Hardware Synth Experiments

Being a true synthesizer afficiando I sometimes multi-track instruments and over the years it has become a substantial collection of tracks. These are made with different methods. I usually MIDI-sequence multi-timbral instruments, but with more limited ones I multi-track them as audio. I often add some drums and some effects here and there so I am not following any strict guidelines in my multitracking endeavors. The only rule I always stick to is a simple one: having fun! 😉 The JD-XA video below is a true live happening by the way. Albeit using its internal sequencer on top.

Access Virus C
I have had both a Virus KC (which I didn’t record anything with) and this Virus C desktop module. I really like them but I have this inner conflicting thought of them actually being software synths, so I could just as well use Thor in Reason. But no. Because you use them in such different ways. Next time, if I ever get one again, I will just ignore the fact that it’s a VA engine inside and imagine it’s a real synth just like any Juno or JX or whatever. A very good thing about the Virus series is their Minimoog-inspired knob layout, making it rather easy to find everything even though it is a complex and versatile synth. This tune will not make you sad anyway:

Arturia Minibrute
Artyrua“. Synth bass, “flute arpeggios” and synth solo made using the Minibrute. All other sounds from Way Beyond Fairlight R2. I quite liked my Minibrute and I can’t understand why I sold it, or can I? Well I was a bit unhappy with its PWM somehow. I couldn’t get it sounding as warm and friendly as the Roland SH-2. That’s the ideal sound for a mono synth if you’d ask me. “Sweet Dreams” and all that. So I guess… I don’t know really, Minibrutes are cheap and very comprehensive, with both MIDI, USB and CV/Gate. I guess I’ll get one again. Some day.

Casio CZ-5000
On this pretty sweet track I decided to take the CZ experience all the way so I used the internal sequencer of the 5000. Later on I overdubbed with D-50 (the “electric piano”) and some other fun gadgets. “Oooh Scary” from the Alpha Juno-1. The thin flute-like melody should come from an Akai Miniak if I remember correctly. Enjoy: “Cezlav Slania

Cwejman S1
This track was made with Reason, and not really a Cwejman S1. But that was my joke. When the S1 first showed up, nobody believed it was true because internet was young and everybody thought everybody was photoshopping and inventing faked synths. The S1 was not a hoax and Cwejman had also posted example waveforms / noises on their website to describe the synth. I downloaded those, with their permission, and used them in the Reason samplers to create this track. So in a way it is indeed a mulitracked Cwejman S1: “The Hoax

E-mu Audity 2000
This esoteric Proteus 2000 sibling was picked up when I worked at Luthman, and I asked Niclas personally if I could buy it. Sure man, he said. My wife was pregnant with our first kid so I made this in great anticipation of becoming a dad. The original track name is “Pappa”: “The Wait

Ensoniq ESQ-1
This was a keyboard I had mixed feelings about. I’d read about it in Keyboard Magazine and heard a few demos but when I tried it out I wasn’t too impressed. Released about the same time as the D-50 it didn’t have any effects and it didn’t have that big sound to it. But later on I have had two of them, and what I love about it is partly its quite dirty sound engine; like a JX8P but mixed with a Commodore 64 somehow. Add a bit of Prophet VS / PPG flavor and there it is. Mainly: I love the sequencer! It’s such a great and fun little sweet sequencer. I had to create a project entirely around it so I came up with the alternative moniker THE KFK and made this little EP. The KFK – my experiments with Ensoniq ESQ-1, Yamaha TX81Z, Roland JV-1080 and Casio VZ-8M, all sequenced from the ESQ-1.

Oberheim Matrix-1000
This stunning rack module ended up in my custody around 1991, so this demo is very old. I found a fantastic flute sound which married itself perfectly with a sequence I made on the Atari: “Platform“. Unfortunately I sold the synth shortly thereafter because of its humming power unit. I thought that was disturbing in my otherwise silent home studio. No fans inside the Atari ST, remember? 😉

Oberheim Matrix-6
Many many many moons later I got a Matrix 6R. This is, as you might know, almost exactly the same synth as the Matrix 1000. Short on cash as always, I sold the 6R as well, and I regret it badly every time I listen back to this:

Prophet VS
Uttalet“. Multitracked Prophet VS. “Uttalet” means “the pronunciation” and on this one I missed that on “Sequential” when adding a little vocal line on top. Sold the Prophet VS in like 2002 and forgot about it. Today they’re 4 times more expensive. One of the best synthesizers ever made. In some aspects. Stunning graphical design and overall design. Vince Clarke used it on stage for ages. That, kids, means that it by definition is ultra cool.

Roland D-20
One of the worlds’ most under estimated synths, the “Baby D’s” as Keyboard Magazine called them – D-5, D-10, D-110 and D-20 truly are magnificent little multitimbral VA synths. The PWM is so beautiful in that it only allows being modulated from velocity. That’s actually a feature and not a bug, so to speak. You can create stunning velo-reso patches with that and if you want a LFO just draw a smooth velocity curve in your sequencer. Because the D-20’s internal sequencer is completely horrible to try understanding. But it sounds really great!

Roland D-50
The D-50 is indeed one of my absolute favorite synths along with the JV-1080, the JX8P and some others. Its synthesis method has the same name as this track: “Linear Arithmetic“. In another D-50 experiment I made, I used some Prelinger™ material to create another little sweet D-50 tune:

Roland JD-XA
When the JD-XA finally arrived to Sweden, Roland messaged me asking if I would like to come over to check it out. We spent a day and I got to learn a lot about their development process where the Jupiter-80 engine was married to analog circuits again for the first time in 30 years. It’s actually stunning to have experienced this; as a previous owner of the Super JX (JX-10) it’s amazing to think about how that one was Roland’s last analog synthesizer. From 1985-86. Exactly 30 years later, the JD-XA came out and I had lots of fun with it. They allowed me to borrow it for a couple of weeks but I was inspired so the first night with it I programmed these sounds and recorded this:

Roland Juno-2
On this track I was inspired by Pat Metheny and decided to cool things down a bit. All sounds from the beloved Alpha Juno 2:

Roland Jupiter 4
The first time I tried one of these I wasn’t impressed at all. I thought it sounded more boring than the Alpha Juno. At best I thought OK, maybe it’s a bit like the Juno 60 then. Actually, it’s not very far from the Juno 6/60 in technical terms depending how you see it. Anyway, many years later I picked one up and decided to get to know it. Turned out the LFO and the arpeggio were lovely and the tone of the synth itself is definitely more pure and clean than the Junos. Here’s my multi tracked experiment; “Boy Jupiter“. Drums from Cubase. Their old standard drum machine.

Roland JV-30
This track was originally made and recorded by my friend Jens Kallback. I remixed it and added more elements but the basis of the track is a sequence made on C-lab Notator controlling the JV-30. Roland JV-30

Roland JV-1080
One of my true fad gadgets, this one. I must have had like five of them but I always miss them too much, having made just too many tracks with them, and the synthesis abilities they hide under the hood are truly immense. Here’s a track originally named T-Ricks T-Rance; “Drain” – some sort of 90s cheese techno but there’s more, there’s much more… “Gorgeous“… “Anode Diode“. And then this, which many people have expressed their liking for; “A Tribute Or An Attribute”. It was actually made as some sort of demonstration as I couldn’t explain with words just how good a synthesizer, even a virtual analog one, the JV-1080 can be. So I made this track instead;

More recently I have made a demo track for the great Don Solaris JV soundbank. This was made in the usual way of using the 1080 multi-timbrally, controlled from Logic via MIDI:

Roland JX-8P
I will never forget my first encounter with the massive spaceship we all know as JX8P. I was about 14-15 and we were in Gothenburg on a vacation. We passed A-tangenten, a music store, at night and I just jumped up and down, “I am going here tomorrow!”. Next day, breakfast and then instant visit to that store again. My eyes were like pancakes. I had never seen the 8P before. It was placed right next to the Alpha Juno 1. I fell in love with both. I stayed until closing time. This track was released on Soundcloud as “Bitley’s JX8P sounds” to demo my JX8P patches. It’s been renamed to “GAS” to fit into that album concept. Maybe I shouldn’t have removed it from Soundcloud because it got over 10,000 listens there. But now it’s back there:

Later on, I remixed and edited with a D-50 Shakuhachi solo and some D-20 bass lines;

More recently I have added a second JX-8P, and both in tandem together with WBF R2 sounds like this:

Roland Super JX
It took years to find a second-hand JX-10 which wasn’t entirelly in a dreadful condition. Armed with this, I had to record something!