That Old-Timey Moog Sound

Andy Haas/David MorenoHaas/Moreno (Studio Stereomo, 2013)

haas-morenoThere’s something comforting about the analog synth and Moog beats that fortify Haas/Moreno. That might be the nostalgia talking. It’s hard to hear those synths and not think of ’70s UFO documentaries.

But Haas/Moreno doesn’t feel like a throwback. It’s informed by the dance music of the ’00s, full of squelchy, understated beats that might soothe but aren’t going for the spacey relaxation of ’70s “space music” (the less saccharine precursor to new age, and the electronic foil to Windham Hill). He also adds quite a few world-music influences to the beats, elements that I don’t remember being that common in the early days of electronic music.

David Moreno is responsible for those sounds, and he’s complemented by Andy Haas’ saxophone. Haas has become a specialist in that genre of Whatever-I-Feel-Like-Playing, often coming up with excitingly abrasive improvisations, but here, he’s offering melodic soloing that’s sometimes even comforting, augmented by reverb and other, more sophisticated electronics effects, to create an extra layer of atmosphere.

You get the full effect right away with “Sequence Green,” the upbeat opener that’s equal parts Kraftwerk doodling, planetarium effects, and jazz sax. “Amplifier Red,” soon after, presents an exotic beat overlaid with Middle Eastern-tinged sax.

On the less relaxing side,  there’s the curtain of droning horns on “Oscillator Magenta,” a backing laid down by Haas as Moreno plays the soloist, dealing those thick Moog notes.

Most of Side A is upbeat, with tracks that fly by. Maybe it’s greedy of me to wish the songs were longer; as pleasing as they are, they might wear out if they went eight or 10 minutes. A couple of middle tracks slow things down considerably, including the second half of “Generator Yellow,” which is about sleepy atmosphere and Haas’ placid sax lullabies. Things perk up later on “Multiplier Grey,” where a rocking little beat offers some space for Haas to have ragged fun on the sax.

The LP is printed in a limited edition of 100. Downtown Music Gallery had at least one, at this writing.

David Moreno, by the way, is a visual artist and (like Haas) works at New York’s MoMA for his day job. MoMA recently published an enlightening interview about his work.