For 5 Magazine’s new column focusing on machines and the men and women who love them, we talk to The Analog Session’s Ludus Pinsky – “musician, producer, maker of synthesizers”. The synth-driven, largely improvisational “April” from The Analog Session (Pinsky’s collaboration with Alexander Robotnick) is out now, and our point of departure.
“Musician, producer, maker of synthesizers”. Which is your first love?
It’s just music. I born in a musical family and went to the conservatory. When I was about eight, my uncle – just 12 years older than me and a musician like me – got an EMS AKS synth that literally shocked me. I spent hours exploring unknown realities. In that period I was also amazed by Phaedra and Rubycon by Tangerine Dream.
Did you have any kind of training in electronics or engineering before you began to build and customize analog synthesizers? And what goes into “building” a synth? Do you focus mostly on cloning and repairing older units or making entirely new machines?
The only course in electronics I attended was a correspondence course (I was barely 14 at the time). But I couldn’t wait for the results so I left. Then I developed my way to learn – a friend of mine calls it the “anarchist methodology” – that consists in learning just what I need.
In recent times I’ve gotten enough experience to plan, modify, build and fix electronic instruments. Last year, I began with a friend of mine to sell eurorack modules (madroosterlab.com).
You’ve worked as an engineer and been a member of more “traditional” bands. This is different than simply setting up a bass rig or mic’ing up a drum kit. How long is the set up time for all of these machines when you’re preparing for a recording session? Does this make live gigging challenging?
Given that any live setup requires much energy and attention, our setup takes longer than usual because of the amount of connections, wires and so on required to make everything work properly. Moreover, most of our synths are physically very old; they’re very delicate. It’s always a kind of challenge to play, but the results we obtain make that worth it.
What is it about these analog, vintage synths that keeps drawing you back? Obviously you have experience creating music with digital tools as well. (I was thinking here of Alkemya’s “Boubanebass” – that sounds superbly clean and quite unlike anything from The Analog Sessions.)
Because the ’70s electronic sound is much more harmonically rich than the digital one. It sounds “real”, like an acoustic instrument, but one that brings you to a different world.
The digital synths of “Boubanebass” matched the acoustic samples we used. Digital was more suitable for ambient music and so on.
How many of The Analog Sessions’ APRIL recordings are improvised? If it hadn’t been captured on video, I would have found it hard to believe. People would perhaps expect it to sound very jazzy and like a “jam band”, but it’s really tight.
As shown in our videos, everything we physically play is improvised. Obviously there are written sequences running on the machines, but even this is also a kind of improvisation because we continuously modify the sound of the synths, “made on the fly”.
What machines were used in “You Need Self Control” from the previous Analog Session album?
In that track we used a Elektor Formant modular (1976) I restored and modified.
Same question, but relating to “Ascension” – I think it’s really the standout track on APRIL. It’s mesmerizing.
We used the full live setup: bass, seq, drums from the modular system. A modified Poly800, a modified SH101, Oberheim two voice (sem), Korg Mono/poly, EDP Wasp and TB303.