From comments (thanks, Charlie Cowper!), here’s a live performance by Japanese electronic artist Rei Harakami on nothing more than a 1990s-vintage multitrack digital workstation, Roland’s VS-880. (The VS-880 was introduced at NAMM in January 1996.) Harakami is a virtuoso on this machine, not simply playing back tracks but dancing through menus and settings and adding live mixing and effects. It’s a mix performance, yes – but it’s a seriously impressive one. And it shows how much this now-”vintage” machine can do, even with some simple parameters.
I’m almost afraid to mention the VS-880, lest we get an arbitrary direct translation of this device as a Roland iPad app. But perhaps the real point here is that choosing limitations, practicing with a tool over an extended period of time, and finding a working and performance method that matters to you is what really makes a difference. It’s not endless parades of iPad apps, not endless parades of VST plug-ins, not endless parades of hardware buys… the list goes on. (And to anyone who bugs you about whether you’ve seen the Gorillaz produce an album entirely with an iPad, I suggest you snarkily refer them back to the VS-880. Ironically, the VS faced the kinds of complaints about quality that mobile devices now face. Then, as now, one might refer instead to the quality of the musical input being recorded, not just the technical restrictions of the gear. Ahem.)
But I’m rambling. The video really says it all. And it’s a reminder that whatever you’re using, you’d better leave some time to practice. On that note…
(PS – how did we get on this topic in the first place? This workstation got our friend Ben Long started on a career path that would lead him to successful music and sound design work in gaming. There’s always a special place in your heart for that first real piece of gear…)
But wait, there’s more… Okay, I was asking for it, I suppose. We’ve already got a submission for an Akai MPC3000, as suggested by Hernan Gonzalez. Unlike most of the countless MPC jams you can find online, though, this one includes a projected screen. Bonus points to Atom Heart TM.