Category: Review

Review: MFB Microzwerg

 

MFB’s medium sized semi-modular synthesizer

MFB MicrozwergMy experiences with the Nanozwerg were enough to warrant buying it’s slightly bigger brother. The oscillators sound good, the modular functions keep surprising you with new sounds and Manfred Fricke always squeezes a few extra functions in the machine, in this case by using a ‘shift’ button. The shift button plays a major role in this machine, as this is the button you use to change between filters 1 and 2, the 2 oscillators, and the LFO settings. The normal oscillators and low frequency oscillators feature the familiar triangle, saw and square waveforms but both OSC’s and LFO’s have an extra trick up their sleeves. OSC 1 features a ring modulator while OSC 2 offers white noise, the LFO has an added ramp in it’s waveforms while LFO 2 has sample & hold.

 

MFB Microzwerg & NanozwergThe Nanozwerg’s bigger brother brings more modularity and patch points than it smaller sibling (the smaller yellow synthesizer pictured on the left). It looks a bit cooler in dark blue with it’s many patch points above the controls, but together they offer a very cool modular combination. Both dwarfs (zwerg being the German word for dwarf) also go well together by using both machines together using the CV (control voltage) in- & outputs. The audio signals can be combined via the ‘VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) add’ and filter inputs. The downside also being the same semi-modularity, with an emphasis on ‘semi’. Not everything can be done, like the lack of being able to adjust the incoming CV value, or scaling as it’s called. This is where a full modular rack would really step-up the sound-designing game. Like the Nanozwerg the filter isn’t awe inspiring but does it’s job well with the 12dB per octave it offers. The resonance is a bit too eager to scream, but together with a distortion pedal this doesn’t have to be a problem. Since I would really would like to expand my studio with a full modular synth in rack format, I’ll probably make use of external filters pretty soon anyway. And there’s always the option to use plugin’s (within a digital audio workstation) to do the filtering. I already play my synths via MIDI inside a DAW and triggering a digital filter is as easy as using the same MIDI notes to trigger the filter’s cut-off.

Because I’ve already tested the Nanozwerg the Micorzwerg isn’t surprising me soundwise. Well, not a lot as I’ve already heard some mad things I didn’t expect when dialing in the sounds. It’s modular side however probably still holds many secrets for me that I’m more than ready and willing to find out. Yeah, it’s not a Moog, but at this price I really don’t care! A great synth to start with to try if analog synths are what you’re looking for. It’s many patch points will stay valuable even if you already expanded your modular synth set-up beyond the capabilities of the Microzwerg making it great value for money.

 

Related:
MFB Microzwerg Patch Sheet

MFB Nanozwerg Review

 

Review: わぁいアシッド あかりアシッド大好き

Acid Techno, need I say more? I think not!

わぁいアシッド あかりアシッド大好き

The album starts out minimal and dark with Jackmaster Yoshiki followed by a loud squealer from 909 State whom we both remember from Cassette Records’ The World Is Spinning At 33RPM. These aren’t the only names we recognize from that album, as Yebisu 303 also appears on this release. Alongside Hasegawa4200, D4C, Ripa et al. The similarities end there, as this album goes for full-on acid, non-stop!

It’s worth downloading the album for ‘Mango Acid’ by Yasuo Sato alone. A bouncy techno groove mixed with full-on acid insanity! Together with Witchin Grid (by Tremorela) and Riddim-O-Mattic they are the most original tracks on the album. Yebisu303 is the producer of this last mentioned track and delivers a beautiful downtempo arrangement both enjoyable by lounge and acid enthusiasts alike, it’s reggae groove is reminiscent of UK producer duo Leftfield from back in the day.

I could go on like this for a while, singing different songs of praise for this acid compilation that keeps the vibe alive like it’s still 1988 today. But you should check this out for yourself. You can download it for free via Bandcamp, but as varied a release as this deserves some credit.

 

 

Bran Lanen – Sign Of The Progress EP [Cicuta006]

Bran Lanen – Sign Of The Progress EP [CICUTA 006]

Cicuta’s latest keep the dark techno beats going and going and going

And for this release it Bran Lanen‘s turn to keep you going till the early morning.

These tracks will fill-up your DJ set nicely with some extra gloom. Some of these beats might be a bit repetitive, but, given the right moment in the mix do exactly want you want them to. I like how Cicuta is trying to bring back the original techno sound and if you’ve liked the previous Cicuta releases, this one won’t disappoint. Download and enjoy! (Link below.)

 

 

As always, a free download: Bran Lanen – Sign Of The Progress EP

 

Review: Atomsk – You Shall Not Grow Old

Atmosphere, that’s what this release is about.

Atomsk - You Shall Not Grow OldA sonic journey. The crisp fresh air of a cold winter day. But also the warm sensation of a careless spring holiday. Many different, guitar inspired/sampled tracks float by like clouds in a blue & pink sky. Everything is possible.

Not all tracks on this album are about “dance” as my Minimal-Techno tag would have you believe. ‘Only this’, for example, gives us some air and does so for a very long time. It’s a massive progressive track spanning almost fourteen minutes. (Spoiler; It does have some venom in it’s tail.) The tempo is tuned down even further in the following track. Giving time to wonder what more this album has in store, with ‘The Jaws Of Life’ delivering the payload.

All in all it’s a beautiful progressive tech inspired album. And it reminds me of ‘The Field’, which I have fond memories of. Great job, Nick!

 

Cassette Records – The World Is Spinning At 33 1/3 RPM

A phoenix rising…

The World Is Spinning at 33 1/3 RPM - A Cassette Records CompilationA varied release, to say the least. Many different well known techno artists from Japan’s techno-scene, featuring DJ Tmykisb, Yebisu303, Doremimate and 909 State to name just a few. Ranging from acid bleepery to danceable and deep to surprising. The release demonstrates a love for the original techno sound lost in the days of minimal unimaginativism and dubstep repetition.

DJ Tmykisb opens the album with the filter-happy ‘Chrono Kitten’, an uplifting track that makes the waist wiggle. Even if seated it’s hard not to move to this sliced madness slightly reminiscent of ‘Tokyo Disco’. 909 State gives a distorted slammer likes he does so well, after which Beel’s ‘RTF_SHT’ takes over with a surprisingly deep track not unlike Richie Hawtin’s better (Plastikman) tracks. The compilation wouldn’t be complete without a good acid track! And that’s where Pulse2Pulse comes in. I should say the same for dub, and the compilation also satisfies those needs with Yebisu303’s ‘Blueprint’, a last-minute favorite of mine. In the track’s layered background there’s a loop playing which stimulates the imagination while the recognizable dub synth does it’s work of playing with your sense of rhythm. (Watch out for a very groovy break followed by a drop like we haven’t heard since at least 2005.) Yes, there’s even a melodic techno track like Carl Craig is good at producing, Choochoogatagoto is the one responsible.

The CD supplies well to the techno loving people out there that are missing the original vibe. We need kickdrums, not plops. We want acid, not just a simple sine-wave. Minimal and tech-house have their place, on this album too. But playing the same sounds over and over is what kills a genre, a scene. This album bravely steps-up where even the hardest techno DJ’s have sold-out to simple bloops and over-used samples. It’s been enough!

A CD release is rare these days, especially for electronic music (Techno). But it does give a sense of nostalgia to open-up a sealed CD box. Welcome to the post-digital age where physical releases are becoming a rarity and more of a promotional tool than an actual selling point. That’s why I appreciate Cassette Records effort to put this out there, no matter what the market is doing. To step-up and say, nay shout: Techno isn’t dead yet! I haven’t even finished listening to the CD yet, and this is what the music is telling me. The CD holds even more surprises towards the end, but I’m not gonna spoil anymore for you. You should go out and check this out for yourself.

Track List

  1. dj tmykisb / Chrono Kitten
  2. POP STORE JUNK / ZTN
  3. iserobin / 7420247
  4. Limited toss / Gus
  5. 909state / Armed poker
  6. BEEL / RTM_SHT
  7. Pulse2Pulse / Bouncer
  8. Yebisu303 / Blueprint
  9. jackmaster YOSHIKI / PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM
  10. choochoogatagoto / Hat Season
  11. doremimate / Gymnopedia
  12. Sakoo / Heartbeat
  13. tofubeats / technoizer X
  14. SOL / One More Thing…

The album’s liner notes were written by Bibinba. I’m proud of you, 友達!