Destiny, Dan Lacksman + the Super Sounds of Synth
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because heeding the call of destiny rarely works out this well.
By Eugene S. Robinson
If you weren’t saying it, you were thinking it.
When we say “Dan Lacksman, rock star,” what you see is Dan Lacksman, stout 64-year-old Belgian … accountant? Attorney? Parking lot attendant? Or probably just about anything other than a rock star.
But a rock star is what he undoubtedly is, regardless of the fact that his looks upend our generally wrong idea of what folks who make pop music should look like. And even if music has become an increasingly visual medium, there are still the sonics themselves to consider — and when you consider what Lacksman has done with synths and studio work with the likes of Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, Youssou N’Dour, Hooverphonic and Plastic Bertrand (and the list goes more wildly and obscurely on), you begin to feel a little bit out of it for missing him as long as you have.
…You begin to feel a little bit out of it for missing him as long as you have.
“I think that’s because he is more of a producer now,” says French electronic musician Philippe Petit. “Or more of a producer than a performer, and who remembers the producer’s name in most cases? But for people paying attention to both, well, of course he is largely significant.” Which is something Lacksman himself seemed to know back when most of us didn’t know much of anything: his desire to become a musician kicked in when he was 12.
In short order he joined some bands, but the die was truly cast when, at age 13, he got a tape recorder. Which, in 1963, was like having a space ship or a decoder ring. Neither of which could have taken the young Lacksman as far as he went when he mixed the tape recorder with a synth and, at the age of 20, left school to do the only thing he had ever done: make music.
Music that, to our ears, sounds largely reminiscent of Kraftwerk. They’re contemporaries, true, but Lacksman adds a rhythmic, hypnotic, groove thing that stands all on its own.
Because while Beethoven might not have recognized most of Lacksman’s body of work as such, Lacksman’s pop-synth-y mélange of music and clever commentary has also dipped into classical music. His most recent record, 2013’s Electric Dreams, was recorded in his own SynSound studio, located in an old brewery near his home, with contributions from his daughter. Lacksman’s musical promiscuity has had him exercising his need to make music not only through dance and electronic music but also in jazz, pop and rock.
“What’s most clearly palpable,” says Petit, “is how much he loves music.”
How much? This much.