Buchla & Singing

buchlaandsinging_coveronlyBuchla & Singing, by Reed & Caroline, is the second release on Vince Clarke’s new record label, Very Records.

Buchla & Singing is just that – vocals and nothing but a vintage synth. The album was created by New York electronic musician Reed Hays, using only a Buchla modular system, and vocalist Caroline Schutz.

For readers used to hearing Buchla synths used for more avant garde music, the album’s Buchla synth pop may come as a surprise. Hays is a nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity, using the Buchla to create classic analog electro and synth pop arpeggios.

“I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, which is where they put German rocket scientists after World War II to work on the space programme,” Hays explains. “When I was growing up there in the 1970s and 80s, there was nothing there but scientists and engineers. Space and science were just what I grew up with, so they’re natural things for me to write about. I like those early OMD songs that sounded like love songs but were actually about science. Our stuff is pretty obviously just about washing machines and electrons!”

Here’s Singularity, from Buchla & Singing:

[veo class=”veo-vimeo” string=”174108495″]

Here’s what Hays and Clarke have to say about Buchla synths:

Reed Hays on the Buchla

Most people pronounce it wrong. It’s pronounced Boo-cla. It’s a Dutch name.

Don Buchla was out in Berkeley, California in the sixties, designing synthesizers at the same time that Bob Moog was over on the East Coast, but they never spoke to one another. Buchla worked for NASA in the sixties and he developed technology for fuel sensors on rocket tanks. He put those on the synth he developed. They respond to how your fingers touch them. There’s no keyboard, just these touch pads. For me, being a string player, it’s something I can really relate to, but it’s a really difficult piece of kit to use. Nothing’s labelled like any other synthesizer. Making this album just with that synth was a real challenge.

Buchla came from a crazy background. Some of the first modules he designed were for Ken Kesey’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. Those were all red modules. The rumour was that if you licked the red module you’d get high. I have some of those original modules. Did I lick it? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

On this album, I set up a lot of arpeggios, dialling them up on little sliders and having them addressed randomly. I was letting the Buchla do the work for me in writing some of those arpeggios and chords. It really is like having another collaborator.

Even though I’d set myself the challenge of making the album on the Buchla, I wanted to cheat. I wanted to use a Moog for the bass, which is what you’re supposed to do, but actually in the end I got a great bass sound on the Buchla. ‘Washing Machine’ has a Sennheiser vocoder, but the vocoding on all the other songs is done on the Buchla, so in the end I didn’t cheat really.

Vince Clarke on the Buchla

I had one once but I sold it. It’s way too difficult to use.

Buchla & Singing will be released as a digital download and on CD from October 14 2016 on Very Records.

11 thoughts on “Buchla & Singing

  1. im sure that don wouldnt have been too thrilled that you made this, considering that he made his synths specifically to play non traditional music.
    also, your release is poorly timed, or perhaps in poor taste.

    and,oh, yeah; reed wrote the “oreilly factor” theme and other fox classic like “nfl on fox”…

    1. What defines “traditional music?” You assume Don wouldn’t have liked this. I guess you haven’t heard any of Alessandro Cortini’s music, who so many claim to champion the Buchla…
      Most of it has more than the slight synth pop edge you are so critical of here.

    2. I really don’t think Don was that elitist that he would actually complain about his customers using the circuitry he designed to make conventional music? I think we should continue unabated in using and releasing buchla music of kinds he never thought possible, not go on a “memorial” hiatus

    3. Putting words into the mouth of someone that’s just died is what’s in poor taste.

      If musicians had limited themselves to using gear as the designer expected, things like the Moog modular, the TB-303, the Alpha Juno and the MPC would never have been hits.

    4. Unless you claim to speak for the recently deceased, whatever bone you have to pick comes off as an opportunistic, resentful, personal attack. And certainly in poorer taste than a recording that I’m going to guess was made before last Friday when Buchla passed away. This press release came out 2+ weeks ago. Try not to live down to the reputation of typical internet trolls.

      (And don’t let’s even start about the ridiculous tsk-tsk about how instruments are intended to be used… on an electronic music website in the year 2016.)

  2. buchla and modular in general isnt about noise and bleeps only. electronic music wasnt “invented” to preferably be deep and underground and noisy or what not.
    it´s about soundcreation and making music. buchlas are perfect for performing and to be played like an instrument, which is what synthesizers are, nothing else. making studies and experiments is one side, making real music with it, the other. and both is fantastic and of course (and sometimes not) art.
    even if i dont like what i´m hearing, i totally respect it. i´m pretty sure, everyone who really knows his shit, does so. ciani made unbelievably supercheesy stuff, but she also made a coke bottle popping and pouring sound with just a modular synth, in a time with no computers and internet and blogs, where wisenheimers gather like no where else, especially not in real life. anyway, good work (even if its cheesy as fuck) and don b rip!

Leave a Reply