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Robert T. – Spectrum Review ★ ★ ★

Robert T. describes Spectrum as:

Spectrum is a series of tracks that have glossy synths and foreboding basses gurgling alongside analog beats. This is a varied album hence the name, featuring many different instruments and tones which showcase my constant search for new sounds and textures. Vinatge samplers and analog hardware meld together in this sonic voyage.”

This sounds fairly promising, but for the most part I don’t hear many interesting sounds or textures going on through much of this release, there are some bright points though which I will go over, so read on.

The album starts off with Format XII, which contains some mid tempo electronic beats that sound like maybe Robert was going for a Synthwave type feel, but the choices of sounds are a little too dry and sound a little too preset-y to make a lasting impression. The second track Cyberfeeder, dives more into minimal house territory, and I think this realm is much more comfortable for Robert T. There’s a nice chill pulse with just the right amount of melody to make you want to move (if I could dance, which I can’t).

L/4,5 is another slightly dancy one, but doesn’t hold up for me as well as Cyberfeeder. Again, there’s the very dry preset sounding sounds that just do not sound very interesting to me. Weisbaden 455 has some pretty cool sounds going on, but doesn’t ever seem to develop into anything concrete. FormatXI starts out as a promising dark ambient piece, but again just seems to develop to full maturity in the first measure, then never really blossoms into anything emotional or that conveys much feeling.

Finally at 380mm, Spectrum starts to deliver. This and Format9 are easily the two best tracks on the album. 380mm it starts out with a purely sinister sounding drone that becomes wrapped in various pulsating arpeggios and hi hats. Unlike most of the previous tracks, this one pulls out a few surprises, sounds morph and fade in and out. And even though they are all still very dry, there’s a more overdriven sound on the snare drum and overall it’s just a cool driving beat.

Format9 takes the overdrive to another level and maybe is the best track on the album. It seems the meaner and dirty Robert gets, the better he is at true experimentation. This track almost sounds industrial at times, though doesn’t fall into the stereotypical trappings of the genre.

One thing I should mention is that Robert T created all of this music in real-time, which can be fun for the performer and at a show, but doesn’t always sound like the most carefully constructed music as an album. Mostly because it wasn’t constructed at all, but more like improvised using various electronics. So for this I give Robert some credit for making and at least listenable album this way. I do think however if he is going to continue on this path, to invest in some multi-fx units to ad some more depth to his textures, as well as maybe creating some more structure ahead of time to keep things from getting too meandering.

3 out of 5. Worth having for the last two tracks along. So go ahead and download it here!

Attack of the 80s Samplers! 5 performances using all samplers of the 1980s!

1. E-Mu Systems Emulator – First up is from our pal SynthMania who made this awesome Retrowave track the authentic way, by using the classic E-mu Emulator sampler! I’ve been obsessed with the Emulator for years now. This one looks like it’s in fantastic condition too. Nice work on this Tear For Fears-esq track!

2. Casio RZ-1 – acidphaze made this cool acid jam with an RZ-1, Korg Volca Bass and Monotron. The RZ-1 was an 8 bit sampler drum machine. Though in this vid he’s using most of the on board drum samples, I still think it qualifies since it’s a high quality performance.

3. Ensoniq Mirage – Arguably one of the best early samplers made for actual synth playing I was surprised as to how hard it was for me to find a quality performance on Youtube with a Mirage until I found this one by Hyboid a.k.a. Astro Chicken. He used a plethora of awesome 80s gear in this one, including a Kawai K1M, Simmons SDS800, Oberheim Matrix 6R, and more!

4. Fairlight CMI – Invented in 1979, the Fairlight CMI was the very first digital sampler and it completely changed the music industry forever. I could not find a recent performance on a Fairlight CMI of any quality, but I did find this rare old vid of Ryuichi Sakamoto playing one years ago!

5. Akai MPC-60 – This was another game changer sampler and had as much to do with the development of Rap music as nearly any one single artist. What you don’t hear often is and MPC being used to make Avantgarde Jazz, which is what Michal Patulski did in this awesome vid.