Today we look back a unique event that took place a few weeks ago. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the modular synthesizer system created by Serge Tcherepnin, fans, inventors, early adopters and virtuosi of these instruments got together at The Lab in San Francisco for an evening of music, gear spotting, and fellowship.
I arrived just in time to see Slope114, the duo of Elise Gargalikis and Dmitri SFC. Elise’s voice beautifully floated over the beats coming from the massive modular. There were quite a few groovy patterns and refrains in the mix.
I should also point out that they were key in organizing the event (and in helping introduce me to this community), so extra kudos for them.
Next up was LX Rudis, another frequent performer of Serge modulars. His was a much noisier, abstract performance compared to Slope114, but with lots of interesting sounds.
One of the earliest users of the Serge synthesizer was Will Jackson, who brought it on an anti-whaling voyage with Greenpeace in the 1970s. He related the story of the trip, including their encounter with a Soviet whaling ship, and shared with us some of the music he composed for and with the whales.
Next up was the virtuoso himself Doug Lynner. He did not disappoint, with a complex solo performance with subtle elements and precisely tuned patches.
The music is defies simple description, it is slow, evolving, beautiful, ethereal. it is best to just listen to his sit in this video:
Jill Fraser was on hand to perform with her large Serge synthesizer setup along with some more contemporary electronics. Well known for her work in film and commercial music, her performance came across as more abstract in this instance.
The final act of the evening featured a trio, bringing together Paul Young with Gino Robair on drums and Richard Marriott on trombone.
I jokingly referred to them as the “Serge house band” for the evening, but they killed it with an energetic jazzy set, especially one disco-infused jam of which I was particularly fond.
I regret not being able to list every act in this report, there were quite a few and they all brought something different to the event. And there was quite a large audience in attendance, overflowing the seats. We certainly except to hear more from many of these artists soon.