Back in the day, rhythm machines were push-button affairs, not elaborate step sequencers. Press a button, get a backing rhythm, play along.

Just one problem: these old-school machines were huge and expensive. But they helped launch the electronic fortunes of companies like Korg and Roland, and were the predecessors of today’s far more programmable drum machines. And their peculiar canned sounds shaped some of the electronic rhythms of today.

Well, no one saw this coming: Korg has brought the old-school machine back, with the hopes that “guitarists, bassists, pianists or any musician looking for easy rhythm accompaniment” will pick them up.

It seems as though they almost literally shrunk the original. The retro style remains, but it’s in a tiny, pocket form, running on batteries and optionally playing via a built-in speaker.

It also has more rhythms than the early models; Korg promises 60 “diverse” options across genres and even – gasp – multiple bars in a row. You can actually chain patterns together into songs. It seems ripe for musical abuse. (Circuit bending, perhaps, less so – it’s likely this stuff is all on integrated circuits that’d be too tough to bend.)

Genres? 8 Beat, 16 Beat, Rock, Metal, Pop, R&B, Jazz, Latin, Dance, and USSR.

Um, sorry, user. (I’d like to hear the USSR drum machine, though.)


In the missed opportunity file: No, there’s no sync of any kind. Okay, to be fair, that’s a feature well outside the obvious target audience for the device. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see how many people do want that here.

There’s even a pedal switch for start/stop and fills, making it sound fairly feasible as a performance tool.

US$79.99, ships in November – you know, for Hanukkah presents and stuffing in Christmas socks. Yep.

Someone at Korg is huffing something that makes them suddenly see ways of making money. Please, um … keep doing that.