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‘Love and reverse-psychedelics’: Synthesizer pioneer Bruce Haack on ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,’ 1968
12.16.2013
06:17 pm
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Incredible footage of “the king of techno,” Bruce Haack demonstrating his homemade computers for some kids on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood in 1968, with the help of his longtime creative partner, Ester Nelson.

Nelson was a choreographer and together, she and Haack collaborated on eleven fairly avant-garde records for kids (released on their own Dimension 5 label) that combined electronic music, storytelling and a (drugless?) psychedelic outlook. Some of them weren’t that far-off from “Hokey Pokey” or “musical chairs” type activity songs, but others were weirder... like asking kids to pretend to be their own shadows or a grandfather clock.

The liner notes to Haack and Nelson’s 1963 Dance Sing and Listen Again album read:

THIS RECORDING IS A TOTAL EXPERIENCE. It exposes your child to controlled body movement, provides a stimulus for imagination and creativity, and presents a range of thought, music and sound from things medieval through today’s electronics. NOTHING LIKE IT HAS EXISTED BEFORE!

That’s a pretty big claim for a kids album, but it’s probably accurate, too.
 

 
I can’t fathom the notion that they thought they were providing a psychedelic experience of sorts, for kids! Here’s what they had to say in the liner notes to their 1968 album The Way Out Record for Children (which must be a reference to Perrey and Kingsley’s The In Sound From Way Out!):

This Wild and wonderful record offers another “Way Out” for children from typical recordings. Our first three recordings prove that our simple philosophy of love and reverse-psychedelics works. We do fill the senses with an almost infinite range of concepts, abstracts, words, sounds, advice and a contract with order and form. But we know that kids compute—so we ask them to use our basics and stretch to the sky. They do—because kids are turned on.

In this Wild and Wonderful time we hereby take the slogan “Drop Out”—turn it around—and print our own button for children ...“Drop in—We love you.”

You follow that? Was the idea of “psychedelics” somehow not yet threatening to Middle American parents?
 

 
In the video below (which reminds me a bit of Synthesizer Patel’s appearance on Look Around You) Haack and Miss Nelson explain their zany non-LSD gestalt to Mr. Rogers and the kids. Although the clips are labeled parts two and three, part one isn’t on YouTube, but nothing of Haack’s appearance seems to be missing.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.16.2013
06:17 pm
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Bruce Haack meets Seventies Hungarian sci-fi
01.13.2011
06:22 pm
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A mashup of imagery from 1970s Hungarian Sci-fi TV series Tales of Pirx the Pilot (based on Stanislaw Lem’s book) and soundscapes from electronic music pioneer Bruce Haack, this video pays tribute to the roots of digital pop culture. 

Stones Throw Records has released “Farad, The Electric Voice” which…

[...] specifically focuses on tracks using Haack’s self-made vocoder, which he named “Farad.” This was the one of the first truly musical vocoders, and first to be used on a pop album, pre-dating Kraftwerk’s Autobahn by several years.

In his music and lyrics, Haack explored the interface between humans and machines in the beginning decades of cybernetics. Releasing groundbreaking experimental records as early as 1962 using synthesizers, early proto-types of the vocoder, rhythm machines and the touch sensitive Dermatron, Haack’s visionary sound still seems fresh.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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01.13.2011
06:22 pm
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