Friday, February 6, 2009

I Love My Space Echo!

As I was saying earlier I've been working on this music for a TV show that airs in Malaysia. The music required is really textural and ambient so I decided to use my space echo which hasn't seen a lot of use lately.

For those of you who don't know, the Roland Space Echo is a tape based echo unit made in the 70's. It works by having a tape loop continually running over a record head and then played back by several playback heads a little afterwards to recreate an echo. The echo time was determined by the speed of the tape as it ran over the heads.

I've had mine for about 9 years now and I just love it. As those of you who have worked with me know, I'm a real delay freak. It doesn't really work with the commercial stuff I do, but I always end up whipping it out when someone wants something kind of ambient or weird.

The real beauty of the unit (and the sound the digital emulations still can't get right) is when you turn up the intensity (feedback) knob. The way a space echo self oscillates is probably one of my favourite sounds ever. This baby sings! I love running pads through it while turning the speed knob up and down slightly to make the whole sound modulate a bit. I usually do this twice and pan the two while keeping the original signal through the middle. That's also a great sound on guitars to create a big washy sound. You can hear it being used like that all over Radiohead's "The Bend's".

It's also all over dub and old reggae recordings. The reggae and dub guys use to put it on the snare (or everything!) set to multiple echos and for a voice it would be set to a tight slap back. The Space Echo loves a Jamaican accent!

When you end up accumulating as much gear as I have, sometimes it's easy to forget some of your old favourites. I think I'll make a point of bringing out the space echo a bit more this year. After 30+ years since creation she deserves a bit of respect!

Here's a link to my gear page on my site if anyone is interested:

Morph Productions Gear List

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