Ableton Live has freed us from the restrictions of looping and recording with tape. But what’s missing? The restrictions of looping and recording with tape.
Enter TAPE LOOP from Inner Ocean. The creators say it’s the result of two years of work, and some detailed study of devices like the Tascam Portastudio line. (I see some features from what I’d identify as a 414 and 246.)
Okay, that sounds kind of bonkers – cramming a Portastudio inside Ableton Live, a bit like putting a horse in the front seat of your EV sedan. But there’s some sense here, as you get a nice facility for looping and recording that can sample from Live.
And sampling or looping existing Live tracks can be a way of capturing, expanding, and mangling other ideas. Think of it this way: Live is essentially a full-featured sound design lab, and it’s always been desirable to keep tape machines around for simple ways of capturing ideas from the complexity of synths. (The tape loop/recorder on products like the Teenage Engineering OP-1 have a similar model.)
There are some nice-looking features here, including things that would be really difficult on a Tascam box but become easy inside Live:
- Tape loop and defined length, synced to Live host (if you want)
- Recording and overdub
- Looping and feedback with start and length, also free-synced and loopable
- Speed, pitch, repitch, and reverse
- Tape FX (wow, bias, flutter, noise with multiple models, dry/wet control)
- VU meters
- Transport controls with rewind/ffwd, speed, linkable to the Live transport
Also there’s a cute compact UI for the Device with a tape graphic and simple controls.
So it’s really a tape effect and a looper and a 4-track. Or you can also think of this as augmenting Ableton’s own Looper with a 4-track version and some extra features, which is also pretty cool.
Here’s what they say about it:
Designed and built in partnership with Peter Bark and Woulg, we spent over 2 years refining and perfecting this device until we knew that we had landed on something super special and unique that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s no secret we love all things analog, both in the music creation process and for listening formats. As creators ourselves, we wanted the sound and workflow of playing with audio on a hardware tape unit but with the convenience and expanded functionality of working in the box. With hardware tape units becoming harder to find and getting a lot more expensive, the Inner Ocean 4trak makes it super easy for any sound creator to start experimenting with tape loops.
Intro price, 1/3 off – €19,95.
I’m deeply intrigued. I was too excited about this not to write about it first, but I’ll try to review this myself. I’m intrigued as I’ve got some projects with some interesting ideas, but that somehow aren’t working compositionally – and I like the idea of looping and 4-track overdubbing as a way to break out of the usual Session / Arrange approach.
Also nice – they’ve added a sample pack by Peter Bark, which could be a good way to learn your way around the interface, plus a PDF manual.
Also on their site, there’s this very sexy-looking hardware tape player, if this tape fetish gets you in the mood.
Also I should answer this: no, no it won’t. Keep reading CDM. Look, even Marie Kondo gave up on minimalism and it’s apparently helping her. Embrace the mess!
Also thanks lmka, guess you called it. (So will you also give it a go?)