Category Archives: Musical Curiosities

Jean Michel Jarre’s completely insane city-wide laser light, firework, and electronic music show that consumed all of Houston, TX in 1986!

The 80s were big, really big. Texas is big, really big. Jean Michel Jarre was big, really big. Three big things in 1986 came together to make biggest concert idea on earth up until then to ever happen, and It is still considered one of the most spectacular electronic music events to ever take place on planet earth!

Rendez-vous Houston was a one of a kind concert where Jarre used the entire downtown area of the city of Houston, TX as a set of laser lighting, fireworks, and experimental electronic instruments. The skyscrapers of downtown Houston actually became part of the show and were illuminated with lasers, gigantic skyscraper-sized projections, fireworks, lasers and lights!

RendezvousHouston 004_1986-houston_01 IMG00004 George-O-PhotoThis really must have been one amazing show and is considered one of the largest concerts to have ever happened on earth. I would have loved to seen this. He dedicated the concert to the Astronauts of the Space Shuttle Challenger who were killed a few months before, one of whom was Jean Michel’s friend, Ron McNair.

I would love to see something this ambitious happen today!


Fairlight CMI and CVI playlist | Rare footage of the classic sampler and video instrument

This is a playlist that features two historic pieces of gear by Fairlight (Pete Vogel) The first being the well known Fairlight CMI which was the first digital audio sampler, but I have also included the lesser known CVI (computer video instrument) which was an analog video fx unit that made some incredibly cool video fx. These are pretty hard to come by these days, but there’s several good vids on youtube with them.

Also there’s a Fairlight CMI app now available on iOS, so if you have an iPad you should look into that. I’m still waiting for the Android or Windows version :p


Gold Canary-1

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.


Ridiculously gigantic modular synth rig playing some wicked Arabic sounding jams

Youtuber Ebotronix called this piece Tango, which is strange since it doesn’t sound anything like a Tango. It is however awesome and sounds almost Arabic or Indian in parts. I’m not totally sure what the close up cam in the right corner is for either, but it sure does look scientific.


They list off the gear used in the vid, which is as follows:

4ms Peg, QCD /Expander² , RCD, VCA Matrix
Analogue Systems RS 100², RS110²², RS 360²
Bananalogue Serge VCS
Doepfer R2m,A101-2, A114, A118,A134²²,A141, A143-2,
A152, A175²²,A185-2, A138abc, A192-1( 4Vox midi CC )
Flame 4 Vox ,Chord Machine², FX 16, Talking Synth Module²
flight of harmony choices
Make Noise Brains ,PP²,Maths²,Moddemix²²,QMMG,
Optomix, René, Wogglebug²
Malekko Anti²², Unkle²²,Jag
Moog Taurus 2, FreqBox²², MP201
Roland SVC-350 Vocoder, System 104 Sequencer
SSL Modulation Orgy
Tip Top Audio Z8000 manual voltage source
Toppobrillo Quantimator², Sportmodulator, TWF
Logic masterclock to Kenton Pro 2000
Rocktron Rack Interface²
FX :Alesis 3630, Lexicon MPX100, MX400, Line 6 Echopro ,
TC M one XL, M3000
mackie the mixer³

analog modular synthesizerI love analog modular stuff, but I don’t know how I could ever have that much space to house anything that large. I already have a drum set I barely ever see that is stored in a studio in Bushwick. Tiny midi devices seem to fit more into the NYC lifestyle. I do love seeing this stuff though.


Waves releases hilarious Butch Vig Vocals plugin but it’s not a joke

hilarious steampunk pluginI saw this thing and had to make a post about it. Waves has made a few decent plugins over the years and others that are just completely silly, like this one.

This is basically the equivalent to a Happy Meal or Air Jordans in plugin land. I’m talking about this trend of getting a known producer or engineer to sign their name on some plugin, especially one that that has nothing interesting or new in it just to sell it. I mean who are they even marketing this towards? Kids? Kids who actually know who Butch Vig is?

The GUI for this plugin looks like some ridiculous Steampunk cartoon, and is nothing but an EQ with a compressor and distortion. All of this stuff can be done easily with nearly any bunch of stock plugin on almost any DAW in existence. Does it really need all those gears? What is happening here?

Come on Waves, try a little harder. Don’t rely on names for sponsorship. Even if you insist on going that route, you may want to consider working with somebody who’s actually currently relevant rather than somebody who was in the limelight 20 + years ago. Nothing against Butch Vig’s work. But from a purely marketing standpoint it seems very behind the times.

Read more -> Butch Vig Vocals Plugin Now Available » Synthtopia.