Analog synthesizers are superior because of their pristine, high-fidelit —
Oh, f*** it, who are we kidding?
We want to wail on an ARP Odyssey with ridiculous modulation that turns it into a groovy, angry space alien, and then film it on VHS interspersed with some car chase, just because. Someone in Krakow, Poland agrees, and the video above is what happened.
I’m going to defend the ARP Odyssey remake. Reader reactions clearly show this is a favorite. And the video reveals why: the Odyssey captures some of the ridiculously, wonderfully diverse noises of the ARP 2600 in a keyboard. That’s really all you need to know; the Odyssey is a perfectly reasonable target for a reissue.
At the same time, I’ll repeat that remakes alone aren’t enough. It was a pleasure to see Uwe of Berlin’s MFB the other night – his instruments, like the Dominion, are something new. So, too, have we seen creative new creations from Tatsuya Takahashi and KORG in the volca series. And the Arturia MicroBrute. And Mutable’s Shruthi. And Dave Smith, and Moog. And the list goes on (even before we get into modulars). I’m more excited about the new stuff, because it can produce unexpected new sounds, and because it renews all of these design challenges.
If an ARP Odyssey is beautiful because of its association with your own music in the past, with music you made and heard, these new creations are beautiful for the opposite reason. Of course – of course we should keep inventing instruments no one has imagined in order to make music no one has yet heard.
At the same time, ready availability of these sorts of classics can continue to inspire synthesists and synth designers, so I simply can’t conjure up a world where this is bad news. Synthesizers need not be like pianos or orchestras, frozen in a single configuration from the past. We can have the full gamut: both the freedom of historical models we can reuse and the liberation of clean slates, and everything in between. And we can do it even without being deadmau5: given you can build powerful synthesizers using electronics or embedded computers for as little as about $25, no one need be left out.
By the way, go check out more of those Jexus synth reviews. Brilliant stuff.