Various Artists

Electronic Toys, Vol. 1: A Retrospective of '70s Synthesizer Music

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Anyone in the mood for retro video game music chic? Replete with a nudie cover photo by Bunny Yeager, Electronic Toys: A Retrospective of '70s Synthesizer Music is pure fun. But don't expect avant-garde explorations into atonal bursts of Moog and analog squelch. This is straightforward songwriting in a pop vein on rudimentary synthesizers. Many of the compositions sound like they could have introduced any number of '70s television programs dealing with medicine, kid detectives, and science discoveries. The songs range in style from the Spike Jones-ish "Keystone Capers 2" (with simulated "raspberry" sounds) to the Rod Stewart-worthy "Movin' Along" (which begins with guitar and ends with an electronic horn section). Echoes of these songs can be heard in the sampling of Daft Punk and the 2001 alienation of Radiohead's OK Computer and Kid A. So there's obvious value in making these recordings available to a kitsch-friendly new millennium: a band called Claude Larson & His Computer Controlled Oscillators might be enough to wet some hipster's interest. But, frankly, more information on exactly what instruments were used for each composition -- not to mention some historical perspective -- in the liner notes would have made this a more informative package.

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