Bob Moog gets a documentary. Yamaha gets the rumour mill buzzing. Arturia’s new bundle is packed with classics. Sunwaves sees another mad marathon.

Spectravox. Moog revealed a new limited-edition synth at last weekend’s Moogfest. The Spectravox, which is a Eurorack-ready vocoder and spectral modulator, was offered to holders of Moogfest’s $1,500 Engineer Pass, who were allowed to build the device at Moogfest. Moog say Spectravox was inspired by 1930s speech synthesis work by Homer Dudley, and that the analog instrument is designed around a 10-band spectral analysis and synthesis section with “new twists” that make it “a deep resource for exploring and creating unique electronic timbres.” No word yet on whether or not Spectravox will ever be available to the public, though previous Moogfest exclusives, like 2017’s DFAM, got a full release. See a review of the Spectravox from Loopop below.

Moog documentary. A documentary on the life and legacy of synth pioneer Bob Moog is on the way. Called Electronic Voyager, the documentary is directed by Robert Fantinatto, and features famed electronic musicians like Jean Michel Jarre, Gary Numan, and Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, while documenting the journey of Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Kassa, across America as she retraces “her father’s groundbreaking footsteps,” according to the press release. Also involved is Waveshaper Media, the production company responsible for the modular synth documentary I Dream Of Wire. A companion compilation featuring Moog recordings from the ’60s will be released in June, while the film is set to premiere in 2020. Find out more on the Electronic Voyager’s Indiegogo campaign.

Arturia goes classic. Arturia have announced the V Collection 7 bundle with 24 instruments from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. New soft synths include the early ’70s-era British EMS Synthi. Known for its abstract, wild sounds, Arturia has added syncable LFOs, effects and an in-built step sequencer for the EMS Synthi V. There’s also the classic ’60s-era Mellotron tape keyboard, which allowed bands like The Beatles, Genesis and Yes to perform orchestral sounds without hiring an orchestra, and the Mellotron V allows you to play your own samples through its tape-replay engine. Also added is Casio’s phase distortion CZ keyboard, which was used by Salt-N-Pepa and Vince Clarke when it launched in the mid-’80s, and is loved for its warm pads, natural-sounding percussion, and sci-fi effects. Arturia’s  V Collection 7 also features an update on Hammond’s legendary B-3 electronic organ, 800 brand-new presets, and Analog Lab 4. The bundle starts at €399, find out more here, and watch a Mellotron demo below. 

CS-80 comeback? Rumors are swirling that Yamaha might be bringing back its widely beloved CS-80 synth, after a moderator of the forum revealed that Yamaha is asking about the “basic conceptual direction if we were to make a new CS-80.” It’s hardly confirmation of a reboot, but the polyphonic analog synthesizer, released in 1976, was behind the soundtracks for Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, and Doctor Who, so fans have jumped at the rumors. Considering the price tag for an original, some running at a cool €20,000, we can’t blame them. 

Ghost Ship. The trial for 2016 Ghost Ship fire suspects Derick Almena and Max Harris has begun. The blaze killed 36 people, and both defendants face 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, standing accused of providing inadequate safety equipment, exits and signage. The men previously pled no contest and were sentenced in 2018 to nine and six years in prison, respectively. However a judge threw out the deal after victims’ families said it was too lenient. Almena and Harris face 36 years in prison each, if convicted on all counts

Streaming highs and lows. According to PRS for Music, UK artists received record amounts of royalties in 2018. But PRS boss Robert Ashcroft says that most of that money —  £746 million in 2018 — is only going to a select few. “The very successful people are doing extremely well,” Ashcroft told Radio 1 Newsbeat. “The challenge is, if you’re trying to make a living and you’re not a performer it’s getting more difficult.” Part of the 4% rise in royalties stems from streaming on Facebook and Instagram Stories, which PRS counted for the first time last year. In total, online streaming earned  UK artists £146m last year, up 20%. “If you’re in the middle or at the lower end of the earning spectrum it’s getting harder and harder,” Ashcroft continued. “In the old days if you sold a CD or a song on a CD you got money — now of course you actually have to have people actually listen to your song.” Read more on Newsbeat.

Birdsong buzz. A new song aimed at raising awareness about the loss of UK birds has hit the UK charts. Called “Let Nature Sing,” the song is composed entirely of birdsong, making it the first song of its kind to hit the UK Singles Chart in music history. Released by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the two-and-a-half minute song features 25 UK birds, including the blackbird, robin, spotted woodpecker and grasshopper warbler, and intends to spread awareness at the destruction of habitats that pollution and climate change are wreaking on wildlife. The UK has lost 44 million birds in the last 50 years. Watch the music video and buy the song below.

4th May, 2019

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