Suzuki Omnichord

Omnichord PosterThis Month’s featured piece of gear is an electronic instrument introduced in 1981 by the Suzuki corporation which far surpasses it’s intended use. The Omnichord is basically an electric auto-harp with chord buttons that can play in every key using Maj, Min, Maj 7, Min 7, Augmented, and Diminished chords, but the result is something an acoustic autoharp can’t do without modification. To the right of the chord buttons is a ribbon strip (called a touch plate) which is strummed as you play it, and spans a three-octave range sounding the notes in the chord being held on the chord button. In addition, there is a rhythm section with adjustable volume and tempo control featuring popular beats like Rock 1 and 2, Tango, Blues, Latin, Country, Waltz, March, and Disco. This model is from 1984 and is labeled the “System 2 model OM-84,” which features a chord memory interface that allows the player to record a sequence of chord changes and then trigger them from a separate button. The model after this one (still in Omnichordproduction) is named the Suzuki Q chord and includes MIDI capability. It has a purple color scheme and also kind of has a guitar shape, which I find very weird. Although it was designed for people with little musical training, several musicians have latched onto this bizzare instrument’s idiosyncrasies. Notable users of the omnichord have been: Bjork, Devo, Daniel Lanois, and Brian Eno.

Preacher’s Fire – May Issue

Another great month of music to be heard in Portland. We recommend the following shows: Leveret is playing on 5/14 at Poland Street House and at the Allroads fest on 5/21, Snaex on 5/15, Tigerbomb with Kid Congo Powers 5/22, and finally An Anderson, Gary “Haru” Bangs, and Crystal Canyon are playing 5/27. This month’s cover art is by Zoe Maebe. If you have music events you want to submit to the June edition email before Friday May 27. 

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Featured Artist: Ghost Atlantic

Ghost Atlantic is no stranger to Acadia. In fact, you’re not going to hear them live…they are solely a studio-project group. This is the third full length album we’ve produced with the atmospheric post-rock duo, and with each project they’ve taken a different and innovative sonic approach. This current project is no exception: every time we think we’re about to finish the album, Peter Himmer and Trevor Smith return with a new ideas to integrate into their meticulously crafted tracks. Acadia has been their home-away-from-home over this past year, and by spacing out the recording schedule over 17 tracking sessions there has been plenty of time for the duo to experiment with their sounds. This is reflected in the album– there are a lot of new approaches to the orchestration featuring more diverse instrumentation, while still maintaining a relaxed feel.

Pete tracking drums

Typically our songs end up guitar-heavy with some keyboard, vibes, and synth parts. On the latest recording it was our goal to consciously write for keyboards and other melodic instruments. There is a lot more synth, piano, Wurlitzer, and Rhodes on this one. Having so many synths at our disposal in the studio has made it a very rewarding process of experimentation.

The album also benefits from collaborators: Dave Noyes stopped by the studio and added some great trombone parts, and Elliot Heeschen (Builder of the House) joined in on percussion. We ended up tracking Pete and Elliot playing on tandem kits together in the live room. Having the ability to highlight different elements from the paired drum parts created an exciting rhythmic bed on many of the songs, and really thickened the drum sound. During the mixing process we’ve also enjoyed having the ability to accentuate the interplay between unison and complimentary parts from the two kits.

I also used a much more diverse lineup of guitars on this album. Before these sessions I was never a big Strat fan. Although my first guitar was a black Fender model purchased about 16 years ago, it was quickly replaced with something with humbucker muscle. Using Todd’s Strat for improved guitar dynamics on several songs made me want to own one again, just for that perfect clean sound and melting vibrato.

We really think you’re going to enjoy listening this album. It has been a fun challenge to craft and synthesize all of Trevor and Pete’s new ideas, and to watch them embrace new recording methods, and integrate more lyrics and instruments into their songs. For now, take a listen to their last project, The Land Colored Red: