Here’s a blog entry from around a year and a half ago that we didn’t publish until now.
Our friend Alan Palomo from Neon Indian stopped by The Synth Sanctuary yesterday for a few hours. We love Alan’s work with Neon Indian (and Vega). His unique brand of Chillwave sounds like we took our favorite 80’s synthpop records and popped them in the microwave for a bit, but in a really, really good way!
Alan’s had lots of experience with vintage analog synths and has recently become interested in digital vector and wavetable synths. He immediately noticed our Yamaha TG33 and wondered why it was sitting there amongst all the precious synth bling, so we gave him a quick demo of its vector sequencing function. Every synth in the studio’s there for a reason and the 33’s no exception. It’s got its limitations, but if you’re a good programmer, you can really make a TG sing!
Next, we messed around with the Ensoniq Fizmo rack. We normally write over all the preset sounds in our synths, but we haven’t had time to fully brainwash this one. So we simultaneously cringed over a few on-board Moog bass and analog synth brass emulations. Despite exceeding the USDA recommended daily allowance of cheese, this purple plaything can easily provide a well-balanced diet of digital deliciousness when one quits trying to make it sound like a Minimoog and OB-XA. It’s great at cutting leads and intergalactic morphing magic. We discussed the differences between the Fizmo and other wavetable synths in the studio – the PPG Wave, Waldorf Microwave 1 and XT – and concluded that the Fizmo has more character cause it’s got this glitchy wavetable synth meets Casio CZ-101 kinda vibe.
There’s only so much one can talk about synths while they’re in a room jam-packed with the most amazing synths ever made, so we moseyed on over to one of our mountains of modular madness for some synthplay. Alan’s got a few Eurorack modules in his studio, but hasn’t had much one-on-one time with a full modular synth before, so we sat him down in front of one that’s almost old enough to be his synth daddy – the black and orange “Halloween” ARP 2600 with matching ARP Sequencer, fully refurbished by Tone Tweakers Inc. Alan caught on real fast and we had him patching up sounds and tweaking tunes in no time. A mere 3 oscillators isn’t enough, so we sprinkled in a touch of Aries 300 too.
But the grass is always greener on the other side, and Alan couldn’t help but notice our gorgeous Roland System-100m out of the corner of his eye. It takes a little while to familiarize yourself with complex modular synth layouts and we didn’t have much time left. The 2600 has lots of hardwired connections, making it easy for the newbie, but the 100m doesn’t, so our resident synth guru, Jay Wires™, donned his stylish patchcord necklace and quickly whipped up a sound-sequence using 4 racks of 100m and 2 ARP Sequencers. Alan initially requested a Roland drum machine for the beat, but there’s no need for drum machines when you’ve got a wall of modulars, so we used the 100m for everything – bassdrum, snare, bassline and high hats. Alan tweaked the bass sequence and ran over to the EML Electrocomp-101 to lay down the lead line. It wasn’t long before he discovered how to modulate oscillator pitch with the envelope generator, applying his signature Neon Indian pitch spasms to our robotic synth disco sequence. Jay Wires dialed up a piano sound on Logic, played his favorite 3 chords and – Voila! – instant ModularDiscoHouse. It was a real pleasure having Alan over, and we’re looking forward to his next visit.
Here’s an impromptu video of Alan tweaking the Roland System-100m patch described above:
Please be sure to visit the Neon Indian website at http://www.neonindian.com.