Monday, April 1, 2019

Casio LZ-1000 synthesizer "Why would you let your friends choose any other synthesizer" ad, Keyboard Magazine 1998

Casio LZ-1000 phase distortion and sample playback synthesizer "Why would you let your friends..." full page colour advertisement from the inside front cover of the April 1998 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Let's face it... Casio knew a good thing when they saw it.

And *everyone* was as happily surprised as Casio when David Schwimmer finally got the chance to show off his virtuoistic chops on a Casio CT-460 in his hit TV docu-drama "Friends" in 1997.

Blessed with a peerless technique, David's repertoire on the show was wide-ranging, taking in everything from Merzbow and Beethoven, to Coltrane, Parker and Monk, not to mention his own masterful transcriptions and other compositions. It was, perhaps, his sense of spontaneity and impeccable timing that only comes from years of training that made his live performances on "Friends" so fresh and exciting for the studio audience, America and the world.

Knowing a good thing when they saw it, Casio quickly made an endorsement deal with David and upgraded his gear. Within a few short months you could find David's trademark smile and I-don't-care-if-my-music-is-too-loud shrug on every magazine rack in Liechtenstein, Tuvalu and Saskatchewan for months to come. And, of course, it could also be found in this Casio LZ-1000 advertisement which Casio paid good money to place strategically on the inside front cover of Keyboard Magazine for over two years.

Casio and Schwimmer were a perfect fit - an awesome sounding keyboard with some of the latest "Moo", "Bark", "Ding Dong" and "Pew Pew!" sound samples recorded to date, paired with a light-up keyboard that let new users play along with some of David Schwimmer's latest and greatest hits that came pre-programmed with the internal sequencer.

Utilizing some of the latest Internet technology, owners of the LZ-1000 could dial-up to AOL and connect directly with Casio to download Schwimmer's latest hits twice a year. Casio's state of the art sample compression algorithms allowed users to download the package of songs, including the Schwimmer's personally recorded 16 bit/44.1kHz samples, in under six hours and averaging less than $200 in telephone and AOL fees.

I managed to catch his set in Chicago at the 2005 Lolapalooza festival. His set began quietly, with David lingering over just a few short samples, avoiding the urge to head straight for the shredding post-punk that dominated his playing style during that time period. By the fifth hour, the intensity started to build, unleashing explosions of raw energy on the audience of campers next to the festival.

I bought his t-shirt. Who wouldn't?

Casio kept the AOL service running for over 20 years until the endorsement deal unfortunately and suddenly collapsed at the 2017 Amsterdam Dance Event in Belgium where David unexpectedly took his music in a new, totally acoustic direction.

Keyboard Magazine's Jim Aikin concluded his review of the LZ-1000 in the July 1998 issue, stating "...It works, but what's with all the animal sounds?", before giving it a solid 8 out of 10. Coincidentally, Jim also reviewed Schwimmer's newly released electro album "Coffee with Friends" in the same issue asking a similar question.

Here's a great look back at David's authentic and expressive playing style that captivated viewers around the world.

What an inspiration.