“The thing that’s great about it, is that it’s kind of intuitive,” says Nancy Whang, who is standing before an imposing wall of knobs, inputs and multi-hued leads that wouldn’t look out of place in the control room for a Cape Canaveral lift-off.
Here, she and three of her bandmates in LCD Soundsystem — Al Doyle (also in Hot Chip), Korey Richey and Matt Thornley — who the night before put on one of Coachella’s most transcendental sets (silencing critics of their short-lived break-up), coax all manners of warm analog sound from low rumblings to high pitched squeals and buzzes from a Moog System 55.
It’s a rare analog synthesizer based on 1973 factory specs housed in two solid walnut cabinets and shipped to the desert from factory headquarters in Asheville, N.C., as part of a sponsored installation at the Palm Springs lifestyle emporium that is the Ace Hotel.
Here, in a dedicated space above the pool, where the grizzled Coachella faithful emerge to recover from their dust-covered desert festival stupor, the LCD crew and others are welcome to play the Moog System 55 with the help of a Moog engineer Eli Welbourne. Later today, the omnivorous force of nature that is Gaslamp Killer and Daedalus of Low End Theory party fame will play. Last weekend, too, Com Truise similarly explored the manipulation of sounds frequencies.
While the impromptu jam and the myriad of different sounds the LCD crew produced on the Moog may sound random, it’s not entirely, according to Whang. “It’s a little freeform,” she says, “but I know the basic stuff and it’s fun to play.” She notes that her partner, Nick Milheiser of Holy Ghost!, “has a modular synthesizer and some of it incorporates Moog modules.”
While the keyboardist declines to discuss anything whatsoever having to do with LCD Soundsystem, she notes she is working on new music with another DFA Records born project, Juan McLean. She also reveals that the wait for a follow-up to her wonderful collaboration with Classixx (Michael David and Tyler Blake) on their 2013 single “All You’re Waiting For” may not be far behind. They’ve “been trying to work on another track,” she says, “but we’re still in the process.”
Which finally brings us — as most things do this weekend in the music universe — to Prince and LCD’s incredible interpolation of “Controversy” the night before. Whang again declines to speak on anything regarding LCD, but will cop to her Prince fandom. “My association with Prince is pretty much like most people — a love of his music,” she says. When asked if Purple Rain-era keyboardist Dr. Fink (Matt Fink) in his full surgeon regalia was an influence, she says, “I was little too young for that, but I did appreciate the music.”