Tony Carey :: Explorer/Yellow Power (Medical)

Carey took prog-rock and redefined it through an all analogue set up. Through a smorgasbord of synths, Carey took a concept and tested it out. This concept, a futuristic soundtrack for the modern age, is a duality: West and East.

Tony Carey 'Explorer/Yellow Power'

Tony Carey ‘Explorer/Yellow Power’

[Release page] While in university I worked in the now dissolving HMV, one of the world’s largest music chains. Unsurprisingly there was a decent amount of music talk amongst the aisles, most of it the fair middle of the road dross. I did meet a decent mate through such chat.

“So, what kind of music do ya like?”
“Cosmic Disco,” he replied.
“Ah so what kind?”

That was a few years back and Cosmic Disco had become quite a buzz word, made big by the likes of Lindstrom and what seemed like a never-ending stream of uninspiring records. Over the years Cosmic Disco, with its rich history of 70s and 80s pioneers, has reached a wide audience through internet radios, DJ’s and a range of re-issues and bootlegs. One of the godfathers of Cosmic is Tony Carey aka Explorer aka Yellow Power aka No Human. In the mid-1970s this Californian keyboardist moved to Germany where the synthesizer sounds of Europe infected his sonorous soul. During this time Carey created two of the vinyl cornerstones of Cosmic Disco. ‘Explorer’ and ‘Yellow Power’ are the embodiment of funk fused analogue experimentation. Both records were bootlegged some years back but finally, three decades later, these trailblazing albums are beautifully resurrected for a double album extravaganza on Medical Records.

I own the Explorer bootleg, a grainy affair to say the least. It’s a real treat to get the quality of this vanguard reincarnated on a clean slab of wax. The jewel of LP is undeniably “Enjaw J.” The track is sublime. Building synth-lines cascade from the speakers, developing to a awe-filled peak before Carey turns and unravels wonderful spoils of analogue warmth. The opening is the zenith of the LP, simply because it is one of the best pieces of Cosmic Disco ever made. But fear not, there are other treats on here. The Devo style “Rabbits” sees synth lines race neon tracts with “No. 8” combining sharp beats with bulging analogue bass.

Yellow Power is arguably a stranger beast than Explorer. In reality they are two sides of the same coin, the occident and the orient. Yellow Power investigates the latter, taking a synthesized look eastwards. Now this might sound like too kitsch a twist, and the name is a little *ahem*, but musically it works surprisingly well. “Hai Samari” sees “No. 8” of Explorer bolstered with haunting vocals. Likewise, “Enjaw J” is given a touch of the Rising Sun as “Tojo.” “Queen of Scots” is given the same treatment, transformed into a work of proto-Tokio future dreaming. The LP feels somewhat like the soundtrack to a Sake Bar in L.A. circa 2019 with Mr Deckard tracking down replicants.

I’ve never been a fan of the tag Cosmic Disco, bit too trendy and bit too shallow. In reality, Carey was more than merely “Cosmic Disco.” Carey took prog-rock and redefined it through an all analogue set up. Through a smorgasbord of synths, Carey took a concept and tested it out. This concept, a futuristic soundtrack for the modern age, is a duality: West and East. When Explorer and Yellow Power were divided into two releases. Finally, these two have been reunited, remastered and reborn for the synthesizer hungry.

Explorer/Yellow Power is available on Medical. [Release page]

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