The Hottest Sound on the Net, February 2015

The NAMM Music trade show took place at the end of January and the product that really seems to have captured everyone’s attention is Korg’s recreation of the ARP Odyssey. The original is a classic analogue synth, originally produced in 1972, that was used by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Devo and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

This recreation has been produced in collaboration with ARP co-founder David Friend, and the original circuitry has apparently been completely reproduced in this update. This being 2015, a few additions have been made too. We now have the options of a headphone out, and Midi and USB connectivity. Furthermore, there is also a drive switch, not included on the original, that makes the VCA distort – a very nice addition if you enjoy a little grit in your synth sounds. ARP produced three generations of the Odyssey, each with a different filter circuit that had its own unique character. On this new model you can switch between each of these three different circuits at the flip of a switch.

The Odyssey will be available to buy in March. Take a look at the video below to see Herbie Hancock and Cory Henry discuss the synth.

The Hottest Sound on the Net, January 2015

Much as the self-titled Beyoncé album dominated conversation a year ago, D’angelo’s surprise release of ‘Black Messiah’ was a big talking point in the music world this December. The sprawling, swirling psychedelia of the album recalls Sly Stone, Prince, Curtis Mayfield, even Hendrix in places and has had the critics in raptures. The LA Times called it “as vital as it is sublime”, while Pitchfork declared that “Black Messiah pulls together disparate threads few predecessors have had the smarts or audacity to unite.”

Interestingly, the album was recorded to two-inch tape, and the dense production is fascinating in places. ?estlove of The Roots has a hand in the production and you can see him discuss the album in a lecture he gave to Red Bull Music Academy way back in 2013 – “This album has taken eleven years to make, but the amazing thing about it, is that it still sounds like it came out tomorrow”. It is particularly interesting to see him discuss the ethos behind his drumming on the album; “What kind of drum beat have I never, ever played before?” The interview provides an intriguing window into the thought process behind a remarkable new album.

See the full lecture below (the D’Angelo album is discussed from 1:27:17).


Lecture: Questlove (New York, 2013) from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

The Hottest Sound on the Net, December 2014

This month, the ‘Hottest Sound on the Net’ is not actually a sound per se, but a book about sound.

The author of ‘The Sonic Boom…’ is Joel Beckerman, a man whose company, Man Made Music, have been responsible for everything from soundtracking the Superbowl to creating the Reuters audio ID.

The book is keen to explain the power of sound, and is aimed at those of us who work in areas such as sonic branding. He includes scientific explanations where possible, for example in his explanation of why we tend to respond to sound first, and visual stimulation second: “When you think about it from a survival point of view, there is a tremendous evolutionary advantage to a primate that can react instantly to something that is out of their line of sight”.

He also includes plenty of anecdotes, some of which are incredibly interesting. You can read an extract from the book over on Wired that discusses the evolution of Apple’s start-up sound. This is a sound that is so iconic that Pixar can now use it as a joke in one of their movies (see below), but the development of this ‘audio logo’ was actually fairly tortuous. The sound designer responsible for the sound, Jim Reekes, battled with upper management in an attempt to get the Apple start up sound changed, and in the end resorted to subterfuge to get his way! The full story is well worth a read.

‘The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms The Way We Think, Feel and Buy’ by Joel Beckerman is out now.