Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Simeon Coxe
Even though I knew it was coming, the loss of Silver Apples’ Simeon Coxe hit unexpectedly hard in this year of relentless tragedy. Simeon had faced and overcome so many obstacles in his life, I felt sure he’d hang on against his fibrosis until I’d finished the book we’d been working on for most of this year.
Happily, Simeon got to read the first draft of his remarkable story. It was only after he’d died, that Enraptured Records boss Jack Trevillion told me Simeon always intended the book, called ‘Oscillations’, to be his legacy after he’d gone.
Having interviewed Simeon before, I knew what a genial, funny soul he was. This was corroborated by most who met him. Writing in this column, I’ve mentioned how his story revealed a frequently jaw-dropping procession of fearless experiments, often in the face of hostility and against all the odds.
I became a Silver Apples fan after spotting their enticing name on an import mail order list in 1968, tracking down their first album, ‘Silver Apples’, then their follow-up ‘Contact’. My love of the duo revived in 1978 after becoming friends with Suicide on The Clash’s 1978 UK tour, when Suicide received the same meathead abuse Silver Apples had back in the day. Alan Vega was the band’s vociferous original champion.
Of course, it was fantastic when Silver Apples returned in the 1990s. Like Suicide, they received late recognition from new generations not outraged by the absence of guitars. Jack and Simeon asked me to write the Silver Apples book partly because of my support over the last few years, but also because I’d written the authorised Suicide book, ‘Dream Baby Dream: Suicide, A New York Story’, in 2015.
While Simeon’s last album is usually assumed to be 2016’s ‘Clinging To A Dream’, research reveals another obscure, self-released beauty he participated in later that year. He plays oscillators and electronics on ‘Amphibian Lark II’, the second of two records he made with his long-time partner – singer, songwriter and visual artist, Lydia Winn LeVert. I discovered both while writing the book, and was planning to feature them as overlooked nuggets. Both are psychedelic folk classics. Lydia sings her idiosyncratic observations and confessionals in a voice between bird-like flight and subtle passion, her bass or piano the melodic grounding, beautifully coloured or audaciously painted by Simeon with oscillator flutters and screes, or simply bathed in luminous afterglow.
Now he’s gone, tributes are flowing and Simeon’s place in electronic history is assured. All the more reason to make our book his ultimate monument – loud and always proud.