During the last weeks I've been rediscovering some old and forgotten equipment lying around in my studio, and... I'm starting to have doubts. Doubts of the so-called excellence of modern sound. Maybe I'm entering the age when all new becomes bad and all old gets the shimmer of coolness and all, but I don't really think so.
I won't go so far to say that all those people who have been raving about the enormous benefits of analog summing and the ultimate power of analog equipment are the true prophets - but I am starting to understand that they might have a point.
The Art of Transwaves).Picture this. After a hellish battle in the basement I finally succeeded to find an old CD-ROM for the Ensoniq ASR that I've been searching for for some time (for those who are interested, the library is called
My reaction went from WTF? to WTF!! in less than one minute.
How is it possible that ancient technology can cause such a reaction? I can think of the following reasons:
Apart from point 3 - I would guess the answer is a mix between 1, 2 and 4. But when I look at the virtual instruments created today I think the last point is what this is all about.
I believe we've become too obsessed about technology that we've lost track of its original purpose.
Take this whole thing with Apple iPhones and iPads for example. The applications are from a technical perspective extremely cool, but I still haven't found anything that make me actually create something with it. There is simply no connection. It's just toys I play with a few minutes, but it never becomes anything more than that.
But it's not just so easy to say 'Avoid all new. Buy old analog equipment and all will be fine'.
There were lots of crap released in the 80s and 90s.
I got a similar reaction when I again tried to incorporate my uber-old Windows PC with its Creamware DSP cards into my workflow. After playing around with John Bowens synthesizers for less than one minute - I was totally sold. I am not joking. Totally sold.
There is much to be said about Creamware/Sonic Core and I won't go into that whole sad story. But you want to get incredible sounds? Get a Sonic Core DSP/Creamware DSP card, get Minimax, Solaris, Quantum Wave and Flexor. Again - I am not joking. It's so damn good I started to wonder why I'm spending my time with all my plugins.
Naturally, I won't be switching over to the ASR and bid myself crazy on a second hand Atari (but the thought have occurred to me). But come on? Considering the technical advances that have been made during the last 20 years - wouldn't we be living in sound-fucking-paradise by now?
This is how I think it is.
Good instrument designers such as Bob Moog, John Bowen and Roger Linn all share this sense of what's working. I also think that when economics become too involved it cripples the creative process and muddles the perspectives. Creating a good instrument is not about reaching out to the largest possible group of buyers. I mean... everybody knows about the E-mu Emulator. But who the f**k cares about their rack sound modules?
A good instrument is a good instrument even if it's based on inferior technology.
The same can be said for the music itself as well.
I'm such a clever guy.