Patrick Cowley was one of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the canon of electronic dance music. Born in Buffalo, NY on October 19, 1950, Patrick moved to San Francisco in 1971 to study electronic music at the City College of San Francisco. By the late ’70s, Patrick’s synthesizer techniques landed him a job composing and producing songs for disco diva Sylvester, including #1 hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”. Cowley created his own brand of peak-time party music known as Hi-NRG, also dubbed “The San Francisco Sound.” By 1981 Patrick had released a string of his own dance 12″ singles, such as “Menergy” and “Megatron Man”. That year, he co-founded Megatone Records to release his debut album Megatron Man. Meanwhile, Patrick was hospitalized and diagnosed with an unknown illness, which would later be named AIDS. Recovering for a spell, in 1982 he composed two more #1 hits, “Do You Wanna Funk” for Sylvester, and “Right On Target” for Paul Parker, as well as a second solo album Mind Warp. His life was cut short on November 12, 1982, when he passed away two weeks after his 32nd birthday from AIDS-related illness.
Mechanical Fantasy Box is a new collection of 13 unreleased songs recorded between 1973-80 released in tandem with Cowley’s homoerotic journal of the same title. What you hold in your hand is a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. This was before drum machines. Before programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis, this is experimental music in every sense. Sounds flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic ambient electronics inspired by Tomita and Kraftwerk. As David Diebold stated in Tribal Rites, “Patrick Cowley parted the veil and entered a dark world of forbidden forces, wondrous musical panoramas and bold, strident, hopeful possibilities. Patrick brought the future to us and laid it at our feet.”
Proceeds from Mechanical Fantasy Box will be donated to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, who have been committed to ending the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV since 1982.