NAMM 2001: ABSOLUTELY ANALOGUE HEAVEN

Make no mistake about it: analog synthesis is back.  And i don't mean virtual analog, and i don't mean "its back!" like you
might see reported in Electronic Musician or Sound on Sound or Future Music ("Analog is back! Buy a JP-8000!").   There are no less
than FIVE  companies showing analog  modular systems this year, which is a 500% increase over last year, which featured only Technosaurus from Switzerland. This year, Analog Solutions, Analog Systems, Synthesis Technology, Doepfer, and, with the introduction of their Complex
Envelope Module, Encore Electronics, all are showing working, available products. Amazing.  And the analog doesn't stop at the modulars,
of course.  MAM, Studio Electronics, Jomox, and Alesis all have analogs on offer.  So here's my thought and my pictures.

TECHNOSAURUS

(Disclaimer: I work for Drummachine Museum (drummachine.com) in their booth, and we sell Technosaurus. Disclaimer over. )

While many companies are showing products that have been available for some time, and have already been announced and received
coverage,  Technosaurus are showing a mockup version of the soon-to-be-available Technosaurus Synthesizer Expander Module, or
TSEM.  (Upper and lower views).   The TSEM will feature the TS Voice Modules, which is a complete synthesizer voice, with dual oscillators, switchable 12 or 24 db filter, dual envelopes, and vca with amplitude modulation, all of which is completely modular and patchable on the back.   The finalized product has been delayed because Technosaurus mainman Jurg Oldani couldn't complete a working module nor make it to the show because
his wife was to deliver their baby.  We wish you the best, Jurg!  The TSEM will be competitively priced at under $1,000 USD.

Our booth also features the mighty Technosaurus System B, the Suitcase Modular, and the Small Monsters Series.  For more information
please see the drummachine.com website.  The Technosaurus booth is being staffed by Michael Kosacki, Mickey Tachibana, Michael
Caloroso, and myself, Matt Wilson.   In addition to Technosaurus, we also have a Sidstation, a Jomox XBase 09, and two Future
Retro Mobius Sequencers.  The Mobius units are driving the System B and the Midi Microcon II.  Please stop by and say hello at
Booth #6909.  T Shirts are available!

ANALOGUE SYSTEMS, ANALOGUE SOLUTIONS, DOEPFER

Enport distributes these companies, and the Enport Booth is directly across the aisle from us.  Its almost unbelievable to look to the right,
then the left, and see nothing but patch cables and modules.

Analog Systems appeared to be showing only their new Sequencer system, which appears to be deeply influenced by the Moog system as
found in Keith Emerson's Modular (more on that later!) and other large Moogs.  Analogue Systems
boss Bob Williams was a joy to talk with.  Analogue Solutions, on the other hand, is showing a midsized modular system, topped by their
new Oberkorn sequencer which departs from the rather homogeneous look that the Enport firms have adopted (and which I believe
would cause potential buyers and dealers to be confused by the otherwise independent nature of these companies). Dieter Doepfer looked
great, in his white lab coat,  and i thought the antennaes protruding from their modular theremin looked very cool.   This is the first
NAMM appearance by these companies, although they have been doing the Frankfurt Musikmesse for years.  Welcome to Southern
California, folks!

THE SYNTHESIS TECHNOLOGY, ENCORE ELECTRONICS, AND METASONIX BOOTH

This trio of maverick developers got their booth allocation just days before the show, and they were looking good for a last
minute trip to Anaheim.  Paul Schreiber's Synthesis Technology outfit sells both kit and assembled modules, and the big modular
was getting a lot of attention.  A smaller system in a very high quality wood cabinet was on loan from Dave Fulton.  Tony Karavidas
was on hand representing Encore Electronics, which displayed not only their popular Knobby Midi Controller, but also the brand
new Slidemate Midi Controller.  Tony also brought along his new envelope generator/sequencer module, which integrated nicely
into the Synthesis Technology modular.   Tony is also distributing the new Evenfall MiniModular, which looks promising as an entry
level, integrated modular selling for $699.   Finally, Eric Barbour was showing his tube based synths and filters, as well as his Hellfire
Modulator, which won an award from Electronic Musician recently.  Good job Eric!  And for the record, I did not twist any knobs randomly,
nor did i get a chance to hear Eric's creations.  But I'll be back tomorrow.

BOB MOOG AND BIG BRIAR

The big question for a lot of us was: will Bob Moog be showing the new Big Brian Performance Synth, which was on display as a non
working model last year, and about which there has been much speculation regarding a release date.  Well, the booth was up and
running with the familiar Moogerfooger and theremin models, but the only mention of the new synth was in a flyer promoting a
"name the new synth" type contest.  According to Bob, it will be released "this summer". Lets hope so!

JOMOX AND THE SUNSYN

Jomox has gotten lots of attention with their XBase 09 Analog Drum Machine and their Airbase 09 module version, but we've been
interested in their mighty 8 voice analog/digital creation, the Sunsyn.  After getting a rough start last year, the Sunsyn is up and running
and looks great.   Particularly intriguing is the inclusion of two digital Ramp Controlled Oscillators in addition to the two true analog
oscillators, and the variable poles in the filter section.   The demos of this machine were rich and deep, and the presence of extensive
venting on the back prove this is a mean analog machine.

ALESIS AND THE ANDROMEDA

Enough has already been said about this machine, and suffice it to say, its super.  Its on quite a few person's wish lists this year.
Mike Peake (seen here with Andro' beta tester Mike Caloroso, who was responsible for several outstanding presets, including an
acoustic piano that you won't believe!) was an engineer on the project, and its great to see a tech who's truly proud of the work
he's done on such a vibrant and capable synth.   Out of all the analogs on the market, including the virtuals, I'd put my money
here.

KEITH EMERSON'S MOOG MODULAR

Mike Caloroso and I had never seen it, so being up close to this legendary synth was a highlight of the show for me.  Emerson's
tech, Will Alexander, was happy to let MC and I play with the synth, and we were surprised to see a series of presetter buttons
that were installed in the mid 70s.  So don't ever let anyone criticize your modular because its not programmable!  The sheer
size of this synth is mindblowing and thanks to Monster Cable for showing it (although Mike and I nearly got busted for poking
around the back and looking for replaced modules.)

AND FINALLY: THE MISFITS

In the early 1980s I was a spikey haired 15 year old punk rocker and i loved the cult punk/horror band the Misfits. I saw them three times.  I haven't particularly kept up to date on them in the intervening 15/20 years, but I got a real kick out of seeing both Jerry and Doyle at the BC Rich booth.
Despite the look, these are friendly guys and love their fans.  Brains for dinner, Brains for Lunch, Brains for breakfast, Brains for Brunch,
Brains are all we ever get, Why can't we have some Guts Hey Hey Hey!

IN CLOSING

Analog really and truly is back with a vengeance.  Please support these companies.  And see you at the Analogue Heaven Party
Saturday night!

all text and photos ©  2001 by matt wilson/odyssey sound