Time for obscure Finnish acid house performed with hacked synths!

Matti Laakso tells Boing Boing,

The Acid Symphony Orchestra just published their first video on Vimeo. In a nutshell: 10 early 80's synths (Roland TB-303s - the defining sound of early techno and acid) played manually by Finlands top techno performers, orchestrated by the granddaddy of Nordic techno scene, Jori Hulkkonen.

The hardware required some serious hacking (this is pre-MIDI gear), courtesy of the Society for Experimental Electronics - a Finnish hacker/maker group.

Their first performance was at UMF (Uuden Musiikin Festivaali, or Festival for New Music) in Turku, Finland in 2007, and they toured Europe over the next two years. A festival documentary is on YouTube (in 3 parts).

Video here.


  1. This certainly has the 303 sound, although I can’t really tell that they are using 10 of them simultaneously.

    I’m partial to the piece linked at the bottom of the wikipedia entry you referenced: Bach’s Prelude in C Major performed on a Roland TB-303.

  2. if they only used Roland machines, they shouldn’t have to hack them, as Roland synths could all be synced together. one of them is brandishing a drum machine, though…

    101+303+808=now start a band!

  3. That’s a TR-707. It will send out DIN SYNC. Don’t know if you can sync 11 machines with that though.

  4. There are any number of reasons one may want to mod an old synth like a 303. Besides the common mod to add midi implementation, there are quite a few performance enhancing mods that augment the instrument’s filters, envelope generators, pitch bending capacity, etc.
    In many ways, mods help musicians bridge the gap between the unique character and playability of fixed-voiced synthesizers and the flexibility of modular synthesizers.

    Here’s a good example of an extremely modded 303:

  5. If people are into this kind of music I highly recommend the AFX album “Analord”. Unless you like hunting down limited vinyl only releases (it is a set of 10 discs), I recommend hitting up your favorite torrent site and grab a FLAC rip.

  6. Huh? I’ve heard 4-channel chiptunes with more going on. Not that I have anything against sparse music, but making a big point of how many vintage synths you’re using and then not using them is a bit silly.

  7. I would hardly call a MIDI-to-CV or MIDI-to-DIN retrofit a “hack”. That’s an off-the-shelf solution. A hack requires some originality and ingenuity.

  8. Is it really that ‘Obscure’ if it is played by Finland’s top techno performers, and ‘orchestrated by the granddaddy of Nordic techno scene, Jori Hulkkonen’? And, they have performed at festivals and tours? Sounds like a well-established act to me. Why don’t I post an informative article about obscure Long Beach are bands like the Mars Volta or Cold War Kids, or whatever

    And seriously, ‘hacking’? it’s called programming an analog synth thru MIDI-to-CV or some other adaptive device developed decades ago. Programming and controlling old synths using modern computers / MIDI controllers is not hacking, rocket science, or synth wizardry. It’s just reading the manuals.

    This post just seems like the idle contribution of some fan, just rattling off his favorite music of the moment in sycophantic, anti-journalistic style. Bravo!

    1. skeletoncityrepeater,

      Is this your first time ever visiting a blog? Blog editors post what they find interesting.

  9. My favourite Finnish band: Värttinä

    Check out some their early stuff, where the singing is (meant to be) more shouting than singing, in a very old Finnish style – like their CD ‘Black Bird’.

  10. Glad to see everybody’s up on their Roland sync. When these things first came out, I saw a demo at a Vancouver music store and was blown away when they synced up a TR-303, and a TB-303, and had them playing “Day Tripper”. The guitarist in me immediately saw the possibilities in a rhythm section that would do exactly as told and would be getting into my stash, so I bought a pair. Damn, they were expensive, but they got me into electronica. And I actually made money on them when I sold them in the 90s. Really good money, actually.

    Gotta say, I’m not terribly impressed with this track.

  11. Hmm, I have to agree that this is underwhelming, given the simultaneous(?) use of 10 TB-303’s.

    @Nosehat – thanks for pointing out the Prelude in 303 Major track. I went to the Ceephax site, they have all kinds of free trax to check out: http://www.ceephax.co.uk/Music.htm

    Guess I know how I’m spending the rest of my workday!

  12. Incidentally, if anyone wants to get into modding a TB-303 equivalent, there’s the x0xb0x.

    A few of the published mods can give the thing all sorts of versatility of sound…

  13. Obviously these guys didn’t mod theirs, but while modding a 303 (or any synth) can yield pretty extraordinary results, I’d want to make sure the thing was fully reversible.

    In the 1900’s various luthiers decided that a lot of Cremonese stringed instruments (Stradivari, Guarneri Del Gesu etc) needed to be re-graduated to match the tonal requirements of modern playing. They were basically butchered to suit a fashion and we have lost the original qualities of those instruments with a few exceptions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Cannone_Guarnerius).

    Mod responsibly or clone, then mod the clone. Leave the factory instruments alone, your great grandchildren will thank you.

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