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Electronic Sound by George Harrison

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Recorded in November 1968 and February 1969 George’s Electronic Sound was released in May 1969, it was the second, and final, record released on The Beatles’ Apple Records subsidiary label, Zapple Records. It was yet more proof that George was ahead of his time and in many respects the most musically enquiring of the four Beatles.

Electronic Sound is made up of two long pieces of music, originally one on each side of the LP, that are performed on the Moog synthesizer; the Moog IIIc modular system was purchased by George from its inventor, Robert Moog. The record was made against a background of musical exploration that characterised London and Los Angeles in 1968 …Avant-garde was everywhere.

Side 2 of the album ‘No Time or Space’ was the first to be recorded and was done in Los Angeles in November 1968. George had finished work on The Beatles (White Album) and had flown to America’s West Coast to produce Jackie Lomax’s Apple album, Is This What You Want? at Sound Recorders Studio in Hollywood.

Lomax’s album featured a Moog that had been brought to the studio by Bernie Krause, who along with musical partner, Paul Beaver, had recorded The Nonsuch Guide to Electronic Music, and was acting as something of a ‘salesman’ for Robert Moog’s invention. It was following work on the Lomax album that George, with Krause’s help, recorded the 25 minute piece.

Side one of the LP is ‘Under the Mersey Wall’, an 18 minute piece that references the river on which Liverpool is built and it was recorded at Kinfauns, George’s home in Esher, Surrey, in February 1969. The title also refers to a weekly column in The Liverpool Echo, written by another George Harrison (no relation), entitled ‘Over the Mersey Wall’. In 1970 white noise from this track was used on ‘I Remember Jeep’, one of the jams included on All Things Must Pass.

The album’s cover was a painting done by George and many years later his son Dhani asked his father if he could have the painting that was leaning against a wall, somewhat neglected, at home in Henley, to hang in his bedroom. A few years later George explained to Dhani what the painting was all about, “That’s Derek (Taylor) holding on to all of Apple’s aggravation and problems that are looming over everyone. That’s Neil (Aspinall) frowning and Mal (Evans) smiling with him in the chair. That’s Eric (Clapton) on the right there and the green guy on the front is Bernie (Krause), with his bow tie and pocket square, patching everything through the board. That’s me making the tea (small blue face smiling) and that’s the cat, Jostick, the small green demon like figure on the front cover.”

The album and George’s Moog itself play an important part in The Beatles story as it was taken to Abbey Road studios in the summer of 1969 and used in the recording of The Beatles’ Abbey Road. As George later recalled, “The Moog synthesiser was enormous, with hundreds of jack plugs and two keyboards. But it was one thing having one, it was another thing making it work. When you listen to the sounds on songs like, ‘Here Comes The Sun’, it does some good things, but they’re all very kind of infant sounds.”

Electronic Sound is a musical marker, one that George laid down during a period of intense inventiveness and in a world where everything and anything were possible.


Track Listings:
    Side one
    "Under The Mersey Wall" – 18:41
    Side two
    "No Time Or Space" – 25:10
Total Time: 43:50
Artist Name(s):
GEORGE HARRISON : Moog Synthesizer IIIC Modular System.
With help of Bernie Krause.
Producer(s):
George Harrison
Release Year: 1969
Style:
Experimental, Noise
Album Type:
Studio
Formats:
Cassette, Compact Disc, LP 33 1/3
Cover & Packge Design:
Original sleeve design by George Harrison.
Engineer(s): George Harrison & Bernie Krause
Liscense:
Copyright
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
ZAPPLE
Catalog Number(s):
Zapple 02
Location:
USA - ENGLAND
Distributor(s):
APPLE RECORDS
Reviews
Sources
Editions / Reissues
  1. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Zapple ZAPPLE 02 UK 1969
  2. Electronic Sound ‎(Cass, Album) Zapple, Zapple 4XT-3358, 4XT 3358 US 1969
  3. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Apple Records AP 8783 Japan 1969
  4. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Zapple, Apple Records ZAPPLE 02, ZAPPLE.02 New Zealand 1969
  5. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Apple Records 6268 Argentina 1969
  6. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Zapple, Zapple 3C 064 93260, 02 Italy 1972
  7. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album) Apple Records SALP 30520 Uruguay 1973
  8. Electronic Sound ‎(8-Trk, Album) Capitol Records 8XT-3358 Canada 1974
  9. Electronic Sound ‎(8-Trk, Album) Zapple 8XT-3358 US 1974
  10. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album, RE) Apple Records, Zapple EAS-80696, ZAPPLE 02 Japan 1977
  11. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album) EMI 368 855239 2 2 Brazil 1996
  12. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM) Zapple 7243 8 55239 2 2 Canada 1996
  13. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM) Zapple, Zapple 7243 8 55239 2 2, CDZAPPLE 02 Europe 1996
  14. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM) Zapple TOCP-50067 Japan 1997
  15. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM) Apple Records, Zapple TOCP-67572, ZAPPLE 02 Japan 2005
  16. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM, SHM) Apple Records UICY-76636 Japan 2014
  17. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, RM) Zapple, Zapple 0602537913961, ZAPPLE 02 Europe 2014
  18. Electronic Sound ‎(CD, Album, Ltd, RE, RM, SHM) Universal Music UICY-78136 Japan 2017
  19. Electronic Sound ‎(LP, Album, RE, RM, 180) Dark Horse Records, Apple Records 5709031, ZAPPLE 02 2017
Synthesizers Used
Album Locator
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CIIIGoff

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   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

This one and Lennon/Ono's Two Virgins were some of my first exposures to electronic/experimental music.  I was a 10 year old SF Bay Area kid back then, and while I was initially seeking out something a bit more "familiar" from these albums, the exposure I got to the avant garde mystified and intrigued me enough to eventually lead me to becoming a creator of unique sonic experiments myself.  I should add that Revolution 9 was a big part of this exposure too.

I've heard a lot of stories about how Beaver and Krause felt like they'd been Harrison's robbery victims with the release of this album.  I'll just say that whatever dirty stuff that may have gone on regarding its production, the album's sounds got to my young ears and affected my brain permanently, and for this I'm indebted to everyone involved. 

The 5 stars indicate more my feeling about the whole than perhaps the "quality" of the sounds, but both make up a well-driven road on my synapses.

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