Preview: Mountain Oasis Electronic Summit

The history of the new Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit is a bit knotty. Quick capsule back-story: synthesizer pioneer R.A. Moog passed away in August 2005. As a way to honor his myriad innovations, a small festival called Moogfest was put together in New York City in the year before his passing. That small festival was repeated each year though 2008; owing both to its growing popularity and to the fact that Asheville NC was Moog’s home (and headquarters of Moog Music, Inc.), the festival moved to North Carolina beginning in 2010. The (now huge) three-day festival brought together artists old and new (with varying degrees of connection to synthesizers, it must be said) and grew even more popular.

In the wake of Moogfest 2012, a falling out occurred between various entities involved in organizing the festival. Moog Music and The Bob Moog Foundation would no longer collaborate with AC Entertainment, the official organizer of the event (AC also puts on Bonnaroo and other large-scale events). As a result, for awhile in late 2012, it looked as if the festival would be no more.

But when the dust settled, Asheville ended up with two planned festivals. There would be no Moogfest 2013, but the festival is now scheduled for April 23-27, 2014, once again in Asheville. Meanwhile, AC Entertainment has mounted a new festival, scheduled in the slot formerly given to Moogfest. So on the weekend of October 25-27 (in other words, today through Sunday), Mountain Oasis will rock Asheville.

Similar to Moogfest in its soft focus on synth-based music, Mountain Oasis aims to bring all kinds of acts to town. From EDM to ambient, from avant garde to pop, Mountain Oasis aims to provide an overview of current and/or historically significant artists to perform.

And I’m going. The five-venue festival – Asheville Civic Center (aka Arena), Thomas Wolfe auditorium, The Orange Peel, Diana Wortham Theatre, and Asheville Music Hall – is very close to home; the Peel is the venue farthest from my house, and that’s all of 2.2 miles away. While most of the artists scheduled for Saturday and Sunday are unfamiliar to me (Gary Numan, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Animal Collective and Nine Inch Nails notably excepted), my plan is to hit as many of them as possible, and then report back here soon thereafter (with photos). But tonight, my scramble will be of a slightly different nature; there are a number of historically significant acts on my must-see list.

I got (slightly) turned onto Half Japanese way back when I was in high school (late 70s/early 80s) when a friend into the outré brought some of their records to school. Silver Apples, I know of mainly as early synth pioneers. Daniel Johnston has a reputation as an erratic, highly idiosyncratic performer, and that description is being tactful. Sparks fall into that weird-70s bag; they’re a cult attraction with hardcore fans among those whose opinions I respect. Neutral Milk Hotel are a sort of acid-folk act, part of the Athens GA-based Elephant 6 Collective that has also given the world Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal. It will require some deft scampering from venue to venue (and tonight’s forecast is 27°F), but that’s the plan. Look for post-show details on the whole Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit soon, here on Meanwhile, details on the festival can be found at the official site.

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