How great it is at a time when technology and the science of music is at its highest point of evolution, to have the reintroduction of two of the most prominent forefathers in this music be heard again. It can be said of this work that it parallels with good wine. As it ages it only gets better with time. A toast to greatness... a toast to Zero Time... forever.Synthesizers are so pervasive an element in popular music of all types today that it's easy to forget what a novelty they were only 25 years ago. The first and most influential recording was from Tonto's Expanding Head Band in 1971, titled Zero Time.
- Stevie Wonder
Now what and who, is TONTO, you may ask. TONTO is an acronym for The Original New Timbral Orchestra - the world's first (and still the largest) multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer. It was conceived and built by two prominent Grammy winning musician/engineer/producer/sound designers - Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff. Zero Time became a classic when it was first released and attracted many leading artists of that era because of the unique, warm, musical sounds it was capable of generating. Chief among those artists was Stevie Wonder whose involvement with TONTO started with Music Of My Mind and continued through Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale and Jungle Fever, all projects which featured Margouleff and Cecil as associate producers, engineers and programmers.
Writing in Keyboard Magazine in 1984, John Dilberto asserted that "... this collaboration changed the perspectives of black pop music as much as The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper altered the concept of white rock". Indeed, the remainder of the 70's and 80's featured TONTO on albums from Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, The Isley Brothers, Gil Scott-Heron and Weather Report, as well as releases from Steve Stills, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Little Feat and Joan Baez, among others.
Tonto Rides Again features all of the Zero Time record in addition to seven additional previously unavailable tracks. In 1996, as in 1971, TONTO's sounds are totally unique. Being an analog synthesizer, it is capable of creating virtually any sound. Its warm, fat bass sounds are particularly noteworthy and are not able to be created by the current breed of MIDI digital synthesizers and samplers. So take a step back in time and into the future with Tonto's Expanding Head Band. Tonto Rides Again!
Once upon a time, Tonto represented the cutting edge of artificial intelligence in the world of music - Robert and Malcolm are the mad chefs of aural cuisine with beefy tones and cheesy timbres, making brain chili for those brave enough and hungry enough. Consequently, back in the cultural wasteland of the Midwest, the release of Tonto's Expanding Head Band was an inspirational indicator for starving Spudboys who had grown tired of the soup du jour. It was official - noise was now Muzak, and Muzak was now noise. So with Tonto "riding again" and the orb-of-sound resurrected, expect a healing. The masses are asses who need Tonto's glasses. Lookout, here comes Tonto!
- Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo)