Our friends at Resident Advisor took a peek at the techno legend’s battle-tested live rigs. And it’s not so much about gear – it says a lot about musical technique.
First, it’s simple but irresistible – Surgeon’s live rig is devastatingly effective, thanks to some economical decision making and inarguable musicianship:
- Octatrack – six drum sounds, some backing tracks
- LEPLOOP – FM oscillators, noise, and then sequenced sample and hold and LFO, run into the filter and delay on the Octatrack
- Faderfox controller accesses Octatrack parameters without menu diving (the PC4 pot controller, though see also the new EC4 if you prefer encoders and display) … which also means hands-on control as the filter/delay hit the LEPLOOP
- OTO Machines BOUM – compressor/warmer
Laboratorio Elettronico Popolare’s LEPLOOP is the unexpected star of this one – a unique sequencer – synth – drum machine. Surgeon does say that devices tend to come and go, but I’m glad RA caught him with the LEPLOOP in the mix – it’s really adding a lot of dynamism to his sets at the moment. (Well, and it’s nice when the lesser-known gear gets some love!)
It’s also interesting that he uses the BOUM as a kind of glue to keep things from jumping out in the mix.
“It does make you want to … jump around.” Hell, yes.
He also takes a look at the “abstract” live set. Actually, I think this is more idiosyncratic – meaning it’s harder to learn from how he works. So, sure, the inexpensive SH-01A from Roland makes loads of sense – it’s a melodic favorite of mine, and I think a more versatile instrument than the all-about-acid 303s everyone has talked about lately. (I’m sticking with its Juno sibling, myself, but the SH-01A is my other favorite Boutique.) And the LYRA-8 is simply dreamy – it’s the creation of the wonderful SOMA, who I’ve profiled.
Maybe the most telling part of this is the Electro-Harmonix looper, the 45000. Just as the techno set is all about controlled modulation, the spice of the LEPLOOP atop the foundation of the Octatrack, here the composition focuses on the looper’s structure. That allows spontaneous layering of new material, with the regular patterns from the Roland and Lyra building up a skeleton.
There’s a full feature interview on RA, and well worth a read – it’s a must if you’re a Surgeon fan, but full of sage advice even if your own music lies in another idiom.
The whole series from RA has been great, but I’d wager this one may be the most useful to other artists – and of course, I’m a sucker for anyone talking about how they actually play live.
For some longer-form discussion with Surgeon, he also gave a recorded 45-minute talk at Berlin landmark SchneidersLaden:
Oh yeah, and the set? It’s a couple of years old, but here’s a nice video from Glasgow: