Here are some pictures of my studio and equipment. The main component is a Celeron 400 computer (built from parts), running Windows 98 SE.
Novation K-Station - One of the new generation of analogue synthesizers. It can produce sounds similar to the Mini-moog of old, as well as more modern dance pads, cheesy organs, and bizarre sound effects. It also has an effects processor, including vocoder.
Optimus MD-1200 - A nice mid-range keyboard from Radioshack. I used this almost exclusively on the Dark River album, but rarely use it at all these days except for the odd bit of piano or strings (which are its strong points). Most of the sounds are fairly cheesy, but they do have some editability which provided some of the more interesting pads on that album.
Whippany Rhythm Master RM-20 - A little-known rhythm machine from Whippany Electronics out of the U.S.A. This is a fairly basic machine, and the sounds aren't particularly impressive. Nevertheless, it did inspire a spacey track once I ran it throught the effects processor on the K-Station.
Univox SR-55 - Rhythm machine made by Keio Electronics, Japan, 1972 as the "Korg Mini-Pops 3." The Keio people had these marketed by Univox in the U.S.A. This has 20 rhythms as opposed to the Whipanny's 10, a tone knob, and two extra variation knobs for the fox-trot rhythm. Some nice vintage sounds, particularly the latin rhythms.
Univox SR-95 - (Korg Mini-Pops 7) the most prized of my three rhyhtm machines. It has a very distinctive sound, 20 Rhythms as well as three sliders for fading out the special instruments: Quijada, Guiro, and Tambourine. Sadly, the Guiro doesn't work on mine, but it's still very nice without it. Beck has used one of these machines, and Jean-Michel Jarre used the Mini-Pops 7 on his Oxygene & Equinoxe albums.
GE 3-5375 Microcassette Recorder - I use this for acquiring all sorts of sounds for eventual sampling & distorting. The external mic insures that the noise from the tape mechanism isn't present, although there's still the problem of minor tape-hiss.
Circuit-bent instruments are electronic kids toys which have been short-circuited in various ways to produce strange sounds. These are some I've created:
This started out as a barking dog toy. It's battery had run down when I found it, and it was making weird low-pitched growling noises. My intention was to wire-in a permanent bad-battery simulator, by fitting a potentiometer (variable resistor/volume knob) between the circuit and the battery. Somewhere during the fitting of this and the output jack, the circuit was damaged (probably by heat from the soldering iron), and now the sounds it makes are unpredictable, yet still kind of cool.
Alien First Words
A V-Tec "Little Smart Talking First Words," with bends fitted that both shift the pitch way down with an adjustable knob, and shift the pitch way up in a glitchy fashion at the push of a button.
Images copyright (c) 2003, Joshua M. Blanc.