Korg revives classic ARP Odyssey synth

arp odyssey uk launchI attended Korg’s official UK launch of the highly-anticipated ARP Odyssey reissue in a Soho basement beneath a record shop. Matt Berry was on duty to introduce the BBC Radiophonic Workshop live performance and guests came from as far as the planet Skaro. Who says that life at GadgetyNews is boring?

Korg chose the cavernous underbelly of Phonica Records, in the heart of Soho, London to unveil new items of Korg electronic hardware and some rather nice bits of wood in the shape of Takamine guitars. These were all demoed by a variety of artists, climaxing with a performance and demonstration of the Odyssey by none-other than the legendary Radiophonic Workshop who have recently reformed.

The ARP Odyssey

The reemergence of the Radiophonic Workshop makes their presentation of the ARP Odyssey, which has also been reborn, even more fitting. The original American built Odysseys — of which there were three generations built between 1972 and 1981 — are renown amongst synth fans and have earned their place in electro history thanks to their ease of playability, portability and rich range of tonal variation. Something, apparently, the Brit synths at the time were sadly lacking.

ARP odyssey familyThe new ARP Odyssey, now made by Korg, faithfully recreates the sound of the original synths, and includes all three filter versions and oscillators including pulse width modulation, ring modulator, as well as the VCO sync function and control over the speed of the envelopes from each original revision.

It also adds a few extras that modern players have come to expect, including MIDI in, via 5-pin DIN and USB, as well as a headphone jack, and a new drive switch.

A bit of Radiophonic Workshop background

Radiophonic Workshop Korg ARP OdysseyThe BBC Radiophonic Workshop is famed for creating music and sound effects for TV and radio programmes, starting their journey back in 1958. Perhaps the most famous piece of their work is the iconic Doctor Who theme tune. Now, more than 15 years after the Workshop was decommissioned by the BBC, original members Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland and archivist Mark Ayres are working together again.

At the event they played choice tracks from Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Fourth Dimension, The Astronauts and many more which all built up to the amazing finish around the Dr Who theme. These guys make an awesome noise!

The group has a forthcoming album — Electricty — on the way and a live show spanning their extraordinary 55 year career.

In addition, DJ Erb N Dub put the Korg Kaoss DJ controller through its paces and UK electronic artist, DJ and producer Sharooz (Sunday Best, Ministry of Sound, Club Mod) showed off his skills and shone the spotlight on the new Korg MS20M analogue synth module, the SQ1 sequencer as well as the Electribe and Volca boxes. Nikki Murray played a showcase set in the Takamine acoustic area.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves – even the Dalek in attendance couldn’t resist throwing some shapes.
Dalek throwing shapes at Korg ARP Odyssey eventIt was even at the front for the Radiophonic Workshop’s set waving its plunger around.

Check out the ARP Synth website for more details.