The Holy Grail of electronica: Yello’s Boris Blank selling his original Fairlight sampler


Boris Blank with a Fairlight sampler in the mid-80s
 
Yello are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most influential acts in the history of electro, techno and electronica. The skillful blend of Deiter Meier’s witty vocals and Boris Blank’s avant garde-but-accessible production chops saw the duo gain critical and commercial success in the early-to-mid 80s, at a time when rock music was still king and electronic dance music was still confined to clubs. 

Well, if you’re an antique gear fetishist with a spare $13K (Aus) then YOU could relive Yello’s glory days, by simply acquiring Boris Blank’s original Fairlight sampler, a fake moustache and an even faker Swiss accent. Yes, Blank is selling his Fairlight CMI III on eBay:

Every Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument has a story behind it. Hugely expensive when new, their unique sounds and legendary user interface were used by music pioneers who changed the sound of music forever.

At a cost around $65,000 in 1985 (which could have bought you a very nice house) the list of Fairlight III owners reads like a who’s who of musical innovation of the time. Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Thomas Dolby, Hans Zimmer and Pet Shop Boys were owners in the UK, with many studios catering for those who didn’t own one. For a complete list take a look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairlight_CMI

The particular system being offered here belongs to Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello. One could argue that during the 1980’s Yello used the Fairlight more, and more interestingly than virtually anyone else. Every hit single they had (and there were quite a few) used the Fairlight CMI extensively.

So, if you ever lusted after one of these legendary instruments, here’s a chance to acquire one with some serious street cred! 

Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris’s sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives. Boris is on holiday at the moment, however his assistant has promised some more photos and goodies when he returns!


The actual Boris Blank Fairlight CMI III that is for sale

I hope those “goodies” include a signed pic, Boris. MUCH more info is available on the eBay listing page.

I LOVE Yello, to me they rate up there with Giorgio Moroder in the development and history of electronic dance music, and I’m pretty sure some of our readers feel the same. Not only were Yello fresh and unique, they had a brilliant, intelligent sense of humor that put them at odds with nearly everything else happening in music at that time.

This Fairlight really is a hugely important part of dance music’s history: some of the noises that Blank managed to squeeze out of this machine were awe inspiring, and become signature Yello (and by extension, 80s dance) sounds. Having said that, I’m sure we’re all familiar with “The Race” and “Oh Yeah,” so instead of one of those classics, here’s a bit of mind-warping Yello electronica from 1981:

Yello “The Evening’s Young”
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
‘Dandy’: Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld and Nina Hagen make an art house film


 
Loosely based on Voltaire’s satire Candide, Peter Semple’s film Dandy hangs together around a selection of seemingly unconnected scenes featuring Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich and Yello’s Dieter Meier. There’s no real story to speak of, rather:

...a floating dreamlike journey that meanders from Hamburg to Berlin, Madrid, New York and Tokyo to the Ganges river, the Himalayan mountains and on to Marrakesch and Cairo. It is a collage reflecting sensations that deal with religion, blues, art, the state of being lost … more of a wondering, a stumbling…

You can tell it’s an art house film as Mr. Cave is credited as “Nicholas Cave” here, and later explained his appearance in the movie:

“It was an experimental film by an Australian/German director called Peter Semple who paid us large sums of money to sit in front of his camera and lay with a gun or a guitar. Me and Blixa were both involved in it. We were very poor at the time.”

In a more considered response, reviewer Emanuel Levy wrote:

Dealing with self-estrangement and, yes, lack of communication and love, Dandy is pregnant with heavy symbolism and simplistic allegories. Its recurrent metaphors consist of close-ups of a dead fish and a butterfly captured in a wine goblet. Drawing all too obvious analogies between the animalistic and human worlds, the image of the real butterfly is crosscut with a human butterfly, veteran Japanese performer Kazuo Ohno, who dances a Pas de Deux with his son Yoshito to the exquisite rendition of “City Called Heaven” by opera singer Jessye Norman.

Unfortunately, the continuous flow of inventive images and sounds is too often interrupted by a superfluous and unnecessary narration about nuclear, violence and torture. And as could be expected of such a film, there are brief philosophical assertions about the meaning of life and death and the dialectical relationship between art and life.

It’s all strangely compelling, though (unfortunately) it never actually goes anywhere. You will find Nick Cave covering The Moody Blues (as well as playing Russian roulette and showing-off his gun-slinging skills),  Bargeld looking for directions and singing “Death is a Dandy on a Horse” (from which the film’s title comes), and an unaccompanied duet from Hagen and Lovitch.
 

 
A 1988 interview with Nick Cave, after the jump…

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
She slayed ‘em on the Oscars: Shirley Bassey & Yello team up for ‘The Rhythm Divine,’ 1987
02.25.2013
03:06 pm

Topics:
Music

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Shirley Bassey
Yello


 
I personally haven’t cared much about the Oscars since like… the year Ken Russell’s Tommy came out—I was nine and had not seen the film—but admittedly my ears did perk up when I heard Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” last night as my wife watched in another room.

I thought Bassey absolutely killed it, like she always does, but she killed it even harder last night. I mean, I quite like Adele, but her Oscar performance of “Skyfall” seemed curiously lackluster and rather phoned in compared to what Dame Shirley served up, don’t you think?

In the afterglow of her triumph onstage last night, this seems like a good time to post the music video for “The Rhythm Divine,” Shirley Bassey’s 1987 collaboration with Swiss dance-floor avant gardists Yello (Dieter Meier and Boris Blank) from their One Second album. The song was written specifically for Bassey’s instrument as if there’s another vocalist alive who could do this:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Light My Fire’: Is the very best Doors cover, ever, by Shirley Bassey?

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘The Glamour Chase’: A documentary on the beauty and despair of singer Billy Mackenzie

billy_mackenzie_the_associates
 
When he moved back to Dundee, Billy Mackenzie didn’t have any recording equipment in his home, and would spend hours in the local ‘phone booth, singing his latest ideas down the line to his record producer. It was typical of the maverick singer and musician whose life ran like a series of connected film scenes, from his early marriage in Las Vegas, to the excesses and glamor of his career as one half (with the prodigiously talented Alan Rankine) of the perfect pop duo The Associates.

Starting out in the mid-1970s, The Associates went on to create a giddy, euphoric soundtrack, around Billy Mackenzie’s incredible voice, which thrilled throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. From the opening chords of “Party Fears Two”, a new world of sensation opened - a world of expectation, excitement, pleasure, hurt and despair - emotions that in time came to reflect Mackenzie’s life.

As their success grew, so did the money (reputedly millions) and drugs (there’s a story of Rankine and Mackenzie being kept on heart monitors for 4 days after ingesting excessive amounts of cocaine), and the fears about performing (a tour of America was canceled days before it was to take place). Rankine eventually quit the band. Mackenzie carried on. Until in the 1990s, the record label were no longer willing to pay for Billy’s unfettered genius. Told of their plans over lunch, Billy only asked for one thing, a taxi home. An account cab was booked, thinking Mackenzie was only returning to his London address, instead he took it all the way back to Dundee, in Scotland.

As Marc Almond points out in this documentary on Mackenzie, The Glamour Chase, Billy must have known genuine heartache to sing with such painful beauty. Tragically, it was such heartache, this time over his mother’s untimely death, that led Billy Mackenzie to commit suicide, at the age of 39, in 1997. Such a terrible loss that revealed the darkness at the heart of The Associates’ music.

With contributions from Alan Rankine, Paul Haig, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Almond, Martin Fry, Glenn Gregory and Billy’s family, The Glamour Chase is a moving testament to the scale of Billy Mackenzie‘s talent.
 

 
Bonus track, ‘Party Fears Two’, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion