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WURLISCAPE represents the next evolution in the Optigan® disc concept we starting with Pianoscape and Vibrascape. This disc is not intended for playing “tunes,” rather it’s a sort of ambient arpeggiator of sorts (with the sounds of a familiar vintage electric piano on the keyboard), paired with a repository of previously unreleased drum and percussion loops from the original Optigan® master tapes spread over the chord buttons (well, except for a few of the chord buttons, which have bass patterns- but we’ll get to that later).
The keyboard features a series of simple two-note rhythmic patterns that, when combined, can create complex arpeggiated chords. All patterns comprise only “white” notes, which means that since the Optigan® keyboard stretches from F to F, everything is more or less in the F-Lydian mode (aka C Ionian mode). This ensures that most combinations of patterns will produce a harmonically consonant composite pattern, though the harmonic possibilities remain vast. The layout is thus:
- 1st octave: patterns in 5ths, all perfect except for B, which plays a dim 5th (B-F)
- 2nd octave: patterns in 4ths, all perfect except for F, which plays an aug 4th (F-B)
- 3rd octave: patterns in 3rds, F, G & C are maj, A, B, D, & E are min
Patterns are on the note 1/2 step lower than the key itself, ie the F# key plays an F pattern, G# a G pattern, etc.
- 1st octave: patterns in perfect octaves
- 2nd octave: patterns in 7ths, F & C are maj, G, A, & D are min
- 3rd octave: patterns in 6ths, F, G, C, & D are maj, A is min
Rhythmically, the patterns are arranged such that playing any three chromatically adjacent notes produces a complete composite rhythmic pattern in 8th notes. Other combinations of notes will produce less complex composite sub-patterns. It’s important to note that we don’t intend for the player to actually memorize this system of harmonic/rhythmic patterns- one should approach this disc experimentally, trying out different pattern combinations until you find something you like.
Most of the chord buttons have drum/percussion loops of various types, but the F, C, G, D, A, and E maj chord buttons have single-note bass patterns on those corresponding notes. This is to help fill out the low end of the harmonic spectrum. The decision to feature a variety of drum/percussion loops expands the versatility of this disc for those who simply wish to use the Optigan® as a lo-fi drum machine.
Audio arranged, produced, and mastered by Pea Hicks
Disc design and mastering by Robert Becker