The Magnetic Fields bass

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
Mooger5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 5:11 pm
Location: Lisbon

The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Mooger5 » Thu Oct 01, 2015 2:50 pm

The Jarre album. Does anyone know what instrument made that sound? It´s on parts 1a, 1c, 2 and 4.
It sounds a bit compressed, but I recall Jarre saying that he hated compressors. And also a bit EQ'd.
I think it has some unique tone and a quite agile attack. Notably at 14:33 and 29:08 onwards.



By this time Jarre had acquired a significant number of synthesizers, and they're all more or less known but this one I can't identify. Is it the ARP 2600, the RSF Kobol expander, or what?
Herrare umanum est.

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:13 am

I seem to recall he did a lot of stuff using the Oberheim OB-Xa on this album, including some sequencer stuff. There was also the RSF Kobol and the MDB Poly Sequencer.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5140
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Flangebeast Mk1, Plonkotron, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Band: Minim
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by madtheory » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:24 am

I always felt it was the Kobol, since that is one of its strengths. But I've never heard one, not even a demo. It doesn't really sound like a typical ARP tone.

User avatar
Synthprophet
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 338
Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2004 5:05 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Synthprophet » Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:05 am

The answer might be out there somewhere on the fanbase. Actually there are people spending hours replicating and analyzing the music of Jean Michel Jarre, testing and picking out the actual synths used. I did a quick search on the zoolook.nl forum, however I did not find anything on this particular part.
And btw. it was an OB-X he used for that album... the OB-Xa first appeared when he did the China concerts. Just a very small insignificant minor detail.
Clavia: /Nord Lead 2x/
Roland: /AX-Synth/D-50/SH-201/
Korg: /EMX-1/Microkorg/Monotron/MS-20 Mini

User avatar
Micke
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2327
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Micke » Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:53 am

From what I know the sequencing on Magnetic Fields and Concerts in China was done with the 8-channel MDB poly-sequencer controlling both the
RSF kobol expander racks and the ARP 2600.

I read in a French article about the Concerts in China that the various channels in the MDB were used for the following parts:

Channel 1 & 2: low/bass sequences --> mostly ARP 2600
Channel 3 & 4: medium sequences --> RSF kobol expander
channel 5 to8: effect sequences (Arpegios/white noise/percussion etc) --> RSF kobol expander.

The MDB additionally featured a built-in arpeggiator which could be used on every channel.

The OB-X was mostly used for pads and leads.
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

Mooger5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 5:11 pm
Location: Lisbon

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Mooger5 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:14 pm

Thanks for your replies. I had no idea the OB-Xa had appeared so early; Wikipedia says 1980, that's one year before Magnetic was released. And I thought the Concerts only featured the OB-X.

Anyways the bass does sound a little Oberheimish and the OB-X even has CV/Gate controls for voice 1. Both discrete VCOs, tuned one octave apart and one monovoice could be all that's needed! But what about the envelopes? Can they be that fast? And you'd think, given the OBies popularity, such bass would have been noticed more often, on a good number of records.

The ARP sounds overall brighter IMO and again it could have already appeared on Equinoxe at least.

So my vote goes to the Kobol. Fine machine.
Herrare umanum est.

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5140
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Flangebeast Mk1, Plonkotron, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Band: Minim
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by madtheory » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:25 pm

O cool, so it likely was the ARP2600 after all. Anyone have any info on the MDB polysequencer? I've never found much about it. Curious to know how it works, and what it looks like!

OB-X and Xa both have that very domineering quality of sound. Spot the presets he used on this album :)

Mooger5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 5:11 pm
Location: Lisbon

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Mooger5 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:49 pm

But that article Micke mentioned, wasn't it only about the Concerts?
The Kobol Expander features "continuously variable wave shaping/morphing". Looks like the waves are actually crossfaded, but I may be wrong. Anyway it could very well be the source of that bass tone.

On the MDB, it says here it could play 8 polyphonics tracks simultaneously, which was really advanced back then. And with 1:256 resolution.

http://aerozonejmj.free.fr/studio/popup ... encer.html
Herrare umanum est.

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:09 pm

madtheory wrote:O cool, so it likely was the ARP2600 after all. Anyone have any info on the MDB polysequencer? I've never found much about it. Curious to know how it works, and what it looks like! [...]
Here's a Picture of the main unit. Gotta love the Braemar micro-cassette drive

Image

Image

Here's the control section of the Stradivarius Keyboard Controller for the MDB Polysequencer:

Image

Looks fairly home-made to me.

I think this used to be Serge Leroy's unit, and I'm not sure but I think it is now owned by David Morley.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:19 pm

Mooger5 wrote: [...] And I thought the Concerts only featured the OB-X. [...]
He used the OB-Xa with an EH Echoflanger for the China Concerts. There are plenty of pictures showing him play the Oberheim, and the Xa Looks considerably different from the X when viewed from the side.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5140
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Flangebeast Mk1, Plonkotron, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Band: Minim
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by madtheory » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:48 pm

Why am I only seeing pure black in each of the images?

Is that David Morley, or David Leigh Morley?

Mooger5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 5:11 pm
Location: Lisbon

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Mooger5 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:20 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:
Mooger5 wrote: [...] And I thought the Concerts only featured the OB-X. [...]
He used the OB-Xa with an EH Echoflanger for the China Concerts. There are plenty of pictures showing him play the Oberheim, and the Xa Looks considerably different from the X when viewed from the side.

Stephen
Indeed. Thanks.
Herrare umanum est.

Mooger5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 5:11 pm
Location: Lisbon

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Mooger5 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:48 pm

Synthprophet wrote:The answer might be out there somewhere on the fanbase. Actually there are people spending hours replicating and analyzing the music of Jean Michel Jarre, testing and picking out the actual synths used. I did a quick search on the zoolook.nl forum, however I did not find anything on this particular part.
And btw. it was an OB-X he used for that album... the OB-Xa first appeared when he did the China concerts. Just a very small insignificant minor detail.
Thanks. I've heard some very faithful covers from Radek Tymecki and he probably knows the answer.
Herrare umanum est.

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:16 pm

madtheory wrote: [...] Is that David Morley, or David Leigh Morley?
It's David "Tilted / Kiss my ARP / Buchla Baby" Morley.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
Bitexion
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 4230
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:43 pm
Gear: Alesis Andromeda A6
Roland D-50
Creamware Minimax
Yamaha DX7s
Analogue Systems modular
Ensoniq SQ-80
Waldorf Blofeld
Location: Drammen, Norway

Re: The Magnetic Fields bass

Post by Bitexion » Sat Oct 03, 2015 4:22 pm

Mooger5 wrote:Thanks for your replies. I had no idea the OB-Xa had appeared so early; Wikipedia says 1980, that's one year before Magnetic was released. And I thought the Concerts only featured the OB-X.

Anyways the bass does sound a little Oberheimish and the OB-X even has CV/Gate controls for voice 1. Both discrete VCOs, tuned one octave apart and one monovoice could be all that's needed! But what about the envelopes? Can they be that fast? And you'd think, given the OBies popularity, such bass would have been noticed more often, on a good number of records.

The ARP sounds overall brighter IMO and again it could have already appeared on Equinoxe at least.

So my vote goes to the Kobol. Fine machine.
If you watch the documentary/live footage film that was shown on TV (it was never released as a DVD, but it's widely available online now), it shows his crew carrying and setting up OBXa on stage.
used mostly for strings pads yes.



I found it on youtube. It's a very nice insight in what gear he used in 1981. Also lots of live performances, intersected with really strange footage of chinese everyday life. You can see the famous wall of Synthis too. And Francis Rimbert playing basslines on what seems like a Moog modular system. Far from everything was sequenced.
I was surprised to see that the twangy bassline on Equinoxe 7 is played live on the modular by him.

Most of the tracks from the double live album are here. I believe it was shown on TV in both france and china to promote the album, and thus, Jarre doesn't own the rights to it so there's no DVD of it.
Last edited by Bitexion on Sat Oct 03, 2015 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post Reply