We got a hands on with the new 808- and 101-inspired Roland Boutique models the day before release. And… then we got a bit carried away.

Here’s a quick jam excerpt, with myself and Roland Europe’s Nick de Friez:

I can tell you this: these things are a heck of a lot of fun. The main appeal of the TR-08, of course, isn’t innovation so much as those familiar 808 sounds. But the compressor can make the bass drum really boom, and then you get the power of having a trigger out.

More interesting, perhaps, is the SH-01A. The limited architecture and sound of the SH-101 is itself a bit interesting to play with. Adding a four-voice mode – with chorus and chords – combined with the sequencer makes for something that you can push in some new directions, especially once you start messing with modulation and glide.

Also, even though it’s not a new invention, the ability to trigger the LFO and step sequencer from an external input is something everyone ought to get the chance to experience. So, that’s where the SH-01A might lead to some future innovation. Even though it’s an interface from the past, it can force you to think in a new way. And that could in turn get applied to instruments that are very different from this one.