Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's not just a Phase.

We were lucky enough to interview the author of Phase84, our native hack master, Louis, about this distortion synth. He shared his thoughts with us below. 

"I’m always intrigued by unorthodox forms of synthesis. I’m especially interested when they play to the strengths of digital sound synthesis rather than being an emulation of analog gear (which, of course, is also interesting but in a different way). But, in order to explain the origins of Phase84, we’ll have to flash back to the 80s."

"In the early 80s, Casio came up with a form of synthesis called Phase Distortion to compete with the popular Yamaha FM synths like the DX7 that were taking the music world by storm. These Yamaha FM synths were among the first affordable digital synthesizers and they had a sharp tone that was unusual at the time. But while Phase Distortion has its similarities with FM, it is noticeably warmer sounding and easier to program. The sound of Phase Distortion exists somewhere in the space between traditional analog subtractive synths like the Minimoog and Yamaha’s chilly plucky FM tones. Casio’s resulting CZ synth line found use on albums from a diverse list of artists from Moby to Jean-Michel Jarre to They Might Be Giants."

"I’ve always had a soft spot for these synths, first playing around with one at a demoparty in 1998 down in San Diego, California. They had their own sound and their own vibe, but they hadn’t been produced since the 80s. Eventually I began thinking: what would a modern Phase Distortion synth be like? Phase84 takes the basic Phase Distortion technique and supercharges it. The user can customize their waveforms much more than on the original Casio CZs. An organic semi-randomized unison mode helps it produce killer pads. The oscillators can be FM’d together for even more complex and rough tones, or phased using pulse-width modulation. Three ultra-flexible LFOs can go into the audio range or even be used like additional envelopes. And dare I mention the live performance features and the uniquely customizable gate for maximum funkitude?"

"Phase84 was a lot of fun to write. I’d almost say it was a dream project to bring my own riff on a classic design to the iPad, and I hope you enjoy it too."

Phase84 is on sale this weekend for only $2.99. We share Louis' same dream – that you'd reach max funkitude while you pursue creative expression.

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