Almost inadvertently I've managed to acquire the ingredients for what might have been considered a decent, consumer-grade home recording setup in the late 80s/early 90s. "Almost inadvertently" for 2 reasons. 1. Inadvertently
in the sense that this wasn't the end-game. I didn't say to myself, "I want to have the home studio I might have had when I was 21(ish) if I had more foresight, money or discipline." 2. Almost
in that the last piece I bought (and the next, should it come to pass), the DDD-5, was specifically purchased to meet this criteria.
Back up here. First I bought the Fostex 4-Track Cassette a year or so ago. A dude locally was selling a working one, 50 bucks (I've since reconditioned it to the best of my ability, new belts). Seemed fun to play with; I was specifically thinking of recording beats to and from the MPC. Back in the 80s I'd mucked around with similar models but never owned one myself. Frankly, I was only marginally interested in recording. So I wanted to play with one.
I'd had the Sequential Circuits MultiTrak for maybe 5, 6 years, a trade for an Alesis desktop audio/midi interface. I bought the Realistic Moog a few years ago and, using the internet, restored it myself. The Casio SK-1 is one I picked up (mint w/ manual & case thank you very much, my nerd) for $15 at a yard sale. Not pictured Yamaha TZX8-1, which I believe meets the criteria.
All of this (save the SK-1 which I never really use and have designs to circuit bend at some point), I'd been using with the MPC1K (and my modern tabletop synths). But while trying to get my mind around the "workflow" of the Fostex, this notion occurred to me: that all I needed was a era-appropriate drum machine, and this could have been my home studio in an alternate timeline.
I took a quick pole on Twitter -- "So, if I was looking to buy a drum machine in the late-mid 80s, that would have been affordable at the time, I would look for a...?" i.e., not rare, not stupid expensive. I got a few suggestions. It was the ever-helpful C. Randall that mentioned the DDD-5. I saw there was one on eBay w/ a BuyItNow of $75, had some money in my PayPal, so why the fuck not? Like a 4-track, I'd only dabbled with drum machines during the era being discussed; always had a blast, but never had the wherewithal to own one.
So that's it. Now I am going to write an ep using nothing but this gear as the primary source.
Caveats for myself.
The purpose is not to fetishize the gear or stylistically ape the music of the era. I want to write songs, then use these tools to record and arrange them. They'll probably call to mind synth pop, goth, industrial, hip hop simply because of the pallet and my musical limitations. But I'm not setting out to make a synth pop (et al) song.
Likewise, I'm not getting all wound up about being completely, utterly faithful to the gear. i.e. doing some sort of low-rent Jack White-esque purity test. While I'm entertaining getting a MidiverbII, most of my peripherals are of recent vintage. The stereo compressor, the pre-amps, an analog delay pedal; for my purposes these are in the spirit of the endeavor. And that's the thing, it's more about the spirit than the specifics. So, ditto my Yamaha mixer. And frankly, I'll probably use my EH Digital Delay because, whatever, close enough. And, furthermore, my Casio digital piano, which is really stretching it but let me pretend I have access to a real piano. I'm undecided about guitar, bass.
This is an ongoing project, obviously with my limited time. I have some other things I want, need to work on. And I'll continue to see how I can use these things in other contexts. But this could be fun.