SYNTHESEA 2017: WAS IT WORTH ATTENDING? 

SYNTHESEA 2017: 11 June 2017 – Organised by Simon Forsyth

Hardware:

  • Analogue Solutions Fusebox
  • AJH Mini Mod Modules
  • Dübreq Stylophone GEN X-1
  • plus Millenium Falcon? Dalek? And more…

Performances:

  • Vile Electrodes
  • Nick Batt (Sonic State)
  • Battery Operated Orchestra
  • Native Ray

MODULAR SYNTH, SYNTHESIZERS, SEMI MODULAR SYNTH EVENT & LIVE PERFORMANCES

A synth event by the sea with a live performance lineup including Nick Batt and Vile Electrodes. Juicy hardware synthesisers topped by the first public appearance of Analogue Solutions’ new Fusebox. All of this available about 5 hours away from Sonic Voltage HQ! So we went… and by we I mean my twelve years old son and me.

It didn’t start well

  • My new audio recorder did not arrive in time for the event therefore I was only going to be able to record audio straight into the mic-input of the digital camera.
  • The trip could have been better. Traffic and diversions meant it actually took a seven-hours drive to get there. Luckily enough we had planned to arrive in Hastings the day before the event. No rush.

The day of the event started much better with good sunny weather… but no time for the beach, to the event we went.

Once we found the place (it was around “that corner” you always miss) it did put a smile on my face. A quick glance around revealed plenty of toys any synth-lover would have se.. with want to have the pleasure to play with.

The Orange Beast

Analogue Solutions’ Fusebox with that striking and very appealing orange colour caught my attention first.

I had exchanged emails with Tom Carpenter from Analogue Solutions in the past, I purchased one of his Eurorack Modules some time ago, but to meet him in person was a great pleasure. He is a very nice guy.

Tom was kind enough to give me a through overview of the Fusebox which I recorded on video. I also recorded a demo of the Fusebox without talking, again Tom played it for us. 

You can watch our Fusebox presentation video, video-audio demo plus Analogue Solution preview of the Mr Hyde Synthblock on our YouTube Channel. 

Wait a minute… I know this guy

Nick Batt passed by and I introduced my son and myself to him. A few days earlier, during one of his podcasts, we exchanged some message with Nick about Synthesea. What a nice guy, but more about our encounter with Nick later… let’s keep going with the hardware for now.

I own a Voyager… surely I don’t need AJH Modules in my rack…

I own a Moog Voyager and this is why, so far,  I have avoided spending money on eurorack moogish-modules. Yes the Voyager is different from a Model D but I am happy with the sound of the Voyager. Well… there I was with a set of AJH Synthesis modules staring at me from a few meters away! From wherever I was standing my body was immediately teleported to this Waldorf KB37 stuffed with AJH Mini Mod modules. 

I started with whatever was already patched then kept editing and patching to create a multi oscillator lead sound. I only spent about ten minutes with it but I ended up with a beautifully warm, fat and playable voice. I was impressed. These Mini Mod modules sound really nice. Finally, I had the chance to meet Allan Hall (AJH) and spent some time talking with him about AJH and the Mini Mod. I can’t wait to meet him again at the next event and record some good and through demo of his modules. The only problem now is that I wouldn’t mind having some Mini Mod in my setup, I mean if these are good enough for Hanz Zimmer who am I to not wanting them too?

Tom Carpenter, Nick Batt, Allan Hall… great start! But who put all of this together?

Time to find out who is the man behind Synthesea 2017. Drum roll… give it up for Mr. Simon Forsyth

How many friendly and nice people can you find in one room? I don’t know, but there were plenty here and Simon Forsyth was surely one of them. I assumed this was one of a number of Synth Meet he had organised during the year. I was surprised when he said this was his first! He wanted to bring some of the synth’s scene in Hastings and congratulation to him, what a great start. His synth collection was on display, the guy has taste. Keep it up Simon it was great to meet you and I look forward to your next Synthesea

Which synthesiser sold millions of units? Correct me if I am wrong but usually synths don’t sell millions of units. Well… one did! More UK genius at work.

What about a UK born instrument that sold over four million units since 1968? Well, it all started with Brian Jarvis, co-founder of Dübreq Studios; in 1968 he invented the Stylophone. Fast forward to 2013, the slick Stylophone S2 was launched and now the latest baby from Dübreq with a lunch date set for July 2017… Stylophone GEN X-1

The GEN X-1 was being previewed at Synthesea and I had the pleasure of meeting John Simpson from Dübreq. We played with the new Stylophone and this little baby surely claimed his space within the noisy room while all sorts of other bigger synths were being played.

We plugged the audio out of the GEN X-1 straight into the camera mic input and John demoed sounds for us blindly. I mean he could not hear what he was playing because we had not mixer to split the output between a speaker and the camera input. Still… this thing can scream. Video of the demo and more about the GEN X-1 here…

What else was there?

My son was at first attracted by the Dalek then the even more impressive Arturia MatrixBrute stole his attention. I think the Dalek was a speaker device. I meant to come back to the Matrix Brute and spend time with the matrix/sequencer section but in the end, I had no time to do so. And what is that thing behind the MatrixBrute? Maybe if I force myself around the corner I can see it better… but before doing that I see a CustomSynth… 

You have been violated!

I think this Analogue Solutions Telemark-K is the Depeche Mode Violator Themed version by CustomSynth

Han Solo parked his car IN HASTINGS

Mr Solo was not available for interviews and he spent most of his time on the phone. Judging but the sounds he was making I think Solo was trying to offer some word of comfort to Chewbacca who must have been having some sort of breakdown on the other end of the phone… something about waxing gone wrong I think.

Anyway… my dear friends, I don’t know what those knobs at the back of the Millenium Falcon are supposed to do, I didn’t catch anyone near this thing to ask about it and I didn’t want to break anything so I didn’t touch it. If you know what those knobs are for, please comment below

And more…

Lamond Design Cases

Some of the Hardware Synths I had time to look at… Promars, Oberheim, Waldorf Q, Sledge…

… Oberheim Two Voice

More modular goodies and cool people to meet?

I had a nice chat with Andrew Duff, organiser of BrightonModular. Nice man with a nice modular setup. He was showing the new Pamela Workout to anyone interested and he also had some Video Synthesis module processing a live video camera feed.

We all know Nick Batt for the great work he does with Sonic State and of course for some of his Remixes from the past and work with Goldfrapp. My son plays Drums and Piano and recently started showing interest in synthesisers and enjoyed watching some of Nick’s hardware reviews. During one of Nick’s live podcasts, talking about Synthesea 2017, we mentioned to Nick that, after watching so many of his videos, it would be great to say hi to him in person .

What a nice man! We met him as he buzzed past moving his live-performance equipment and although busy preparing his setup for his live performance Nick made time to come back to us and chat with my son and me. Nick is a star, genuinely a nice guy. What a pleasure talking with him about synths and other stuff.

Nick’s live set was great. In fact, to read and watch more about the second part of the event, the evening live performances from Nick Batt, Vile Electrodes, Battery Operated Orchestra and Native Ray CLICK HERE.

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