Aphex Twin has unveiled a new track made exclusively from Korg gear. The new track was released and shared in connection with an interview with the former Korg engineer Tatsuya Takahashi. Together Aphex Twin and Takahashi had previously worked on the Korg Monologue synth to make it the only synth on the market to have full microtuning editing.
The new song is simply labelled ‘korg funk 5’ as a result of his collaboration on the Monologue instrument, which has seen him contribute presets to the instrument.
The track features vocals from Richard D. James’ son and was shared online today alongside a lengthy interview between James and Tatsuya Takahashi which you can read below.In the interview, the pair extensively discuss 440hz signals, tuning SH101s, the standardisation of creativity and the perfect cigarette. Of course they also touch upon their collaboration and micro-tuning.
The Monologue is a trimmed-down, single-voice version of the Minilogue, itself not exactly huge. The filter and envelope implementation has been simplified, the delay is gone and the keyboard reduced to a mere two octaves. Despite the trimming process, there’s a surprisingly gutsy synthesizer left; it consists of dual VCOs and a sequencer with a few tricks that could inspire envy in Minilogue owners. The 100 memories contain both patch and sequencer data and if you enjoy a touch of the exotic with your monosynth, you’ll be pleased to learn that micro-tuning is incorporated.
Hosted at the Warp website, the interview with Korg Volca creator Takahashi covers the Monologue synth’s microtuning feature as well as general discussion on Richard D. James’ interest in alternative tunings and vintage gear.
RICHARD D. JAMES: I really enjoyed working on this with you. I know I only joined the project near the end, but I found it really exciting. Like a proper job, ha.
TATSUYA TAKAHASHI: Richard, it was amazing working with you on the monologue. And now to be interviewed by you?!? That’s crazy. But also a lot of fun. The monologue was also the last Korg synth that I was involved with directly, so I guess it’s a nice conclusion to things.
RDJ: It is now the only synth on the market currently being made to have full microtuning editing, congratulations!
TT: Thanks! But it was completely because of you that we included microtuning. If you hadn’t insisted on it, I definitely wouldn’t have discovered how powerful it was. Did you ever have a moment of realisation, or some kind of trigger that made you discover microtuning?
RDJ: The first thoughts that I had about tuning in general happened with my early noodlings on a Yamaha DX100, one of the first synths I saved up for. I remember looking at the master tuning of 440 Hz and thinking I would change it, for no other reason apart from it was set by default to that frequency and that it could be changed.
I just used to select a single note, adjust the master tuning of it to taste and then base the whole track around that, something I’ve done ever since, just intuition and maybe a bit of rebelliousness. It’s very simple, but do you want your music to be based on an international standard or on what you think sounds right to you?
I’ve since gone on to learn more about this damn 440 Hz. It was a standard introduced in 1939 by western governments, so I’m very glad I trusted my instincts. Listening to that other voice is THE most important thing in creativity, whether you’re an engineer or a musician. Tesla had some important advice on listening to the thoughts from the other. One of the most important inventors ever, but we’re not taught about him in British schools. Funny that.
TT: I don’t know why it’s thin on the curriculum, but the Tesla coil is definitely amazing. If you modulate the high frequency with audio signals you can play music with plasma – that’s super cool. I will read up on him though, cos I don’t know much about his life and thinking.
RDJ: An interesting “note”: I’ve just been reading a book on electronic instruments published in the 1940’s and it says that 440 Hz was transmitted over the radio on different frequencies 24 hours a day and others between midnight and 2 in the afternoon, ha, so you could tune your instruments and be well behaved or calibrate your lab equipment to it.
Interesting to note last month, Richard D James made his return to the stage with sets at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and London’s Field Day. These performances were primarily DJ sets – with tracks from artists like Kamixlo and Lorenzo Senni alongside his own productions – but he also brought along his Eurorack modular synth.
While this is the synth James used at Field Day, he also confirmed in one of his SoundCloud comments that he’s got a lot of other Euroack setups at home. “I’ve used two other completely different ones but this is the one I’ve got with me on the road right now.”