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Patrick Cowley

September 17, 2013

Patick CowleyThis man made music nobody else could have.  He was a geek, okay.  A giant, dorky stud of a man who studied synthesizers and analog electronic music when it was just starting up.  There were a few people there at the beginning, and some of them are already well known and might have an instrument or two named after them.  Moog, Casio (Kashio), these dudes built things that in the early 70s were clunky, expensive toys.  Patrick Cowley got inside of these machines, teased out their secrets and made them squeal. More than that, he made them pop, being the first of these wizards to see the potential of incorporating such a futuristic sound into music that would go on to move the masses.

Like my life, his career began with Sylvester.  He’d already been working, programming sounds for other people and even releasing an album, Megatron Man, but he wasn’t yet known outside of a small avant garde. Then, after playing some tapes of the music he was making for Our Diva, Sylvester invited him to re-work the early hits “(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real” and “(Dance) Disco Heat”.  These songs took both artists to career highs and gave Cowley the means to start up his own label, Megatone.  Cowley and Megatone would go on to spearhead Hi-NRG, the faggiest party music to date.  For this alone, he should be a queer household name.

Patrick was fun. He was funny and never too serious. At the time he was very into his Masculine Music trip. We often talked of doing these great gay records about hanging around in deep dark places doing these nasty and wonderful things.

And Patrick was just beginning, only just setting foot on the momentous career that would have been. His music was getting more sophisticated, personal and anthemic. Menergy and Megatron Man have not aged that well. They are clearly from a particular time, in a particular neighborhood, at a particular time of night. He then made a giant leap on his next and final album, Mind Warp, an album lyrically and sonically rich enough to uncover something new with each listen. The last song he produced for Sylvester was “Do You Wanna Funk,” a massive hit. Most producers working today have yet to reach his level of complexity and might even learn something from going back to give Patrick a listen. Patrick Cowley, who taught himself to play music by ear, by listening to the sounds his fingers made on the keys, and went on to redefine music.


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