BEWITH046LP

A classic library set from front to back, and a canonised work from two of the greats. This one goes deeper than usual, the project compiled as a synth concept record of sorts. An essential companion piece to Synthesizer and Percussion from the same year.

Like all the best library records, Synthesis has that gloriously funky, “weird electronic music” vibe without ever being inaccessible. With the vibrant ARP Odyssey to the fore, Hawkshaw & Bennett created a blissed-out soundscape that, while laid back in all the right places, remains sufficiently heavy on the funk. A sort of throbbing, proto-G Funk shared by many of the pair’s low-lit basement workouts.

Take the ice-cool “Alto Glide” - a sunset-funk highlight featuring an electro-flute refrain that conjures those dreamier Dre / DJ Quick instrumentals from ‘91-’92. There can be little doubt as to how closely Stereolab, Koushik (again) and all those GhostBox artists were listening in the years since. The equally relaxed “Mermaid” glides effortlessly with soft, shimmering piano, understated percussion and kaleidoscopic synths – a really beautiful piece.

Yet while these two soft-focus tracks allow the LP to float away into the horizon, the preceding 10 tracks have a more insistent, neck-snapping rhythm section to back the synth overload. Highlights here include the synth break in “The Executive”, recalling as it does classic video game soundtracks and the head-nod funk of “Getting It Together”.

Originally produced exclusively for use by film and TV studios and never commercially released, library records have long been a goldmine for the collector and sampler alike. The music was created to evoke moods, situations and emotional responses and, at it’s best, it was truly extraordinary. Creative and futuristic, it is now regarded as some of most inventive music of its time.

Crafted by the some of the greatest musical minds of the late 20th century, these expert musicians and innovative composers revelled in the freedoms offered, paradoxically, by this most corporate of fields, indulging themselves in ways they couldn’t on records made for general release. The calibre of the musicians certainly raised the bar, too. Robin Phillips, who ran KPM in its heyday, wanted only the best. “You couldn’t do an album of the quality Robin demanded without the A-team,” as Brian Bennett recently recalled.