Vintage Rewind: Fairlight CMI

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Fuelled by a greed-is-good philosophy, driven by or perhaps borne of an enormous economic boom, the 1980s saw some in the banking and investment sectors literally earning enough to buy a house each and every week. If you were a successful musician or producer at that time, you were probably earning enough in royalties to […]

Vintage Rewind: Roland TR-808

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There’s a strong argument that the Roland TR-808 is the definitive drum machine: innovative, distinctive, enormously popular, and responsible for entire musical genres that sprung up around it. At the very least, it’s got to be the most widely known; its signature kick drum makes it one of a select group of electronic instruments recognisable […]

Vintage Rewind: Suzuki Omnichord

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In bygone eras of music technology product design, many instruments veered towards the toy-like. Casio and Bontempi have much to answer for with the advent of the auto-chord system, where a single finger would allow for a complete orchestration, albeit with chords of a distinctly major tonality. Add another finger and you might get yourself […]

E-mu Xtreme Lead-1: A great, groovy, MIDI-friendly instrument from the early 2000s

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For a while, nobody wanted 19” rack-mounted instruments – it was all about the table-top module, then the modular rig. But now the humble rack synth is enjoying a comeback, and the E-mu Xtreme Lead-1 is a good example – a sound module with an array of instrument sounds and effects that doesn’t do much […]

Will the future of sample clearance be as easy as tagging friends on Facebook?

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When rapper Lil Nas X, the artist behind the viral chart-topper Old Town Road, together with record-label Sony, were sued in July over unauthorised samples in the song Carry On for $25 million, it served as a fresh reminder of the long-standing complications of sample clearance that numerous creators and producers face daily and the […]

Remembering the sounds of Casio VL-1, a pocket calculator with chiming noises

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When I first heard Kraftwerk’s 1981 album Computer World, it felt like the future was within my grasp. The album was a musical vision of how computers were infiltrating our lives and one particular track, Pocket Calculator, incorporated bleeps and blips from actual calculators.  Thanks to the electronics company Casio, a little bit of that […]

The ARP 2600 is still one of the most prized synthesizers today, here’s why

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Purchasing a hardware synthesizer has always been a bit of an investment decision, thankfully made easier by the cost-effective nature of some of the newer machines of the current age, so it’s always nice to consider a machine you’ll really get some use out of. Does it have the ability to create decent drum sounds, […]