Thursday, December 6, 2012

Casio CZ-1 "When you perform, it performs" ad, Keyboard 1987

Casio CZ-1 synthesizer "When you perform, it performs" full page colour advertisement from page 144 in the July 1987 issue of Keyboard.


Nope - not talking about hipster lingo used to describe something that they think is awesome, although that applies too - "that CZ-1 synthesizer you are playing on stage is choice".

I'm talking about options.

And Casio gave users a lot of choice. I listed out the wall of keyboard choices available by Casio near the end of the RZ-1 reference sheet blog post to prove some point or another.

Yup. A lot of choice there.

Guess what - I've come to hate choice.

It can really stress me out. Make me stop in my tracks, immovable. But thinking about it, its not the idea of choice that bothers me. Its the idea that having to make one choice will then affect some other choice I will have to make the future. For example, making the choice to purchase a Casio keyboard now could affect my ability to pay for a better Casio sometime in the future.

But I'm getting a bit off topic a bit.

Point is, in my head, I look back thinking I could walk into a store on day-one and choose between the 1, 101, 1000, 3000 and 5000. My brain wants me to believe that all these xZ products hit the market pretty much at the same time. But that was clearly not the case. Looking at the date this ad appeared, its now clear just how long the roll-out of the different CZs lasted. But I have to admit, there is a definite disconnect between how it went down in my head and how it really happened.

My brain just wants to rearrange history to how I would have wanted it to be. All my choices, ready to choose, all at once. No more choices to be made after that.

I hate that. 

I also hate that Casio has officially left the human element behind with this CZ-1 ad. Some of you will cheer, while others like me feel its the end of an era. That era included the first round of CZ advertising for the CZ5000, CZ-101 and CZ-230s.

Let's be clear. These weren't famous musicians appearing in these ads - as found in ARP and Moog endorsement ads from the 70s and early 80s. These were honest-to-goodness models dressed as musicians, used by Casio to bring a sense of humanity into what was at the time, a sterile gear-only landscape of hardware ads. No doubt a theme Casio brought over from its consumer marketing side.

But by 1986, when the second round of Casio xZ ads started to appear, the company dropped the bipeds and decided Keyboard readers needed to focus strictly on the gear. Such as in this 1986 family photo advertisement that the CZ-1 first appeared in.

Even though most of the ads in this new round of CZ advertising only appeared once or twice (this solo CZ-1 ad only appeared twice in the July 1987 and January 1988 issue of Keyboard) the campaign did seem to have the desired affect and phase distortion synthesis made a bit of a come-back.

Round two.

And the reality-distortion effect this marketing campaign caused wasn't just localized around me and my few synth friends... everyone seemed to be affected. It was like phase distortion was new again. For example, in July 1988 (bolded for good measure), Keyboard published an article title Introducing the Casio CZ.

Introducing?  We've seen CZ instruments in Keyboard since 1985. WTF?

The article is actually positioned as part of the "Technology" section, sub-titled "Synth and MIDI basics", but  as the introduction points out, the love affair with the CZ goes beyond one article.
"Plenty of keyboard players got (and still get) their first taste of synthesizer programming through the CZ-101. If you've got a CZ and would like to know more about how to program it, then get it out and blow the dust off of it. For the next couple of months we'll be talking about CZ features, and in particular about the phase distortion (PD) process that Casio uses to generate complex waves."
Dust it off? Just a few years later and it looks to me like CZ is being put into the vintage bucket?

Poor thing.

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