Patrick Cowley: SF, Porn, and Electronic Music from the 1970’s

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My DJ friends have been blowing this up lately, so I thought I’d pass along some information about the rediscovery and release of music by legendary SF DJ/producer/composer Patrick Cowley. I wish I had time to do a proper write-up, but for now I’ll just post up the video that includes scenes from the gay porn “School Daze.” From the YouTube video:

A sneak peak at the upcoming Patrick Cowley “School Daze” 2LP reissue coming out on Dark Entries/HNYTRX in October 2013. “Nightcrawler” was originally recorded by Patrick Cowley as a student attending City College of San Francisco at the Electronic Music Lab in Winter 1973. Patrick sold his college music to Fox Studio, a gay porn company in Los Angeles, and his music was used in many films during the late 70s and early 80s. Hear the rest of the track on the reissue later this Fall.

The vinyl release is out and the digital version is up on iTunes. More details on the release can be found at SF’s Dark Entries Records. From the Dark Entries Website linked above.

Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem have teamed up to release the gay porn soundtrack work of San Francisco-based musician and producer, Patrick Cowley. Perhaps one of the most revolutionary and influential people in the cannon of disco music, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music coined “The San Francisco Sound.” Born in Buffalo, NY on October 19, 1950, Patrick moved to San Francisco at the age of 21. He studied at the City College of San Francisco where he founded the Electronic Music Lab. During this time Patrick would create radio jingles and electronic pieces using the school’s equipment, first a Putney, then an E-MU System and finally a Serge synthesizer. He would make experimental instrumental songs by blending various types of music and adapting them to the synthesizer.

By the mid-70′s, Patrick’s synthesizer skills landed him a job composing and producing songs for disco superstar Sylvester such as “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Dance Disco Heat” and “Stars.” This helped Patrick obtain more work as a remixer and producer. Of particular note was his 18-minute long remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and production work with edgy New Wave band Indoor Life. By 1981 Patrick released a string of dance 12″ singles, like “Menergy” and “Megatron Man”, creating the soundtrack for a generation. Also that year, he founded Megatone Records and released his debut album. Around this time Patrick was hospitalized and diagnosed with a then-unknown illness: that would later be called AIDS. Prior to his passing on November 12, 1982, he recorded two more Hi-NRG hits, “Do You Wanna Funk” for Sylvester and “Right On Target” for Paul Parker.

In 1981 Patrick was contacted by John Coletti, owner of famed gay porn company Fox Studio in Los Angeles. John had heard about Patrick’s music from the legendary Sylvester and proposed he write music for his films. Patrick jumped on this offer and sent reels of his college compositions from the 70s to John in LA. Coletti then used a variable speed oscillator to adjust the pitch and speed of Patrick’s songs in-sync with the film scene. “School Daze” is a collection of Cowley’s instrumental songs recorded between 1973 and 1981 found in the Fox Studio vaults. Influenced by Tomita, Wendy Carlos and Giorgio Moroder, Patrick forged an electronic sound from his collection of synthesizers, modified guitars and self-constructed equipment. The listener enters a world of dark forbidden vices, introspective and reflective of Patrick’s time spent in the bathhouses of San Francisco. The songs on “School Daze” range from sparse proto-techno to high octane funk to somber post-punk to musique concrete, revealing the depth of Cowley’s unique talent.

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