I was about 13 or so when i got my beloved Atari ST. I thought it was my ticket to a home studio and to an extent, based on all the home studios emerging at the time, all centred around something marvellous and powerful like the Korg M1 and stamped your ticket to a league of pioneers. I was a child pioneer, or at least knee deep in 80’s dreams and perhaps born 10 years too late to really cash into that deal. No top of the pops for me…
But it was those simpler and crazier times that pioneers were actually born.
Rules were broken not out of some never touched upon wisdom, but limitations.Always with the limitations.
With an 4 or 8 track in hand, coupled with the might of a computer with the processing power that in todays terms wouldn’t organise CMOS and bios on a pc,was all i needed, any of us needed, to “pioneer” and break walls down. Actually 13 years old, so we were breaking down barriers a year before the Berlin wall fell, co incidence?? you decide.
Yeah ok, again it was all limitations and huge expense.When you bought outboard, it was something to add polish usually. A finalizer or some buss tool to add turd polish.I would borrow a good friends (still friends btw), sampler, borrow a Prophet V, borrow a bass or two, go into a lot of debt to grab the new upcoming whatever synth or workstation, because this was most def going to propel me into some fabrication of a pop career be it in some gloomy synth duo, or Trevor Horn waking up one day just determined to hire me.You know, he does that every single day? It was 80’s dreaming. Saving your synth sounds in your custom preset banks, learning new tricks to dodge that limit, do something stupid and sonically overly ambitious cos you hadnt heard it before, or you were so bored you’d invent new wheels just in case the wheel needed re inventing or maybe remixed?
The sacred, mythical little old Atari was my calculator powered dream factory.I could layer and create, dream up things in a multi timbral setup!! Imagine the power of 16 available voices scattered across 8 midi tracks, one of which a Roland dedicated drum channel, (always 10), and forge an audio insult to anyones ears that dared to walk into my bed room.*(bravery not included)
I still do love computers. I have a lot of wonder and awe and probably more so because this shite fest little old gray yellow aged Atari was my catalyst. The irony in todays terms, the Atari was the world master at timing. Midi timing into Cubase was just so so solid, i dont think anything has touched it since. NO ONE KNOWS WHY.
Scientists have written papers and large journals working it out, still not any factual science-ing to establish the fisty might of an Atari clocking power. True story.Computers nowdays, eh grandad, nowdays, can do a huge amount of tasks all at once and just smirk back and beg for more.
Well until they break.
They instantly become big large expensive reminders about a feast of realities past and present. Like, your computer is just that damn egg basket brimming with yolks and feathers. You intrust it, trust it. wine and dine it when it updates just giving a knowing wink, dont crash or play shit today you bastard, just switch on and make me look good.
Its the complete opposite of all functioning computers from the 1950’s set of Forbidden planets star ship, or that computer we all say is so crap our pocket watch can out bitch slap it in a fight but still got a bunch of Mercans to the Moon and back…..or maybe it didnt and just kept REALLY good time?
When your computer legs are cut off, you forget how sufficient and brilliant you can be.The musician you once were. Some fool who’d pick up anything and within an hour, claim to be quite good at it flushing the accolades of millions down the U bend each time.
Computers now have all the answers, no really, all of them.You can do just anything except make good music.Its still you doing that bit, even if the loops are there, the Ozone presets making the mixes all glammed up and shiny, and too loud.
When you switch off and just fumble, thats still your call, not the computer.
It just bears witness to all the things you will it to listen, like your alibi, your accuser, your victim all rolled into one.
Sounds pour from its drives, power exceeds my 13 year old dreams,im left with no excuses because i no longer have a single limitation. Just limitless free willed music.
And then it stops.
So when it breaks, when it stops, what have you got? Is their still a beating heart musician in you, or creative manipulator? I had some unexpected downtime which equalled a lot of time, expense and frantic name calling. Some soul searching came a bit later.I picked up the bass more, i had ideas again, i had the need to be able.
Its limitation on a scale thats just terrifying to someone who is used to flicking a switch and 5 mins later getting an idea down, a cue down, I played some synths unplugged from the ‘boss’. I needed no permission. I had hideous downtime after all.
If i deemed a Rick Wakeman solo the requisite medicine for my tech ails, that was one very full cup of widdly diddly downed right there.
And it tasted magnificent.
At the expense of sounding like a dog collar adorns my tatty t shirt get up and im one click away from being a V logger bore, have a shot at turning all your shit off.
At least the bit you know you rely on too much.If you can play something, then play something. Another instrument, write down ideas, dream, listen to music, actually just take a damn hike.Dont have a teenage sized melt down i did at first followed by head in hands and palpitations.
Get right to the bit i enjoyed when it was very nearly too late to enjoy it.