Friday, February 19, 2016

"Retro-Synth"? Really?

I still haven't seen Deadpool -- wasn't even remotely considering it, really. But this video (via io9) has upped my curiosity quite substantially:

Immediate thoughts: 1) assigning the title character a retro "Jan Hammer" synthesizer theme to contrast with the luscious, stringed hero-themes of the movie's other Marvel characters is absolutely brilliant; 2) requiring said synthesizer theme to be performed with actual retro synthesizers is just a bit . . . twee, no?

"'Twee'? Moi?"
All these sounds, after all, are banked up digitally. If you can't get the exact loop you're looking for, you can always sample something close to it, then isolate and tweak that to your satisfaction -- right?

I didn't want to pronounce on the matter until I'd consulted with my uncle. For a stretch of Christmases, when I and my siblings were kiddies, our uncle would arrive on the scene with the latest keyboard hot off the assembly line, plonk it down on the coffee-table and let us play with it. Consequently, I can attest to the stunning durability of the original Oberheim.

It turns out the issue of synthesizer tone has, like its cousin guitar tone, nuances within nuances. The long and short of it is the various chips and what-nots that produced these early synthesized tones produced analog sounds. For some people the character of those tones matters a great deal.

And perhaps I make "twee" sound like a bad thing. A band like Metric, when it performs in stadiums, doesn't need a retro ARP sequencer -- heck, they and their most rabid fans are close enough to the EDM scene they don't need instruments at all. But the countenance of an ARP sequencer is admirably dramatic -- whether or not it gets played, that beast brings character to the show.

Anyway, Unk assures me that often the fastest, most direct way to get retro sounds is to pull the old equipment out of the basement, dust it off, hook it up and play. What's more, there's an infectious joy generated by these retro-fiddlings -- keenly on display as composer Tom "Junkie XL" Holkenberg explains how he got what everybody wanted.

Behold, the old is made new.

No comments: