November 21, 2012

Roland MP-600

Here's a review of the Roland MP-600 from the Nov / Dec 1978 issue of Polyphony magazine. 

November 19, 2012

Tone Color

I feel the same way about musical tone color as I do about visible colors. They should be elegant and subtle. But sadly subtlety has gone out of style. 

I recently sent a new song I was working on to a friend and he commented on how closed the filter was on all the sounds I was making. I took that as the greatest of compliments!

Upon hearing most electronic music these days, I think "is the filter broken!", because it's always wide open! Not in use! I understand that people love those unfiltered, buzzing sawtooth waveforms, but what about moderation? Think of seeing a splash of bright color on a painting that is mostly muted. Think of hearing a bright sound against a backdrop of dark sounds. Variation is what's interesting!

Color and music are in an equally bad state these days. All of our old favorite movies have been remastered with their colors blown out and over saturated beyond belief... and music is no better. I could go on and on but I think I've got my point across. I'll try to lead by example.

November 17, 2012

Archenland-09 Prototype

In my opinion the most wonderful of all the lost prototypes. The Archenland-09 was sort of a mix between an SH-2 and an RS-09. It was a standard two VCO synthesizer with polyphonic presets for organ, string and brass sounds plus room for four programable patches --a modest amount of programability by today's standards but charming and useful non the less. 

It was proposed in 1979, the same year CBS's animated version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe aired. Roland's bold (and some might say bizarre) use of Narnian imagery is probably what killed this project off so early in it's development. 

I'm still hoping that someday, like Aslan, this glorious synthesizer will be resurrected from the dead with some deep magic from the dawn of time....

November 16, 2012

The Roland Synth Story

So, it turns out that perhaps Roland has finally come to appreciate their own heritage as much as the rest of us. They've scheduled three dates at universities in the UK to showcase some of their old products. Thanks to Sam for the heads up on this!

Here is the official press release from Roland:

Roland has come a long way since its inception in 1972. Its synths, drum machines and effects have been used on some of the most famous records ever and have helped artists push sonic boundaries, creating new sounds and even radical new musical genres.

Taking part over three dates in November, the Roland Synth Story tour will explore this rich history through a roster of artists and experts. It’s an exciting opportunity for visitors to learn more about Roland synths, speak to three musical icons and even get their hands on some classic Roland vintage gear.

The panel of experts, including Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree and Japan), Graham Massey (808 State) and Jody Wisternoff (Way Out West) will all talk about their experiences creating electronic music as well as discussing their favourite Roland synths. They’ll also be on hand to answer questions and chat to visitors after the event.

All three guests are intrinsically linked to the history of the synthesizer. Richard Barbieri’s first ever synth was the Roland System 700, and he’s never looked back. His band, Japan, notched up numerous hits in the ‘80s and they became a cornerstone of the influential synth-pop movement.

Graham Massey infamously named his band ‘808 State’ after the famous Roland TR-808 drum machine, which – along with the TB-303 – was an essential component to the way the band produced their music.

Jody Wisternoff uses a stable of Roland synths, including the Juno-106 and the legendary Jupiter-8, to make progressive house and breaks as one half of Way Out West. Their music didn’t just hit the charts, it also found its way into TV shows and video games.

Guests will also have the chance to get their hands on some rare and ultra-covetable Roland gear, including the following: Jupiter-8, Juno-60, Jupiter-6, Jupiter-4, Juno-106, JX-8P, D-50, JD-800, JV-1080, JP-8000 and XV-5080.

November 5, 2012

Old Neighbor

When I was six years old the kid that lived next door to me hung himself in his barn. He was fifteen and his name was Rick. Sometimes when he was working on his parent's farm I would wave to him and he'd wave back but I didn't really know him. I always wondered why he did it. I guess I'll never know.

Sometimes I feel like an old shoe.
I suppose everyone probably does sometimes. 

November 2, 2012

Thomas Dolby - Airwaves (Demo)

This was released on a Cassette compilation in 1981 by the Belgian label Crepuscule. Airwaves has always been my favorite Thomas Dolby song but I like this demo even more than the final album version. 

Dolby said that he recorded it in his back room in London well before he had a record deal. The drums are a Boss DR-55.

Little update: Just came upon this quote...
"At that time my equipment consisted of an upright piano; a Roland JP4; a MicroMoog; a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine; a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette, and an Akai stereo cassette for mixdown." 

November 1, 2012

Roland MC-202

Well, I've sort of been on the fence about this for a while but i finally bit the bullet. I got an MC-202 today. Some say the sequencer is "needlessly complex", but with two tracks of CV and variable gate times I'm willing to take a stab at it. Besides, with the weather being what it is there isn't much else I can do. I'll be shut in for the next few days with nothing but the MC-202 and it's manual. No electricity. Just kidding, I'll have electricity. If I didn't, how could I... ?