Joshua Stevenson (Magneticring, Otic Sound, Cast Exotic Archives) & His EMS Synthi “A” Synthesizer

2010 Square Waves_Synthesizerbook.com

I met Joshua Stevenson of Magneticring & Otic Sound at Square Waves this past weekend. To be honest, it was his EMS rig which initially caught my eye from the entrance to the event. The EMS was all the way in the back by an exit, but somehow it just grabbed my attention. Never before had I seen one live and in the, dare I say it, flesh. Its transistors, matrix pins and surrounding EMS cast of relics of synthesizers past, just overtook me with childish intrigue. Vince Clarke often describes being in his own studio with all those dozens of synthesizers like being in a candy shop. It was like a one man candy shop over at the EMS booth! At least it was for the tunnel vision I was experiencing at that moment. I learned a few things from Josh about EMS (manufacturer) that no Youtube video really covers…Good stuff! We talked about things only a true EMS aficionado would dare seek out.

We talked a little bit about my polyphonic synthesizers and monos. In particular, we talked about the Sequential Circuits Pro One, which we both have and adore. We also talked about his EDP (Electronic Dream Plant) Wasp setup.

Among the many things Josh is involved with, Otic Sound is one of them. A studio located in Vancouver where he does recording, mastering and post production. He specializes in the capturing and treatments of sound. Here is a selected list of some of his synthesizers, EMS stuff and other electronic instruments (for more go here):

-Acetone Top-5 Combo Organ
-EDP WASP & SPIDER Mono Synthesizer
-EMS Synthi “A” Mono Synthesizer
-EMS Synthi “AKS” Mono Synthesizer
-EMS DK1 Cricklewood Keyboard
-EMS Pitch to CV Converter
-EMS Distance to CV Converter
-EMS Random Voltage Generator
-Moog Opus 3 Poly Synth
-Sequential Circuits Pro-One Mono Synthesizer
-Univox Maxikorg (Duophonic Analog Synth)
-Farfisa Syntorchestra (String & Mono Synthesizer)
-Simmons SDS 8 Analog Drum Synthesizer and Trigger Pads
-Drumfire 5 Channel Analog Drum Synthesizer

2010 Square Waves_Synthesizerbook.com

2010 Square Waves_Synthesizerbook.com

2010 Square Waves_Synthesizerbook.com

Josh is also involved with Cast Exotic Archives. This indepedent record label houses some of Josh’s projects like Magneticring, and B.C.V.C.O., of which Rick Smith is part of. Rick is a great musician and one of the rare few I trust with my Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizer. We hit it off a few years back when he repaired and restored my Korg MS20. We also talked a lot about Buchla, if I recall correctly.

Among the various acts at Cast Exotic is also a recording I purchased. Phillip Werren – Electronic Music (1968-1971) cat# XØØ3 – 2xCD – (Buchla, Moog) was recorded by an SFU (Simon Fraser University) professor between 1968-1971, mostly on campus. Using nothing more than a Buchla System 100 Series, Moog Modular System and vari-speed, this recording is a must for anyone interested in experimentation with synthesizers. Many of the recordings were inspired by Yeats’ obsession with the occult. That this was recorded back in 1968-1971 is mind blowing. I can’t say enough about this recording. Get your hands on this CD if you can. This recording would have easily found a home at Industrial Records had they found it in the 1970’s. Only 100 vinyl copies were originally released. It has been re-released by Cast Exotic.

From Cast Exotic Archives:

The Album was created for the most part at the height of the late 60’s at Simon Fraser University. “1968 was a year of great upheaval: at SFU, Canada’s Berkeley, 114 people were arrested for their part in the protest over the firing of the entire faculty of the Political Science and Anthropology department. Marcuse, Baba Ram Dass and others came to speak to us at peril to themselves; acid and mescaline abounded and apocalypse seemed to fairly shout out at us in the rarified atmosphere of Burnaby Mountain. The neo-fascist architecture of the university seemed to beg for anarchy and chaos and linear thought itself seemed doomed to extinction.”

I really look forward to learning more about the goings on of Joshua and his projects. For now, here are a couple of videos you might find interesting.

Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush) on Oud, Josh Stevenson (Magneticring) accompanying on EMS Synthi. Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, August 23, 2009.

Performing at the Fake Jazz Festival 2010. Picture by Dan Kibke from the Fake Sleep show at the Cobalt 2008.

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