Monday, December 30, 2019

Synth Jam with Wasp

I haven't done a lot of music making in 2019, but I did enjoy taking part in a Synth Jam earlier in the year as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival. The event at the Hill Station Cafe SE14 in April featured about 10 people with assorted bits of electronic kit playing around.

I took along my battered old wasp synth. It's just about still going but various knobs no longer work properly. It's had a bit of a battered life including being left on the floor in a 1990s squat basement in Brixton for people to play with during a Reclaim the Streets benefit (there's a report of this event at the end of this post). It can still make some great sounds, but I can no longer always control when they start and end!

Naturally a synth jam does encourage a certain level of synth geekiness, but I was surprized that the aspect of my Wasp that generated the most excitement was that I still have the original box!  Indeed, it has the serial number (003736) and date of purchase (25/6/81) hand written on it, and the iconic label (Wasp, Made in Oxford, England).

The Wasp was manufactured by Electronic Dream Plant from 1978 and was a an early attempt at developing an affordable synth, with a touch-sensitive keyboard but two mighty oscillators. I got mine second hand from a school friend in the early '80s. 

Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey etc) has written about the Wasp - he notes that gigging 'is probably the one thing they were never really built for and has got to be one of the quickest way of trashing one. Most clubs have very high humidity and this plays havoc with the keyboard sensitivity. The first signs of trouble are that no matter how much you adjust the keyboard sensitivity and no matter how much you keep fiddling with the controls the thing just keeps droning on and on'. Yup!

You can listen to the Synth Jam tracks on soundcloud:

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