Think about midcentury sci-fi and horror flicks. Do you remember those haunting tones that heralded the presence of aliens or ghosts? That sound was made by a theremin, and Bob Moog might have built it. As a teen in the ’50s, he began making and selling his own version of the electromagnetic noisemaker. Then he took what he learned and created the first relatively cheap and commercially available analog synthesizer in 1964. His ever-expanding line of instruments would go on to be used by rockers like the Beatles, electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, and composers of a slew of classic movie soundtracks (think John Carpenter’s Halloween or Wendy Carlos’ chilling scores for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange). Moog died in 2005, but his eponymous company remains a popular manufacturer of theremins, and its synths are still favorites of acts from the Beastie Boys and Air to Ben Folds and Dr. Dre.
On Oct. 28, musicians and fans will converge in Moog’s longtime home of Asheville, North Carolina, for the second annual Moogfest, a three-day celebration of all things Bob. This year’s lineup includes the Flaming Lips, Battles, Amon Tobin, Chromeo, Suicide, Crystal Castles, Toro Y Moi, and Little Dragon. The festival will also feature panel discussions, art exhibitions, film screenings, and workshops by and for electronic music geeks.
Anthony Gonzalez, the mastermind of synth-happy ambient pop act M83, says he’ll play a special set. “Tons of bands I grew up loving used Moogs, so hearing one is like hearing a voice from the past,” says Gonzalez, whose latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, is set for release mere days before Moogfest. “It has a sound that can be eerie, futuristic, cool, and nostalgic.” But mostly spooky.