Has Music Production Been Stuck in a Nostalgia Loop in 2016?
Fact Mag's Scott Wilson argues that 2016 has had an obsession with old music technology, but are we ignoring current production methods that could take us to the future?This article originally appeared on Fact Mag
From the vintage synth fetishism of the Stranger Things score to the reboot of Roland’s TB-303, music production in 2016 seemed obsessed with the past. But as Scott Wilson argues, actual innovation in music tech is better than it’s been for a long time.
With the confusion and heartache of 2016, retreating to the past made things feel a little less difficult. One of this year’s most enjoyable nostalgia trips was the Netflix series Stranger Things, and not just because it felt like an old Steven Spielberg movie: Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s exceptional score took the influence of ‘80s synth soundtracks and created something both familiar and alien, a John Hughes-meets-John Carpenter comfort blanket made with vintage analog synths such as the Roland SH-101, Korg Mono/Poly and ARP Odyssey.
These synths and many others from the ‘70s and ‘80s have long been coveted by producers for their real analog circuitry in the the belief they offer a warmth you don’t get with digital counterparts. But they’re expensive for second-hand buyers, and for the past several years companies such as Roland, Korg and Arturia have been slowly revisiting and repackaging the technology of the past, with software, hardware that uses digital emulation, and new analog synths that don’t break the bank. Any artist inspired by Dixon and Stein can make their own approximation of the Stranger Things score if they want, and without having to spend the huge amounts it would require to buy the real thing.