Monday, November 26, 2012

ARP Omni 2 (text in english)

Located in Lexington (Massachusetts USA), the ARP Instruments, Inc. - named with the initials of the name of its founder, the electronic engineer Allan Robert Pearlman, in 1969 - entered the '70s as a very famous company in the synthesizers market. Several artists used to use their equipment and a large number of musicians and studios owned their instruments, mainly for reasons of cost/benefit (although still very expensive, the ARP instruments were considerably cheaper than the equipment manufactured by Moog, for instance). The company also endorsed several artists very well known by the general public, as Pete Townshend and Stevie Wonder (among many others), as a way to promote the company's name. This strategy made the company's name to become very famous, mainly for their instruments appearing in the credits of several hit albums at the time.

In 1974, ARP brought to market their most popular equipment: ARP String Ensemble or ARP Solina, as it is also known. I say that this device may have been their most popular because almost any dance band owned a keyboard of this model to emulate the sounds of a strings orchestra. After that, the company was always increasing the ARP String Ensemble and creating new versions and new models (ARP only stopped manufacturing it in 1981). Some of these new models - that used basically the same principles of the string ensemble with some additions - were the ARP Omni, ARP Omni 2 and ARP Quadra, all with polyphonic and bass synthesizers added to systems.

The Omni model emerged in late 1976 and was manufactured until the summer of 1978, when it was replaced by ARP Omni 2 (manufactured until the summer of 1981 - the year that the ARP was sold to CBS, due to pay the debts acquired in more than ten years of existence mismanaged).

The ARP Omni 2 (the model I own) has a 49-note keyboard - 4 octaves, from C to C - with full polyphony and is divided in three sessions: a string ensemble with 4 preset sounds ("bass", "cello" "viola" and "violin", with sliders to control ATTACK and RELEASE and a slider to control the LFO rate), a polyphonic synthesizer (range of octaves between 8 'and 4') and a "bass synthesizer" (with variation between 16 'and 8' and a selector for "staccato"). Both the polyphonic synthesizer and the bass synthesizer have sliders to control ATTACK, DECAY, SUSTAIN and RELEASE and a 24 dB/octave Low Pass Filter (with controls of FREQUENCY, RESONANCE and LFO). A switch to turn on and off the Chorus/Phaser, another switch to select the waveform generated (between a square wave and a sawtooth wave), another switch to choose between single mode and multi trigger for envelope, and sliders for general volume, a mixer between the string ensemble and polyphonic synthesizer and a independent volume slider to control the bass synthesizer completes the front panel of the ARP Omni 2.

In the rear of the ARP Omni 2 there are separate outputs for each of the sessions (strings, synth and bass), a footswitch jack to control sustain, jacks for pedals control volume and filter, an P-10 output jack and another XLR output jack (with level control between high and low) and a synthesizer's interface, with gate, trigger and CV jacks.

There are few differences between the internal structure of ARP Omni and ARP Omni 2: only small changes in the Chorus/Phaser circuit, a separate output to the bass synthesizer (on Omni 2, the first model only had individual outputs for strings and synthesizer ) and a selectror switch between "single" and "multi"-trigger to control the envelope polyphonic synthesizer. On the other hand, the external structure of the two models are very different, mainly because the ARP Omni 2 started to adopt a chassis made ​​entirely of steel (with leather sides, a characteristic of various ARP synthesizers) and the orange, black and white control switches and logos - one of ARP's most recognizable trademarks).

Some of the artists who played on an ARP Omni and/or an ARP Omni 2 recordings were: Joy Division (several of the songs on the album "Closer" has the characteristic sound of the strings of an ARP Omni 2. In "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - perhaps Joy Division's most famous song - guitarist Bernard Sumner appears in the official video clip using one ARP Pmni 2. On the picture on the right Bernand Sumner appears alongside Martin Hannett, the producer of the band's albums), New Order (on the first album, probably the same instrument, used by Joy Division, since New Order was born from the ashes of Joy Division), Gary Numan (on youtube you can find a christmas special edition of "Top of the pops" in 1979, which an ARP Omni 2 and a Polymoog are being played, in the songs "Are Friends Electric?" and "Cars"), Tangerine Dream, The Cars (on "Let The Good Times Roll"), Kraftwerk, Supertramp (keyboardist and vocalist Rick Davies used to travel with two instruments of this model), Modern Inglês (on the track "I Melt With You", 1982), John Foxx (his latest band, John Foxx and the Maths, is traveling with an ARP Omni), Steve Hillage (on the album "Rainbow Dome Musick", 1979), american jazz musician Roy Ayres, the bands Boston and Kansas (in "Dust In The Wind"), The Commodores, Al Kooper, keyboardist Allan Zavod (from Jean-Luc Ponty's band), Cat Stevens, Dave Greenslade, Electric Light Orchestra, and many others, including the already mentioned at the beginning of the text as "endorsers" of the ARP instruments, Stevie Wonder and Pete Townshend.

My ARP Omni 2 (serial number 2473- 3879. The first four numbers indicate the model) was one of the first instruments I bought in my life. Before him, I think I only had the Korg 700S, maybe some other one, I don't not remember so well. But it was certainly among the first instruments I ever bought. At 18 years old - in 1994 - I worked in a music store in New Harburgo - Rio Grande do Sul - and this keyboard had been put up for sale by a guy named Ivo, the keyboardist and owner of a popular dance band in Rio Grande do Sul. As I worked there in that store, I bought it straight from him. I remember I paid R$ 200,00 (U$ 100) or something like that, but this was more or less what I gained in a whole month of work, so it wasn't so cheap like it seems. Anyway, I bought that already knowing that I would have to fix some things and during these almost 18 years that this instrument is with me, it worked and stopped working several times. The last time I fixed it and put it to work was to record the song "Harajuku Girl" to my latest album, "Zeitgeist/Propaganda". As the Omni 2 did get back to work fone and it was standing in my parents' house for a long time, I decided to use it in a some shows I did in North American Cultural Center in Porto Alegre, in 2009 (there are some videos on youtube of these shows). After that, I took it for a mini-tour that I played with a brazilian comic/parody singer Jupiter Maçã, in Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná. Unfortunately - and given the brutality with which the baggage handlers in the brazilian airports use to deal with the belongings of their passengers - the keyboard came back from this series of concerts with two broken keys and it also showed some components malfunction. In November 2011, I stayed some days in my parents' house in São Leopoldo (RS), I decided to open and start a reform in my ARP Omni 2, including fix the two broken keys (and cleanup of other keys), glue the sides of leather and paint the chassis, which was rusty since I bought it. Unfortunately my limited knowledge of electronics (for now) made me stop, so I had to fix the components that are not working. But I am already scheduling to visit my friend and genial electronics technician Cardoso and soon we can resolve and make to come back to work this great piece in my collection of analog instruments!

photos: Kay Mavrides / internet

I found some ads from the time of release of the ARP Omni:

At the time (obviously), the ARP sent a ARP Omni demo disc by mail, to the people who was interested enough to contact the company. Here is the announcement:

And here are some ads from the days when the ARP Omni 2 replaced the first model:

As my ARP Omni 2 is momentarily in the reform process and still not working perfectly, not recorded my video demonstrating it. Put here a video I found on youtube, recorded by American musician Mike Thompson:

The song "Harajuku Girl" (from third solo album, "Zeitgeist/Propaganda"), can be heard and downloaded here in two versions:

Harajuku Girl (vocoder version) by astronautapinguim

Harajuku Girl (MOOG version) by astronautapinguim

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cinco perguntas para Tim Blake

Timothy Blake nasceu em Shepherds Bush - no oeste de Londres - no dia 06 de fevereiro de 1952. Na adolescência, Tim trabalhou como engenheiro de gravação e foi nesta época que ele conheceu o músico Daevid Allen e foi convidado para fazer parte do Gong, uma banda de "Space-jazz-rock" que ficou muito famosa, em parte por causa de sintetizadores, efeitos eletrônicos e das composições de Tim, registradas principalmente na trilogia "Radio Gnome Invisible". Tim fez parte da "família" Gong entre1971 e 1975.

Quando deixou a banda, Tim já estava trabalhando com o artísta e iluminador francês Patrice Werrener desde 1971, sob o nome de Crystal Machine. O formato de show que a dupla levou aos palcos era muito inovador e o Crystal Machine tournou-se uma das primeiras bandas em todo o mundo a trabalhar exclusivamente com sintetizadores analógicos e iluminação em seus shows (eles foram os primeiros a utilizarem o Laser no mundo do entretenimento, em 1975). O Crystal Machine gravou dois álbuns incríveis ("Crystal Machine", de 1977, e "Blake's New Jerusalem", de 1978, com Jean-Philippe Rykiel no Minimoog) antes de Tim ser convidado para ingressae em outra grande banda de "Space Rock" - o Hawkwind - por um breve período, entre 1979 e 1980. Depois de tocar com a banda em várias ocasiões durante os anos seguntes, Tim Blake voltou a integrar a banda desde 2007 e continua tocando Theremin e "Virtual Lead Guitar" com o Hawkwind desde então.

A discografia de Tim Blake contém mais que 25 álbuns, incluindo seis discos como Tim Blake/Crystal Machine. Estes discos estão disponíveis para download no site de Tim ("Crystal Machine", de 1977, e "Magick", de 1992, estão disponíveistambém em CD). Discos do Gong e do Hawkwind que têm a participação de Tim também são comentados por ele mesmo no site!

Entrei em contato com Tim Blake pela primeira vez via Facebook e perguntei-lhe se poderíamos fazer esta entrevista por e-mail. Ele foi muito gentil e encontrou algum tempo em sua vida ocupada para me enviar de volta a entrevista e aqui está! Senhoras e senhores, Sr. Tim Blake, o homem que colocou muito "Space" dentro do "Rock"!

Crystal Machine ao vivo no Théâtre le Palace, 1977 (foto: Rosa Gauditauno)

ASTRONAUTA - Como você resolveu que seria músico, quais foram os seus primeiros passos na música (eletrônica) e qual foi o seu primeiro sintetizador (ou teclado)? Você ainda tem os instrumentos que você utilizava nos anos setenta?

TIM - Eu deixei a escola muito cedo, aos 16 anos - e SIM - era 1968! Fui imediatamente projetado para dentro de um mundo onde o 'verão do amor' contrastava com a repressão da liberdade na Tchecoslovaquia.
Sempre tive interesses musicais muito profundos durante toda a minha vida. Gostava de tudo, desde música coral, passando pelo barroco até o blues e o rock emergentes nos anos 60 e até mesmo algumas coisas estranhas de musica eletrônica... Berio, Pierre Henri (que tentou, por duas vezes, misturar a sua música concreta a um elemento de rock). Eu tocava trumpete com bastante competencia quando deixei a escola, mas também gostava da harmônica do Blues e de tocar guitarra...

Eu cursei um ano (entre 68 e 69) em uma Escola de Artes em Londres, também. Paralelamente eu me tornei um aprendiz de engenheiro de som, e passei cada vez mais a conviver com músicos (principalmente com o falecido Paul Kossof). Um dia, uma colega - Celia Humphris - me disse que ela tinha conseguido um emprego, iria cantar em uma banda de folk-rock que estava começando, 'Trees' (com quem ela cantou a assombrosa "Garden of Jane Delawney").
Graças à Celia, eu estava no meio de um circuito muito criativo de pessoas, bandas, empresários, artistas de todo o tipo... No final eu fazendo som para o Clearwater uma vez por semana, em shows no All Saints Hall, e na estrada com o High Tide.
Uma noite, no final de agosto de 1969, quando eu estava montando meu equipamento de som para um show do High Tide, alguns rapazes se aproximaram de mim como me perguntaram se eles poderiam tocar como banda de abertura e foi assim que o Hawkwind começou.

A eletrônica na música naquele momento era todo feito com loops e colagens de fita (a segunda fase do Música Concreta, eu suponho) e se divertir com osciladores e unidades de eco...

É claro que naquela época todos nós já tinhamos ouvido o "Switched-on Bach" e, em seguida, surgiu a EMS - uma empresa britânica que começou a fazer sintetizadores - e entramos todos nesta onda, Floyd, Hawkwind, e eu!

Também existiam grandes festivais de música naqueles dias e eu acho que conheci e trabalhei com todos os meus heróis quando eu tinha 18 anos!

Em 1971 eu já tinha uma boa reputação com a manipulação de equipamentos de som. Fui apresentado então ao Daevid Allen e parti para a França com ele, um pouco antes da Páscoa.

ASTRONAUTA - Você fez parte de duas das bandas mais importantes do assim chamado "Space Rock", Gong e Hawkwind (Tim está tocando atualmente com Hawkwind novamente). Quais eram as principais diferenças entre o Gong e o Hawkwind? E qual foi a coisa mais gratificante e a mais irritante de tocar com o Gong e com o Hawkwind?

Hawkwind 1979: Harey Brianbridge, Dave Brock,
Huw Lloyd-Lagton, Tim Blake and Simon King
TIM - Eu vejo pouca similaridade entre os dois grupos, na verdade. A música do Hawkwind sempre foi muitíssimo influenciada pelo amor de Dave Brock pelas baladas folk simples (ele era um músico de rua fantástico, no início) e pelo Blues Rock básico, ritmo 4/4. Se você analisar o repertório surpreendente dos últimos 43 anos, você verá esses dois elementos aparecendo em várias ocasiões, especialmente nos "hits"!

O Gong, por outro lado, era algo muito novo para mim. Daevid tinha trilhado o seu caminho no mundo da música cercado por músicos muito influenciados por Jazz... Soft Machine, em particular. Suas primeiras experiências no que veio a se tornar o Gong foram com jazzistas muito 'avant-garde' - dos quais devemos descatar o incrível músico de instrumentos de sopro Didier Malherbe. O início da banda Gong nos anos 70, com Christian Tritsch, deu-nos uma base deslizante de ritmo, parte muito importante da música Gong.

A linha comum, é claro, foi a abertura para o "espacial", e é aí que, tanto como engenheiro e, mais tarde, como músico, eu fui capaz de encontrar o meu lugar em ambas as bandas.

As coisas mais irritantes​​? Bem, os acordos e negócios "cachorros" para um dos lados - em ambas as bandas - mas certamente não pela mesma razão!
Com o Hawkwind tem sido principalmente o gerenciamento ganancioso e inseguro, e com o Gong, a honestidade de Daevid Allen tem realmente a ser posta em questão!
Arte e negócios sempre foram, na minha vida, muito difíceis de combinar.

As coisas mais gratificantes? Bem, no caso do Gong, o Daevid 'amarelando' e saíndo da banda nas gravações do "Flying Teapot", o que permitiu, eu e Didier, reformarmos o grupo para uma unidade altamente harmoniosa, com Steve Hillage e Pierre Moerlen e, mais tarde, Mike Howlett.
Este foi o formato que me deu a oportunidade real de expandir minhas próprias idéias musicais e, claro, foi quando 90% dos "Angel's Egg" e "You" foram escritos. Malherbe, Hillage e Moerlen são alguns dos músicos mais incríveis com quem convivi, toquei e compús na minha vida.

O Hawkwind sempre foi capaz de me colocar em sintonia quando eu colocava tudo o que eu tinha feito em questão, me oferecendo a chance de encontrar maneiras diferentes para seguir adiante - Dave e eu pensamos 'Onwards' (avante). Você não pode fazer a mesma coisa por 40 anos, deve-se evoluir.
Eu imagino que isto seja assim porque porque muito pouco do material "clássico" do Gong foi realmente escrito quando Daevid estava por perto, que ele tem excursiona persistentemente por tantos anos tocando a mesma música... Daevid muda apenas os nomes e os autores a fim de usufruir do lucro da maneira que melhor lhe convém! Acho que isto acontece basicamente porque ele se envergonha de não ter estado presente na origem de grande parte das músicas que ele tanto gosta e tocar. Deve ser muito triste para ele, lá no fundo!
Fiquei muito contente de ver Steve Hillage de volta na banda, na tour de 2009/10 e ouvir música nova de verdade sendo escrita!

Mas não parece que a criatividade tenha continuado desde que ele saiu de novo!

É claro - a grande coisa sobre tocar com Hawkwind nos 2010s é que eu mudei completamente minhas técnicas musicais, tocando sintetizadores virtuais, controlados pelo Theremin, e minha guitarra - "Onwards" (avante) - não há mais volta!

ASTRONAUTA - Como foi o processo de gravação dos álbuns "Crystal Machine" (1977), "New Jerusalem" (1978) e "Waterfalls in Space" (1979)? Qual foram os sintetizadores que você usou para gravar este álbum? Você ainda tem alguns desses sintetizadores?

TIM - Ah, Dias Analógicos! Bem, meu EMS duplo, um sintetizador modular (tanto Roland quanto Moog), meu fiel Mini Moog, e uma variedade de primeiros equipamentos polifônicos!

É claro - de "Jerusalem" em diante - a maior contribuição para a música do Crystal machine foi encontrar alguém com quem eu realmente gostei de tocar, Jean-Philippe Rykiel.
Além de ser um grande 'mini-moogista' desde muito cedo, Jean-Phi é também um dos pioneiros da síntese polifônica.
Ele se tornou um produtor musical bm sucedido, hoje em dia, especializado em música africana...

Waterfalls in Space foi gravado por Jean-Phi enquanto estávamos ensaiando.

A maior parte do meu equipamento analógico está nas mãos de um colecionador especializado na Inglaterra. Ele é um técnico em eletrônica muito competente, um restaurador. E todo o equipamento parece estar funcionando muito bem de novo!
Meu sistema modular Roland está nas mãos de Romain Turzi, um dos músico de rock eletrônico de hoje em dia.

ASTRONAUTA - Você é sempre mencionado quando o assunto em uma conversa é os sintetizadores EMS! Qual era a sua relação com este equipamento e com os inventores dos synths EMS (Peter Zinovieff, David Cockerell e Tristan Cary), você os conheceu pessoalmente nos anos 70?

Os famosos sintetizadores EMS do Tim Blake 
TIM - Minhas relações com a EMS eram em principalmente com Robin Woob (proprietário hoje em dia) e os técnicos, Graham Wood, Graham Hinton, com quem a maioria das modificações exclusivas para o meu set-up foram concebidos.
Eu conheci Zinovieff, é claro, mas não Cockerell ou Cary. Peter parecia olhar de uma forma estranha para aqueles que tocavam com os sintetizadores EMS, considerando-os como brinquedos que ele vendia para financiar seu enorme estúdio de música para computador. Eu nunca ouvi uma nota de sua música!
Eu acredito que uma vez impressionei Peter, em um almoço na EMS, provando de seu queijo com muito chutney feito em casa (espécie de tempero)! Povo estranho, os músicos eletrônicos!

ASTRONAUTA - Seus álbuns são difíceis de encontrar, tanto em LP quanto em CD, mas você mantém sua discografia solo para download no seu site. Por que você escolheu para manter seus álbuns disponíveis em formato digital em vez de mantê-los nos formatos antigos? Você está gravando ou planejando gravar material novo para lançar como Crystal Machine algum dia?

TIM - Eu não tive um bom relacionamento com a indústria da música e alguns dos meus discos mais vendidos nunca me renderam um cheque com roalties.
Então, eu prefiro trabalhar como uma indústria de um homem só!

CRYSTAL MACHINE pode ser encontrado em CD -
e também MAGICK -

Não há "mercado" nos dias de hoje para os meus álbuns em formato físico que faça valer a pena para mim produzi-los. Mas apesar de representar uma pequena das vendas apenas, fazendo downloads por conta própria eu consigo manter as perdas baixas!
Você pode obter minha música do meu próprio site:

Também estou expermentando uma página no Bandcamp:

Isto foi feito basicamente para permitir que as pessoas a escolher seu formato, mas parece um pouco com uma jukebox online para mim, com 99% de plays, e 1% de vendas, então eu não sei se vou continuar com ele.

ASTRONAUTA - Bem, obrigado, meu amigo. Espero que você venha ao Brasil em breve!!! Tudo de bom para você, Tim!

Dave Brock e Tim Blake (Londres, 2010)
Tim Blake com o GONG, 1974
(Minimoog e EMS Synthi A) 
Hawkwind - Masters of Universe tour (inverno de 1979)
Crystal Machine World Tour 1979
Jean-Philippe Rykiel e Tim Blake no
'The Space' Hanne Mori - Tokyo, Japan
foto: Patrice Werrener


Download Shop:



Hawkwind Official Site:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Five questions to Tim Blake

Timothy Blake was born in Shepherd's Bush, west London, on February 6th 1952. He was a recording engineer in his teenage days when he met Daevid Allen and was invited to join Gong, a jazz-space-rock band that became very famous, partly because of Tim's synthesizers, electronic effects and his compositions, recorded mainly in the "Radio Gnome Invisible" trilogy. Tim was part of Gong "family" from 1971 to 1975.

When Tim left the band he was already working with French Light Artist Patrice Werrener since 1971, under the name Crystal Machine. The format of concert that Tim and Patrice took to stages was very innovative and together they became one of the first acts in the whole world to work exclusively with analog synthesizers and lighting on their concerts (introducing the Laser to the entertainment world for the first time in 1975). Crystal machine recorded two amazing albums ("Crystal Machine", 1977, and "Blake's New Jerusalem", 1978, with Jean-Philippe Rykiel on the Minimoog) before Tim joined another great "Space Rock" band - Hawkwind - for a brief period of time, between 1979 and 1980. After playing on several occasions during the years Tim Blake is back to the band since 2007, playing Theremin and "Virtual Lead Guitar".

Tim Blake's discography contain more that 25 albums, including 6 records as Tim Blake/Crystal Machine. They are available to download on Tim's website ("Crystal Machine", 1977, and "Magick", 1992, are also available on CD). Gong and Hawkwind albums that have Tim on the line up are commented by himself on the website too!

I contacted Tim Blake for the first time via Facebook and I asked him if we could do this interview via email. He was very gentle and found some time in his busy life to send me back the interview and here it is! Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tim Blake, the man who put some "space" into "rock"!

Crystal Machine live at Théâtre le Palace, 1977 (photo: Rosa Gauditauno)

ASTRONAUTA - How did you become a musician, what were your first steps on (electronic) music and what was your first synthesizer (or keyboard)? Do you still have the instruments you played on the seventies?

TIM - I left school quite early, at 16 - and Yes - it was 1968! I was immediately projected into a world where the 'Summer of Love' contrasted with the repression of Freedom in Tchequeslovakia.
I had pretty deep musical interests all through my life with a liking for all from very choral music, through the Baroque to the blues and burgeoning rock of the '60s to even some stranger electronic stuff... Berio - Pierre Henri (who try twice to mix his music concrete to a rock element). I was a fairly competent Trumpet player when I left school, but also enjoyed Blues harp and guitar playing...

I did a year (68-69) at a Performing Art School in London, too. In parallel, I became an apprentice sound engineer, and spent more and more of my time hanging out with musicians (notably the late Paul Kossof). One day, a fellow student, Celia Humphris, told me that she had landed a job singing in an upcoming folk-rock band, Trees (with whom she sang the haunting 'Garden of Jane Delawney').
Thanks to Celia, I was now in the middle of a very creative Hub of people, groups, managers, artist of all sort... It ended up with me doing sound for Clearwater's once a week gigs at All Saints Hall, and on the road with High Tide.
One evening, in the end of august 1969, when setting up my sound for a High Tide gig, some guys approached me as asked me if they could play support, and that's how Hawkwind was born.

Electronics in music at this time was all sort of tape looping and collage (the second phase of music concrete, I suppose) and fun with oscillators and echo units...

Of course by then, we'd all heard "Switched-on Bach" - and then EMS - a UK company started making synths, and we were all on the case, Floyd, Hawkwind, and myself!

There were some great music festivals in those days, too, and I suppose I had met and worked with all my heroes by the time I was 18!

By 1971, I had a good reputation with handling sound, and was introduced to Daevid Allen, and left for France with him, just before Easter.

ASTRONAUTA - You were a member from the two most important bands from the so called "Space Rock", Gong and Hawkwind (Tim is currently playing with Hawkwind again). What was the main differences from Gong to Hawkwind? And what was the most grateful and the most hateful things for playing with Gong and Hawkwind?

Hawkwind 1979: Harey Brianbridge, Dave Brock,
Huw Lloyd-Lagton, Tim Blake and Simon King
TIM - I find very little similarity between the two groups at all, really. Hawkwind's music has always been highly influenced by Dave Brock's love of simple Folksy Ballads (he was a fantastic street musician at the beginnings) and basic Blues Rock, 4/4 rhythm. If you look through the amazing repertoire of the past 43 years, you see these two elements coming up time and time again, especially in all the "hits"!

Gong, on the other hand, was something quite new to me. Daevid had made his way into the music world being surrounded by very Jazz-influenced musicians... Soft Machine in particular. His first explorations into what was to become Gong was with very 'avant-garde' jazzers - of whom we must point out the amazing wind player, Didier Malherbe. The making of the Gong Band in the early '70s, with Christian Tritsch, gave us the bass of rhythm gliss, a very important part of Gong music.

The common line has, of course, been the opening to "Spaciness", and that is where, both as an engineer and later, a musician, I was able to find my place in both  bands.

The most Hateful things? Well, "Doggy" business dealings for one - in both bands - but surely not for the same reason!
With Hawkwind it's been mostly unsafe, greedy management, whilst, with Gong, the honesty of Daevid Allen has really to be put into question!
Art and business have always, in my life, been highly difficult to combine.

The Grateful things? - Well in Gong's case, Daevid 'copping' out of the Band, at the Flying Teapot recordings, allowed me and Didier to reform the group into a highly harmonious unit with Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen, and later to absord Mike Howlett.
This was the format that gave me the real opportunity to expand my own musical ideas with them, and of course that's when 90% of Angels Egg and You were written. Malherbe, Hillage and Moerlen are some on the most amazing musicians I have lived, played and written with in my live.

Hawkwind have always been able to tune in to me when I was putting everything I had doing into question, and offering me a chance to go different ways - Dave and I both think 'Onwards' - You cannot do the same thing for 40 years - one must develop.
I imagine that it is because so little of the "Classic" Gong music was actually written when Daevid was around, that he has persistently toured for so many years playing the same music... Daevid just changes the names and the authors in order to dispose of the financial gain in the way that suits him best! I suppose this is essentially because he is ashamed not to have been at the source of so much of the music that he enjoys performing so much. It must be so very sad for him, deep inside!
It was very glad to see Steve Hillage back in the band for the 2009/10 tours, and hear some real new music written!

But does not seem such creativity has continued since he slipped out again!

Of course - the great thing about playing with Hawkwind in the years 2010s is that I have completely changed my music making techniques, playing virtual synths, controlled by Theremin and my AX - Onwards - there is No Turning Back!!!

ASTRONAUTA - How was the recording process of the albums "Crystal Machine" (1977), "New Jerusalem" (1978) and "Waterfalls in space" (1979)? What was the synthesizers you used to record this albums? Do you still have some of those synths?

TIM - Ah. Analogue days! Well, my double EMC outfit, a Modular Synth, either Roland or Moog, and my trusty Mini Moog, with a variety of the first polyphonic stuff!

Of course - from Jerusalem onwards - the greatest input into Crystal machine music was finding someone I really enjoyed playing with, Jean- Philippe Rykiel.
Apart from being a great mini-moogist from a very early age, Jean-Phi is also a pioneer of polyphonic synthesis.
He has become a great record producer too, these days, specializing in African Music...

Waterfalls in Space was recorded by Jean-Phi while we were rehearsing.

Most of my Analogue gear is in the hands of a specialized collector in England. He is a very competent eletronician and restorer, and they all look a play beautifully again!
My Roland modular system is in the hands of Romain Turzi, one of the Today's French electronic rock musicians.

ASTRONAUTA - You are always mentioned when the subject in a conversation is the EMS synths! What was your relation with this equipment and with the EMS synth inventors (Peter Zinovieff, David Cockerell and Tristan Cary), did you meet them personally in the '70s?

Tim Blake's EMS syntheseizers 
TIM - My EMS relations were mostly with Robin Woob (now the owner) and the technical people, Graham Wood, Graham Hinton, with whom most of the unique modifications to my set-up were designed.
I've met Zinovieff, of course, but not Cockerell or Cary. Peter seemed to look down on those who played the EMS synths, regarding them as toys he sold to finance his huge computer music studio. I have never heard a note of his music!!
I believe I once impressed Peter at an EMS lunch, by enjoying his Cheese with very hottest oh his home-made chutneys!! Strange stuff, Electronic musicians!

ASTRONAUTA - Your albums are difficult to find both in LP's and CD's but you keep your entire solo discography to download in your website. Why did you choose to keep your albums available in a digital format instead of keeping them in the older formats? Are you recording or planing to record new material to release as Crystal Machine someday?

TIM - I have not enjoyed a good relationship with the music industry, and some of my best selling records have never bought me a single royalty cheque.
So, I prefer to work as a one-man cottage industry!

CRYSTAL MACHINE is still available as a CD -
as is MAGICK -

There is no "Market" these days for my albums in physical format that makes it worthwhile for me to produce them, but despite being only a tiny of the sales, by doing downloads my self, I can keep the losses down!
You can get my music from my own site:

I am also experimenting with a Bandcamp page:

This was basically to allow people to choose their format, but it seems a bit of an online-jukebox to me, with 99% of plays, and 1% of sales, so I do not know if I will continue with it.

ASTRONAUTA - Well, thank you, my friend. Hope you can come to Brazil soon!!! My best wishes to you, Tim!

Dave Brock and Tim Blake (London, 2010)
Tim Blake with GONG, 1974
(Minimoog and EMS Synthi A) 
Hawkwind - Masters of Universe tour (winter 1979)
Crystal Machine World Tour 1979
Jean-Philippe Rykiel and Tim Blake playing at
'The Space' Hanne Mori - Tokyo, Japan
photo: Patrice Werrener


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