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July 08, 2010

Optiganally Yours (vacation re-post)

[Greetings! I'm off on a nearly two week vacation for a family reunion near Rome, Georgia. Normally I let the blog go dark during my vacations, but this time I thought I'd re-post a bunch of good stuff from the early days of this blog, back when I knew all four readers by name. This post is from January 06, 2006.]

One of my favorite things to do here on Comfort Music is stumble across something from years ago that I'd never heard about and post about it in a witless frenzy as though no one else had ever heard about it either. Which brings us to today's post about a group called Optiganally Yours, whose 1997 debut album Spotlight On Optiganally Yours showcases the band's fetishistic obsession with an obscure instrument called - wait for it - the Optigan. Epitonic describes the instrument thusly: "Produced by Mattel in the 1970s, the Optigan (a combination of 'optical' and 'organ') is an organ that plays back the sounds of real instruments that have been recorded onto celluloid disks with alluring titles like Polynesian Village, Latin Village and Singing Rhythm. Optigans, while endearing, proved to be unreliable and commercially unsuccessful, so they were produced for only a few years." But it's not just the Optigan on display - don't overlook the masterful playing of the Schoenhut toy piano on the album.

I learned about this album from my friend John, whose band "Awesome" covers a track from the second Optiganally Yours album, which features the Chilton Talentmaker and the Vako Orchestron instead of the Optigan. Again, from Epitonic: "The Talentmaker is similar to the Optigan, but it can play several chords (E flat major and minor chords as well as true A and E major) that the Optigan cannot. It also has the bonus feature that allows the player to open the front of the instrument and scratch the sound disks, which is impossible to do with the Optigan." Get some freebies from that album at the band's Epitonic page, but these tracks are from the first album, which is chock full of Optigan delight. The band's site has additional freebies here.

Oh - aside from the instrument's unique appeal, the songs themselves are very enjoyable indie pop. So there.

Optiganally Yours - Mr. Wilson
Optiganally Yours - Wichita Lineman
Optiganally Yours - Beebo

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Posted by Scotto at July 8, 2010 08:00 AM