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Back in 1997, three student engineers at Chalmers University in Gothenburg decided to create a front end for the Commodore C64 sound chip for their own creative purposes. The SIDStation was the first instrument they made, it looked a bit like the alarm panel for an office building, but the sound it produced was legendary.
Interest in the SID Station grew exponentially via synth forums and word of mouth, with big-name keyboardists seeking out it's original sound and so Elektron was born. Next up was the ambitious MachineDrum - a multi-synthesis engined drumachine with a totally new way of sequencing using Parameter Locks. People went crazy for it and the company continued to grow.
The next project was also DSP based and frankly a little bonkers - The MonoMachine was a six track or voice synthesizer, a bit like a MachineDrum with a keyboard bolted on the end. Only 500 of these were ever made. Again using the concept of discrete machines and parameter lock based sequencing. It sounded great and helped cement the Elektron way.
As Elektron honed their design and manufacturing, the MKII MachineDrum and a module only version of the MonoMachine were released, with higher build quality, more memory and other enhancements. All of these were still built in Sweden, bucking the trend of sending manufacturing to the Far East.
Octatrack was next, possibly the deepest sampler and sequencing instrument ever made. Complex but incredibly versatile. This was the last DSP based instrument Elektron have made. Focus now turned to working with analog electronics and digital control - to take synthesis places it's hard to go with pure analog.
Analog Four and Analog Keys were next , both feature four, independent monophonic synth engines with the DSP used to drive the effects engine and control the analog aspects. They can both be played in poly mode too, for up to four voices on a single part. The sequencer with it's now famed Parameter Lock feature has six tracks, one for each voice, one for effects automation and one for the built-in CV Gate interface.
Whats next? Overbridge - USB audio and MIDI connectivity for the new Analog range means you will be able to integrate the instruments and audio streams into your DAW environment. This addresses the integration of the Elektron way into a more familiar workflow.
A new interface, bluetooth speakers and a neat looking portable mic/recorder
Nori Ubukota takes us through his instrument