The brainchild of Jellyfish's Roger Manning and Brian Kehew (going under the evocative Euro-electro guises of Meco Eno and Uli Nomi), The Moog Cookbook offers Seventies synth-pop versions of college-rock faves and grunge's greatest hits, transforming the angst of a generation into the kind of thing you'd hear at a party thrown by Cadbury's Smash aliens. Thus is the apocalyptic grunge-pomp of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" turned into jolly hum-along bleeps, and Pearl Jam's tortuous "Evenflow" into a first cousin of the seminal "Popcorn". Or, conversely, Weezer's oddball "Buddy Holly" prefaced by a doomy, portentous intro of deep synth swells, from which the toytown melody emerges like a puppet clown dancing the polka.
It's at once funnier and more listenable than the Mike Flowers Pops album, involving a gentle ironic ribbing rather than a full-blown exercise in bad taste, the duo's space-helmets and tinfoil jumpsuits notwithstanding. And sometimes, it can be cruelly revealing of a track's clay feet, as when the bogus riff-power of Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" is accurately fingered with weedy buzzing synth and clip-clop percussion, or Neil Young's anthemic "Rockin' in the Free World" turned into a squeaking, Disneyfied cartoon of its self. It's no easy joke, either, as each track's instrumental line-up shows: in order to convey Young's typically aberrant guitar solos on the latter, the Cookbook duo needed the accumulated artillery of a GR77 Guitar Synth, an Ibanez Flying Pan, an ElectroHarmonix Microsynth, an MXR Pitch Transposer and a Minimoog. A guitar would certainly have been simpler, but comedy is always more complex than its opposite, gravity.