Saturday, January 19, 2013

Richard Burgess, the man who apparently coined the term New Romantic and who  co-conceptualised  / co-designed that Eighties-phuture-now iconic synthetic drum pad Simmons SDSV, now works at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (as Director of Marketing and Sales). How weird is that...

as revealed in this interview which takes in his career as drummer in synth-jazz-funksters Landscape and as hot producer (Spandau Ballet's "Musclebound" and Diamonds, many others) and also as Fairlight programmer for Kate Bush and Visage...

And how about this - the Landscape albums had the word EDM printed on them -- standing for Electronic Dance  Music.

That's from the "experimental" and much-derided second side of Diamond -  and I have to concede it's a surprisingly attractive slice of faux-Orientalism

Good last quote from Burgess, at the time of the interview working on a huge box set of a century of jazz for Smithsonian:

"I do hear new stuff that I like. I think that one of the dangers is that when so much is possible - samples of all kinds of sounds are available online and software synths and keyboards can emulate anything - things can start to get samey. It usually takes someone to come along and work within economic, technological or self imposed limitations to create something that is really different and stimulating. There has always been a tendency for record labels to sign the epigones and overlook the innovators and the originators."

1 comment:

  1. I can claim some bragging rights to all this. I was the guy with the screwdriver in Utopia studios when Spandau were recording Diamond. The big problem with Chant No.1 is that Burgess kept adding overdub layers and we kept running out of tracks on the 24 track Studer tape machines even with bouncing all the drums down to a stereo pair. There was a crazy bit of tech that let you sync two 24 track tape machines via the smpt code on track #24. The problem was that they were in two machine rooms well apart and every time they wound back to the start of the track, the remote one would spin off the end. I spent a lot of time running between the rooms. I also remember synths, early samplers and especially the Fairlight CMI being really temperamental. There was very little repeatability so if you wanted to do drop in overdubs DON'T TOUCH THE SYNTH!

    As well as all the New Romantics (Spandau and Duran Duran in different studios at the same time!) and people like Fun Boy Three there was also a stream of funk groups like Heatwave coming through including a couple of memorable all nighters with Stevie Wonder. This might begin to explain some of the genre cross over. Just like now, the producers, engineers, managers were listening to all of it and were as likely to be into funk during downtime as whatever they were trying to make money from on that day. But then the lead cutting room engineer was well respected in the dub reggae community so we'd also have the heavyweight dub reggae of Dr Alimentado in late at night cutting dub plates.

    Out of all the people I saw there and then, the bit of music that still haunts me is an obscure Birmingham band called Fashion. They got the full record company treatment with band/album photos by David Bailey, sponsorship from Olympus, guest appearances on kids TV but the process of doing all this broke up the band so they sank without trace. A shame, because the album was really good, for 1982.

    As I remember it, the track that changed everything and put punk, funk, rock and disco firmly behind us was Tainted Love. First hearing had the future rush about it.