“O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done –“

Yes, Andreas Schneider is an ideal gentleman to lead you through a trade show, to show you what is genuinely interesting in new musical inventions. The famed (notorious?) synth guru from Berlin behind Schneidersladen and now distributor ALEX4, he is a fierce and fearless champion of the unique, the boutique, and the odd in electronic musical instruments.

And if you ask him for a video tour of his booth, you will not get the “used car salesman” effect of a typical product rep.

Instead, he gives us a rapid-fire look at what they’ve brought new to Musikmesse, what he thinks is good, and more than a couple none-too-subtle hints to us product creators about getting things finished and shipped and working.

And to that, if you want more detail, we’ve added a round-up of video coverage of some of the coolest new things.

I saw ALEX4’s booth from setup to breakdown at Musikmesse and made it my home base between a string of meetings. And it was an odd thing, because half of what I found interesting at the show was in this tiny space. It wasn’t all new, though, so here is Andreas with the latest news packed into a few minutes, as shot by musician, industrial designer, and MeeBlip internship veteran Arvid Jense (plus me looking awkward as a bonus).

Highlights, in case you had trouble following:

Buchla, with a wireless interface and Eurorack interoperability.
A huge Cwejman module.
Verbos, the modular that stole the show at this year’s Messe.
Bastl Instruments, as seen here previously.
KOMA Elektronik, nothing new (apart from a cable organizer), but a big hit together (and nicely coupled with our MeeBlip anode).
Doepfer, he who made Eurorack happen, now shipping his excellent-looking latest sequencer and inspiring as always.
Haken Continuum, a huge hit with men, women, and children alike, now with a new matrix expander for original sound design and audio interface.
The MFB Dominion I synth, now shipping.

…and, of course, our own MeeBlip anode, which at last is now shipping.


For more detail, let’s see yet more videos – if you have some time on your hands. (I want my synth TV!)

Cuckoo caught up with Bastl Instruments – the folks we covered earlier this week – before they moved up into our ALEX4 booth. These cute little modules are affordable and adorable, really odd in a wonderful way.

Mark Verbos’ modular was easily one of the highlights of Messe this year. His designs are beautiful and inventive, inspired by the Buchla tradition but building on that heritage. He’s intimate enough with Buchla’s vintage designs to be able to learn from and improve upon them, melding them with his own personality and engineering skill. We’ll be following his work, definitely; it’s some of the best stuff happening in modulars. Oh, and I think the red-on-gray design looks nice, too.

Ken MacBeth.

I could say more – try to say something about how epic this synth is, or how if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it, but…

Just — Ken MacBeth. Says it all, really.

(Was a pleasure drinking and having Indian food with this gentleman, and I can tell you he can give Bowie a run for his money in karaoke.)

The MFB Dominion I was at last year’s Messe, but it’s worth revisiting now, because now … it’s shipping and vastly improved and finished. And it is a thing of beauty.

Dieter Doepfer really is the cornerstone of what ALEX4 (and others) are doing with modulars; Eurorack is suddenly looking like an industry standard and not just a wacky niche. (Okay, or at least it’s an industry-standard wacky niche. We are in the synth business, after all.) I took a look at the sequencer last year; it’ll be nice to see that ship.

It was really a pleasure to share a booth with the Haken Continuum. I continue to be impressed by this instrument. It’s incredibly expressive, and I was surprised fiddling with it a bit that I didn’t have difficulty at all finding chords; muscle memory from years of piano kicked in even without tactile feedback.

For more Andreas-ness, here he is talking to The Guardian about what makes Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood special. I hope our massive business expense doesn’t single-handedly gentrify the area. (Somehow, I think the city is safe.)

Seriously, it’s a great piece, on Andreas, his store, and the ‘hood (kiez):

Thank you, Synthtopia, for this, and finding these other videos, and many other things.