Isn’t it the responsibility of any good music fan to seek out the most obscure, pretentious, inaccessible and all together mysterious albums possible?
Any old shlub can set foot and cross the threshold of the newest enormo-chain store, scouring the racks for the newest releases that are made to exist behind a veil of cool.
However, it’s the true aficionado that is willing to sacrifice weekends and countless listening hours in order to find a product truly unique and wondrous. Be it a yard sale, a flea market, a thrift store, or any manner of second hand distributor, pearls of musical wisdom are constantly found buried deep in the sand, between old REO Speedwagon LPs and the soundtrack to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.One such album is Explorer. Billed as, “A Totally New Electronic Musical Instrument in Recording,” Explorer is a shocking glimpse into the future brought to you as a blast from the past.
Released in 1967 by Rocky Mount Instruments, inc., the record features the wildly retro sounds of the Explorer II, an instrument, that back in the late 60’s, was on the cutting edge of electronically-based instruments.
On the surface, Explorer seems to be nothing more than crass commercialism, an advertisement in the form of artist expression. But the performances found on the album dispel any doubts as to whether or not this is a record worth finding.
Two men, Tom Hazleton and Gene Ciszek, perform the entire twelve track selection. Hazleton tickles the ivories on two keyboards at once. He is pictured on the cover with his back to the audience, predating Van Halen’s technique hiding posture by several years. It may seem a bit ostentatious of Hazleton to do so, but hearing his masterful renditions of, “Parisian Medley,” and the Beatles classic, “Yesterday,” it is clear that Hazleton is a virtuoso of an, “Eruption,”-like caliber.While there are some beautifully subdued moments, (“Midnight in Moscow”), and spacey stargazing epics, (“Explorer Theme”), the duo simply destroy all music with their flawless, incendiary recording of, “Mr. Bach Meets Batman.”
Opening with a crushing Bach overture, Hazleton sounds like a demented, mod looking Phantom of the Opera, hell-bent of forcing the listener into submission.
Hazleton’s mad fingering coupled with Ciszek’s visceral, untamed percussion bombard the songs second component, “The Theme from Batman.” The track, much like the album itself, mixes classical influences with a campy popped-out sound in a way the must be heard to be believed.
Robert James Algeo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.