Constipated Bach – Switched On Bach by Walter Carlos
The original cover …..( many thanks to Mr. Heames for giving me this upgrade. )
And the revised cover …..
The album consists of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed on a Moog synthesizer, a modular synthesizer system, one of which can be seen at the back of the room on the album cover. “Switched-On Bach,” or “S-OB” as Carlos referred to it, was recorded on a custom-built 8 track recorder (constructed by Carlos from superseded Ampex components), using numerous takes and overdubs. This was long before the days of MIDI sequencers or polyphonic keyboards. Recording the album was a tedious and time-consuming process—each of the pieces had to be assembled one part at a time, and Carlos, Elkind and Folkman devoted many hours to experimenting with suitable synthetic sounds for each voice and part.
Due to the monophonic nature of the Moog instrument, Carlos never had the option of recording multiple notes on the same track, and in the same take. The simplest chordal constructions required multi-tracking, synchronization, and perfect timing, adding greatly to the overall time consumed by the project.
Carlos—a highly proficient musician and studio engineer and a former student of Vladimir Ussachevsky — worked closely with synthesizer designer Robert Moog throughout the recording process, testing his various components and suggesting many improvements. In 1968, not long before the album was released, Moog gave a paper at the annual Audio Engineering Society conference, where he played one of Carlos’ completed recordings:
“At the end of the talk I said to this fairly big audience, ‘As an example of multi-track electronic music studio composition technique, I would like to play an excerpt of a record that’s about to be released of some music by Bach.’ It was the last movement of Walter’s Brandenburg No. 3. I walked off the stage and went to the back of the auditorium while people were listening, and I could feel it in the air. They were jumping out of their skins. These technical people were involved in so much flim-flam, so much shoddy, opportunistic stuff, and here was something that was just impeccably done and had obvious musical content and was totally innovative. The tape got a standing ovation.”