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|Origin||Essex County, New Jersey|
|Labels||Passport, Atlantic, Voiceprint, ABC Classics|
|Associated acts||Synergy, Nektar, Peter Gabriel, Yes, Tony Levin Band|
Lawrence Roger 'Larry' Fast (born December 10, 1951) is a synthesizer expert and composer. He is best known for Synergy, his 1975–1987 series of synthesizer music albums, and for his contributions to a number of popular music acts, including Peter Gabriel, Foreigner, and Hall and Oates.
Fast grew up in Livingston, New Jersey and attended Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, where he obtained a degree in History. There he took his previous training in piano and violin and melded them with computer science to become interested in synthesized music and to build his own primitive sound-making electronic devices.
He was introduced to Rick Wakeman, the keyboard player from the band Yes, during a local radio interview, and traveled to the UK to work with Yes on their 1974 album Tales from Topographic Oceans. It was there that he got a recording contract with Passport Records.
The Synergy project
Fast recorded a series of pioneering synthesizer music albums under the project name Synergy. Some of this work was used as the basis for music in Commodore 64 and Amiga computer games, notably Rob Hubbard's score for the C64 version of Zoids, which was an unofficial cover of Synergy's Ancestors from the 1981 album Audion.
The first album in the series, Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra, was released as an LP in 1975. Like the following albums, it exclusively makes use of electronic instruments, mainly synthesizers. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Fast released eight more Synergy LPs on Passport Records, all of which were later re-released on CDs. The 1998 re-release of Semi-Conductor, a compilation album originally released in 1984, was a remastered version of the original, and contained ten additional tracks. The eleventh album in the series, Reconstructed Artifacts, was released in 2003, and contained completely new performances of select compositions from the previous albums, using modern digital synthesizers, as well as the new digital recording technologies.
Synergy's first album states "..and nobody played guitar." The second album, Sequencer, says "...and still no guitars." These are rumored to be a tongue-in-cheek response to statements that appeared on albums by the rock group Queen that they used no synthesizers, which were made to inform listeners who assumed otherwise. Fast's third Synergy album, Cords, states "Finally, guitars...sort of," which references the use of a Russ Hamm Guitar Synthesizer played by Pete Sobel.
The albums by Synergy are:
- 1975: Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra No 66 Billboard 200 (18 weeks)
- 1976: Sequencer No 144 Billboard 200 (11 weeks)
- 1978: Cords No 146 Billboard 200 (6 weeks)
- 1979: Games
- 1981: Audion
- 1981: Computer Experiments, Volume One
- 1982: The Jupiter Menace (soundtrack for film The Jupiter Menace)
- 1984: Semi-Conductor (compilation containing two new tracks)
- 1987: Metropolitan Suite
- 1998: Semi-Conductor, Release 2 (re-release of Semi-Conductor, remastered and containing ten additional tracks)
- 2003: Reconstructed Artifacts (compilation consisting of re-recorded versions of old tracks)
Currently Fast is slowly developing a new Synergy album. This will be his first studio album consisting of new material in over twenty years. According to Fast's website, it will make heavy use of software synthesizers (one of which is, fittingly, Sample Logic's Synergy synthesizer) rather than the hardware equipment he had been using so far. He has amassed a lot of new thematic material and plans to rework some old, as yet unreleased pieces for the new album as well.
Other music projects
In addition to the Synergy albums, Fast made contributions to musical projects headed by other people:
- Worked sporadically with Nektar, providing much of the dominating synthesizers on their 1975 album Recycled.
- Also known for his work with Peter Gabriel. He played synthesizer on records and on tour, and rounded out the production team on Gabriel's albums from 1976 to 1986. He recorded parts for So, but these were not used.
- Contributed to the 1977 concept album Intergalactic Touring Band on Passport Records.
- Played the Prophet Synthesizer on Kate Bush's 1980 Album Never for Ever
- Produced Canadian progressive rock group FM's 1980 album City of Fear.
- Contributed music to the Carl Sagan 1980 television program Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
- Pprovided additional synthesizers on Foreigner's 1981 album 4 and Foreigner's 1984 album Agent Provocateur.
- Played synthesizers on the 1983 Bonnie Tyler single "Total Eclipse of the Heart".
- Collaborated on the 1980s pop music project Iam Siam, which produced the hit "She Went Pop".
- Produced and performed synthesizer on Annie Haslam's 1989 release Annie Haslam.
- Along with David Bryan composed, arranged, and performed the score music to the 1992 film Netherworld.
- Helped create the music for Tokyo DisneySea, a new Walt Disney theme park.
- Toured and recorded with bassist Tony Levin (himself an alumnus of Peter Gabriel's band) as part of Levin's Waters of Eden band.
- Toured with the Tony Levin Band in 2006.
Fast has done some work with designing listening devices for the hearing disabled; his wife had been working in the field for some time. Fast owns several patents for audio distribution using infrared optical technologies. Fast is also part of a government group aiming to protect some of New Jersey's historic assets against developers.
- Bush, John. "Biography: Synergy". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "Audion CD details". Voiceprint Records (Floating World label). Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Various Artists: Possibilities of Circumstance". Aug 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "Update March/April of 2009". April 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- Eder, Bruce. "Biography: Nektar". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- Prasad, Anil. "Evolutionary snapshots". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "Patent US5548654 - Infrared audio transmitter system - Google Patents". Google.com. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Patent US5596648 - Infrared audio transmitter system - Google Patents". Google.com. 7 April 1994. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- Larry Fast's official homepage, containing his biography and discography.
- Synergy at AllMusic
- Larry Fast discography at Discogs
- Larry Fast biography on artistdirect.com
- 2009 Interview with Larry Fast on Planet Origo
- 2004 Interview with Larry Fast on innerviews
- 1997 Larry Fast interview at electronicmusic.com
- Larry Fast Interview - NAMM Oral History Library (2009)