Hot on the heels of Roland’s announcement of its new line up of Analogue-not-analogue fluorescent AIRA boxes comes yet another manufacturer seemingly determined to capitalise on the massive desire people have for proper analogue gear.
Akai’s new box, the Rhythm Wolf, promises to be a five voice drum machine with a single oscillator bass synth (with selectable saw tooth or square wave), a 32 step sequencer, 6 MPC pads, USB-MIDI, MIDI in and out, CV gate triggers for controlling older gear and snazzy mock wooden side panels (at least, going on the one image of it so far released.) The best part? it’ll be under £200. Yep, 200 notes for a pure analogue drum machine.
Despite Roland’s reluctance to properly revisit the X0X series which had such a profound impact on House and Techno, things are shaping up to be pretty good for those who want to go analogue. And there are a lot of people out there. Akai join Korg and Elektron and others in trying to capture a share of a market that is growing all the time. And for all the talk I’ve heard from some sources about how going analogue is a nostalgic dead-end and good only for dainty bearded hipsters to pose around, there is something undeniable fun about playing loud, scruffy music with boxes instead of software. Besides, I’m no purest, and I’m as happy mucking around with Ableton as the next talentless oik with delusions of ability, but surely giving people more affordable options to make music in whatever way they want has to be all for the good. Afterall, if we stuck to high-end gear punk rock would never have happened and we would have suffered 40 years of Prog Rock instead, and that, my friends, would be a fate worse than death. Or being stuck in a traffic jam with only one of those ‘Jeremy Clarkson’s 100 Greatest Driving Anthems’ CDs that bank managers buy in petrol stations for company.
Of course, I’ve no idea what it sounds like. The jury is still out on whether Korgs teeny-weeny Volca series are serious bits of kit or cute little toys, and it’s possible the thing might be awful. But for the money, I reckon a lot of people are going to take the risk and find out for themselves. I might even try one myself.
But guys, the Rhythm Wolf? Seriously? Come one. If we’re going to rob animal names, can I suggest the Tsetse Fly: after all, it’s tiny, it’s fast and it gets right under the skin.
Yeah, maybe not.