Moroder. Kraftwerk. Numan. Without Moog, chances are that none of these artists would have their place in the music hall of fame.
Half a century after Dr Robert Moog unleashed his first synthesiser on the world, Moog Music has announced plans to release a limited run of its three most sought-after large format, modular synthesisers: the System 55, the System 35 and the Model 15.
The trio were first manufactured by Moog in 1973 and were used by Giorgio Moroder on Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, Brian Eno, Yes and Stevie Wonder’s albums in the 1970s to name but a few.
The foundation for Moog’s decision was laid at Moogfest 2014, when the company released the Emerson Moog Modular System – a “faithful recreation of Keith Emerson’s legendary modular instrument”.
Moog Music said the re-issues were not about reliving the past: “Artists had only begun to grasp the vast possibilities of these large format modular synthesisers when they went out of production over 30 years ago … Today, the modular synthesiser is viewed in the manner Bob Moog originally intended: to ‘discover endless offbeat, unconventional, and even irrational ways of working’.”
They will not come cheap, however. The System 55 will cost a cool ,000 (£23,000) and only – you guessed it – 55 units will be hand-built to order using the original circuit board and art files.
‘Sonic depth and dimension’
“Each individual module is hand-stuffed and the components are hand-soldered to circuit boards using traditional wiring methods. Each module is then finished with a photo-etched aluminum panel, and placed in its new modular instrument,” the company says.
The System 35 will be even rarer, with only 35 units to be made, but slightly more affordable at a mere ,000 (£14,500). The five-oscillator instrument has 22 handcrafted analog modules and is housed in a solid walnut cabinet. The company promises it will deliver “all of the sonic depth and dimension found only in a vintage Moog modular synthesiser”.
If you pocket won’t quite stretch to either of those, then perhaps consider the comparatively pint-sized System 15 at ,000 (£6,600).
Moog describes it as an “ultra-powerful, compact studio synthesiser designed for live performance and portability” that “focuses on speed, creativity and simplicity while still providing the enormous sonic depth and dimension”.
To mark the re-issues, Moog brought together electronic music pioneers such as Suzanne Ciani, Malcolm Cecil, David Borden, Dick Hyman and Herb Deutsch alongside contemporary artists including Holy Ghost!, Gavin Russom and Jacques Greene.
Each artist played a patch live, in one take with no overdubs, on one or more of the new Moog Modular systems.
After a serious of disastrous changes in ownership, Moog left his own company in 1978 and then worked as a consultant on other electronic music innovations such as the Fairlight CMI.
He did not regain rights to the Moog Music name until 2002 when he returned to synths with the Voyager – a well-received update of the Minimoog. He died three years later at the age of 71.
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