June 13, 2007

Cult Of Gear!!!

by Chris Randall

Since there seems to be some interest in this topic, and seeing how it is contextual in light of the little dust-up in the previous posting, here's the Gear Cult Thread. Why do certain pieces of gear (e.g. Evolver, MachineDrum, MPC60, et al) elicit a slavish devotion from their users that far outweighs their actual usefulness? I have my own theories on this, but they're strictly objective, as I'm not effected by it in the least. I tend to obsess about things _before_ I have them, but I never have any problem turning over gear after the fact.


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Jun.13.2007 @ 4:55 PM
I think it really has more to do with the culture that is associated with the music style the instrument is used for (and also combined with the celebrity aspect to a great deal). The two pieces you mention are perfect examples. When you own a 303 (techno) or an MPC (hiphop) there is the illusion that you are serious about your genre. The thought is that you are committed to your craft and your chosen style, and as a symbol of such have gone to the effort of acquiring the icons and trappings of that genres production.

I think it really comes down to newer or more inexperienced producers trying to buy credibility or just emulating those that came before them until they have the chance to grow and come into their own.

That being said, they will pry my K5000 from my cold dead fingers.



Jun.13.2007 @ 7:28 PM
Indeed, my girlfriend works with autistic kids, and listening to her describe the Asbergers clients constantly reminds me of shit I read on various forms. Advocacy is one thing, aggressively slavish devotion is tiresome. As a former punk/indie snob I'll cop to at least understanding it, but like Adam says, some of it seems to have to do with age. After a certain age it's just sad: 20-somethings who insist on yelling down anyone who might have a differing opinion are mostly just green, and you can ignore or humor them. Trouble is, on the internet, where this flourishes, it's hard to know who you're dealing with.

I think PBX is on to something, that this gear (software, OS, whatever) becomes an attempted signifier for a level of proficiency the user doesn't feel secure about. And since people in the real world don't give a shit about most of this stuff, they flock to the internet to show off their expertise.

About gear, nah, never really had it. I've always gone with what was available for what I could afford. I'm way more interested in the results, and while I am always aware of ways I might get there faster, I work with what I have. I like hearing how other people work, and try to glean what I can, but I have zero interest in engaging in zealotry.


Jun.13.2007 @ 8:23 PM
Bought my 303 for about $70 US from a hock shop in '90 and sold it for roughly $900 US a couple of years ago...

Whilst i get the sentiment behind a lot of the criticism of the adulation- it is misplaced because actually overlooks how flexible the 303 is as an instrument...it would make more sense to rail against the cliched use of the 303..like most synths, it can be used in more interesting ways.

For me the authenticity of the Audiorealism Bassline VSTi was adequate, and the real thing is diabolical and tedious to program, despite it's wonderful sound...so i sold it for a tidy profit


Jun.14.2007 @ 1:18 PM
Adam Schabtach
I frequently feel compelled to point out to my SO that the only people that engage in zealous arguments in online forums are people with nothing better to do with their time than engage in zealous arguments in online forums.

PBX is definitely right about some people equating ownership with proficiency.



Jun.14.2007 @ 2:37 PM
The one gear cult that always disappoints me is that of the Minimoog. I have nothing against Minimoogs (although personally I think they are competent but uninteresting synthesizers). I can understand why people like them and, of course, much respect to Moog for being first and all that.

But what bothers me about the cult is that it is assumed that it is "the" synthesizer. For instance, did anyone think for even a minute that the Minimoog would be anything less than #1 in Sonicstate's recent top 20 synth list?

I find that lifeless and boring. It's like the Beatles cult and all those idiotic magazine lists for the top albums of all time, where for a while you always knew Sgt. Pepper's would be #1 without even having to read the magazine.


Jun.14.2007 @ 7:30 PM
It's all subjective. I like my desktop Evolver and don't mind the interface. But, I completely understand why some people wouldn't. I think there is some weight to the argument that it might depend on what gear you learned on. For many years all I had was an SH-101 and a DR-110. So synths that are laid out in the classic analog subtractive signal path appeal to me because even if everything isn't laid out I can see it in my head. And I see it as white on a red background because I had a red SH-101. I really like the Machinedrum because it works pretty much like the Dr-110. I wouldn't defend the MD as the ultimate though, no velocity, can't import or export SMFs, etc. But it's the best drum machine for ME. If Chris doesn't like his Evolver I don't assume "he just doesn't get it" I assume he does get it and just doesn't like it.

Jul.13.2007 @ 2:00 AM
When I was a kid, my sister had a cassette deck that had shiny silvery plastic casing and even shinier plastic knobs. When I see a TB-303 it reminds me of my merry childhood watching Nik Kershaw & A-HA vids in awe from VHS. And acid. But TB-303 also reminds me of my massive debt from buying all kinds of shit like the MD & MM.

However, unlike the TB-303, the Machinedrum is not a butthurt-expensive one trick horse, and instead of that sweet tape deck, it reminds me of DeLorean. PUSH THE BUTTON HARVEY! SEND ME BACK IN TIME!

I got the MD because I was frustrated with working on a computer. A bold move, given that in this field of arts I feel like the aforementioned stevie wonder taking pictures. But I'm a drum machine freak, and since I wanted hardware and Elektron gear retains most of it's value when sold, this was the only compromise I could afford.

Sure, the timing apparently is surprisingly shit (not that i'd notice), it's costly, the headache-red display is ocular rape, the 12-bit 2mb sample memory is a laugh especially considering the price, not to mention being limited to just 2sec samples. I've finished a single song since I got it, I'm trapped in a shitty job having to pay for all this crap, I hardly ever have the time to fiddle around with it and I have an attention span of a goldfish.

Now I have to deal with cables, jacks, adapters, analog i/o, apple being shit, people giving me crap about buying expensive shit, caring about where i put my empty beer cans, banana flies, resell value and constantly thinking where to put all this stuff.

So what's my excuse? I guess I just loved my Legos and never got that miniature railroad. It's too late to wipe when you've shit your pants, I'm in it for the fun so let me party like it's 1986 again.


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