studio spent four weeks as part of Birmingham’s Supersonic Festival this summer as well as forming an integral part of the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System tent at WOMAD in July including live performances and the opportunity for the audience to get hands on with this unique studio set-up.
21 August 2015 marks 10 years since Moog passed away. To celebrate his influence on both music history and instrument design, the Sound Lab will be taking up residency in the Ace Hotel for the month of August.
To keep it company, 7 Artists in Residence will each spend four days and nights creating music in a bedroom with the Moog Sound Lab, culminating in a live performance of their new composition in the hotel’s live music venue, Miranda.
ARTISTS IN RESIDENCY: PUBLIC PERFORMANCES
5TH AUGUST – ANDY BLAKE
9TH AUGUST – BLANCK MASS (FUCK BUTTONS OFFSHOOT)
13TH AUGUST – DAVID COLOHAN (UNITED BIBLE STUDIES)
17TH AUGUST – IAIN FORSYTH & JANE POLLARD
21ST AUGUST – ACT TBC
25TH AUGUST – JIM TENOR
29TH AUGUST – KEIJI HAINIO