Biggie Smalls contemplates a vintage Roland Space Echo RE-201. From Brandon Fitzsimons via our Facebook page.
“What’s making that noise in there??”
The RE-201 continues to be prized by musicians for its sound. It is actually a true tape-echo machine (plus a spring reverb).
[Ikutaro] Kakehashi’s breakthrough development came in 1974 with the RE-101 and RE-201 Space Echo units, which used the standard 1/4″ tape of the open-reel variety, but made as one, continuous loop. It uses no reels of any kind; the tape is transported via a capstan drive. The tape loop is contained in a loose, constantly moving jumble in the tape chamber (also known as the tape tank) under a plastic panel which protects the tape and keeps it from getting tangled. The design resulted in lower levels of noise, wow, and flutter, and cut down on tape wear. Replacement tapes were sold as well, named RT-1L. There are several control dials on the device that alter such aspects as tape speed, repeat pattern (an 11-position rotary switch), one instrument and two microphone inputs, a single analog backlit VU meter for all three inputs, wet/dry mix for both echo and reverb, and intensity (number of repeats), that can be adjusted to a user’s liking; and bass/treble controls to EQ the sound of the repeats (not the dry signal), as well as dry and effected “Echo” output jacks with a switch for output setting (-10, -20, -35db levels.)
It is interesting to read this as I have been working extensively of late with the Magneto tape-echo simulator module from Strymon. You can see our review of the echo mode in this recent video.
We at CatSynth have been fascinated with the Codex Seraphinianus long before this beautiful edition made its way to CatSynth HQ.
The Codex is a masterpiece of book art by Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini. It is an illustrated encyclopedia as a handwritten manuscript with hand-drawn color illustrations depicting a surreal imaginary universe of objects, creatures and concepts.
Most interesting of all, it is written in a completely invented script.
The script, consisting of squiggles and dots, sometimes detached and sometimes cursive, resemble a Western, Semitic or South Asian script, but one entirely of Serafini’s own imagination. It is easy to pick out repeated letters, such as the “E-like” character with one dot in its lower section; and curve-on-a-stem that appears to serve as a singular character in many portions of the first book.
Even without knowing the full meaning of the script or the illustrations, one can start to discern meaning. For example, on this page it is pretty clear that this creature tends to wilt (perhaps even suffer) in rain, but thrives in sunshine. (This is something I can sympathize with.)
Serafini himself has declared the writing in the Codex to be asemic, without a specific structure or meaning. And while I take him at his word, one cannot help but construct meaning from both the images and the writing. I have long been fascinated by other alphabets and writing systems and been able to find patterns (and even learn them to some degree) independent of the languages they represent. For example, I was able to learn a bit of the Tamil script when traveling in South India in my youth, though I never learned the sounds or the language. Similarly, I began to pick up Sinographic characters in my time in China but with no knowledge of how to pronounce most of them.
It is in this vein that I have begun to read the Codex from its start, treating it as a pure work of art with text and illustration as its medium. It’s actually a pleasurable and captivating experience to pour over the text and spot the patterns without being confined by the need for meaning. I made it through the first book (plants and anthropomorphic flora) and a bit into the second (animals). It is the fourth book (physics, chemistry) and the fifth (machines) that I most curious to “read” in depth, but I will take my time to get there.
Finnegan shares his latest composition on a pair of Ensoniq Samplers. Submitted by Greg Cole via our Facebook page.
samplers rather than synths but this is Finnegan who spends most days in the studio with me…’helping’.
We at CatSynth are quite familiar with Ensoniq’s venerable line of sampling workstations. I got an EPS in 1989, and then upgraded to an ASR-10 a few years later. The latter is still in storage here at CatSynth HQ.