It’s Afrorack gone Swiss! Afrorack aka Brian Bamanya has a fantastic video sweeping through the world’s largest synth collection. And there are more ways to experience this collection for yourself, from home or, if you’re lucky, in Fribourg first-hand.
Brian’s trip is don’t-miss, and really gives you a feel for the scale of the place. And he visits the maintenance department, a big part of this effort – and connected to Afrorack’s own DIY and salvage practice in Uganda, one everyone should take the time to check out. (Plus he cues up Toto’s “Africa,” so that’s him, not me. Hey, it is a banger.)
Afrorack’s residency was made possible through the work of The Swiss Arts Council – Pro Helvetia, which works to promote artistic creation and exchange in Switzerland and around the world. They have regular rotating calls for applications, too, and centers worldwide, so to our Swiss and international audience, check them out:
SMEM’s collection is deep – early Ace Tone drum machines and combo organs, the C.E.I Bauer Carnaval electronic piano from 1968, Crumars and DK Synergy, Elgam, Elka, Fairlight CMI, Grundig tape recorders… okay, I’ve only made it A-G. You get the picture.
How did all of this wind up here? That all started with collector Klemens Nilkaus Trenkle, working over decades, and growing with a supporting organization, volunteer efforts, and donations from manufacturers and other benefactors. There was even a Kickstarter, and efforts by Legowelt, Novation, Focusrite, Erica Synths, Teenage Engineering, and Mutable Instruments. It’s all part of an innovation cluster called BlueFactory – proof positive that vintage can be innovative, and history and repair chops can help construct the future.
If you can get yourself to Fribourg, you can visit for yourself. (Synths and ski Swiss holiday fantasy!)
If you can’t make it to SMEM, they’ve worked with Google Arts & Culture to do a number of interactive online exhibits. These are both a treat for gear lovers – ranging from 808s and temperament to newer stuff like monomer arc and VCV Rack – and beginner-friendly, so useful as teaching tools or to explain your obsessions to friends.
Plus these come with 3D models you can rotate, too:
Still not enough gear pr0n for you? Here’s another video walkthrough:
Check out more of Afrorack’s work, if you’ve missed it here on CDM – and maybe find some projects to try yourself: