#np: Silver Apples

Last night’s late-night reading included a great feature, posted on The Quietus, by Simeon Coxe, 74-year-old founder of the seminal 1960s NYC electronic psych outfit Silver Apples. Coxe, on the festival circuit again, offered up 13 albums that have shaped his musical life. The whole thing’s great, and full of surprises, but I gravitated to the two items most closely related to LES music scenes. His entry on Sun Ra:

In the early 60s in New York there was a dive called Slugs way over on the Lower East Side where none but the brave or stupid dared venture. Every Thursday night this musician (also from Alabama) who called his act Sun Ra and his Arkestra held court there, and me and my girlfriend would get brave and stupid and go have a beer and catch what was happening. Many times we would be the only people there, except for the bartender and the Arkestra folks who were a costumed multitude, some musicians, some who danced some kind of Afro-mythology interpretation and others who held weird poses for hours. One time I got up to go take a leak and there was an African warrior balanced on the urinal playing a saxophone. Amazing… and beer was only 25 cents a mug. What I learned from this, that has stuck to me like flypaper, is that music is whatever the musician says it is!

And this bit on Ornette Coleman:

I’m not really into jazz, but in the early 60s in NY I got into Ornette Coleman, mainly because of a musician friend of mine named Harold Clayton who was crazy about him. My studio was on East 5th Street, and on the corner was a low-key bar called The Five Spot – not even a half a block away, and Ornette Coleman was a regular on stage there. Whenever we could scrape together enough money to get in, Harold would drag me to The Five Spot to hear Ornette Coleman and whoever was sitting in with him. I even got to see Coltrane once, and one of my painting heroes, Larry Rivers, who played sax. All these guys were talking about “free jazz”, man, dig it! I was more or less indoctrinated by saturation and after a while I, too, was really diggin’ it!

If you’ve never encountered Silver Apples before you could do worse than start with this interview from September, from Electronic Beats. Or watch this interview with Coxe from 2008:

Here’s Coxe at work in 2008, playing a song he helped create 40 years earlier in New York:

And if this has tuned your ear to a certain frequency, try streaming the final album from Coxe’s list of recommendations, by the Chinese band The Offset:

One listen through that stream last night and I had the vinyl on its way to my PO box.

That’s what I’m playing today. You?

4 responses to “#np: Silver Apples”

  1. T-Mo says:

    I’d heard of Silver Apples but have never listened to them. I will now. Great stories about Sun Ra and Ornette. Oh to have been there in Slugs and The Five Spot! One of Eric Dolphy’s best is Live at the Five Spot. I’ll give The Offset a listen, too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Bryan says:

    “a low key bar called The Five Spot.” It’s almost as if he doesn’t realize how legendary the place became. I thought you’d dig this, Tim. There’s quite a bit of early Silver Apples stuff on YouTube, btw.

  3. swells says:

    Loving the Offset! Two songs in it’s reminding me sorta of, dare I say, Bauhaus. Which is never a bad thing.

  4. J Wood says:

    Yes! Nice to see Silver Apples getting some love. Thanks for all the awesome links.