ARP 2600 (b.1971)
This is our first semi-modular synthesiser.
At first the 2600 seems quite complicated but ours came with an instruction manual explaining everything you could ever need to know about analogue synthesis. It turns out that sound travels through air as a periodic fluctuation in air pressure. Who knew?
The 2600 is capable of pretty much anything that a monophonic analogue synth can do. The patching possibilities are fantastic.
We used it to make all the sounds on the original mix of ‘Do You Feel What I Feel’ and it’s also the only synth we used on our remix of The Prodigy; it did all the basses and the shrieking organ noises.
Also, it can make a massive bass drum.
KORG 700S (b.1974)
We tracked this synth down in 2004 after reading that Daniel Miller (boss of Mute Records and producer on most of Depeche Mode’s early albums) had one as his first keyboard. It’s a very simple synth, quite limited in its functions, but somehow very versatile. It has a unique and aggressive sounding filter, and a rudimentary ‘repeat’ function which only repeats one note, but does it in a very machine-like way.
Modified CASIO VL-TONE (b.1980 d.2011)
This was our very first keyboard but we haven’t used it on any Rex releases. We had it modified in 2007 to add various circuit bending connection points, to allow it to sync to an external clock signal and to switch sounds with the blue One Key Play buttons. It worked very well and we made a video clip of it in action. But then last year we added a midi modification which a/ stopped the screen working b/ put a constantly repeating hiss and click in the background c/ ruined everything.
CASIO CZ230-S (b.1986)
This is a home keyboard that came with 100 preset sounds, a programmable drum section and a 4 track sequencer. The sequencer is very counter-intuitive to program, but it is possible to make a whole song if you plan it out mathematically. We made a version of Prototype just using this sequencer (with no effects or computer).
Some of the sounds on this keyboard are really good, for instance patch 77 sounds quite like the bass sound from Blue Monday. Patches 08,12 and 13 are great too. Some of the sounds are identical to the presets in the slightly more professional (and programmable) CZ101.