February 7, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-02-06

* Bartók, et al.: The Wooden Prince, etc. (NY Phil, et al./Boulez) (Sony Classical 2CD)
* Bartók, et al.: Concerto for Viola, etc. (Kashkashian/Eotvos) (ECM CD)
* Eric Dolphy: The Berlin Concerts (Inner City 2LP)
* Eric Dolphy: Copenhagen Concert (Prestige 2LP)
* Don Cherry: Modern Art: Stockholm 1977 (Mellotronen LP)
* Don Cherry: Hear & Now (Atlantic LP)
* Bobby Hutcherson: Total Eclipse (Blue Note CD)
* Jack DeJohnette: Made In Chicago (ECM CD)
* Gateway: Homecoming (ECM CD)
* Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks And Blues (Blue Note LP)
* DJ Spooky: Optometry (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Heeltop Home Studio, December 28-29, 2015 (FLAC)
* Love’s A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop 2LP)
* Tim Maia: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia: Nobody Can Live Forever (Luaka Bop 2LP)
* Earth Wind & Fire: Gratitude (Columbia 2LP)
* Earth Wind & Fire: All ’n’ All (Columbia/Legacy CD)
* A Taste of Honey: A Taste of Honey (Capitol LP)
* Eric Siday: Ultra Sonic Perception (Dual Planet LP)
* Eric Siday: Sounds of Now (Dual Planet LP)
* Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (Philips LP)
* Blue Cheer: Outsideinside (Philips LP)
* Joni Mitchell: Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (Asylum HDCD)
* Tangerine Dream: Rubycon (Virgin LP)
* Cluster: Cluster 71 (Philips/Bureau B LP)
* Heldon: Live in Paris 1975 (SouffleContinuum LP)
* Heldon: Live in Paris 1976 (SouffleContinuum EP)
* Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Sky/Bureau B LP)
* Savant: Artificial Dance (RVNG International 2LP)
* Craig Leon: Nommos/Visiting (RVNG International 2LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase. (KScope Blu-Ray)
* Steven Wilson: 4 ½ (KScope Blu-Ray)
* Ensemble Pearl: [ensemble pearl] (Drag City 2LP)
* Minsk: With Echoes In The Movement Of Stones (Relapse/Exalt 2LP)
* Minsk: The Crash & The Draw (Relapse 2LP)
* Windhand: Windhand (Force Field LP)
* Windhand: Soma (Relapse 2LP)
* Windhand: Grief’s Infernal Flower (Relapse 2LP)



I have wanted an analog synthesizer ever since I was a little kid back in the late-70s, hanging out in Don Elliott's studio in Connecticut. As I recall, he had (amongst other keyboards) an Arp Odyssey, an Arp String Ensemble, a Yamaha CS-60 and weird old polyphonic Casio, with little plastic tabs like organ stops. I was in heaven.

That sort of gear was ridiculously expensive back then, especially for a kid. Moreover, the digital revolution was right around the corner.  I can totally understand why everyone went whole-hog down the digital pathway in the 1980s: those old analog oscillators were inherently unstable and would wander out of tune worse than a cheap ukelele. With the advent of MIDI those classic synths were immediately made obsolete.

But what goes around comes around, apparently, and analog synthesizers are back big time, with the choices proliferating every year. After messing around with the Arturia soft-synths for so long, I increasingly longed for real knobs and switches rather than clumsily clicking the mouse on a screen. While Arturia's own MiniBrute was mighty tempting at less than $500, reports of shoddy construction combined with its inherent limitations made it less appealing. Then Korg came out with an 86%-sized Arp Odyssey at around a grand, which looks to be mighty cool -- but the miniature keys and plastic-y construction ultimately put me off.

Then there is the mighty Moog. At only $900, the venerable Sub Phatty is highly regarded for its killer sound -- but its minimalist layout means lots of menu-diving to get the most out of it. So the more I looked the latest Sub 37 Tribute Edition, the more I realized this is what I really, really wanted. Not only is it an honest-to-God, made in America, all-analog synth, but with its 72 knobs and switches you get an intuitive, MiniMoog-like interface along with other incredibly useful features like duo-phonic splitting of the oscillators, a full-sized  three-octave keyboard with aftertouch, a built-in arpeggiator/64-step sequencer, plus the ability to save and edit patches on the fly. Considering its sturdy metal construction and handsome wooden end-caps, the Sub 37 seemed to me like a bargain at a mere fifteen-hundred bucks.

Of course, to bring it in at that price point, there some minor compromises. While there are control voltage inputs for expression pedals (which is incredibly useful) there are no CV or gate outputs, which limits its integration into a fully modular system. And purists might quibble at the absence of a true sinewave output from the oscillators, opting instead for continuously variable triangle/square/random/PCM waveforms. I am certainly not complaining, though. The deeply expressive possibilities of the Sub 37 make it a fine musical instrument that will surely go down as a classic Moog synthesizer. I couldn't be happier.

Space is the place!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Oh, man, I cannot WAIT to hear what you do with this! Space is indeed the place!!

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2016-02-08:

*Anthony Braxton: The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton (discs 1, 2)
*Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (1968-2000)/Performed by Genevieve Foccroulle (disc 8)
*Anthony Braxton: 23 Standards (Quartet) 2003 (disc 2)
*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: 2014-12-30 Nashville (wav)
*John Coltrane: Live Trane: The European Tours (discs 5, 6, 7)
*John Coltrane: 1962-06-20 Studio Reel (CDR)
*John Coltrane: 1962-11-13 Studio Reel (CDR)
*Decoy: Vol 2: The Deep
*Globe Unity Orchestra: 1970-11-07 Berlin (CDR)
*Drew Gress Quintet: 2006-01-22 Bimhuis, Amsterdam (CDR)
*Herbie Hancock: Thrust
*Kip Hanrahan: Exotica
*Fletcher Henderson: Jazz Age: Great Original Performances 1925 to 1928
*Mahavishnu Orchestra: Between Nothingness & Eternity
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2016-01-11 “Lincoln Log Interval” (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2016-02-01 “Featherduster” (wav)
*Red Nichols and Miff Mole: Great Original Performances 1925 to 1930
*Tom Rainey Trio: Pool School
*Sun Ra and His Arkestra: My Way Is the Spaceways
*Various artists: Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music #7: Seventh and Last a-Chronology 1930-2012
*Area: Maledetti (Maudits)
*Olga Bell: Incitation
*Binbot: Tumblr (selections)
*Funkadelic: First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (disc 2)
*Hatfield and the North: 1973-09-25 Paris
*National Health: 1977-11-16 Kingston upon Hull, England (CDR)
*National Health: 1979-11-19 Lawrence, Kansas (CDR)

Reading List 2016-02-08:

*King, Stephen. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (started)
*Johnston, Anthony, and Christopher Mitten. Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition, Vol. 2 (started/finished)
*DeSantis, Dennis. Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers (finished)
*Hawkins, Paula. The Girl on the Train (finished)
*Barthelme, Donald. Forty Stories (in progress)
*Geerken, Hartmut, et al. Omniverse Sun Ra [Expanded and revised 2nd ed.] (in progress)
*Thompson, Ann, et al. Which Shakespeare?: A User's Guide to Editions (in progress)