Saturday, 31 July 2010

Big Computers

I love big and ancient technology. So i was delighted to discover this amazing website which has an archive of computing brochures. Some of them are utterly beautiful and mind-bogglingly cool

Here are some pictures that I have chosen, and below them are four examples of the complete brochures. Enjoy

IBM.system 1964

RCA.spectra 1968




I want one of these. Badly

Here is a website dedicated to this 1982 modular effects system. By Rick


I just watched the above named Michael Crichton film from 1981. Its pretty cheesy but as expected from the title it looks amazing, with beautiful 80's set design and a ton of early computer generated stuff. The music is by Barry Devorzon and is completely sequenced-synth based, but it doesn't seem to have been released as an OST, and is therefore not online either. Below are some clips, as well as the 1982 showreel of the company who did the CGI stuff

Friday, 30 July 2010

Korgy and Best

Why do I always have to think of a pun-based post title? The answer is 'I don't' so sorry about that one. Today I got a Korg Polyphonic Ensemble PE1000 and it's really brilliant. Its a mid 70's polysynth and I believe their first. And as is quite common they got everything right at their first attempt. Everything else they have made has been a little less pure and simple! Its got a great range of sounds and is very unique and characterful. This one came with its original pedals, one for sustain, one for 'glide' [pitch bend] and a big rocker-type pedal for controlling the filter cutoff, or as these early Korgs called them 'Travelers', which make a really beautiful sound. The sound on the video is pure PE1000. Its always a good sign when you don't need to put any effects on a synth to make it sound interesting

Electronic Music Review, 1967

Here are some scans from the above publication. I got them from the Moog Archives site. They were put together it seems by Moog themselves: "Electronic Music Review was published quarterly by the Independent Electronic Music Center, Inc., out of the R.A.Moog plant in Trumansburg, New York. The intent of the magazine was to provide a source of information on all aspects of electronic music. Contributors included some of the leading composers, educators, writers, and engineers in the field... Bode, Stockhausen, Berio, LeCaine, Carlos, Mumma, Davies, Cary, Dolby, and Moog.
Issue number 2 and 3 was the "International Electronic Music Catalog", compiled by Hugh Davies, simultaneously published in early 1968 as a hard-cover book by MIT Press (as pictured here)"

I would love to find an original set of these!

Vintage Cars

I drove to the studio today in the Saab 900 [from 1983] and a little boy of about ten years old pointed at the car and kind of laughed. It occurred to me that that would be the equivalent of me seeing an early 1950's car when I was ten drive past and thinking how funny it looked. Here are some more funny cars, which happen to have synth music soundtracks on. They are all designed by the amazing Bertone

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

DP Control

I think its time I upgraded to Digital Performer 7.2


Look at these graphs from my favorite book 'the a-z of analog synths' by Peter Forrest [I have more than one favorite book, ok?]. They show values as defined by him of each synth ever made, ever. It struck me that I definitely started buying keyboards at the right time - every graph in the book has a very pronounced nadir around 1989. THOSE WERE THE DAYS! [Trust me - every graph in the book looks like this....]

Monday, 26 July 2010

Friday, 23 July 2010

My Hand Hurts

I just spent hours creating 'labels' for all my posts. Now I've got RSI. Scroll down and look on the right for them

Cycling '10

studio journey from zack dagoba on Vimeo.

[UPDATE: I wanted to put this on vimeo as well as youtube to see which player I prefer]

I found a cool new way of getting to the studio today by cycling through beautiful Epping Forest to the nearest overground railway station at Chingford and getting the East London line to Liverpool Street. It takes about an hour

The music is something I made on the Korg PS3100, layering up sustained chords. Here it is in front of the Moog

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Early Seventies Synths

I'm doing a bit of research into pre-1975 synthesisers for a project. These are all on the bay today:

ARP Pro Soloist, preset monosynth from 1972, up for £450, uk

EML Electrocomp 101, semi-modular system from 1972, up for £2K-ish, uk / usa

EML 400 / 401 dual vco synth and sequencer, 1972? £1600 greece

EML Electrocomp 500 monosynth, 1973, currently $1200, us

Korg 700s preset monosynth from 1974, £525, us

Korg 900ps preset monosynth, 1975, £500, poland

Roland SH3, their first non-preset monoynth, from 1974, £1000, germany

Roland SH1000 preset mono from 1973, they go for around £200

Roland System 100, part of a semi-modular system, 1975, around £1000

Yamaha SY1 preset monosynth, 1974, around £200-300

I got all the dates from Peter Forrest' A-Z of Analog Synthesisers

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Life in 1979

UPDATE: It's no wonder Edward Williams is pictured with all that EMS equipment, according to the book Vintage Synthesizers he actually OWNED the EMS company for a while....


I have just discovered this little gem on the wonderful Trunk Records. It's the music from the 1979 BBC series Life On Earth by Edward Williams [pictured below with EMS gear including in the background the uber-rare Synthi Sequencer 256]. You can read at the link above the fascinating story of how Jonny Trunk discovered this lost recording, which was only pressed up by the composer to give out to members of his orchestra - rare!

The album is mostly lovely english pastoral fare, with occasional sprinklings of studio effects and minor electronics

I was interviewed in 2008 by Jonny for his excellent Resonance FM radio show where we discussed Twenty Systems and electronics in film and tv music in general. I am trying to find an archive of it to post here. Here is his review of my album he wrote for Record Collector

'Eusthenopteron and the Primeval Swamp' by Edward Williams. Buy the album here in any format

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sunday, 11 July 2010


I just posted over on the Balance Blog about the Thriller Board, yes the actual console that MJ and Quincy recorded on back in the 70s at Westlake Studios in LA. Its a Harrison 4032 and it only costs £60k. WEAPON!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Awkward Delays

I wouldn't go to all the bother of maintaining a studio full of ancient synthesisers and effects units if I believed they could be adequately modeled on a computer. I firmly believe that an analog tape based echo unit has a sound that simply cannot be achieved in any other way than by sending a signal through analog circuits and onto magnetic tape and so on, and all the artifacts and quirks and degrading of the signal that goes on when you do this are what makes it so interesting and desirable to me

The same goes for the next stage in the development of the delay effect unit - analog BBD chip-based units such as the Ibanez AD 80. They have an equally unique sound and the way the various controls work together [feedback, delay time and blend] makes them very intuitive to use. The AD 80 in particular has a wildness and immediacy that  never ceases to amaze me, and again it cannot be recreated in the digital domain. It uses analog electronics, and therefore any digital model will have inherent compromises and will only be as close to the real thing as the skill of the person designing the algorithm can get, in other words an interpretation by the designer using one medium to mimic another

I want to get some analog delay modules for my Moog modular format system, and also for the Serge modular. I know that Serge made the excellent Wilson Analog Delay, but they are impossible to find and would probably cost thousands to get as you cannot buy Serge modules individually [they are all in 19 inch wide mixed panels]

As far as I can tell there are no current manufacturers of Moog format modules that make true BBD units. There is a COTK delay module that looks absolutely amazing but it uses a digital model inside and as I have been trying to explain I don't want that. So I am looking into [with Big Al] the possibility of DIYing some panels based on the AD80 circuit, but adding a few twists such as voltage control and dual delays and an LFO

Here is the COTK VC delay module

And here is the Serge Wilson Analog Delay

Below is the MN3005 BBD datasheet

3005 Datasheet

Here is the Ibanez AD80 shematic:


And here is the Ibanez FL301 flanger schematic which has an LFO:


Here is a very interesting and relevant article by Scott Swartz about his PT80 digital delay model:


Seventies Films

Here are some cool youtubes I've seen recently

New Console Blog

I have decided to start a new blog, all about vintage mixing desks. I am a geek. Its called "Balance", like as in to balance a mix. Pretty cool huh? So that means I will post console-related stuff over there, but I will link posts from here as well

Great Guns Jam

Here we have JG on the Moog Modular [and dotcom] jamming along to a Linn LM1 pattern

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Studio Hand

A mysterious hand appeared at the studio yesterday, so i put it to use straight away

And together we made the track below, using a Moog Modular 3C, a Smallstone phaser, a Vesta DigiDelay and the analog console, with a bit of spring and plate in there too. The 960 sequencer isn't actually triggering the envelope, we decided to use the trigger buss so that the envelope can complete it's full decay without the next step of the sequence getting in the way

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Did you know Gary Numan recorded a song for a 7up ad that was never used? Check

[Via aliveinsound] In 1982, American-based 7-UP got in touch with a UK agency to get a 30 second tune made by someone who was "happening" at the time to advertise their drink. So the agency contacted Gary and offered a £10,000 deal so he recorded 3 pieces of music with lyrics supplied by them. When the recordings were sent to the Americans they had not heard any music like this, and they were expecting something in a punk style as that had just arrived over there so these recordings were never used

There were some pretty amazing 7up ads that did go out though, here are my favorites

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Tom Tom Club

Here are a few ebay auctions that caught my eye. First up is an astonishing mid-70s acrylic Sonor kit, all original and lovely. Asking price = 3600 euros

Next is a Gretsch maple kit from around 1980 from the same expert seller. Three drums, not even all matching [one has a square badge, the others hex] for £3500! I have the same kit but with 5 toms and bass and snare from this same vintage....