Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Next Gig : October 18th 2013

I'll be playing at Melting Potes in Nantes next month.
This will be a good opportunity to try it live this Mellotronics iPad app I've bought the other day.
I'll put out a word about this app later on, it's a good one.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Swan Song for the Moog Little Phatty

The Moog Little Phatty analog synthesizer is now officially discontinued, after a seven year run.

Analog synths came and went in my studio... Roland Juno-1, Korg Poly-800, Roland JX3P.
But one thing for sure: while I still haven't come to terms with the name, I have to say that the Little Phatty is possibly the one instrument (along with the Prophet 08), that I won't ever sell (actually, just watching at my blog labels while writing this says it all : 74 posts for the Moog, 73 for the Prophet 08, waaaay ahead any other gear I use). I might not always use the Prophet 08 (you don't necessarily need analog chords on a folk song), but I always use the Moog, because whatever the song, there's always room for that round, deep, legendary Moog bass.

I bought the Moog LP at a time when I actually didn't own many keyboards. I actually think it was my first serious (read "expensive") synthesizer.

For years I was a skeptic when it comes to the superiority of analog over digital, because virtual analog and software emulations were progressing by leaps and bounds in the 2000's. What initially seduced me about the Little Phatty wasn't the gorgeous sound alone, but also the sheer beauty of the instrument. Everything about it said "quality".

Then I discovered that true analog was indeed superior to emulation, because the cumulative effect of analog tracks is what provides the warmth, thickness and musicality of a song when compared to something done entirely with digital tools.

Owning an instrument like the LP is akin to owning a beautiful guitar or saxophone. Just watching it makes you want to create music, which is more than can be said about a damn computer in my opinion.

I'm also proud to own a Tribute Edition LP, which is the first batch of instruments with wood ends. As classy today as it will be in 30 years.

So, hats off to Moog for delivering this true classic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Impressions: Novation Bass Station II

This is not a review, just my two-cents after playing it for a while at the shop.

Novation's follow-up to its successful 1993 Bass Station is (unsuprisingly) an analog monophonic synth.

The sound is warm and round, with a beefy sub osc and some overdrive and distorsion functions to make it growl. There are some stunning formant-like factory patches. Lots of filter choices, and apparently you can process external sound.
The arpeggiator is pretty sophisticated, with a mode that lets you input the notes to be looped.
Sonically, it's a lot more well-behaved than, say, the MS20 (or the Minibrute, for that matter).
It's more akin to the Moog Sub Phatty, I guess, but very cheap (all plastic, but feels sturdy enough and the knobs are excellent). I would dare to say that it somewhat lacks character. It's very well-polished, solid analog synth, but you wouldn't listen to it and go "Oh yeah, that's a Bass Station". That said, lacking character doesn't mean it sounds dull. On the contrary, it is a versatile instrument, with a use for pretty much every genre, whether you're into modern stuff, or dub, or acid or like me, more vintage /old school electronics. 
All in all I was favorably impressed. It's a bargain.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gear, Gear...

Resuming live work after summer hiatus and thinking about ways to implement more electronic sounds to our setup.
Right now I'm playing with a bass player, a drummer and a guitar player.
I'm playing guitar and using the Microkorg's vocoder for my tune "Clockwork Cities".
I think it should be somewhat more electro-ish to fit in with the studio albums.

Three solutions came to mind.

1) Keeping the Microkorg for vocoder and some vintage pads, and adding Mellotron via this very good iPad app called Mellotronics M3000. Pristine samples, good effects, dual sound layering and a very fun chord sequencer. The downsize is that you've got to trust the iPad on stage.

2) Keeping the Microkorg for vocoder, forgetting about Mellotron and adding the outstanding DSI Tetra module. I already own a Prophet 08, which was an instant analogue classic and still is my main polyphonic instrument. The Tetra is basically one half of a Prophet 08, which preserves the ability of the Prophet 08 to layer patches and run several sequences in parallel. That way you can program some very complex analog grooves. Good stuff for live.

3) Buying a KingKorg and that's that. Well, it' rather pricey on the face of it, but all I need is there : a Korg vocoder, vintage synths, Mellotrons...

Mmmh, decisions...