Moog and Sequential got their names back. Roger Linn never went away. Now Oberheim is back after 35 years, restoring the legacy of one of the great synth makers. You’ve likely seen this news, but let’s break it down even further.
And yes, I’m very keen for CDM to be on top of the new Oberheim [thing I really truly don’t know about except I know there will be a thing]. So watch this space. My lateness is because I’m exploring electronic music pretty far away from the Bay Area, in Beirut, without necessarily consistent electricity, to which I say – batteries for synths, probably!
Meanwhile what I can do is break down this terrific teaser video for you:
Return of Oberheim. This did happen in part already – the Two Voice special edition resurrected the Oberheim badge for the first time in early 2021. It wasn’t strictly speaking something new, or produced beyond a limited run. But it was a taste of things to come, apparently. Plus we’ve seen the Sequential-produced OB-6 – and a very cool subsequent firmware update with MPE. Plus I wrote this at the time of the Two Voice SE – “Tom, Dave, and Roger have been known to meet up for coffee in Berkeley.”
Shots fired – literally – as they demonstrate in the video they’re also meeting up for more than coffee.
A new instrument? Looks that way. So, actually, the funny thing about the small-run hardware that’s already come out is that it tips Oberheim’s hand that they’ve got something more substantial coming here.
Oberheim name and logo. In August of last year, Oberheim got their trademarks back, too – in a moment echoing the return of Bob Moog’s last name to himself, and… well, never mind.
About that logo:
Obie! The musical note motif is named Obie, and it seems this friendly emblem is also making a return.
Oberheim trademarks? Well, Sequential did register the OB-X as trademark in 2021, though there’s also some, erm, motivation to stay ahead of competitors on trademarks.
Tony Nik’s Cafe. A legendary bar in San Francisco near Washington Square, and a beloved place for regulars (which you can bet includes some Bay Area music tech folks, generally).
Cast of characters:
Tom Oberheim. The man himself. Tom like Dave was a driving force behind MIDI (if a lesser-credited one), made a host of epic synths, and… made a ring modulator for the Beneath the Planet of the Apes film soundtrack.
Marcus Ryle. Co-founded Line 6, co-created ADAT. He joined Oberheim as a teenager – you can hear his whole history. Marcus had a big impact on Oberheim and music creation tools generally.
Tony Karavidas. Similarly long list of credits, also working alongside Marcus at Oberheim and Fast Forward, plus a stint with KORG R&D – and Sequential.
Dave Smith. But of course.
The tequila. Fact-checked the bottle images here, and it’s definitely Tequila Ocho Reposado. It is itself the product of a collaboration – Carlos Camarea with Tomas Estes. You could say it’s the tequila equivalent of Dave and Tom showing up in a bar drinking tequila. It’s also thoroughly loved and full of flavor.
Berlin and all of eastern Europe, we’re going to have to decide how to answer this West Coast Drink Synthesis, I’m guessing by saying “we’ll see your American tequila and raise you one Šljivovica.”
Meanwhile, have some more Tom: