A project like GBM Music gives me the great opportunity to try a wide variety of musical equipment and exciting gear. As a bona fide synth nerd, this is one of my favourite parts of the job, and finding a new sound from a new piece of equipment is always great fun.
So here are my top pieces of equipment that I reach for when looking for a little inspiration.
Korg Electribe 2
This box has received some stick since its release, mainly because of how good its predecessor was. The newest electribes have been condensed down into a sleek package, but some poor choices like cutting the pattern lengths down to a maximum of four bars, and a noticeable audio gap when changing patterns meant it received a pretty muted response – with many preferring their tank-like older versions.
I can see where these complaints are coming from, but software updates have solved some of the problems, and if you take the product by itself – and don’t compare it to it’s older siblings – it’s a wonderful music creation tool. With flashy LEDs and a handy X/Y pad for adding master effects, it’s another great box to get away from the computer and jam out on.
While it’s primarily for dance music, it also works great for ambient sounds.
I’m still getting to grips with this little beast, but so far I’m loving it. In many ways its similar to the electribe, but while it seems perhaps a little less deep, it’s certainly more immediate, and seems better for live performance. Going screenless was a bold move, but it really pays off, as you can avoid menu diving, and enjoy an immersive experience.
I’ve not even bothered with the software updates, which add sample playback capabilities yet.
Teenage Engineering’s OP-1
Simply put, this thing is a powerhouse of music making, housed in a sleek, ultra-portable case.
It’s the ultimate musical sketchbook, and as a synth, sampler and drum machine, it’s incredible versatile. Great design means it’s also incredibly inspiring.
With so many sonic possibilities available to us in our computers, sometimes it’s nice to take things back to basics. The Microbrute is an analog wonder, and tweaking its knobs and clunking its switches is always satisfying. Its brutal sound is the cherry on top.
This was the first synth I ever owned, and it’s still without doubt my favourite. The levers clunk, the knobs click industrially, and the filter screams when it’s pushed. It also has a reassuring amount of flashing lights, that quickly had me well and truly hooked on the world of synths.
This is a pretty cheap synth, but it’s still the most fun to break out, and jam with. As a standalone synth it’s a great fun box, but there’s also no arguing that the oscillator sounds fantastic as well.