August 14, 2017

       Alex Epstein defines a synthesiser as an intellectual who synthesizes or uses synthetic methods. In many ways they are correct but in many they are wrong. What gets wrong here is that the synthesiser is actually a musical instrument. From LCD to OPN, LFO to ELO, the humble synthesiser has produced a great many tones, sounds, and beats. ‘But what’, I hear you ask, ‘synthesisers do you own?’. Dear reader, I’m listening. Put down the mobile phone and get ready for these polyphones.

Exhibit A: Casio SA-5

Price: $15

Sound: Impeccable

I bought this one off some poor sap on Gumtree who didn’t know what he was giving away. The SA-5 can produce a huge range of 75 vibrant tones, featuring 24 inbuilt backing tracks and 5 prerecorded songs, including “Jingle Bells”, “Oh Susanna”, and the all-time classic “Little Brown Jug”. Recommended presets include “Plunk Extend”, “Twinkle Echo” and the angular, resonant “Car Horn”.

Exhibit B: Korg Volca Keys

Price: $210

Sound: Iffy

This one comes from eBay, slightly used. I have nothing but criticism for this disgusting little ‘synthesiser’. It is lousy with phallic knobs and collects dust in a horrible way. My one recommended preset is turning the LFO to 3/4 and the pitch-bend to 1/4, which makes it sound like the Halloween zone in Super Mario Land 2: The Golden Coins.


Exhibit C: Boss RC-30

Price: $0

Sound: Not technically a synth

Borrowed from the personal collection of a good friend who so far has not asked for it back, the RC-30 is a ‘loop pedal’. This means your seditious glissandos and maladaptive licks can be played back for you again and again, etching the humiliation of a missed note into digital storage forever. Recommended rhythm presets include ‘r0’, ‘r2’ and the funky New Wave ‘r9’. The manufacturer strongly recommends against using r3, as it causes electrical fire.

Exhibit D: Sleepdrone 5

Price: $250

Sound:   𝑺   𝑳   𝑬   𝑬   𝑷

The most effusive praise I can give to the Sleepdrone 5 is that it looks and feels like the control panel of a nuclear bunker. I bought it off a guy in Bondi Beach who might have been robbing a house at the time. As an added bonus, he told me, you can unscrew the bottom and use it to hide bags of coke. Recommended presents include “cosmic drone”, “atonal sludge”, and “the sound you hear when you die”.



Exhibit E: Korg PS-3100

Price: $12,000

Sound: Transcendent

Here is another synth that I definitely have purchased, and legally own. I like it a lot and it sounds great! Really. Look at all the knobs. I spend hours a day trying to find the best tone to make my sweeping, cosmic symph- I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I admit. I don’t own this one. I’m really sorry. I lied. But I bet it would sound cool, right? Like, really cool. Anyway, I have a… lecture, so… see you later.