Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dave Smith Interview: We talk Tempest with a synth legend

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of the site to a certain familiar font-- that of Dave Smith Instrument's logo.  It's commemorating the release of the new Tempest, DSI's brand new analog/digital hybrid drum machine.  I'd been trying to score an interview with Dave for a couple months now, but he's been quite busy at work on his newest classic.  Finally, that interview is up today.

To call Dave an audio electronic engineer who owns is own company just doesn't quite cut it.  He's very much a legend in the world of synthesizers.  If you don't know why, you'd have to try hard to not find his influence.  Dave started Sequential Circuits back in the mid-70s, a music company.  They created the first programmable polyphonic synthesizer, the Prophet-5, in 1977.  Prophet-5s are still highly sought after today and is arguably the greatest synthesizer ever made.  In addition to that and other great products made by SCI, Dave helped create MIDI, the universal music standard we all use for our keyboards-- he even coined the term.  Sequential Circuits was eventually bought out and Dave had stints at other companies making digital products, only to return to his roots more recently with Dave Smith Instruments, who've also remade his classic Prophet-5 as the Prophet '08, in addition to other new classics like the Evolver and Mopho.

I can't help but feel lucky to get a chance to chat with such a legendary name in electronic music.  I sit here with my Mopho Keyboard and my Tetra just within reach, two of DSI's recent creations, which I love to play.  The Tempest marks a huge moment for many synthusiasts as it's a truly rare breed-- drum machines aren't as popular, let alone an analog and digital hybrid.  While I haven't tried a Tempest yet and there aren't many (if any) reviews out yet, early impressions say Dave has once again set the bar incredibly high for competitors with a new classic.  Check out what Dave has to say on Roger Linn and the Tempest below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Live Review: Anoraak and Fred Falke rock the Brooklyn Bowl

On Saturday, I went up to New York City to catch Anoraak and Fred Falke live at the Brooklyn Bowl.  If you've never been to the Brooklyn Bowl, I highly recommend it-- it had an incredibly chill vibe, great disco balls, and was one of the best venues I've ever been to.

Check out the full review, pictures, and video below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Space out with the Yamaha CS-80

I found this amazing video of the Yamaha CS-80 a couple nights ago which showcases some awesome sounds and really shares the beauty of the instrument.  This video comes from Logan Mannstrane, who has an awesome Vimeo account dedicated to ambient synth sounds here.  I've also posted a couple of his other videos below, the Oberheim 4 Voice SEM and a custom SCI Pro-One.  All  of his are beautifully shot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Arturia planning Oberheim SEM Virtual Synth Plugin

Arturia is planning a new remake for the virtual synth line of the classic Oberheim SEM synthesizer, continuing their long line of virtual synth plugins based on classic synths.  Currently, they have the Minimoog Model D, SCI Prophet 5, and Roland Jupiter 8 to name a few.  The Oberheim joins the team, and it's the first virtual Oberheim I've seen.  More details should be on Arturia's site on the 25th of October.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

So as everyone has heard, Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple, died today.  It's been pretty much all over the news, and has got me thinking a bit.

I've grown up with Apple products since I was a little kid.  As far as I can remember, we never had a PC in my house.  I remember my family getting the first iMac G4 that was shaped like a bubble in the base.  It was the coolest thing 11 year old me had ever seen.  I remember my brother getting the first iteration of the iPod, which was blocky compared to today's standards, but as state-of-the-art as they came at the time.  I remember trying my first iPhone and iPod Touch in the local Apple store.  My family has often been called gadget people, so for me, what Steve Jobs created wasn't just high end gizmos-- they were little pieces of the future, as if we were lucky enough to try something we only saw in movies.  Another magic moment I can remember is trying iChat with video conferencing before Skype was big-- I was able to see my brother who was miles off at college face to face.  These major tech moments, where I was fascinated by technology and felt like I was seeing into the future (if you've seen Back to the Future II, it was like feeling that world in my own).  Everything else that's not Apple almost seems derivative to me-- so much of what I'm intrigued by is fed by Apple products.  I wouldn't be able to blog without my laptop, I wouldn't have the music collection I do, I wouldn't be able to play games on my phone like I do, or listen to music anywhere I want.  I'm not saying I live and breath Apple, but when I touch technology, I might as well be touching Apple products.  While it almost sounds like I'm saying Apple is dying, I know it isn't, but I'm not sure if it will ever be the same because the creative force pushing it is now different.

In hundreds of years, I think Steve Jobs will be one of those guys who we group in with other inventors like Watts and Ford. There have been many contributions to technology and science lately, but only Jobs has left a mark on so many different areas-- he founded Pixar, changed computers, and changed the way we look at phones.  Sure, there are a ton of copy cats of the iPhone and iPad now, but without him coming first, we wouldn't know these great devices.  Macs are used pretty commonly in making music nowadays-- you can watch any amount of Future Music's In The Studio interviews and see that most of the producers use Macs.  There's very much a connection between music and Mac-- after all, they started the iTunes store in addition to iPods, and they've made it super easy to make your own music on Logic or Garageband.  All this wouldn't exist without Steve Jobs' innovation.

So I just wanted to say thanks, Steve Jobs.  You've put the future on our desks, on our TV and silver screens, in our hands, in our pockets, and in our ears.  You've forced every other company to try to catch up, and you've pushed the quality of technology much further than it would have been without you.  You will live on as a legend for many reasons.  Rest in Peace.