Arturia has released iSEM for iPad. I only really post things if they seem interesting to me and well another iPad synth? Yes it’s based on the SEM but I have a Telemark and my modular so what gives? You see this iSEM has a nice killer feature! Watch the tutorial video above at about 3:25 in concerning the Voice Programmer. Here you can have the iSEM rotate each key press through 4 different voices. This is excellent as you can then set up each voice with a different filter setting or slight pitch variation. Setting up the voices like that gives you a really nice vintage sound. I also like that they implemented different keyboard scales. $9.99 available now.
“Set your key and choose from 26 scales, including Major, Minor, Pentatonic, Lydian and more. Inspired by the multitimbrality of the Oberheim two, four and eight Voice, the 8 Voice Programmer is a powerful module which lets you edit the parameters of 7 additional voices. Voice Programmer makes programming a breeze thanks to its visual layout. Select one of six directions for voice selection with modes including FWD, BWD, FWD-BWD and RANDOM. Whether you want to play spectral pads or complex sequences, this module will allow you to reach amazing sonic results.” – Arturia
Tom Carpenter’s Analogue Solutions has some wicked synths and sequencers in it’s product line. Tom’s friend Rezfilter has posted a really nice video of the Oberkorn Sequencer, Telemark and some vintage Oberheims. I love how he gets the Depeche Mode/Nitzer Ebb sound perfectly. These demos always make me run into my studio.
“Here’s a little bass jam put together with 2 Studio Electronics ObieRacks, an Analogue Solutions Oberkorn analogue sequencer, and a Telemark V2 semi-modular synth. A five voice!” – Rezfilter
Portishead is one of the bands I really love because they sound like Portishead. Nothing else really sounds like they do and to top it off they sound great. Dark, romantic and painful. Right up my alley. The cherry on top is they use a lot of real analog synths. Band member Adrian Utley shows us some of what they have in the video above.
“Portishead are a band formed in 1991 in Bristol, England. The band is named after the nearby town of the same name, 13 km (8 mi) west of Bristol. Portishead consists of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley, while sometimes citing a fourth member, Dave McDonald, an engineer on Dummy and Portishead.” – Wikipedia
On my recent trip to San Francisco I went by the synth shop Robotspeak. They have some cool stuff inside. New synths like the Minitaur and old cool items like Opcode Studio Vision Pro on display. They also have a modular workshop where you learn how to build your own modular. Tom Oberheim lives nearby and as you can see by the photo Bob Moog visited the store. The only thing in the store I wanted to buy wasn’t for sale. It was a circuit Vtech Tiny Tot Driver. Just see the video above to know what I am talking about. When he hit the horn I started offering money. Before I returned to NY I went by my brother’s studio space and showed him (he’s in the video above) and his friend Chris how cool the Doepfer Dark time is. You can see all the photos from my trip on flickr: click here.
“Once a Month, learn how to build Modules for you Modular synth setup. This is an ongoing workshop series that will feature different synth designers and focus on different components each month.” – robotspeak.com
I’m flying today to San Francisco. For a change this is a pure vacation weekend. No screaming or heavy equipment to lug around. It’s strange to be able to pack everything I need in 15 minutes. I’m visiting my brother, his wife and new baby. They are both neuroscientists but you may also know my brother as the musician Acrosome. A few years ago he bought some new music gear and he reads this blog so I suspect sooner than later there will be another Acrosome record. He has some cool stuff in his studio including a re-issue Oberheim SEM, Motu Volta, Vermona DRM, NordLead and other goodies (photo from 2010 above). I’ll try and make it to Robotspeak. If they have a Doepfer Dark Time I’m going to push him to get one because as teens we were major EBM freaks together and he needs an analog sequencer ASAP. Friday I’m going to visit one of my oldest friend Rich Lin. He works at Zynga and I’m certain he’s high on the food chain there so I will get a proper tour. I’ve known Rich since I was in 3rd Grade and we have the same birthday. He also has a young family and on Saturday we are all going to a beach on the Russian River. It’s going to be good to get away from NYC humidity. Unlike going to Europe my data plan will be intact to I’ll be Instagramming, Twittering and if I have time in the evenings posting here.
“When the night turns into day you can’t believe the things I say. And when I lie and make you cry I prefer we were high.” – Acrosome
I received a delivery from Noisebug yesterday and made the above unboxing video for you. I was also inspired to add the Analogue Solutions Telemark to an EBM song I am working on for my next album. You can hear the song in the video above. It still needs plenty of work and of course vocals. You’re also hearing a Jomox Brane 11 and the sequences are being fired off by a Doepfer Dark Time. The Telemark is created in the UK by Tom J Carpenter. He recently repaired some of Alan Wilder’s (Depeche Mode) equipment for an auction. The Telemark starts off as an Oberheim SEM clone but adds Noise (to me VERY important) and some other goodies. It’s a large beautiful synth and it sounds incredible.
“More features than the original SEM such as Sample and Hold, LFO Square wave, Noise, extra inputs, many more signal modulation options via rotary switches.” – analoguesolutions.org.uk
French company Arturia will release a software recreation of the Oberheim SEM on October 25th. The original SEM’s trick was a 2-pole multimode filter which along with low-pass had high-pass, band-pass and band-reject settings. This gave the unit some wicked sharp sounds. For a while the SEM sound could only be had if you hit eBay. Then Tom Oberheim followed in Bob Moog and Dave Smith’s footsteps and got things going again. I have to mention my favorite SEM sounding synth the Analogue Solutions Telemark which I had a chance to play with recently. It adds a few tricks to the mix including in my opinion a very important feature: noise. It’s good to see Arturia back in the game emulating classic synths because I think it’s what they do best. It’s going to be tough for them to get the sharp filters right on the SEM. That said, the plug-ins are a good stepping stone to get people into hardware or for when you need SEM on an airplane, beach, hotel room, etc… They sure look very pretty too!
“After years without any addition to their Synthesizer Anthology series, Arturia has announced that it will soon bring back to life in software format one of the world’s most sough-after synthesizers. The Oberheim SEM V accurately emulates the famous sound and interface of the original Synthesizer Expander Module introduced by Oberheim Electronics in 1974. Faithfully reproducing the tone, waveshapes, multi-mode 12dB/octave filter and other detailed characteristics, the Oberheim SEM V also brings the benefits of polyphony, MIDI control, arpeggiation and some innovative functionalities such as the 8-voice programmer, or the advanced keyboard follow.” -kvraudio.com
An interview with synthesizer creator Tom Oberheim. He recently re-created and re-released his classic synth the SEM. The SEM does sound different than a Moog or Roland and Tom explains a bit about why that is. You can get the new SEM in a few flavors (panel/Midi) ranging from $600-$900 USD.
I once owned a Oberheim DMX drum machine. It’s a large early 80s drum machine based off samples. You can burn sounds using EPROMs (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory). The key to this and many hardware drum machines is the groove/sequencer. Beats just sound super tight. The outputs also add a certain grainy loudness to the samples. They have started to rise on price on eBay and for good reason. Goldbaby, the guy who releases sample packs of drum machines and other gear recorded onto analog tape has released an excellent pack of DMX samples. He even created the video below showing the EPROM burning process. I’ve never seen EPROM burning in action so big thanks to Mr. Gold for the video!
“The DX was a lighter version of the classic DMX drum machine. In fact its look, features and programming method are basically the same as the DMX. The DX has individual tuning knobs for the drum tones and an external trigger input. Its sounds are sampled recordings of actual instruments. The DX only has 18 drum sounds and the DMX has 24. Both drum machines have a number of human like feel effects such as a great swing function, rolls, flams and other weird time signatures and grooves. Best of all it’s easy to operate. There are also 6 individual outputs like the DMX for easing studio use. It has been used by Hip Hop artists since the very beginning of Hip Hop! It has been used by Apollo 440, Daft Punk, and Jimi Tenor.” – www.vintagesynth.com
I honestly believe a person would get more out of a DMX and Prommer than a new Elektron Machinedrum.
Goldbaby Custom DMX is available now for $24: click here
One of the best ways to promote a band on your record label is to create a video interview with them. It really doesn’t take much skill, time or money. In fact, the video above was shot using the video mode on a single point and shoot cheapo camera. I used iMovie08 which uses Core Video so any image adjustments, transitions and titles all happen in real time, no rendering! This makes the entire process actually a lot of fun. Sure the video would be better if I was using a better camera, external mic and some lights but you know what? If I had to lug all that stuff to the club I probably would not have bothered. Showing up and creating something is the most important thing. I actually own quite a lot of video equipment including Final Cut Pro but workflow always wins in my book so I went for the fastest way to the finish line. I mentioned before on this blog I love Creative Commons and here’s why: See the images I cut during the interview? They are all CC licensed so I’m not stealing anyone’s art to create my own.
The style was characterized by hard and often sparse danceable electronic beats, clear undistorted vocals, shouts or growls with reverberation and echo effects, and repetitive sequencer lines. At this time important synthesizers were Korg MS-20, Emulator II, Oberheim Matrix or the Yamaha DX7. Typical EBM rhythms are based on 4/4 beats, mainly with some minor syncopation to suggest a rock music rhythm structure. – wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_body_music
Sven Lauwers and Andy de Decker are great live which is extremely important for an EBM band. Be sure to check out Ionic Vision’s release on Things to Come Records: Beatport, Junodownload, Things to Come Records