The faux-Pan Am logo. The sleek, mod, curved white casing. The elegant controls. Yes, this is indeed a synth that would look at home in the space station in Kubrick’s 2001. Technically not the future so much as the 1960’s version of the future – but surely we’re getting around to reshaping our future to look more like that, right? At least for synths?

The synth in question is the Omega 8, a “luggable” 20-pound, 8-voice analog synth with individual stereo pairs for each voice. It’s really, truly, old-school analog, with discrete analog oscillators, voltage-controlled filters of the 24dB and 12dB variety, multi-stage envelopes, and all the extras. In the “new-school” category, though, it is MIDI savvy, with MIDI destinations for just about everything (including the envelope breakpoints) and even breath controller support. How do I know this? Why, off the top of my head, of course; I’ve got three. Erm. Okay, I read it on the old Omega 8 page, then lost half an hour dreaming of my new lounge-style studio where I adjust envelope breakpoints from a giant aluminum sphere like the one in Sleeper.

All of that luxury will set you back US$4700. (If you can do with fewer voices, you can get down to a more Earth-bound US$1679. But that’s only 10 pounds, so it must make half as much sound.) But normally, the Omega ships in a pedestrian-looking synth case, like every other synth. Enter the Orion rendition.

2008: An Orion Odyssey Teaser Page

Studio Electronics News

As the manufacturers say:

what is this? it is art. it is light. it is glorious design brought to life by Antoine Argentieres, the man, who sagely let his fondness for Stanley Kubrick’s past century enigmatic odyssian vision of the future (and re-visioning of pivotal past events) inspire a house fit for the majestic voice and verve of the Omega8––a cathedral of transformation; the great work of the synth; a mind before matter mystical alignment of awareness: light and sound waves that reveal the ORION GALAXY, expanding and growing and luminous.

I’m not sure it’s art, but it is spectacularly groovy. Studio Electronics also promises a special sound bank befitting its forward-looking body.

I’ve heard varying answers to what availability will be from “I can’t conceive how expensive this is” to “rumors say it’s a one-off.” For their part, SE says it’s

available now for those who "have the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission.

There you have it. You just have to believe. You have to think really, really hard about how you want it, and believe in why it matters, and you’ll own it.

Okay, it must be really, really, really, really expensive.

But I do believe in the mission. Steampunk’s over, folks. So is arbitrarily sticking cheap knobs into a cardboard box and rendering a “polished aluminum sheen” on the case by using duct tape. Let’s get back to the future with our synth designs. (I’m encouraged by the fact that our friend Nostromo found this for us on the SDIY list, by way of the music bar list.)

You still have time to do something for 2010.

See also: Music thing (hmmm, Tom got the jump on me, so maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so lost in that reverie of owning the thing…)

Update: Music thing also points to some artistic inspiration in the same vein.