Friday, May 11, 2007


Difficult to know how to describe Celluloid, really; sort of progressive electronic (electronic progressive?). Whatever. I originally wrote:
"No-one knows who the brains behind the project actually was, but it was definitely a one-man-band, armed only with a 'computer' (make, type, processing power etc. unknown) and a Mellotron. I can't imagine what sort of computer in 1982 could produce the variety, not to mention quality, of sounds on Mercury, although I suspect a mainframe was involved; if I didn't know better, I'd have assumed he was using a bank of polysynths and some tape effects.".
Well, thanks to US reader Tom O'Neill, I can give you considerably more information. It seems that 'Celluloid' was the nom-de-plume of one Charles (Chuck) Minuto, who was still in his teens when he recorded these strange albums. Chuck recorded an electronic piece called Murmadon's Log at Tom's place, prior to the albums, which is easier on the ear than his later projects. The 'computer' he lists on the Mercury sleeve was, in fact, a rented Synclavier, which must've eaten up a fair chunk of his limited budget, but explains why the non-'Tron sounds are so good for the time. He had a more limited budget for Neptune, which presumably explains a) the lack of any Synclavier, and b) the poor pressing quality. It's unknown whether Minuto still holds the mastertapes of these albums or, indeed, whether he's even still alive.
Anyway, the composition on Mercury is of the dark'n'doomy variety, befitting its rather grand subject matter, and has a really quite relentless air about it; despite being effectively rhythmless, this isn't 'lie back and enjoy it' music by any stretch of the imagination. The three pieces on side one are instrumental, but side two's Part II: The Civilization Of Planets surprises by Mr.Celluloid's rather portentous singing, though I'm not sure it adds much to the proceedings. There's a good bit of Mellotron use, although he only had one tape frame at this stage, with strings, brass and male choir. The Melting Of Stars features a fanfareish brass part, but the other two sounds (unsurprisingly) comprise most of the 'Tron work on the album. The music certainly isn't 'standard' electronic stuff, but for those who prefer the darker end of the spectrum, laced with fair amounts of Mellotron, this is probably worth a listen.
Neptune went the whole hog, and was recorded entirely on the Mellotron. It's a good deal odder than his debut, with much use made of Mellotron FX tapes; laughter, applause, church bells, smashing glass - you name it, it's here. Much of it sounds as if it was recorded 'live' in the studio, possibly on two (very) defective M400s, with considerable tape-wobble, and switching between sounds on the fly. The overall effect is less 'musical' than 'ambient', though that gives the wrong impression; suffice to say, it's very different to Mercury, with much repetition of the FX, and no real 'structure' to the pieces at all. Apart from the sounds used on Mercury, I think I can hear church organ, timps, flutes, some unidentified woodwind (?) and maybe cellos, so I suspect he used a couple of machines, and overdubbed some of the parts later.A third title, Jupiter is rumoured, though no-one I've spoken to has ever seen or heard a copy, so I rather doubt that it exists. [Note: Minuto mentioned it to O'Neill, but probably never found the money to record it].
From :

A totally mellotron music LP.A space journey!
explore the hidden space areas here


Anonymous said...

Not a single thing said about this album on here until NOW?! BIG LAUGHS TO THAT because THIS one is a stellar star. If you ever get a copy of Mercury or the as you say rumored copy of Jupiter, please post them here.

Anonymous said...

Johnny said......

If there is a need to know more about me and we can talk. The last time I spoke with him was in 2012. I consider him a friend and a person of great interest to the world of mellotron fanatics. I have the insight on his life/music we should talk and yes!...he is a true genius.

Anonymous said...

Johnny says.....

The last time I spoke to Chuck Minuto was in 2012. I consider him a friend and feel that his music and experimentation with the mellotron is influential to the world of electronic artists. I have the insight on his life history, but will only share that in private with a person who has sincere respect for him. Chuck is a genius/innovator and his music has been sought after for decades by the world of electronic music fans, journalists, promoters/vendors,

Unknown said...

Well, for what it's worth, I believe I've listened to Mercury and Neptune possibly more than anyone else on the planet. Hundreds of times. They are rare, rare gems that comfortably skirt the boundary between experimental and harmonic.

I'm now fairly confident that Jupiter does exist. I've seen it referenced in some lists as though it's a physical specimen. The final work in a criminally lost trilogy. It would be grand indeed to have.

Thomas said...

To Peter Harrison: I am Tom O'Neill (mentioned in the above post). Contact me - Thanks!