Words & Photography by Adam Rudegeair
In the age of re-imagining and rebooting every conceivable aspect of popular culture it’s not surprising that many classic analog synths are being brought back to life with a modern twist.
Remember the earworm that was the bassline to Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”? That’s the sound of the ARP Odyssey — a classic synth of Kubrickian proportions. Korg and original manufacturer ARP have joined forces to present a (slightly) leaner – but just as mean – revamp of this iconic and duophonic monster.
Ironically the original production of the Odyssey halted in 1981 due to a proliferation of cheaper, lighter, digital keyboards but things have now come full circuit. There’s a hunger for old school gear that eschews tedious scrolling through menus in favour of a smorgasbord of knobs and sliders and which doesn’t store presets, has low polyphony and probably requires a half-decent understanding of oscillators and envelopes to mould the sound effectively.
With the chances of both finding and being able to afford and maintain an original Odyssey slim to none, the new version has been the source of some fairly significant buzz in the keys world and while the internal circuit design remains absolutely authentic, a few 21st century features have been added. For starters you can now connect the axe to your computer via USB, allowing you to do things like trigger arpeggios from Ableton.
The actual unit is 85% of the original size and features Korg’s slimline keys (also seen on their revamped RK100s Keytar). For maximum authenticity the designers resisted the urge to add velocity or after touch. The sliders are smoother and more durable than on the original and they even throw in a hard case and patch cables. With everyone from St Vincent to Snarky Puppy embracing the distinctive voice of the Odyssey I don’t think this guy is going anywhere soon.
In addition to tackling giants of the analog synth realm Korg have been targeting the little people as well — The tinyPIANO is designed to cater for the toddler virtuoso. This 25-key toy piano is battery operated, contains 25 internal sounds (including ‘Pipe Organ’, ‘Marimba’, and of course, ‘Toy Piano’) and comes in four colours: black, white, red and pink. Let’s hope the little tackers appreciate the high gloss finish and the spongy action of the keys. Packed into the tiny unit are some features you’d expect from a regular digital piano included here including line out and a transpose function. Though with 50 demo tracks in the memory bank I imagine the #1 feature most appealing to parents would be the headphone jack.
Store DJ can be found at 394 Victoria street, Richmond. Check out their website here