Wurlitzer Sideman drum machine from 1957. What a crazy thing! Tempo is set with a slider thingy, and there is a bank of pretty comprehensive preset rhythm patterns available in a variety of styles (including a couple straight 2/4 and 4/4 patterns, as well as a variety of latin rhythms, waltzes, etc), as well as buttons to trigger the individual sounds on their own. The little wheel on the top right turns as it is playing, it is noisy and gritty sounding, and we were warned to be careful not to get electrocuted while using it, ha ha! I used this machine for the main rhythm track on a song based around this unit, the Ondes Martenot, Hammond Novachord (polyphonic synth from 1939!!!), and a few other weird and old electronic instruments. I sampled every pattern, and every individual sound for future use as well.
The Patrick Moraz double MiniMoog! It essentially does what it says on the tin, with two MiniMoogs stuck together. The bottom unit feeds into the top unit, allowing both voices to emerge from the top unit’s audio output. It was pretty easy to overdrive the filter when running things this way, which, unsurprisingly, sounded really great, but it was kind of tough to get it to sound really clean when running the bottom unit through the top (you can always just play the top one on it’s own if you want it to overdrive less). The top keyboard controls the top MiniMoog, and the bottom keyboard controls the bottom MiniMoog (which in turn feeds it’s audio through the top one… get it?). We wound up using this instrument a lot on the recordings we did, for bass lines, acid-y filter squelch parts, a few melodic leads. Wow, does it ever sound amazing.
ARP 2500. We unfortunately didn’t get much of a chance to play with this beast, aside from getting it to play the Close Encounters Of The Third Kind sequence that it is very well known for. Really beautiful looking synth, with a tremendously complicated workflow, that we simply didn’t have enough time to wrap our heads around fully (especially with the Synthi 100 calling us from right across the hall. We had to choose our battles to a certain degree).
Bode 7702 vocoder. 16 band vocoder which is pretty much identical to the Moog vocoder. I used this on the one vocal tune we recorded during our NMC residency. It sounded great! Quite different from the Roland SVC-350 that I am used to, and I had to do a bit of experimentation finding a carrier signal that worked best with this unit, but I am very satisfied with the results. I tracked a couple passes of my vocal using it’s normalled filter band connections, and one pass with some wacky cross patching that sounds very strange, but might be cool mixed in under the normalled version.
Linn LM-1 and LinnDrum. We wound up using both of these drum machines more than I actually expected to. 3 of the 6 or so songs we recorded while at the National Music Centre feature a Linn in some way. I think both of these boxes sound great, were really quick and intuitive to program, and were instantly evocative of the countless pop hits recorded with them (Prince!).