A few years back in 2000 I had the pleasure of listening to a beautiful electronic album ‘B.A.S.I.C’ by Manchester based Alpinestars. Their synth based electronica is reminiscent of Air, New Order, Ladytron & Kraftwerk.
The duo released 2 commercially successful albums and numerous singles chart successes including ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Carbon Kid’ featuring Brian Molko of Placebo. They also had singles featured on computer games including Midnight Club II, SSX 3 Project Gotham Racing 3 & Test Drive Unlimited.
So it was a great pleasure to introduce one half of the duo, Glyn Thomas, to SSR to give a guest lecture for the EMP & BA EM & DJ Practice students on some of the hardware he used on the Alpinestars tracks.
Glyn bought in two classic synths used in the industry a Korg MS10 and a Roland MC-303 (Groovebox) the successor to the legendary Roland TB 303 (Acidbox).
Glyn demonstrated how to program a sound into the Korg MS10 and how you live record any changes you make and even recreated some of the parts he played on ’77 Sunset Strip’. He also showed us the difference running the MS10 through a Rat Guitar pedal made, fattening up bass lines and making leads growl and hiss.
Glyn showed us how the MC 303 was not just a arpeggiator but also a capable synth for keys, drums (with 808 and 909 kits on board) as well as the famous acid box sound. The box is hooked up to a controller keyboard via MIDI cables.
We listened to some Alpinestars and other tracks that have prominent use of these two devices and talked about live recording hardware synthesizers and arpeggiators in electronic music and integration with DAWs alongside software plugins. We also discussed how he came up with the ideas for song structure for some of his commercially released tracks.
Students were then invited up to try the gear out themselves!
The result of this was for some of us to check prices of second hand synths on e-bay. £500 for a Korg MS10 – well that’s tempting!
Thanks to Glyn for a great lecture and an insight on how classic hardware can be used in the electronic musician’s studio.