Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Linda Fisher & Judy Borsher: M.M.P.M.C.

Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company: Linda Fisher & Judy Borsher

Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece was founded between 1968 and 1969 by David Borden, back from Berlin's Hochschule für Musik. Thank to the 1967 friendship between Borden and Bob Moog, Mother Mallard made history being the first ensemble composed exclusively by synthesizers, all provided by Moog himself (three modular moogs and two mini moogs, among them one is today preserved at the Audities Foundation at the Chinook Keyboard Centre of Calgary, Canada). Steve Drews and Linda Fisher joined David between 1965 and 1967. Linda brought the only polyphonic instrument to the group, an RMI electric piano.
Linda's approach to synthesizer was quite peculiar: an instrument that could be used by anyone that was capable of using it. A neutral instrument.

“The synthesizer clearly came out of a male-dominated technology. But it’s a tool, like anything... There was a flexibility to it, I think, that would lend itself to anyone coming at it with any kind of approach."

Absorbed in counterculture, Linda perceived differently musician's attitudes towards electronic music:

“Male musicians would come to your concert and they wanted to blow their mind doing something new with technology while the women musicians tended to see the technology as a leaping off point and not as an end in itself."

The trio started out playing minimal music compositions from John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass but in the summer of 1970 they own an original repertoire of more than one hour realized with moogs. It goes without saying that Moog Company hired the MMPMC for demonstrations and concerts.
The work for their first album started in 1970 and released in 1973 for Earthquake Records, a label founded by Borden with Judy Borsher's help, the latter he met in 1972 when he was a student at Cornell University. In 1973 Borden was asked to compose The Exorcist's soundtrack: even if Billy Friedkin used less than a minute of what the trio produced, this moment will represent a breaking point for MMPMC. The band started to become more famous an offers start to rise: they are requested in Hollywood and Europe. David had no intention of moving to California. Steve on the other hand didn't want to leave for Europe and Linda understands that it's time for them to take separate paths. During summer 1975 Judy, that knew all the repertoire, associated with David and Chip Smith (former guitarist for Chuck Barry), replacing Steve that left to pus his photographer career. "Like a Duck to Water", the second album, was realized in 1976. The new line up toured America with Judy's van from 1975 to 1978 when David left the band to spend more time with his family.

At the beginning of the 80's Linda Fisher teated "Analog Synthesis" for two years at Vassar College and remarked the difficulty to involve girls in the class. “They were usually very shy, didn’t want to speak up because they felt that they couldn’t compete with this guys with racks of synths in their homes and, you know, the men knew all the terminology. Those that persist, persist differently, and they persist for different reasons, because of really what the equipment can do for them, not just because it’s a cool thing.”

(Translation: Matteo Salval)

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