“Simple, hands-on synths are sometimes chided for being overly simple, cut-down versions of the infinite possibilities of modulars or digital instruments. And they might even seem anachronistic, throw-backs to old instrument designs.
But if you need someone to explain the appeal of these instruments, you could do worse than Adrian Utley of Portishead, seen here in his Bristol studio. He tours the Arturia Minibrute, and talks about unlocking the unique sound of a particular instrument – what it is about the character of that synth that makes it special, why synths sometimes do some things better than others, and why having one-to-one physical control of sound can be such a joy. This is really a chance to have the feeling of walking into his studio, with nearly half an hour of raw, uncut footage.
And yes, that’s a gorgeous, vintage Maestro Echoplex EP-4 tape delay, routed to a [modern] Universal Audio 6176. The Minibrute is making an effort to be a new classic, not exactly retro, but bringing a staunchly traditional design to a new, reasonably affordable instrument. Of course, it’s really good to be Portishead – and if a little MiniBrute footage doesn’t have you drooling, I’m certain the epic journey through Most of The Greatest Synths Ever Made in his private collection will. But maybe all of this is comforting: whenever it seems technology’s value fades within a few seasons, we might remind ourselves that electronic instruments have begun to endure decades. They gather more affection with time, not less.”
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