Steadily growing a reputation in the softsynth (software based synthesiser) world is Absynth by Native Instruments, now available for mac and PC. Famous for his other-worldy compositions and claiming to be from outer space, Sun Ra was the greatest jazz cosmonaut from 60’s & 70’s afro-psychedelia. Today, it’s ok to love them both.
Absynth has a crazy array of sound-sculpting possibilities, offering easy intuitive control to synthesise sounds, or tweak and customise the extensive presets to get a synth sound you can’t help grinning at.
Sun Ra performed with The Arkestra, and his music was typified by counter melodies, off-key horn barrages, polyrhythms, titanic organ and synthesizer solos, dissonant note clusters, and a giant cosmic tongue in his cheek.
Absynth can be used as a stand alone app, or as a VST plug-in, allowing it to be used inside an app such as Cubase. Absynth has a huge range of presets, delivering you diverse and very customisable textured or rhythmic sounds to use with a synthesiser. Some of these presets are even named after the artists they’re inspired by, such atom heart, mouse on mars, or autechre, but of course the software’s greater merits is in it’s capacity to radically tweak these presets or to create your own.
Sun Ra fused a very strange melding of jazz, Egyptology, primitive electronics, numerology, color theory, intergalactic fascination, and anagrammatic obsession. He recorded around 200 albums and distributed them at gigs and a few choice record stores. They were usually packaged in white sleeves with wild homemade cover art.
Abysnth’s graphical waveform and spectrum editors allow for fantastic real-time and varied control of sound, as well as oscillators, filters, ring modulators, Fm synthesis, an envelope function generator for tempo-based rhythms and nearly every parameter can be modulated by MIDI controllers, aftertouch, velocuty and note number.
Sun Ra and his Arkestra staged incredible live concerts with a strong visual presence that was equal part ancient Egypt and NASA. He staged at least three 100 piece concerts, including a memorable one at the pyramids in Egypt. Said Sun Ra “There’s five billion people on this planet, all out of tune. I’ve got to raise their consciousness.”
Absynth: Mac – PowerPC 300 / 64 MB RAM as stand-alone application / 128 MB RAM if used with other programs / MacOS 8.6 or higher. Has just been released for PC but couldn’t find system requirements online for PC. Native-Instruments like email tho.
Sun Ra, 1956: “In tomorrow’s world, men will not need artificial instruments such as jets and space ships. In the world of tomorrow, the new man will ‘think’ the place he wants to go, then his mind will take him there.”
Absynth: Awesome presets/ very intuitive controls, esp the graphic editors / great performance / great quality of sound and real-time manipulation.
Sun Ra: Leaving a great vinyl legacy, Sun Ra died in 1993. When he was admitted to hospital, he listed his address as “Saturn.”