In February, right after my first visit to Funkhaus Berlin, I got a message from the folks at GForce Software, a company in England, specialized in recreating vintage analog synthesizers and Mellotron sounds in software instruments.
They told me about a secret new product they were to release soon and we agreed that I would record a video for them. In the meantime it is officially released and I can say out loud that they recreated the Oberheim 8-Voice. One of my favorite synthesizers, which has been among the first attempts to create a polyphonic synthesizer back in the 1970s. Oberheim achieved that by the daring concept of combining several complete monophonic synthesizers – the previously developed Oberheim SEM – into a polyphonic instrument.
That of course meant, that if you wanted to program a new sound, you had to adjust and match 8 individual synthesizers, one for each voice. Kind of a nightmare, but the resulting sound was just divine.
As these gems are completely unobtainable today, some years ago I purchased a single SEM and to achieve the 8-voice sound, I often record several monophonic tracks with that one, combining them into chords and polyphonic lines.
For the video of the software recreation, I wrote a piece and played it with the plugin. Then I took the Midi, split it into 8 individual tracks (easier said than done) and ran that to my SEM, recording it 8 times through.
Why am I telling you all that? The piece I wrote for that video was called Nachtblau, people liked it a lot and I decided to take it on the album.
I wanted to keep the Oberheim version for a future project and also for the context of the Album, I was looking for a more intimate feel.
So I wanted to give it a try and record it on the little „Zwicki“ piano, Nils Frahm used for a lot of things lately. This is a very small pianette from the 1950s, produced in Denmark. Nils bought this one for cheap and fell in love with its sound (you can hear it on his tune „My Friend, the Forrest“). Now it is a collector’s item and prices are skyrocketing…
I loved the sound of the felt-prepared, brittle but very warm piano and found it very suitable for that particular piece. Like on Frahms tunes, it was recorded in a way that all the mechanical playing noises – usually rather undesired in piano recordings – are really exaggerated and contribute to the magic of the sound. In some parts of the piece you can even hear me breathing.
Louis Zwicki Pianette, owned by Nils Frahm