Com Truise is the alias of Seth Haley, a synthwave musician and self-styled synth nerd. His unique brand of synthwave has been alternately labelled mid-fi synthwave, slow-motion funk, and chillwave. His sound is complex and synth heavy, with a focussed production bringing together layers of woozy synths, sharp rhythms and huge, snappy drums. He has released three albums, with the most recent being 2017’s Iteration. Seth has an enviable collection of synths, too many to accurately list. In interviews, he has expressed an affinity for Oberheim and Prophet synths, and he has toured with a Juno-106, DSI Mopho and most recently the DSI OB-6.
Although Haley’s music appears complicated upon first listen, and while some of his music does rely on complex patterns, the sound design element is quite simple. He favours detuned patches with a filter envelope, and tends to run his sounds though chorus and rhythmic delay effects to create his signature sound. In this article I’ll focus on some of his core sounds and production tricks. Although Haley is obviously passionate about hardware synths, he’s no stranger to using software. I’ll use the Arturia range of synths and Soundtoys effects plugins throughout the article. Haley has mentioned using both, and at the end of the article I’ll try to compile the interviews where he talks about gear. Enjoy the walkthroughs, and make sure to download the free patches at the end of the article! Read More
Future Islands’ sound is built on layers of synthesizers, driving basslines and electronic drum beats. The Baltimore based synthpop band have released five full-length albums, traversing from the punk-like Wave Like Home, the lo-fi loops of In Evening Air, the super-polished Singles, and their latest album, 2017’s The Far Field. Throughout all their albums, the core sound has remained the same. Although they’ve been through several drummers, the combination of punchy basslines, lush synth layers and frontman Sam Herring’s vocal is instantly recognisable. Read More
LCD Soundsystem are an electronic dance-punk group hailing from New York, and their use of synthesizers is unique. Frontman James Murphy is the bands driving force, playing every instrument on their single Daft Punk Is Playing at My House, and the bands synth duties are handled by Murphy and longtime member Nancy Whang. The band have a huge list of gear, and the footnotes for the their 2017 album All American Dream listed a Yamaha CS60, Roland SH-101 and System 100m, an EMS Synthi AKS, Korg MS-20 and Trident, and the ARP Odyssey and Omni III as synths used on the album. Quite a collection! Frontman James Murphy has also scored two movies, Greenberg and While We’re Young, both for director Noah Baumbach, and these are worth checking out as they feature plenty of nostalgic synth sounds. Read More
Omni is a sampled Omnichord for Ableton Live, containing all the sounds of the classic Suzuki Omnichord and several sounds from the modern Q-Chord. The original Omnichord OM27 was released in 1981, and was loved for it's charming 8-bit sound and the ability to strum it like an auto-harp. Famous users include Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois, Gorillaz, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim James of Morning Jacket. Read More
Kate Bush has had an enormous impact on modern music, as a musician her adoption of the Yamaha CS-80 synth and CMI Fairlight sampler empowered her to be more creative. Bush released four albums before finally building her own studio in 1985, and subsequently released her fifth album, Hounds of Love. The album was an art-rock masterpiece with heavy synthpop overtones; it topped charts and is regarded as her finest album. On many of Kate Bush’s early albums, she used the Yamaha CS-80 as her main composition instrument. She seemed to favour it particularly for its touch-sensitivity, and it was one of the few synths that offered the feature at the time. Bush mainly relied on the synths presets, and utilising its touch-sensitivity allowed her to create more organic-sounding tracks, which worked for her as she would often layer the CS-80 with real acoustic instruments, such as cellos and the balalaika. The Fairlight CMI was released in 1979, and Kate Bush was an early user, utilising it on several tracks from her 1980 album Never Ever. The Fairlight soon replaced the CS-80 as her main instrument and ended up being used heavily on Hounds of Love, providing many of the album's signature sounds. Arturia has created software emulations of both the Yamaha CS-80 and the Fairlight CMI, and I’ll use these throughout the article. Read More
When you think of 80s music, some of the sounds that come to mind are sparkly electric pianos, metallic basses and cheesy orchestral elements. Many of these sounds came from one synthesizer: the Yamaha DX7. It was released in 1983, and was the first digital synthesizer to have an impact on popular music. Along with its eventual spiritual successors, the Roland D-50 and Korg M1, the DX7 marked a move away from warm analog sounds, to complex digital sounds. For a producer, the DX7 meant more sonic options in one box, and more versatility in a recording studio. Read More