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Famous noises: Pere Ubu synthesists jam

Posted on: March 24, 2012

I first became interested in synthesizers and electronic music in the late ’70’s through the music of Pere Ubu (US) and Cabaret Voltaire (UK).  Somewhere around 79- ’80 I decided I wanted to have my own synthesizer, inspired by albums like “Dub Housing” (Pere Ubu) and “Mix Up” (Cabaret Voltaire). Especially the weird sounds created by Allen Ravenstine on Pere Ubu records motivated me to start playing synthesizer (besides guitar) . These sounds were made by a modular EML synthesizer. I couldn’t afford an EML however, so I went for the Japanese budget alternative: a semi modular Korg MS-20, which I still own and play today.

Allen Ravenstine was part of Pere Ubu until the end of the ’80s. The modular EML synthesizer remained a basic ingredient of the Pere Ubu sound up until today, played by Robert Wheeler and others. I recently stumbled upon this video of a EML synthesizer jam session by Allen Ravenstine and Robert Wheeler, apparently the first time these Pere Ubu players ever played together. The video contains some interesting  interview fragments in which Allen Ravenstine explains how the EML synthesizer became part of the unique Pere Ubu sound:

Allen Ravenstine and Robert Wheeler EML synth session.

The video fragment seems to be part of an upcoming  film about modular synthesizers and their players. This is the text accompanying the video:

In late February, 2012, former Pere Ubu synthesist Allen Ravenstine and current Pere Ubu synthesist Robert Wheeler, two legendary figures of Cleveland’s punk rock scene met at Grant Avenue Studio to discuss and demonstrate the EML modular synthesizers that have been an integral part of the Pere Ubu sound for almost 40 years. The interviews are part of the upcoming film: “I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary”.  I DREAM OF WIRES interview segments are sponsored by MATRIXSYNTH (matrixsynth.com/).

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