“I suspect Zomby’s more recent stuff is using similar techniques, even if he’s using a controller to manipulate samples (as opposed to a Soft Synth) from within a PC. It’s the new face of electronic music and a weird flashback to how the control surface of the TB-303 was an escape route from the struggle of programming FM synthesis for DJ Pierre et al.”
Errr… I cannot recall a time when soft synths have not been controlled by external boxes, nor when this didn’t have a transformative effect on music-making. Not necessarily a GOOD effect, but a transformative one. Matt may not have been into music making long enough (his recent releases are great BTW!) to remember things like the Fat Boy controller, which mapped to rebirth and indeed all kinds of other things. Or indeed the original novation bass synth, which i have somewhere and whose knobs were often used to control soft synths. I don’t think it’s that big a deal – I don’t dispute any of his empirical evidence, FlyLo etc, but I think a lot of people have been doing that stuff for a long time.
But Matt is quite right to point to workflow as a driver of innovation. I think something like ableton and its open-ended triggering, re-sampling, synthesising and tweaking is also transformative. And what does that approach remind us of? Well, probably Orbital’s use of multiple Alesis hardware sequencers that they used to cut up the sequences driving their synths, live…