Patrick Cowley is back in a way. A recently released 2xLP called 'School Daze' features 11 never heard before tracks, recorded between 1973 and 1981.
from the press release:
Perhaps one of the most revolutionary and influential people in the canon of disco music, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music coined "The San Francisco Sound." Born in Buffalo, NY, on October 19, 1950, Patrick moved to San Francisco at the age of 21. He studied at the City College of San Francisco where he founded the Electronic Music Lab. During this time Patrick created radio jingles and electronic pieces using the school's equipment, first a Putney, then an E-MU System and finally a Serge synthesizer. He made experimental instrumental songs by blending various types of music and adapting them to the synthesizer.
By the mid-70's, Patrick's synthesizer skills landed him a job composing and producing songs for disco superstar Sylvester such as “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Dance Disco Heat” and "Stars." This helped Patrick obtain more work as a remixer and producer. Of particular note was his 18-minute long remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and production work with edgy New Wave band Indoor Life. By 1981 Patrick released a string of dance 12" singles, like “Menergy” and “Megatron Man”, creating the soundtrack for a generation. Also that year, he founded Megatone Records and released his debut album. Around this time Patrick was hospitalized and diagnosed with a then-unknown illness: that would later be called AIDS. Prior to his passing on November 12, 1982, he recorded two more Hi-NRG hits, “Do You Wanna Funk” for Sylvester and "Right On Target" for Paul Parker.
In 1981 Patrick was contacted by John Coletti, the owner of famed gay porn company Fox Studio in Los Angeles. John had heard about Patrick's music from the legendary Sylvester and proposed he write music for his films. Patrick jumped on this offer and sent reels of his college compositions from the 70s to John in LA. Coletti then used a variable speed oscillator to adjust the pitch and speed of Patrick's songs in-sync with the film scene. "School Daze" is a collection of Cowley's instrumental songs recorded between 1973 and 1981 found in the Fox Studio vaults. Influenced by Tomita, Wendy Carlos and Giorgio Moroder, Patrick forged an electronic sound from his collection of synthesizers, modified guitars and self-constructed equipment. The listener enters a world of dark forbidden vices, introspective and reflective of Patrick's time spent in the bathhouses of San Francisco. The songs on "School Daze" range from sparse proto- techno to high octane funk to somber post-punk to musique concrete, revealing the depth of Cowley's unique talent.
Featuring over 80 minutes of music, this compilation contains soundtrack music from two Fox Studio films, "Muscle Up" and "School Daze", never before released on vinyl. The tapes were restored and transferred using the same speed and pitch settings, then remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. The vinyl comes housed in a glossy dual pocket gatefold featuring classic gay porn imagery from the Fox Studio vaults plus an essay from Indoor Life vocalist, Jorge Soccarras. These recordings shine a new light on the experimental side of a disco legend who was taken too soon. All proceeds from "School Daze" will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, who have been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV since 1982.
The album has already garnered positive press from NPR, SPIN and FACT.
I personally love this album. As a DJ I love to explore the roots of dance music, and disco is what gave birth to house music. Patrick Cowley was a very influential producer and remixer, and Menergy is one of my top disco songs of all time. Patrick Cowley took the synthesizer and used it like no one else in his time. He had an influence on a large number of producers in electronic music today.
This release explores the scope of his various production styles and the songs span a range of lengths, from 2 minutes and 38 seconds being the shortest song, and the longest clocking in at just under 16 minutes. Various parts of the album sound like they could have come from Pink Floyd, The Orb and Kraftwerk. This album is highly recommended for fans of any of those groups, as well as any synth music fans, disco fans, etc.
Here are snippets from every song on the album:
This album can be purchased via iTunes by Clicking Here - remember, all proceeds go to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.