I'm thrilled to announce that the legendary Malcolm Cecil, co-founder/inventor of TONTO's Expanding Head Band, will be performing along with Spitznagel at OTP on July 17.
Synthesizer pioneers comprise a fairly small, if exclusive, club, but in both arts, technology & music circles, few have achieved the status of Malcolm Cecil & TONTO. For those unaware, TONTO's Expanding Head Band were an influential electronic music duo from the 1970s conceived by Cecil and Robert Margouleff, two Grammy-winning musicians and sound designers. TONTO itself is an acronym for "The Original New Timbral Orchestra", the world's first (and still largest) multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer, designed and constructed by Cecil. Its warm, rich timbres were particularly noteworthy and still cannot be recreated by the current breed of MIDI digital synthesizers and samplers. TONTO has been in the private ownership of Cecil since 1975 when Margouleff left the Head Band; currently TONTO is alive and well and resides in its own studio in upstate New York close to Woodstock.
TONTO's Expanding Head Band's first recording, "Zero Time", was released in 1971 and attracted the attention of many leading artists of that era because of the unique, warm, musical sounds that TONTO was capable of generating. Chief among those artists was Stevie Wonder, whose involvement with TONTO started with "Music of My Mind" and continued through "Talking Book", "Innervisions", "Fulfillingness' First Finale" and the Spike Lee movie "Jungle Fever", all projects which featured Margouleff and Cecil as associate producers, engineers and programmers. Indeed, the remainder of the 70s and 80s featured TONTO on albums from Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, The Isley Brothers, Gil Scott-Heron and Weather Report, among others.
Cecil & his son (who performs as DJ Moonpup) have since devised a form of "virtual" TONTO (the original instrument being too large—see above photo—to cart about for gigging) for use in live performance. It is our honor to host Cecil & his contemporary version of TONTO here at OTP.
Jim Spitznagel is no stranger to odd tonalities, either. Out of his large art/studio in upstate New York (where he works with digital imagery in addition to sonics), Spitznagel artfully bends circuits, relays, delays, and all combinations of hard & software into a tasty pretzel logic for the ear. He has realized his innovative sound recreations across a modest catalog of releases spread out through his Level Green label, operating across a plethora of aliases that take in ambient jazz-glitch, alien exotica, and drunken mechanical abstraction, all of which colaesce into mind-boggling mini-symphonies of harmonically stressed, rhythmically energized bleep and bluster.
Together, both Cecil & Spitznagel bridge multiple generations of electronic artists, their music continuing to resound within the work of contemporary laptop musicians & old-school analog enthusiasts united by their fascination with strange sounds.
We look forward to seeing you at this unique & once-in-a-lifetime event.