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Posted by peahix on March 15th, 2018

O.Y. IN HI-FI IS HERE! Well, the digital edition is, for folks who’ve subscribed to the Rob Crow Joyful Noise Artist In Residence series, anyway! Standalone digital and vinyl will be available for the masses in the coming months! But if you can’t wait, click on the album cover image to subscribe now!

O.Y. In Hi-Fi

Posted in Optiganally Yours | No Comments »


Posted by peahix on March 1st, 2018

The first track from the new Optiganally Yours album “O.Y. in Hi-Fi” has been released!

The album itself will be released this year on Joyful Noise Recordings. Here’s the official blurb:

Optiganally Yours started in the mid 90s when one of Rob’s housemates, Pea Hix, got obsessed with the Optigan. This was a chord organ made by Mattel in the early 70s that played back lo-if sound loops on LP-sized discs. Think of it as the 70s version of GarageBand. When Pea had the idea to start a band around these haunting sounds, Rob chimed in and said “I’ll be the singer, and the band will be called Optiganally Yours.” Two albums were released in the late 90s (“Spotlight on Optiganally Yours” and “Optiganally Yours Presents: Exclusively Talentmaker”), with work beginning on a third. This album was to be called “O.Y. In Hi-Fi” because Pea had acquired the original studio master tapes which held all of the sounds recorded for the Optigan discs, and was assembling the basic tracks from thousands of loops and samples from these tapes. These sounds were all hi-fi studio quality, in contrast to the grainy, lo-fi sound of the Optigan discs. For a variety of reasons, the project proceeded in fits and starts, never quite gaining the momentum it needed to get finished, despite the quality of the songs. Some of the songs made it into the live set, but most of the rest have remained unheard for many years. Periodically the songs have been updated and re-recorded, such that very little remains of the original recordings made all those years ago. Now, with the release of Rob’s box set on Joyful Noise, the timing seems perfect to finally bring this collection of songs into the light!

Posted in Archives, Optiganally Yours | 5 Comments »

New 2018 Optigan Disc – SAMBA! w/ Marimba on Keyboard

Posted by peahix on February 25th, 2018

Please click here to pre-order this title.

From the depths of the Optigan master tape archives comes this previously unreleased SAMBA jam, paired with a Marimba keyboard scale that similarly went unused back in the 70s. Though we have previously released the marimba sound for Orchestron, it’s making its first Optigan appearance on this disc. Oddly enough, the Samba session did not include any percussion specials, so rather than using the more generic latin percussion found elsewhere in the master tape archive, we hunted down some nice public domain samba percussion loops which pair nicely with the vintage tapes. So get onboard those jets to Brazil!!

Posted in Archives, New Optigan / Orchestron Discs | 1 Comment »

2018 Limited Time Offer – Buy Optigan/Orchestron Discs From Our Back Catalog!

Posted by peahix on February 25th, 2018

For a very limited one-month time period only, from now until March 25th 2018, we’re offering an opportunity to buy discs from our back-catalog (click this link to go to the web store). Normally we’re not able to keep these titles in stock, because historically the vendor that makes the raw discs has required a minimum order of 25 copies of any given title. Since our cost for these copies is quite high, and it’s an extremely niche market, we can’t afford to buy them in large quantities and remain thousands of dollars in the red while the orders slowly trickle in. BUT, over the course of a year we typically reach a point where there are enough total requests for discs across all the various titles that the vendor is willing to take an order without requiring the usual minimum number of copies for each title. This all has to happen in one fell swoop, so we’re limiting the time frame in which folks can place their orders. Once the deadline passes, we’ll order only as many copies as we have actual orders for. It will then take a month or two to get all those copies fabricated and sent out. Your patience is appreciated! Unfortunately, we cannot offer any sort of bulk discounts or other types of custom orders beyond what is offered in our store. In the past we’ve experimented with different bundle pricing schemes, etc, so the prices set for those bundles will remain in effect. All discs will ship with the printed jackets exactly as pictured on the product page for each item.

Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Shoptigan | 1 Comment »

Ross Garren & Andre LaFosse – CRANKY MACHINES

Posted by peahix on February 14th, 2018

Mellotrons and Optigans and Space Echoes, oh my!

A collision of nostalgic tones and deconstructionist sensibilities, Cranky Machines is a wobbly, glitchy, stuttering set of 13 originals inspired by funky throwback styles and charismatic antiquated musical technologies. Meticulous yet lighthearted, decadent yet minimalist, analog yet digital but also a bit optical—this sophomore album by pianist/harmonicist/producer Ross Garren and looping specialist/guitarist Andre LaFosse is an unapologetic and fashionably passé labor of love by two kindred idiosyncratic musical spirits.

Posted in Sightings | 1 Comment »

Five Optigans For Sale in Tennessee

Posted by peahix on February 10th, 2018

Our good friend and resident Optigrinch Brian Kehew writes:

If anyone is interested in becoming the queen or king of Optigans in Tennessee, I know where FIVE machines are sitting. Don’t come back to me when they ruin your life forever – it’s your choice to deal with the devil!

Just click on Brian’s name above to send him an email!!

Brian Kehew

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Laurie Anderson’s LANDFALL – Featuring Optigan!

Posted by peahix on February 8th, 2018

Several years back, we lent Robert’s Optigan Pro to Laurie Anderson, which she used in her piece with the Kronos Quartet called LANDFALL. The Optigan was in Laurie’s studio at the time of Hurricane Sandy. It managed to survive, because it was upstairs. Many of her other keyboards and archives were down in the basement, and were destroyed. The studio recording comes out next week, and you can hear it in its entirety at NPR.

Posted in Sightings | No Comments »

David Van Koevering, 1940-2018

Posted by peahix on January 31st, 2018

Sad to report the passing of David Van Koevering, notable to this site as the man behind Vako, who adopted the Optigan and transformed it into the Orchestron in an attempt to market the technology to professional musicians. Pea only talked to David a couple of times via telephone, years ago. He was a character, with a quick mind, always looking for the next new thing. We’re glad to be continuing a small part of his legacy with our reissues of the original Orchestron discs, as well as our brand new line of discs. Here is an obituary from his family:

David Van Koevering (1940-2018) has passed away January 30th near his home in Tennessee following heart issues. He was 77, and is survived by his loving wife Becky, daughter Debbie and son Joe and their families.

Born into a family of evangelical musical travelers, young David Van Koevering toured with his parents as “Little David,” earning a widespread reputation for his energetic and motivational preaching. He began an interest in electronics and soon after, constructed his own robot. This began a lifelong hobby collecting robots of all kinds – a collection now numbering in the hundreds. Following in the footsteps of his family, he was a skilled performer on 23 instruments, performing on bells, violin, keyboards, the musical saw, and various exotic instruments he would add to the family collection.

His charm and musical talents brought him a wonderful wife, Becky, who shared his passions and talent. Based out of the Gulf Coast of Florida, David toured relentlessly, coming home only on holidays. His performances and lectures educated and entertained thousands of school students and local groups.

As their two children Debbie and Joe grew, they joined the family shows – touring as “The Swiss Bell Ringers.” The Van Koevering events demonstrated the long history of musical instruments for each audience, culminating in more modern designs – originally an electronic Theremin. Soon after, he found his theremin’s maker, Robert Moog, who was also producing a very new instrument – the first commercial synthesizer.

Excited by the vast promise of this Moog synthesizer, David became THE proponent of the instrument, showing and selling synthesizers to numerous musicians in North America and Europe. His concept for the “Island of Electronicus” in Tierra Verde, Florida was created with Glen Bell (of Taco Bell fame.) Their Island was a performance space showing the public this powerful technology. David also appeared at the early Taco Bell restaurants, demonstrating the new Minimoog synthesizer to the clientele as they ate. These appearances gave many their first experience with a music synthesizer. VanKoevering traveled across the country, selling the Minimoog synthesizers one by one, and single-handedly creating the first sales surge for what became Moog’s most-famous product.

His success in the field brought him to work for the Moog company itself, helping them realize their instruments could be marketed to the general public. He spearheaded Moog’s sales techniques in the brand-new concept of “a commercial synthesizer” – an idea previously thought impossible.David’s methods proved otherwise and became the standard for the industry, creating a model for selling what was previously considered unsellable. He requested and co-created a simpler, more accessible synthesizer, the Moog Satellite, designed for the non-technical working player.

Next, working with EML Synthesizers of Connecticut, he brought their affordable designs to the stores and working musicians in the Florida territory. Not long after, he started his own company (VAKO) – inventing his own “Orchestron” keyboard, which was a favorite of major groups like Kraftwerk and Foreigner. Van Koevering’s Orchestron was accepted as the cutting-edge in sample-playback technology – a process that eventually found its way to NASA for space exploration missions.

Moog Music brought VanKoevering back to guide their marketing efforts when the company had developed a stronger national presence. David worked with local church groups to find a unique marketing outlet for a custom-named set of Moog instruments (the Sanctuary and Joyful Noise designs,) re-branded versions of Moog instruments designed and programmed to appeal to more traditional church markets. Japanese synthesizer giant Roland then utilized David’s knowledge of the working musicians’ needs when they developed his namesake line (the VK keyboard series) of professional synthesizers, organs, and string keyboards.

In the 1990s, David was among the first to realize the power of digital “workstation” systems for education and music in the home and schools. Working again with Bob Moog, they designed and marketed the innovative VanKoevering piano line, which was the first to combine a visual touch-screen interface and a traditional piano action. During this period he was honored at The Smithsonian during their “Piano 300″ exhibition, as the VanKoevering Piano model was considered the future of the piano. David pursued his interests in spiritual aspects and healing, exploring new technologies for Elsewhen, his non-profit project to combine scientific progress with scriptural concepts. His lectures on “Sound, Light, Matter” and “Quantum Healing” are available on YouTube, showing clearly the persuasive and enthusiastic persona that has charmed thousands of people internationally.

Most recently, David was honored with recognition for his efforts in the musical instrument industry. The Bob Moog Foundation dedicated their entire 2016 calendar to his story in photographs and anecdotes. The calendar, “Moog Is Now: The Moog Legacy Through the Lens of David Van Koevering” recognizes the decades of connection between the lives of Robert Moog and DavidVan Koevering. The EMEAPP (Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project) of Pennsylvania honored Van Koevering this year with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Throughout a long and active life, the perseverance and unique ideas of David VanKoevering changed the worlds of ministry and musical electronics.

Posted in Orchestron | No Comments »

PANOPTIGON Prototype – New 2018 Optigan / Orchestron Disc Player

Posted by peahix on January 23rd, 2018

This is a brief run-down of the main features of the PANOPTIGON, a prototype MIDI-controlled Optigan/Orchestron disc player (suitable for stage or studio) built by Robert Becker. Those attending Winter NAMM 2018 can see and play this unit for themselves at Quilter Labs – Booth 15120. Note that this unit is a PROTOTYPE / Proof-of-Concept unit, and does not necessarily reflect the design and/or feature set of any future production model. At this time, we cannot provide any estimates on pricing or availability- the unit is still in the R&D phase.

The Panoptigon will play vintage Optigan/Orchestron discs from 1970s as well as the new line of discs made by since 2008. Our new line of discs provide additional functionality, as they have strobe lines printed on them which allow for automatic tuning, transpose, pitch bend, and even mechanical vibrato. Vintage discs were never printed with such strobe lines, and thus are not compatible with these extended features, but will otherwise play nicely and sound better than ever. All the lo-fi you love, presented in the hi-fi you need!

The unit comes with an onboard DSP effects processor, which provides reverb as well as other basic effects such as flange.

Control is via MIDI- in this case, a basic MIDI controller keyboard.

The audio heard in this demo is direct from the unit, with no additional post-processing applied. The slight distortion you hear when the reverb is turned on is an artifact of Youtube’s horrible audio compression.

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Nice In-Depth Review of iOptigan

Posted by peahix on January 18th, 2018

Warren Burt has written a great review of our iOptigan app at Sound Bytes!

Posted in iOptigan | 2 Comments »