Pure analog electronic snares, snaps and crashes are what the new Jomox M.Brain 1_1 is all about. If your like me and have spent countless hours searching for the snap sound in Soft Cell’s Tainted Love (iTunes link) then this seems like this box is for you. I know I’m going to grab one to sit next to my MBase. If you haven’t already seen it be sure to check out my visit to Jomox and interview with Jürgen Michaelis: click here
“Analog Membrane Modeling. Two analog T-bridge oscillators become electronic membranes. Why? Because they can be coupled. And because their dampening can be controlled. Then add a little noise, add a little envelope, and the brand new electronic percussion synthesizer of Jomox is ready.” – Jomox.de
A look at the Focal booth (these are great speakers): click here
A bit of German chat at with Dieter Doepfer: click here
If you can speak German check out Musotalk’s look at the new Waldorf Largo software synth: click here. These are just a few of the videos I found that peaked my gearlust antennae. There’s no need for me to repost too many here as you can troll tons of show videos with a few simple searches in the usual places. Hit me with any links to videos if you find something you thought was extra interesting!
Since I lean toward the synthesizer slash software side of things the best music gear “fair” in the world is Germany’s Musikmesse. Each spring or “Frülings” as the German’s say, gear geeks, music software wizards and pro-audio companies from the States to Japan all meet in Frankfurt. This year’s shibang is from April 1-4 which if you’re reading this post today means it’s on now. Will any new product convince you it will improve your songs? Nothing I’ve seen so far is making my head explode but there are some nice new toys on the show floor.
One of my favorite instruments, the Persephone, has been upgraded to “Mark II” status. It’s big new feature is the addition of a second oscillator. To love a Persephone is to play one. It’s a nice feeling high end instrument. The best way I can describe it is something in between a Theramin and slide guitar. Doepfer steps away from the Lego – build your own mindset and released the Dark Energy. The Dark Energy is a mini 100% analog synth with a built-in USB/Midi interface. At 400 EUR what’s not to like? Tascam seems to have noticed Mackie’s troubles (their Chinese factory went out of business) and released a new line of inexpensive analog mixers including the M-164, M-164FX with built-in digital effects and the M-164UF with built-in USB.
SSL released a new version of it’s Duende which has an improved audio engine and includes a new reverb called X-Verb. Novation hit us with there new versions of their popular controllers, the Zero and SL now at MKIII status. I have some friends who were disappointed by earlier versions of these. Most of the complaints were in the “faders are too cheap” category. Nevertheless, Novation added more pink lights on the new babies so I can’t help staring. Akai seems to be on a mission the past few trade shows and Messe09 is no different. They have a new basic Pad box, the MPD18 and a new 88key weighted controller the MPK88. What really has my mouth ready to scream “Reactivate!” is the new Miniak synth with built-in vocoder. I always thought Akai made the best software vocoder (D.C. Vocoder) but alas it never went OS-X. If the Miniak sounds as good I’ll grab one for sure. Presonus released a DAW called Studio One. Are they crazy? Why isn’t everyone using Ableton at this point? Oh yeah, in case you didn’t hear Live 8 is out of beta and ready to buy.
Update. So a few more niceties have crossed my radar. Jomox has updated it’s popular analog kick drum module the MBase now called MBase II. I believe the compressor is the new add on in this highly recommended box. I love mine: video. Rob Papen has a new software bass synth called SubBoomBass. I doubt SubBoomBass will break much ground sound wise but I constantly go to other Papen synths when Im doing certain styles of music and want to troll a zillion presets. MFB must be reading my mind because the only thing I love more than drum machines are semi-modular drum synthesizers and that’s exactly what they just announced. They call it Schlagzwerg and I’ll be buying that (680 EURO) before you can say Berlin!
Berlin is the undisputed center of electronic music. A few times a month friends and blog readers come to visit. I’ve decided to make a Google Map with the locations of many of the great record stores, labels, synthesizer manufacturers, audio software companies and nightclubs you can check out upon arrival.
Ableton, Tresor, Hard Wax, Native Intruments, Schneider’s Buero, Neumann, MFB, Gigolo Records, Berghain, JoMoX, Sugar Bytes, BPitch Control, SoundCloud… what more do you want?
If you do come to visit don’t forget you will be in a gorgeous city full of historic places and green parks. Don’t spend all your time dancing. See it all!
Remember Google Maps is feature rich. You can get point to point directions, zoom way in, see satellite views and create your own map of places in Berlin you want to see (click a pin and select “save to my map”).
To view the map full screen and also see the complete list of great places: click here
What’s my secret to making music? I let my Gummi Bear friends do it for me! Normally they are camera shy but today they let me take photos of them recording a song. There are 10 photos and captions in total so be sure to click “Continue…” to see them all!
Red and his twin brother (also named Red) team up to add more noise into the signal chain of an Electrocomp-101 vintage analog synthesizer.
Green helps Orange change the Control Mode to Envelope 1 on an Electrocomp-101 synthesizer.
Green and Red need some inspiration before they go back to making music so they lie down for a bit on a Roland SH3 synthesizer keyboard and stare at the studio’s acoustic cloud.
Yellow and Red team up and jam on a Vermona DRM1 MKIII drum machine. Yellow changes the resonance on the snare while Red messes with the highpass filter on the lazer zap.
The next release on my record label is by French DJ and producer Stamba. I am remixing one of the songs called Deviation. All the tracks on the release are what you would call darkwave, ebm, techno. Don’t you love all these sub-genres? Take a listen:
I recreated his original song in Ableton Live, keeping his vocals but using all my own sounds. Some of the gear and plug-ins used include a Jomox Mbase-01, Vermona DRM1 MKIII, Audiorealism Bassline, Korg Legacy, PSP Nitro, Fabfilter Volcano 2, assorted TC Powercore dynamics and Sugar Bytes Effectrix.
I’m happiest when creating songs for fun. Music that doesn’t have to fit anyone’s expectations. Constantly those recordings are my best. Remixes fall in the “oh man why am I doing this” category. I really pull my hair out trying to bend someone else’s vision into my own. For the most part if a song is great to start with it won’t need a remix. Sure there are super rock or melodic songs that need to be made into club hits but most of the remixes I get offered are already electronic.
Today I’m remixing a guy named Satronica. He’s one of my good friends from New York. He’s working on an album for Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength Records. The song titled “Revenge Plan” is vocal heavy. The way he sings is pretty weird, almost an Arab chant style. I’m still trying to figure out how to mash the vocals into a tight grid. I may end up cutting each word up and throwing it into Reason’s NN-XT.
Because the vocals are so strong I don’t feel the need to keep his original music so I fired up some new toys and here’s a clip of what’s on the machine today.Keep in mind it’s just the synths and basic beat at this point. Purely amateur time so far:
The kick is Jomox Mbase 01, the main synth is the Voice of Saturn being sidechained with the key using Ableton’s compressor, later I add in another two copies of the Voice of Saturn channel but detuned left and right. The lazer zap’s are from an Audiorealism ABL. The drum roll is D16’s Drumazon and Devastor also sidechained with the Mbase 01. The snare is loaded into Native Instrument’s Battery 3 and if from a freebee disc I got with Computer Music magazine a few years ago.
It’s not nearly where it will end up but I thought you’d like to check in on the process. Writing this post gave my ears a few minutes break.
Last week I decided to buy a Jomox Mbase 01. It’s a 100% analog kick drum module. It gives you kicks that range from a small click to complete bass insanity. It can convincing do any 909 or 808 kick drums plus many more variations. Honestly it’s the best kick drum I ever heard. I will be doing another post with samples and a full review. Take it from someone who performs live every weekend: having a killer perfect kick drum is vital!
My first go to place for all things analog boutique is Schnieder’s Buero and since I already have a Vermona DRM1 MKIII on order with them I thought I would just add the Mbase onto the order. Unfortunately they said they were out of MBase’s and didn’t know when new ones were coming in. Next I walked over to Sound & Drumland and they told me it would be about a month. A month? Come on man! I have money there must be a way right?
So I did what any American born capitalist would do and emailed the manufacturer direct. Just a few minutes later JÃ¼rgen Michaelis the owner and producer of all the Jomox products emailed me back saying he had one left and I could pick it up from him. I knew if I was going to Jomox I had to bring my camera.
I got on my bicycle (it’s the best way to get around Berlin) and made my way to Neukolin to Jomox headquarters. What I did not expect was JÃ¼rgen being so open and friendly. He could see I was seriously interested in what was going on and he put aside a good hour of his day to show me his workshop and toys. I’m very pleased to be able to show you the video above.
Do you see that Mbase 01 he signed? That one is mine!
Here are a few bullet points I picked up from my conversation with Jurgen Michaelis:
He once worked at Sound & Drumland.
He repaired Roland TR-909s at a place called Xtended which still exists.
Because he did repairs for the Roland drum machine he had access to the papers and could design his own machines (the Xbase line) when Roland decided not to compete in the Analog space.
Roland has never shown any ill will to the Jomox line.
He personally took a trip to Taiwan to find a manufacturing plant for Jomox products.
He hand tests every Jomox product still.
The metal work comes from within Germany.
He doesn’t listen to much electronic music (I did give him my album though!).
He is thinking about moving to America someday.
He did tell me what he is working on next but I can’t tell you (sorry!).
Besides the video I took a few still photos. Check them out: click here
Qoob.tv is an Italian video website that partners with MTV Europe. It has it’s own internet shows and networks and it also allows users to upload content. One of the gems on the site is an in house show called Tech Stuff. They have produced ten excellent electronic music related videos.
Some of the subjects covered so far include a visit to Jomox in Berlin, Sherman Filter, Moog Music, Analog Synthesis, Theremins and more. The videos are all well produced and worth a visit.
Tech Stuff is a documentary of 10 x 4 mins episodes on the techniques, the artists and the most bizarre instruments which have made the history of electronic music. Why is it that bands such as Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk use equipment from more than 30 years ago? What are Theremin, Moog and generative music? How does a filter work? How is sound digitalised? Who were Robert Moog and Lev Termen? Did electronic music already exist in the 1920s? How is a vinyl record pressed? And what about the future? These and many more questions find their answer in Tech Stuff, with rare footage, performance excerpts and interviews made to appease the needs of the International sound enthusiasts. – Tech Stuff, qoob.tv
Here is the 5 minute Jomox video interview with founder JÃ¼rgen Michaelis. In the video he mentions they still have a shop open in Berlin. I’m going to have to make a trip over there as soon!