Silver Apples
Silver Apples


4.0
excellent

Review

by Iai EMERITUS
August 16th, 2005 | 115 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist


Released 1968.
Kapp Records.

Danny Taylor (percussion)
Simeon (Simeon - explanation later!)
A Rough Guide To Musical Elitism Throughout The Ages.

Kid #1 - "You heard Revolver yet""

Yeah, we recognize this kid. He's the one who likes all the stuff that's just on the edge of mainstream. He can claim to know more than most people his age, but he's liable to get torn apart if placed in a room with music lovers, simply because he hasn't taken the time to discover new things that the others have. Or maybe they'd be nice and just suggest some new things, which is really just a more subtle way of flaunting their superior knowledge. He's the guy you'd see these days in an A Perfect Circle t-shirt.

Kid #2 - "Yeah. I like where they're headed. You heard that Velvet Underground album yet""

And countered. This is the guy who knows more than a lot of people do, and is considered an authority of sorts in his social circle. He'd command total respect were it not for Kid #3.

Kid #3 - "Meh. If you're talking experimentation, Silver Apples destroy both of them."

Neither Kid #1 or Kid #2 know who Silver Apples are. In fact, they frequently joke that Kid #3 makes up bands on the spot just for the sake of looking obscure and obtuse. He's the kid that in the future will namedrop Mindflayer and Swans for no particular reason. But, as irritating as it is, the little fucker's generally right, as he is here. For experimentation, not even The Beatles and The Velvets could touch Silver Apples in the 60s. This album may not be as good as either Revolver or The Velvet Underground & Nico, and it's certainly nowhere near as famous, but just like those two, it blazed a trail that can be traced right through to today.

And now, a tangent to demonstrate that. Now, I'm a massive Kraftwerk fan - in fact, they're my favourite band ever. But just this once, I'm going to dismantle their legacy. Fun times.

Sure, it's journalistic practice to discuss Kraftwerk as the Gods of electronic music, refer to Autobahn as a critical turning point for popular music, and such. While that's true, it's not the whole story. Because Kraftwerk were not the massively original messiahs they're sometimes painted as. In fact, if you were in a harsh mood, you might even call them thieves, because almost all the core elements of their sound can be found right here, a full 6 years early.

Just look at "Oscillations", a song that STILL sounds futuristic. 'Oscillations, oscillations, electronic invocations of sound'. Tell me that lyric could not have been lifted directly from Radio-Activity, or even The Man-Machine. All this over a series of distant beeps, bubbling electronics, space-age computerized melodies, backed by a driving, vaguely syncopated drum beat and a funky bassline. Hell, they were so far ahead of their time, they created those electronic sounds by building their own instrument (the Simeon, named after one of the band members), which consisted of several oscillators and had to be operated using not just Simeon's hand, but his elbows, knees, and feet too. They say insanity and genius run parallel....

Perhaps by virtue of the release date, it does sound psychedelic, and you could draw links between this and The Kinks or The Zombies if you really wanted. But really, the only things connecting Silver Apples to the music that surrounded them were the vocals (oddly Jim Morrison-esque at times, but in a good way) and a few of the lyrics (those on "Lovefingers", for instance). Sonically, Silver Apples were WAY out there. The only places you could trace this music to were the avant-garde composers in the vein of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Morton Subotnick (their name was actually thought to be a reference to Subotnik's Silver Apples Of The Moon, also released in 1968, although it's really a line from a poem), and the esoteric end of jazz (Sun Ra especially). The only rock band who'd done anything near to this before were The Beatles, on the previous year's Tomorrow Never Knows.

Incidentally, this ranks as one of the most sampled albums of all time. Now that I'm beginning to have this album committed to memory, I'm spotting some of those samples on records I've had for years. Not just that, but some odd similarities, too - the tuned drums on "Dancing Gods" bear a suspicious resemblance to some of the drumming on Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend", though that might be my imagination working overtime. Aside from samples, the ideas here have filtered through to the most unlikely of places - Devo, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Stereolab, and even The Cars (!) have all tipped their hat to these guys.

While it may have taken Kraftwerk to take the innovations here, clean them up, and really set the genre rolling, the importance of Silver Apples cannot be overlooked. To be honest, Contact, the follow-up to this, is the better album, being sonically the same but with slightly better songs. But I'll be direct - electronic music owes its very existence to this, just as much as Autobahn.

Within The Genre - 4/5
Outside The Genre - 4/5

Recommended Downloads -

Oscillations

The second best Silver Apples song ever (#1 is Contact's A Pox On You), Oscillations sums up why they're so good succinctly and clearly. There's an awful lot going on in this song, but it's still catchy as hell.

Program
Featuring samples of radio broadcasts from classical and news stations, and sometimes performed live by tuning a radio to various stations (Radiohead would steal this idea when they toured OK Computer and Kid A). The lyrics, too, deal with radios, though that's not immediately apparent - the hook repeats the phrase 'as plain as its own reflection*'. The bass oscillator drives the song throughout. *Note - I may be WAY off here.

Whirlybird
This is probably the best showcase for the unique, brilliant drumming of Danny Taylor. He would often tune his drums to allow him to play chords with the Simeon, which created the effect of timpani. Aside from his performance, this song features a fairground feel that was almost certainly intentional (Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite is a possible influence here). And, while the entire album is best described with words like 'hypnotic' and 'ghostly', here they apply more than ever.

Further Listening
Silver Apples - Contact
Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity
Laika - Silver Apples Of The Moon




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user ratings (103)
Chart.
3.8
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Contact


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
August 17th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man, I wrote this review so wierdly.

biografiend
August 17th 2005


55 Comments


intriguing.

i will be checking this out for sure.



br3ad_man
Emeritus
August 17th 2005


2126 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is alright.

Med57
Moderator
August 17th 2005


1002 Comments


Good review. I got this after hearing the Kraftwerk comparisons that you made, and I was forced to semi-re-evaluate (can you have a word with 2 hyphens?) my view on Kraftwerk. This isn't in the same league as their best work at all, but still a good album.

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
August 17th 2005


165 Comments


I found the Silver Apples/Contact double album thing at a used music place for $5.99... and didn't buy it. Haven't seen it since. I don't know why I did that because I had enough for what I was going to get, plus the six bucks. I've heard a few tracks, though, and to be honest, I don't regret the decision too incredibly much.

They seem to have influenced Spacemen 3, which is where I first heard of them. I think Sonic Boom and Simeon worked together or something.

Iai
Emeritus
August 18th 2005


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think Spacemen 3 covered A Pox On You too.

BlackDeathMetalJazz or really ANYTHING else please-
August 20th 2005


200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

THANK YOU!!! Finally someone other than me thinks these guys were the pioneers of electronic music! GREAT reveiw one of the best I've seen in awhile. I really like the way you wrote this you got the point across. I'm not a huge fan of these guys but I do highly respect them.This Message Edited On 08.20.05

Cygnus Inter Anates
July 2nd 2006


721 Comments


I want this.

Cygnus Inter Anates
August 15th 2006


721 Comments


It's interesting, but the album isn't really all that enjoyable to listen to for me. "Program" is an awesome song.



AlienEater
August 17th 2006


716 Comments


I'm interested.

Mendigo
February 22nd 2008


2299 Comments


I haven't heard this yet, but it sounds like it could be similar to The United States of America, who released their album in March 1968. Sadly, I haven't found the exact release date for Silver Apples, so I can't tell if it was The United States of America or Silver Apples that "invented" avant-garde rock music first.
I'll check this one out as soon as possible.

Eliminator
February 22nd 2008


2067 Comments


neither of them did


MrKite
April 9th 2008


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I downloaded this for no reason besides the fact that I liked their name. It's some pretty cool stuff.

Zebra
Moderator
May 18th 2008


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is an awesome album and a great review to match. My only problem with this is that "Whirlybird" and "Oscillations" overshadow the rest of the album.

Electric City
Emeritus
May 25th 2008


15762 Comments


Picked this up today. First couple tracks ain't bad.

istaros
July 1st 2008


310 Comments


i wish more reviews were written this way. excellent. and i'm looking forward to hearing what these guys sound like, now

gmoneyguy
July 1st 2008


108 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to it once, and haven't again. It was enjoyable when I did though.

HailToTheThief
December 19th 2008


144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I made the mistake of getting the wrong version of this album( apparently there are two). The one I go was this one, however there's another version with the song I Have Known Love on it. great song

Sabottheory
February 21st 2009


355 Comments


If I should believe your reviews, I must get this (I love We Carry On from Portishead's Third)

FranzSchubert
October 21st 2012


854 Comments


good review. halfway through my first listen i checked the release date, blew my mind.



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