roland_se-02_straight

Roland SE-02 is $499 analog synth with sequencer, actually boutique

Roland today has announced a desktop monosynth that’s all-analog at US$/EUR 499. It’s got a bunch of nicely balanced sound features, plus a sequencer. And it represents a new collaboration for Roland, working with an actual boutique synth maker – Studio Electronics. Roland has already called a cute set of synths “boutique,” but … it was unclear they knew what that word meant. (Like, small?) But Studio Electronics qualifies as genuinely boutique. Sure enough, Roland is adding this to a new line called the Boutique Designer Series. (Note the additional word “designer.”) And that means a new direction for the …

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srm_tape

Dub Machines gives you powerful delays as plug-ins; get Diffuse free

The right delay is more than a filter. It’s an intoxicant; it’s a powerful hallucinogenic trip. We’re not so much technicians when we use them as we are shamans. Now, of course, the right way to do this theoretically has been to lug some vintage analog gear, or some specialized digital equipment. But in the recent past, the computer has gotten better at providing rich analog models and digital effects. Not a little better – a lot better. Having a good analog model also opens up something else. We’re starting to see effects and production that combines analog effects (like …

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bbcradio

Unlocking unimaginable sounds with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop now has its own cover band. Arturia have done a new documentary on England’s proudest home for electronic sound, the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Founded in 1958, the laboratory had the wildly ambitious mission of producing any sound any BBC program might ask for – foley to sci-fi. That of course took on especially unusual possibilities thanks to this trippy show for kids about an eccentric time traveler, Doctor Who – and the inventiveness of the likes of Delia Derbyshire made sounds with brute-force tape manipulations that seem futuristic even today. Derbyshire and Daphne Oram may …

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taperig

Here’s what a cassette tape rig could look like

With cassette labels making a comeback, there’s the question – how do you play the things? And the answers have gotten more creative than ever, with liberal use of effects, DIY tape loops, hacked hardware, and other techniques. Hainbach, who I featured in our tape music round-up earlier this week, wrote with more details of his rig. Have a look: Mixer/control: Koma Elektronik Field Kit Player 1: Siemens portable cassette player, modded by Dutch music hacker/builder Gijs Gieskes. (Here’s another tape mod idea from him!) Player 2: (umodded) Marantz PMD 222. Recording: Fostex X-28 four track Effects: Strymon Timeline effects …

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maria2

Get entranced by the strange hypnotic world of Maria Teriaeva

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought Buchlas. Yes, Moscow, capital of that country that gave the world Theremin and the Polivoks, is now in a fully renewed embrace of the synthesizer. And as that scene develops and gets more closely connected with the international scene, we’re getting the gift of some simply spectacular music and inspiring artists. This summer, the city will host Synthposium – earning a place on the calendar alongside the likes of Germany’s Superbooth or America’s Moogfest. And for an artist embodying the new wonders this brings, look no further …

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bastldemo

Go gear crazy with the best synth gear unveiled at Superbooth

In just its second edition, Schneidersladen has turned the Superbooth into the world’s coolest synth gathering and most focused electronic music gear get-together. The Berlin-based event attracted a who’s who of international music gear makers, from modular to desktop, tiny to huge. So that led to the inevitable question: “what have you seen? What’s cool?” Sometimes you got to that topic before, like, “hello, how are you?” Well, while there was a litany of great new stuff, particularly (unsurprisingly) in the modular sphere, here are the prototypes and gear launches that I think represent the best of the best. We’ll …

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qs_3

Eowave’s Quandrantid Swarm is a weird scifi synth like no other

“All synths today just sound the same.” Sure. Fair. Well, but then something comes along that sounds more like it’s ready to produce a trippy soundtrack for a wandering scifi epic about a journey to Jupiter, filmed in early-70s Czechoslovakia.* Meet the Quandrantid Swarm. It’s the latest creation from French boutique Eowave, whose inventions have always tended to the experimental and unique. And while they also do modular now, I can’t help but feel this is Eowave at their best – making desktop instruments and oddball interfaces. These are creations with an eye to the past, but in some sort …

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circuit_monostation_lifestyle1

Novation Circuit Mono Station: paraphonic, feature packed, $499

Take the grid-based workflow of Circuit – and build a sequencer workstation with a paraphonic analog synth. That’s the formula of the Circuit Mono Station, one of two new synth products Novation are showing off this week in Berlin at Superbooth. We got a first look via leaked photos; now here are the full details. Physically, the Circuit Mono Station has the 32 RGB velocity-sensitive pads from the Circuit, plus hands-on controls. But in place of the drum machine / Nova digital polysynth combo (and limited macro encoder controls), what you get is: A three-track sequencer. Yeah, so makers are …

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shamir

An earnest album, recorded to four-track, as Shamir looks for hope

We often describe quality pop and songwriting as effortless, as easy. But what about when it’s awkward, uncomfortable? Aren’t those the moments that describe longing? When Shamir Bailey says he recorded his album to four track, the first thing I’m obligated to consider is, of course – he might be lying. And ground hum and hiss shouldn’t be accepted as any form of authenticity any more than should an Instagram filter. But there’s no question artists today bear some burden of the polished album, whether in the form of the tools we use and their opportunities for endless obsessive adjustment, …

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superbooth - 11

The nerdiest synth meet in the world, plus Tangerine Dream on a boat

Even in the age of the Internet, there’s no substitute for seeing people face to face. It just seems now we want a more concentrated dose – one or two really big international gatherings where we go all-in. And apart from California’s mighty NAMM show, it seems there’s nothing quite like Superbooth. Here’s a preview, some highlights from last year – and don’t worry, if you can’t make it to Berlin, there will be a continuous livestream to the world and coverage we’ll deliver from the various partners covering the event. With just one past edition under its belt, Superbooth …

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