Kakehashi Ikutaro was the founder of Roland as well as the inventor of the modern drum machine (and therefore modern button based step sequencing) and a mind boggling array of affordable musical instruments and effects devices that helped bring music closer to the worldwide masses. Oh ya, and he helped create MIDI. Kakehashi wanted to make music producing available to amateurs as well as professionals. Bringing music to everyone. It is hard to think of a more noble endeavor behind what would become a giant international company and it is hard to think of a builder or musician who has had as much of an impact as Kakehashi has had on modern music and modern music production.
To The Toolmakers
The tools that we use to create things are their own unique creations. Remarkably, they are pieces of art that one can use to make more art with. We want to give thanks and acknowledgement to the builders, coders and creatives who make the things that we use to make more things. Below is a selection of some of the builders we love and tools we use on a daily basis.
EarthQuaker Devices are our constantly used outboard effects. If we need instant real-time no latency inspiration, we will chain together a handful of EQD pedals. Of the thousands of pieces of music we’ve made in the last seven years, EQD effects are on almost every single one of them. It partly boils down to the fact that the creator of these devices, Jamie Stillman, has great taste in sound, music and imagery. The devices range from solid, always-on effects to wild spaced out modulators. They are built like little tanks, perfect for the no humidity desert, killer of lesser electronics. And if they ever do break (none of our 50+ pedals have), they have a lifetime warranty. Not much meant to be stepped on comes with a lifetime warranty. EQD treats both its team and customers with great care and it is an honor to be associated with them.
The first time we played with Pianoteq was the last time we used sample based libraries when needing Piano-like sounds from within the box. Modartt’s advanced implementation of physical modelling has no equal and things like sympathetic resonance are accounted for in the modelling which makes it feel quite organic for software. While nothing can replace the feel and experience of sitting down at an actual mechanical piano, Pianoteq has become an absolutely invaluable tool that we used on almost every piece of music that we produce.
Roli’s Seaboard unlocks new expressiveness in the modern studio. Its brilliant design allows one to take advantage of the traditional layout of the musical keyboard while adding new ways to play it. It is also a huge step forward for writing delicate music as the key-presses are silent unlike most keyboard controllers. It feels great to play and the squish of the keys feels perfect for even some traditional instruments like samples of upright bass. It is a highly portable device that can take a beating during travel. Roli makes other expressive instruments as well as a framework for coding audio applications called Juce.
Auras is an Incredible Kontakt instrument that takes advantage of Midi Polyphonic Expression (MPE). Auras is an ultra playable, hand crafted textural engine from some brilliant Bristol artists. Because you are playing the sounds in multiple dimensions and they are so well done, each ‘preset’ is a fully realized instrument but it is also easy to dig in and build new playable textures with the individual layers and controls they provide.
Iota 2 is a unique granular looper that is great for generating textures from samples. You can create unlimited loops of varying size within a sample of audio and have those loops play in unique ways allowing you an easy way to create non repeating textures. Dillon Bastan, creator of Iota, is a sound artist and developer based in Los Angeles and more of his work is at his website.