adventures in DIY music

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Amazing Devilfish

Artist: The Devilfish
Title: none, cat. no. 002216EOG9596v7
Year: 1995
Recording: straight to cassette via mixer (low volume, lots of hiss)
Gear: Real World Interfaces (RWI) Devilfish modification of the Roland TB303 Bassline, unknown delay effect.
Comment: I purchased Devilfish version 1.1 serial no. 013 in late 1993 from Robin Whittle, the perpetrator of this infamous mod to the even-then-notorious TB303. Why? Although I was a huge fan/occasional participant, of acid house, that wasn't why I was chasing this thing. In one small silver box, it represented a particularly sexy method of semi-automatic music making that I had been attracted to well before it made it's later reputation: a monophonic analogue synthesizer controlled by a dedicated sequencer that had a unique, liquid groove.
Well, I thought I knew what it could do, as I had used a regular TB303 briefly in the late '80s. But what had Robin's mods done to the original instrument? Essentially, to a simple synthesizer signal path, he had added portals of controllable complexity. His description at the time: "...the Devil Fish modifications will propel you into musical territories dark, destructive, delicate, languid, undulating, exquisitely detailed, throbbing, luscious and lurid. Best of all, the spaces between these extremes can usually be traversed by judiciously turning a few knobs." I found it could sound like Larry Graham's slap bass, like Kraftwerk's electro-percussion, like a Westworld android of Eric Clapton, like a night bird crying, like a dolphin calling, like a didgeridoo barking... In the recording here it can be heard going from birds to bats, to dolphins, to monkeys, to acid, and then to unknown regions of the animal kingdom. It's cry can occasionally be disturbing. Please note - this is all the one single-bar pattern, tweaked in real time in the 13 dimensions available on this machine.
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