Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Korg Electribe A (EA-1) and Electribe R (ER-1) "The cure for the common groove" brochure, 1999

Korg Electribe A (EA-1) and Electribe R (ER-1) "The cure for the common groove" two page colour brochure from 1999.

Hey - an early morning post from me! Gotta get it out of the way before the Pet Shop Boys pre-sale begins!  :)

So, a short while back Korg tweeted out a Bob's Burgers gif that featured a synth. No, it wasn't the ol' one with Gene Belcher flying through the clouds in a diaper with synths floating all around him:. Although that is a classic...

No. This is one I hadn't seen before. It's Gene (of course) playing with what is unmistakably a Korg Electribe ER-1! Hubba!! It's so new, I can't even find it anywhere online yet. Kudos to Korg for being so quick on the ball.

Credit where credit is due... here's the tweet from Korg.

That gif made me happy enough to get off my ass and go looking through my packed up files to find this Electribe EA-1/ER-1 brochure from 1999.

Korg released the EA-1 and ER-1 together at 1999 Winter NAMM, and since the brochure is dated 1999, I'm guessing its one of the earlier batches of Electribe marketing material. A great start to what will become classic machines.

The cover of the brochure is exactly what you would, and should, expect from a 1999 Electribe brochure. Its definitely got that 90's techno/rave flyer vibe happening. The italicized fonts for titles, the glitchy video backgrounds behind the descriptive text, the crazy background patterns. Its all there.

The brochure does a super job explaining the two machines as well, with the two subtitles "the classic analog tweak box" and "the ultimate analog beat box" and just enough descriptive text without feeling overwhelmed. Flip it over and get all the specs.

The ER-1 is my favourite of the two - and may be my favourite out of all the first-gen and MKII Electribes. Sure, the EA-1 is a great virtual analog synth that also makes a nice addition to any acid studio - it can really growl!  But for me, the ER-1 is *definitely* the cure for the common groove and my secret weapon when I want to add an extra something-something to a techno track. And its not just the analog feel I dig - I'm even a fan of the PCM samples used for the 909-ish open and closed hi-hats.

So what exactly makes the ER-1 sound so unique and sit so well in a track? It's got everything to do to the motion sequencer. That feature allow it's sounds in a pattern to jump around and fill out unoccupied space with crazy harmonic changes in just the right way.  Add to that n awesome delay and extremely simple interface with just the right amount of programming options and you end up with an electro-making juggernaut in a box.

But don't take my word for it - read Chris Carter's review of both machines from the July 1999 issue of Sound on Sound magazine.

Spoiler alert - here's his summary for the ER-1:
"What a refreshing change, a beat box that doesn't want to sound like every other beat box. Plenty of innovative features and tons of parameters yet so easy to use. It really makes you want to experiment and try out new sounds and rhythms. Cheap too, so I'm buying one."
His summary for the EA-1 isn't too shabby either:
"A bold attempt to break the dance workstation mould with something a little different. The EA-1 is a very capable and great sounding synth/sequencer combination whether you are on a budget or have just won the Lottery. Go on, get analogue modelling you'll feel better for it."
I will never, ever give up my ER-1.