Steve Maxwell Von Braund was the Australian connection. Whilst living in London in the late 60’s he was inspired by the vitality of the music scene, most notably Hawkwind, who he would often see busking in the tube station. The German Komische sounds, also caught his ear, the likes of Can, Amon Duul and Tangerine Dream. He returned to Australia in the early 1970’s and recorded Monster Planet, Australia’s first wholly electronic music album, a suite of highly experimental cosmic landscapes conjured via his trusty Korg. Later he formed Australia’s first Komische band with Geoff Green,the synth heavy Cybotron, offering up 3 studio and one live album of highly idiosyncratic progressive krautrock before they disbanded in the 80’s.
He still continues to make music on his Korg and various other pieces of equipment and recently contributed a sax solo to UK singer songwriter Jane Weaver’s fifth solo album The Silver Globe. With Dual Planet‘s imminent reissue of Cybotron’s 1976 debut, we asked Von Braund to share some of the music that has inspired his musical wanderings the most.
Walter Carlos –Switched on Bach (CBS/1968)
This music was constructed using a very early modular Moog system. It was recorded before proper keyboard systems where made available. It was a mammoth effort to record these compositions. In the booklet from the Switched on box set released a few years ago Wendy Carlos describes how they went about it. I heard this album not long after it was released. It was my introduction to synthesizers. I was immediately intrigued by the music. At that time I was playing Jazz on the Alto sax. When I got to London a couple of year later I started going into music shops and playing around with different synthesizers on display in music shops. All four of the switched on series 1968-1979 are as equally as good as one another. Switched on Bach, Well Tempered Synthesizer, Switched on Bach 11, Switched on Brandenburg’s. These are pioneering albums of the synthesizer world.
Graham Bond – Love is the Law (Pulsar Records/1967)
Graham Bond is virtually on his own on this record. For previous four years his band The Graham Bond Organization had distinguished musicians, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker & Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax player). Graham Bond was the first as far as I know to play Hammond organ in a rock band of any note in England. On this record he plays two parts on the keyboards whilst playing the bass part on the foot pedals, then with his left hand picks up the saxophone & plays it with one hand . He also does all the vocals on this album & the only help he gets is a drummer (this is pre multi tracking days). He is an extraordinary talent. I love all his work, Several albums worth. I used to see him playing in London on the early seventies playing his sax & the organ in a band called The Initiation. His sax playing could be compared to Cannonball Adderley. I used to listen to this album in the late 1960’s in Melbourne. Graham Bonds music particularly his alto sax work was a great inspirational to me.
Eric Dolphy – Out to lunch (Blue Note/1964)
The title of the the first track on this album Hat & Beard refers to Thelonious Monk, the composition contains a famous percussion interlude between Tony Williams drums & Bobby Hutcherson vibes. Eric Dolphy plays alto saxophone, bass clarinet & flute. The music on this album is classed as free jazz. Eric Dolphy has a distinctive way of playing. He is like no one else. I have always liked his general approach to playing and his wild solos. Out to Lunch stands as Eric Dolphys magnum opus, an absolute pinnacle of avant guard jazz its rhythmic complexity is astonishing. Other musicians on this the only Blue Note session Eric Dolphy did as a leader are Freddie Hubbard Trumpet and Richard Davis Bass.
Terry Riley – A Rainbow in Curved Air (CBS/1969)
Rainbow in curved air is the third album by experimental music & classical minimalist pioneer Terry Riley. By over dubbing all the instruments he is able to play all the music himself. The title track which is all of side one explores various layered keyboard (mainly organ) & percussion textures. Although no synthesizers where used I would describe it as an electronic raga. Side two has another long composition Poppy Nogood & the Phantom Band. This time using Soprano saxophone, electronic organ as well using a time accumulator two tape recorders looped together. This album furthered my interest in electronic music, particularly combining it with alto saxophone. Terry Riley was an inspiration to me as well as too many others such as Mike Oldfield, Soft Machine & Brian Eno to name a few.
Soft Machine – Third (CBS/ 1970)
Third is a double album with each of the four sides containing one long composition. This album with the addition of Elton Dean on Saxes was their transition from a psychedelic band into a progressive jazz fusion. The music on this album comes under the genre of the Canterbury scene. ‘Facelift’ occupies the first side it was recorded live in 1970 with the addition of Lyn Dobson on flute. This album is totally instrumental apart from ‘The Moon in June’ where Robert Wyatt provides the vocals. Mike Ratledge has a totally original approach to the organ using a Lowrey instead of Hammond, getting a unique sound. Hugh Hopper uses a fuzz box on his bass No guitars in this band at least at this stage in their development. This band has a totally original sound. I used to see them a lot playing around London back in the early 1970’s; they were one of my favourite bands along with Pink Floyd. This album was my introduction to them. I like all there music. I have all their main releases.
Harmonia – Musik Von (Brain/ 1974)
Harmonia is an electronic band from Germany a collaboration between Michael Rother (Neu) & Cluster another German electronic band of that time. I think this collaboration brought the best out of these fine musicians. It was first released on Brain records. It is one of the records I used to distribute when I was working for Clear Light of Jupiter. The inside cover has a picture of them in their rehearsal room with their instruments that look like there’ve been constructed out of bits & pieces of old equipment they have sourced from who knows where. The music is very heavy ambient in most parts but in other parts using drums and rhythms the Neu Influence. The music is loosely composed allowing for any idea’s that come up to be incorporated. The second album Harmonia Deluxe is also very good but with a very different approach.
Kingdom Come – Journey (Polydor/1973)
Kingdom Come was Arthur Brown’s new venture after The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Kingdom Come brought out several albums, but this one is the only one I liked and only one to use drum machine. The thing I liked about this album was his use of the drum machine which prompted me to acquire one for Cybotron. They also use a lot of electronic effects. The compositions are very unique & have an air of mystery about them. Mellotron is used quite tastefully. Basically a corner stone in electronic rock.
Hawkwind – Self Titled (Liberty/1970)
The first album by Hawkwind is totally different to all their other albums & the only one I really like a lot. After seeing Hawkwind perform around the London Campuses & at the Roundhouse (a very good venue at the time). I went out & brought this record their first album. After listening to it I realized that they had already progressed well beyond these recordings. So I was slightly disappointed but still loved it. Their music was the opposite to Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd’s music was like a pleasant dream Hawkwind ‘s was more like a Nightmare. I was looking forward to their next album but I did not like “In Search of Space” much, it did not sound like those early performances. The music on the first album has a lot of early Yardbirds, Bo Diddley influences in the rhythms. Back in the early 60’s Dave Brock & Eric Clapton used to play together this is before any of them made any records. Nick Turner’s sax fits in very nicely using the wah wah pedel in some parts. Their use of Audio Generators & VCS3 synthesizer would be the first I witnessed in a live situation. This album was a great influence on me in forming Cybotron.
Eroc – Eroc (Brain/1975)
Joachim Heinz Ehrig used the stage name of Eroc. When I was distributing Brain & Ohr records for Clear Light of Jupiter records, one I liked a lot was Eroc’s 1st album. He is best known as the drummer & leader Grobschnitt. This album has a very original approach playing with very basic melody’s interweaving with one another; he uses a lot of phasing, electronics, sequences & other effects including natural sound effects. He does all music on his own using multi tracking. These days he is a sound engineer. He has made other albums which I have never heard. He is another drummer who has an excellent feel for electronics in a much different way than Klaus Schultz& Chris Franke. This album came out in 1975 about the same time that Monster Planet was released. Geoff & I where working on compositions for the 1st Cybotron album at that time. It probably subconsciously influenced us. The best tracks are: Kieine Eva, Des Zauberers Traum, Die music von Olberg, Norderland & Sternchen.
Synergy – Electronic Realizations for rock Orchestra (Passport/1974)
Larry Fast is an expert sequencer & synthesizer programmer and composer. Using mainly Oberhiem equipment Fast recorded a series of pioneering electronic music albums under the project name of Synergy this being the first. I first heard this record in 1975 it was ground breaking for its time his use of sequence patterns interweaving with his keyboard arrangements. The music alternates from classically inspired to electronic rock. Some parts might sound a little dated now, but the bulk of it is still extremely good. He is still one of my favourite synthesis. He played in a different style to Cybotron. But I liked lots of different sounds that weren’t reflected in obvious ways in my own music.
Cybotron’s debut album is reissued by Dual Planet.