Alan Wilder Collected

Under this YouTube video it states this is a preview of a documentary called Collected. I would love that but maybe this is just an advert for the auction of Depeche Mode’s Alan Wilder’s goodies? As someone who had a chance to once be connected to DM during their best years it’s always a thrill to see anything that has to do with them. For the record I have a massive awesome Depeche Mode collection including back stage passes from 1988, multicolored German 12’s and a picture disc signed by all the band members. I need to make a video for you. I wish Alan would do another studio album with Depeche.

“One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to start streamlining my set-up at The Thin Line Studios. My needs have altered a bit since laptops, soft synths and plug-ins have come to the fore, and even though I’m emotionally attached, passing on some vintage gear and historical items seems like a good way to start. Since my teenage years I’ve been an avid collector of interesting and unique musical items, including a ‘Steinway’ Grand piano, vintage keyboards, synthesisers such as the ‘Mini-moog’, ‘Arp Odyssey’, a ‘Wurlitzer’ electric piano, plus ‘Manley’ valve amps, valve-driven ‘Telefunken’ amps and a ‘Manley’ limiter/compressor. There is one very special guitar and various ‘Emulators’ which were featured during the Mode tours, and I even have my old stage clothing, touring wardrobe, the ‘Devotional’ drum kit, drumming extras and other artifacts available.” – Alan Wilder

For more info: auction.recoil.co.uk

Magda charts a Joyless Pleasure remix

I’ve been really pleased with all the remixes people have been sending me for Joyless Pleasure. I’m still waiting for a few but Maurice is already well into the album artwork. I’m keeping most of the mixes unheard for now but one of the mixes is out of the bag and happily already charting. Everyone knows Magda. She’s one of the big one so I’m pleased to post she’s got Miro’s remix of Hostage at number 3 on her most recent chart.

“Miro’s creative sound architecture shines in a variety of interpretations, living between romantic gloom, absurd musicality and rhythm mathematics that could be a Stanley Kubrick version of modern dance music whilst retaining functionality. His mostly dense assemblies enrapture the fantasy thursty listener, who can expect episodic surreal surprises. His deepest passion for detail and visionary audio adventures can be heard regularly on his label Lazerslut and has been unveiled on labels such as Klickhaus, Harthouse, Tic Tac Toe Records and several others.”

For more info: xlr8r.com/podcast/2011/08/magda

Ensoniq ESQ-1

I’ve been wanting to make a post about the Ensoniq ESQ-1 for a while. The only reason I didn’t do it sooner is I wanted to buy one on eBay before I drive the prices up! I can happily report I did just click the Buy Now button and got a mint one for $250. Now I’m going to tell you this synth is the biggest secret in the synth world. Ensoniq was an American company and most of their synths are made of metal. The ESQ-1 also has a LED screen which is still beautiful and much nicer than the green/black LCD screens such as on a Yamaha DX7. The ESQ-1 is a digital synth but has all analog curtis filters (like DSI products). They are 4-pole analog resonant filters with 6-stage envelopes. You get 8 voice polyphony. What’s the price difference between a DSI Prophet 8 and a vintage ESQ? See where I am going here? It has 3 oscillators per voice, 32 waveforms, 3 LFOs per voice (triangle, saw, square, random) and 4 VCA + 4 Envelopes with 7 parameters per voice. There’s MIDI, memory and an on-board sequencer.

When I was in college I was friends with a synth band called Exurbia. The lead keyboardist Juan had an Ensoniq. I was constantly blown away by the sound. Skinny Puppy also used one. Recently I was viewing the awesome synth demos Jexus puts online and came across two he posted for the ESQ-1 (see above). I instantly jumped on eBay. I was shocked to see these consistently sell for under $300. I bought one. Another piece in my musical time machine. Go get one.

“The ESQ-1 is an absolutely fantastic synth with a great sound. In modern language – “It has a DSI filter” – you can hear it when it’s running through those ‘lo-fi digital samples’ with high resonance. It’s a very aggressive, powerful sound with lots of low end and depth. The filter makes all the difference and I would never miss analogue saw waves now that I own it. Roland synths of the era were beautiful and smooth, ESQ-1 was heavier and darker.” – Rib (comment on vintagesynth.com)

For more info: vintagesynth.com/ensoniq/ens_esq1

photo credit: Matrixsynth

Badlion’s Garage Synth

One of my favorite iOS music apps is sir Sampleton. It’s a pretty popular Sampler and drum machine. What I love about it is it’s simple and really fun. I just discovered another app which is very similar with even more quirk built in. Badlion’s Garage Synth gives you some drum loops, very analog synth presets and a weird selections of samples in slots. There’s also a tilt pitch feature. Beware if you’re at my next dinner party because I’m breaking this guy out.

“With Badlion’s Garage Synth anyone can be a musician. Just pick a beat and play some tunes over it, add some effects and you already have a hot track to listen to. Selectable keyboard – flash & rainbow / basic minimal. 48 beats – changeable volume and tempo. 8 samples – 4 octaves. 44 fx – loop or stop (once) functions. Tilt – you can pitch notes by tilting the phone.” – itunes.apple.com/the-badlions…

For more info: itunes.apple.com/the-badlions…

Touch Sound Podcast

I’ve been listening to a new podcast which covers mobile pro-audio apps called the Touch Sound Podcast. It’s well produced with news, interviews and plenty of good discussion. The hosts Nick Platers, Greg Pritchard, Sean Walker and Ashley Elsdon all know their stuff and talk for well over two hours. Highly recommended.

“In Episode #05 we talk about iOS and Mac OSX becoming one, TableTop, GrainBender Synth, Karajan, the upcoming Rhythm studio, VirSyn’s Addictive Synth, AirVox, Firestudio, Hokusai and tons more! Plus this week we interview two guests – John-Paul of Retronyms and Ian Bradshaw of Korg.” – soundcloud.com/touchsoundpodcast

For more info: touchsoundpodcast.com

Acidlab Autobot

Acidlab is releasing a new hardware sequencer. It’s the sequencer section from their Roland TB-303 clone. I think it would be pretty interesting to use with assorted synths. If you like this type of thing also check out the Analogue Solutions Europa and read my interview with Klaus Suessmuth of Acidlab. Coming soon for 280 Euros.

“The Sequencer of the Bassline3 as a rack-mounted device.” – acidlab.de

For more info: acidlab.de

Sony DADC UK Burns

The UK Riots will have an effect on independent and electronic music. The Sony DADC warehouse has been burned down. It contains large stocks of records from Warp and others. I’m certain some of these labels won’t survive this. To see a full list of those effected: click here.

“Numerous independent record labels fear they have lost a catastrophic amount of stock in a fire at a distribution warehouse in north London during the riots in the capital on Monday night. A three-storey, 20,000 square-metre building in Enfield, owned by Sony DADC and holding stock to be distributed by the Pias Group, was burned to the ground.” – guardian.co.uk

For more info: guardian.co.uk/independent-record…

LEGO Jupiter-8

I played with LEGOs and Matchbox cars a few years later than I probably should have. I still have my entire collection safe in boxes in my mother’s basement. Rooms in the house I grew up in with blue carpet were water worlds. Asian rug’s patterns were elaborate streets. I would roll up the corners of the rug’s to make hills and mountains. For some reason my parents let me keep my worlds intact for weeks at a time. It’s hard for me to walk by LEGO stores in malls and not go in. One of the biggest reasons I want to have children someday is so I can play with my toys again. Needless to say I love this LEGO Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer from percussives. He has a few more shots on his Flickr page.

“The company’s flagship product, Lego, consists of colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. Lego bricks can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. The toys were originally designed in the 1940s in Denmark[1] and have achieved an international appeal, with an extensive subculture that supports Lego movies, games, video games, competitions, and four Lego themed amusement parks.” – Wikipedia

photo credit: percussives

For more info: lego.com

Alesis IODock

Nick from SonicState reviews the Alesis IODock. Basically you put your iPad into the dock and you get Microphone input (with Phantom Power), Balanced Outputs and Midi. I could use one of these.

“The iO Dock provides microphone and instrument users with two combination XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, each with its own gain control and switchable phantom power for condenser microphones. Producers can use the iO Dock’s MIDI jacks to sequence external keyboards, samplers, drum machines and synthesizers, or perform using the iO Dock as the sound module and their favorite MIDI-compliant keyboard, drum pad or other controller. An assignable 1/4-inch footswitch input enables remote control of any app-defined function such as stop/start or record. – alesis.com/iodock

For more info: alesis.com/iodock

Grateful Dad

This morning I have to take a long drive for work. I’m going to Port Jervis NY to do an Energy Audit. Port Jervis is a small town based at the Delaware River water gap. My father used to take my brother Alexander and I rafting there. He past away last November and I know as the drive and the landscape changes from buildings to trees I’m going to be thinking about him. I decided to sync some Spotify playlists of music he liked. His main music collection consisted of Classical. When he was angry he would actually whistle a certain Classical piece. It gave me and Al a head start on clearing out of his way. The other music he loved was the Grateful Dead. As a kid I looked at the skull logo and judged the band to be evil. Today I realize most of the Dead’s music is as peaceful, musical and melow as a lot of the Classical my father listened to. When I hear these songs today memories appear clear as day. Here’s a few of his favorites: Fire on the Mountain, Truckin and Casey Jones. Even if your not a fan of this type of music you owe it to yourself to give a good listen to those songs. They are as classic as Classical music itself.

“The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock — and for live performances of long musical improvisation. “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists.” – Wikipedia

For more info: kittatinny.com