Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

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Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby D-Collector » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:37 am

Rob from FailedMuso posted something really interesting recently, it seems a user on the Yahoo Fairlight group, DavidFairlight, has come into possession of the original disks with samples and sequences that Pet Shop Boys used on their 2 Fairlights running in sync on the Old Grey Whistle Test. Not only that, he has been nice enough to share with the world these nice videos of said sequences! It's interesting to note how simple these tracks and sounds really are in their raw unprocessed form, but yet so damn good when each channel has been through a mixer, eq, compressors, fx, etc.

For all the information check out the FailedMuso blog: http://www.failedmuso.com/blog/?p=1628
Here are the two YouTube videos from DavidFairlight:

Watch on youtube.com

Watch on youtube.com


The broadcasted final version:

Watch on youtube.com
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby nathanscribe » Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:46 am

Interesting. Thanks for that!
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby balma » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:28 pm

I felt something electric running through my spine after watching the first two sequences, and then watching the performance
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby bochelli » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:14 pm

A blast from the past and all good, ive got a Cmi 2x in storage ive had 5yrs now, perhaps oe day the old timer might get fixed.
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby madtheory » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:39 pm

Norm Leete in Bath is the man for the job. Well worth doing IMO.

I've said this elsewhere, but that is some clever programming there. Very musical, pushing and transcending the (now) stone age technology.
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby bochelli » Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:09 pm

Norm Leete, ve never heard of the chap, i contacted a guy in Vienna a few years ago Alex, he sold me some unused 8 inch floppys and put on 1 disc a boot program and some sounds .
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby nathanscribe » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:00 am

madtheory wrote:that is some clever programming there. Very musical, pushing and transcending the (now) stone age technology.


I think that's partly the key to a lot of electronic music - the strengths and limitations of the technology and the way it leads people to interact with it. I can imagine a massive gap where 80s electro should have been if we'd never had drum machines and early samplers... back then it felt like the future, which in a way it was - but you're right, looking back it's mad how basic it all is.
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby madtheory » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:47 am

bochelli wrote:Norm Leete, ve never heard of the chap, i contacted a guy in Vienna a few years ago Alex, he sold me some unused 8 inch floppys and put on 1 disc a boot program and some sounds .

Alex is great. But the shipping would be a killer for the CMI. Surprised you haven't heard of Mr. Leete, he posts on the Yahoo Fairlight group occasionally. Here's his story:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr99/a ... rlight.htm
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby astroidmist » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:40 pm

Wow that was cool. I used to have that album. The album version is more refined than that live performance, but it's all good. That was one of my favorite tunes as a kid.

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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby JMP » Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:39 pm

Cool as, cheers for the links. Nice to hear the EII Marcato Strings on top too in the OGWT video.
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby HideawayStudio » Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:26 pm

As an aside that may be of interest to fans - another PSB fave was indeed the Emulator II - a sampler that simply doesn't get enough credit as a true classic! Yes the sample libraries were great but the instrument itself was ground breaking as a sampler with superb synthesis capabilities.

A while back I had a go sampling the sampler rather than simply digitally transferring chucks of ancient libraries held on now crazy looking 5.25" floppies - why? - because the EII's signal path works all sorts of magic into the final result thanks to the bizarre way it works. Firstly the EII boasted SSM filters for true analog goodness and this is something no direct digital transfer will ever emulate faithfully. Because the EII had so little memory users strongly relied on it's synthesis capabalities to get the best out of tiny samples. Quite unlike samples from say an S1000 it is not right and proper to simply transfer the raw sample data as so much is lost in the process.

But that's not all... it also made use of companded audio processing and featured an unusual discrete successive approximation convertor utilising a discrete comparator and one of the playback channels as a ramp generator - net result raw gritty samples are mangled into characterful sounds covered in a layer of thick chocolate.

One of the EII sounds the PSB used a lot were the infamous Marcato Strings - instantly recognisable on their early hits. I've spent an afternoon capturing the infamous "Marcato Strings" directly from my Emulator II's mix output. These are some of the most famous sampled orchestral strings of all time, they have been used on countless pop and dance tracks over the decades by hundreds of artists.

These were topped and tailed and then looped with some added velocity response in the form of subtle volume, attack and LPF just to make it a tad more dynamic.

The lumps in the samples are from the loops in original programs and so this is pretty darn close to having the real thing (all 50lbs+ of it!) in front of you!

EII Marcato Strings Direct from the EII's Mix Output in Kontakt 3.5 (or above):
http://www.sendspace.com/file/vjat6y
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby madtheory » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:19 pm

HideawayStudio wrote:because the EII's signal path works all sorts of magic into the final result thanks to the bizarre way it works.

I agree with you about how groundbreaking the EII was, and also about how good the UI is. I disagree that it is under rated- I think it is appreciated for what it was, but it is now outmoded. I don't agree about the signal path though. I personally prefer the sound of the converted library inside Kontakt, as opposed to the analogue outputs of an EII.

But instead of arguing about opinions, it would be more fun if people voted on which they prefer. I've created a comparison test here:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=63014
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby HideawayStudio » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:56 pm

madtheory wrote:
HideawayStudio wrote:because the EII's signal path works all sorts of magic into the final result thanks to the bizarre way it works.

I agree with you about how groundbreaking the EII was, and also about how good the UI is. I disagree that it is under rated- I think it is appreciated for what it was, but it is now outmoded. I don't agree about the signal path though. I personally prefer the sound of the converted library inside Kontakt, as opposed to the analogue outputs of an EII.

But instead of arguing about opinions, it would be more fun if people voted on which they prefer. I've created a comparison test here:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=63014


Frankly, the fact that the same samples played back on a modern, massively over/up sampled playback system, compares so well with the original early 80's playback path is a minor -miracle- and should really be read as some seriously clever engineering by E-mu -COME ON GUYS- for once have some thought about what is actually happening here and the generations of design we're lightly skipping over here to make this comparison!

It seriously pisses me off how so much engineering is taken for granted these days - as an electronic design engineer - this is a subject very dear to my own heart!!
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby madtheory » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:33 am

Let's keep this discussion to the one thread, ya? It's easier that way. :)
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Re: Pet Shop Boys Fairlight sequences uncovered!

Postby minime123 » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:55 pm

wheres the "like" button?! good stuff, thanks for sharing!
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