Music for the Weekend #004 — Vocoder
The vocoder has always fascinated me. Perhaps because of my profession, perhaps because of my love from an early age for electronic music, this appeal was induced by listening, around 1975, to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn by the hand of a cousin of mine from the city of Beira in Mozambique.
Born out of a need in telecommunications, on June 12, 1928 Homer Dudley, a physicist at Bell Laboratories, received a patent permission (US # 2, 121, 142) to proceed with the production of a “system for the artificial production of vocal or other sounds “. A voice synthesizer that never really was, because as a musical instrument it works as the junction of the voice and the melody that is played, carrier effect for a grand illusion, robots are among us, the future is now, yada yada…
It was funny to make this compilation, in these times when almost all the voices that are heard in popular music have an Auto-tune mannerism we forget how all these songs invoked a future so bright that we would have to face it wearing shades.
Most of the choices fall, logically in the heyday of the use of the vocoder, late 70s to mid-eighties, things that I danced at the time until exhaustion (age guarantees not having to discover any of this on YouTube). Master Roger (Zapp) Troutman, Herbie, Haack, Giorgio, Johnny Guitar Watson (fuck it, the talkbox is a vocoder), avoiding common or even tacky places like Jarre, T-Pain, Floyd… In the Air Tonight could have entered this choice but I can’t hear it without thinking of a drummer gorilla advertising Cadbury’s chocolate and also because these selections have a limit of 40 songs. It’s the beauty of these selections not being performed on Spotify.
I hope you like it, in these times when we are closed at home it is important to remember that the sound of these automatons is made with the human voice. Call someone far away, in an out of the blue impulse, just to see if they are okay, to tell them that everything is OK on your side.
And have a nice weekend.