John Walters, Tom Bailey and Frank Tovey
"My main concern is to produce music - by any means available. I consider myself more a composer and arranger than a player and I don't really mind what instruments I use if I get the desired effect. One of my main interests at the moment is using alternatives to the usual keyboard method of controlling synthesisers, and to this end I'm increasingly using computers as part of my overall approach to composition."
"I use two wind synths, the original Lyricon designed by Bill Bernardi in the mid seventies, and a Wind Synth Driver, which produces control voltages for a synth such as the Roland Promars. I also use the MC4 Microcomposer computer, which has a 48K memory and a digital cassette dumping facility: I can connect this to any synth working on a 1V/octave system."
"To get a wider range of sounds I like using the Roland Modular System 100M. This allows a wide variety of different sound patches and suits the band quite well at the moment, as modular systems are particularly suited to computer control."
"I don't really have any need for sequencers because computers do all that and a whole lot more! With computers you can actually get inside the program and I find the comparative inaccessibility of sequencers offputting."
"Synthesiser sounds often only come to life when a few effects are added. The AMS digital delay is one of my favourites, but I'll try anything. It's important, though, that the noise levels are fairly low."
Landscape member Richard Burgess co-designed the Simmons Kit and this is usually used, or occasionally a drum machine such as Roland TR606 Drumatix.
"It's nice to keep moving and try different environments. Good maintenance and easy access to food are important!"
Teac 3440 4-track and Revox A77: the computer allows several instruments to be put on each track before any overdubbing is needed.
"The band was down to a three piece again recently, and the only old song we're doing now comes from way back, from the first time we were a three piece! It's impossible to do the 7-piece songs, even using polyphonic synths such as the Oberheim OBXa and the Prophet 5, and in any case we can now get a more aggressive sound, which I like, using the Oberheim and the new drum computer. The trouble with the Prophet is that its basic sound quality is rather 'soft', and individual tracks tend to become blurred after a few track bounces."
"I take the OBXa, Prophet 5, Roland RS09 strings and a Micro Moog on tour. All the keyboards are direct injected both on stage and in the studio."
"I use the Oberheim DSX quite a lot, but when we were at Compass Point Studio I had trouble getting it to synchronise; in the end it wasn't worth the effort and I played everything by hand."
"We had the Movement Drum Computer Mk. 1 on hire, and now we've got the new version on order. It doesn't matter that they can be a bit laborious to program, because once that's done you can move whole bars and choruses about and end up with a complete song. Again, the Movement has an aggressive sound which I like more than the Linn or Oberheim."
"I've recently made two fantastic discoveries - the AMS Digital Delay/Reverb, which is made in Burnley somewhere, and Roland's Dimension D, which both help to keep the keyboard sounds clear and separate. Almost anything you do with them sounds great. Also I use the Roland Chorus Echo and the Yamaha 1010 signal processor live."
"We used Compass Point last time and mixed at RAK - Phil Thornley's a great engineer."
"I've just bought the TASCAM 8 track: the small reels on the Fostex put me off. Sometimes I do a demo myself, but most of the writing is done between the three of us."
"I used fewer electronics on 'Incontinent' because I'd started to become frustrated with the limitations of conventional playing and triggering with a keyboard. I'm not really a musician, but I'm starting to get into the details of key changes and harmonies in a non-technical way, and I wanted to be able to write longer and more complex instrumental parts. Daniel Miller at Blackwing studios now has a Roland MC4 Micro-composer, and since that has the option of working in real time it was ideal for me, and now takes a lot of the keyboard parts."
"I mostly use whatever's available in Blackwing studio. There's an ARP 2600, which provides sound effects such as the animal noises on 'Back to Nature', and a Roland SH1. Also there's a French synthesiser, the Kobol, used without a keyboard.
I use tapes quite a lot, and like the idea of a Fairlight to sample real sounds, but I've heard that system isn't perfected yet."
"I used to use the ARP analog sequencer, but that was limited to 16 notes and tended to produce songs heavily based on a single riff. Instead of just putting layers on top of that I'm using more harmonies and key changes instead, so the MC4's ideal."
"I started out with an old Mini Pops preset machine, but now I mostly use the Roland Compurhythm at the studio."
"When the band plays live we use a drum kit including some roto-toms and the old Simmons four-pad drum synth. Also we've got my keyboard player's gear and so on, so it's easiest to put everything straight into the mixer."
"I don't do demos as such anymore. I found it's impossible to capture the feeling of a song that we've started out by playing live when you're sitting at home trying to reproduce it, so now I write the albums in the studio. I start by programming the MC4 at home — I only had a week with it for the new album, which shows how easy it is to pick up — and dumping the program onto cassette, then re-loading it in the studio and playing the parts on synths like the Kobol."
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!