Ambient Music On An MC-303, Alessandro Canova’s ‘Counting the Eyes’

Berlin-based One Instrument is a label that, like their name suggests, puts out albums that are made with just one instrument.

It’s an unusual premise for a label, but their albums, as a result, tend to feature instruments being used in unusual and interesting ways.

Alessandro Canova’s Counting the Eyes is a great example. The album is entirely created using Roland MC-303, a late 90’s groovebox that Roland designed for ‘dance music producers and other groove enthusiasts with little or no musical training’.

While Roland positioned the MC-303 to capitalize on the use of devices like the 303 & 606 in dance music, Canova goes in a completely different direction, coaxing ambient sounds and minimalism out of the instrument.

Here’s what One Instrument has to say about the album:

Counting the Eyes aims to create a meditative dimension: a contemplation of the physical nature of sound, space and rhythm.

During his early experimentations, Canova worked with silence, sine waves and white noise as his only sound sources, developing a keen interest in a zen-like aesthetic.

Influenced by his study on philosophy and eastern religions he aims to create a meditative dimension, a contemplation of the physical nature of sound, space and rhythm.”

You can preview Counting the Eyes below, or via Bandcamp:


A1. Mirrored Body (Roland MC-303) – 3:18
A2. Field (Roland MC-303) – 5:18
A3. Divination Patterns (Roland MC-303) – 5:27
B1. Isolation (Roland MC-303) – 3:34
B2. Spiral Cross (Roland MC-303) – 4:29

10 thoughts on “Ambient Music On An MC-303, Alessandro Canova’s ‘Counting the Eyes’

      1. Got my beater 505 (it is badly beat up and rough…still works got it under $70) and it has the d beam….you should go for one.

  1. Many don’t know this but the early Fortdax classics (Tugboat, Static Caravan records) including the theme music to Charlie Brooker’s ‘Screenwipe’, were all made using the MC-303. Quite an underrated little machine.

    1. Dunno if you can call it underrated. It’s a sub-par box. A single volca sample has more power and better workflow. To each their own though.

      1. äh? That isn’t entirely true (about the volca sample)… the mc303 can’t sample, but it has more than 16 steps 😉 It also has adr as oppose to just ad envelopes. Similar to the volca you have swing, you can record e.g. the filter etc., you have effects.. Additionally to the volca sample you have an arpeggiator.. and not to forget that hillarious bass boost knob at the back.. Well, they are different. Both require you to think around corners, and the maker of this tape did a good job at that.

  2. Interesting that for an article/video that proves the idea that it’s not about offerings of the gear, but the creativity of the person who uses/problem-solves with it – people still argue about the gear.

  3. I liked the video, in part because Goose is right. If you have good ideas, modest gear won’t hold them back, especially now. Today’s “modest” gear was a 1980 wet dream. The base sound set always matters, sure, but what matters as much or more is having a good multi-effects box tacked on. If a synth has limited, crappy or no effects onboard, that brings out its best voice. That’s not strictly true at all times- a lot of modular work is BETTER dry- but a Minimoog through a simple delay puts on a lot of muscle fast.

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