ikutaro-kakehashi

Father of 808 and founder of Roland Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

Few people loom over electronic music instruments quite like Ikutaro Kakehashi. As founder of Japanese giant Roland, at Roland’s helm through decades of its most historic creations, and as an engineer, Kakehashi has had a hand in the evolution of electronic music instruments – and particularly the notion of the electronic drum machine – as we now know it. Word is spreading that the maestro, known affectionately to fans simply as “Mr. K,” has died today at the age of 87. It all started with organs. Kakehashi was an engineer first, repairing and later building organs. Like it did for …

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Modstep iPad sequencer is now packed with drum kits, MIDI templates

There are apps, and then there are apps with a studio soul. Modstep feels like it uniquely qualifies as the latter. If you’ve just got your iPad, it’s built with lots of interoperability with other apps in mind. And then combine it with hardware, and out of the box, it makes all that outboard gear more useful. What does it do, and what it’s about? I could try to explain, but really six-year-old Maja does a much better job. (That’s how she won the Modstep video production contest.) She loves her 909 and her 303 and enjoys this more than …

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rolandmeeblip

We added MeeBlip to TB-03 and TR-09 for really too much bass

You can now really have a ridiculous amount of fun playing live without a ridiculous amount of gear. That’s certainly the sense I get with Roland’s Boutique series, among other recent entries. In just a fraction of the size of the original AIRA, you can add a synth, a bassline, or a drum machine. And it’s not just Roland. In the under-$500 category, there’s loads of desktop gear from Korg, Waldorf, MFB, Novation, and Arturia, plus even compact modular/semi-modulars like the Make Noise O-Coast and Moog Mother-32. It’s all affordable, and all really easy to port around. What I like …

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tt303-2-lg

Comparing all the 303 recreations to each other and the original

Someday, I’ll realize my dream of gathering ethnomusicologists and neuroscientists and engineers and we can finally sit down and work out why it is that the 303 is so damned pleasing. In the meantime, we can obsess over the nuances of different 303 recreations. Kudos to ADSRsounds for putting that together. They not only compare the original Roland box to the new TB-03 and AIRA TB-3 renditions, but also the analog clone TT-303. These sorts of comparisons are ultimately subject to your own bias as you watch. But there’s still a lot to glean. The first video is interesting. The …

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tb-03_top_gal

Here’s how Roland improves upon the original 303 sequencer

If you pick up the new Roland Boutique Series TB-03, you get more than just an emulation of the squelchy 303 bass synth. As with the AIRA TB-3 before it, the hardware is also a sequencer. So that means it’s capable of creating basslines for the internal instrument – or external gear, too. What’s special about the new TB-03 is that it both recreates the classic original 303 sequencer, and introduces a new, modern “reboot” of the same. Now we get to see how they differ in a pair of videos released by Roland.

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909day_ - 12

Why Roland’s new 303 and 909 might even be better than the originals

One, two, three – Roland has finally made the 303 bassline, 909 drum machine, and VP-330 vocoder that so many people wanted. They’re small, they’re really affordable ($349-399), and they’ve got modern features. But after decades of remakes that strayed from the very things that made people love the originals, at last Roland has learned from their own legacy. So, let’s talk about what’s new and what, mercifully, isn’t.

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909day_ - 4

Watch these video reviews of 303, 909 and comparisons to originals

Now, with the embargo lifted on new Roland gear, brace yourself for a lot of discussion. On some level, any comparison of a $349-$399 new gadget to anything before it is a bit silly – when original 909s start selling for three figures, let us know. And I think starting with a direct comparison misses the point: the TR-909 and TB-303 sound terrific, and you’re unlikely to record or play either totally dry. (Classic records, uh, used processing too, ya know?) Relax and go enjoy a great drum machine and bassline.

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It's 909 day. Photo (CC-BY) dislokated.

3:00pm NYC time is a good time to watch the Roland 909 Day stream

Leaks are all over the place, but we’re here in Berlin where you’ll finally get to see some of what you’ve been waiting for from Roland. (If you tuned in randomly earlier today, you might see someone speaking in Japanese about a guitar amp or something like that.) That Which You Most Want To Know About should be starting at around 9:00pm Berlin time, or 3:00pm New York / 12 noon California. See the video below. Important: If you have questions, let us know on social media or in comments here. We will have a full report tomorrow Saturday Berlin …

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202quartet

TM404 turns Roland boxes into beautiful instruments, jams

You know a classic Roland 202, 303, 404, 606, 707, 808, 909, and whatnot can make techno. But in the hands of Andreas Tilliander, these vintage Roland boxes are like classical instrumentation. They can form delicate ambient ensembles, or dark, pounding rhythms. And far from being only a grid to switch on and off, they become improvisational tools that spawn live performances and organic sessions. It’s little wonder that Andreas goes by the moniker TM404 – the Swedish-born producer seems like he might have been raised by a family of Roland boxes rather than humans. So, we took the opportunity …

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fjaederfeather

Discover Nordanvind, and the imaginative woman behind it, Fjaeder

Fans of northern sounds and nordic mythology, cock your ear for another label discovery. Nordanvind is the vinyl imprint of Swedish artist Fjäder. We profile the artist, the label, and then talk to Fjäder herself. Let’s first let her put us in an evocatively occult mood: In the eye of the storm Mithya spears Logos Shattering with a smile Suddenly I see all my faces I have seen the end of all things I slept a dreamless slumber… I have seen the end of all things I have seen the world reborn and crumble I have seen the end of …

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