Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Korg Monotribe

It's pretty easy to find Roland 303's in Tokyo. Only problem is they cost an arm and a leg. While there are some very good plugins that emulate them quite well, such as Audiorealism ABL2, and the "classic" Propellerhead, Rebirth for iPad, there's something cool about the tactile feel of a physical box and real knobs.

When I was at the Yokohama Music Fair, Korg showed off it's Korg Monotribe. It's a very old school analog ribbon synth, and rudimentary drum machine. I didn't get much of a chance to play with it there.

When I tried out a 606, I also tested the Monotribe. With the same spirit of the 303, I had a LOT of fun making up random bass lines, and playing around with the filter. At that time I didn't get either, but I did get that 606. Unfortunately the Korg was gone.

Checking online one day I found one for sale at a reasonable price at Sound Fiz in Takadanobaba (Astroboy's "birthplace). I hadn't been to the store before but it wasn't too far away. It was my day off too.

It uses a proprietary adapter so I am stuck with batteries for the time being. Keeping with the old school vibe, there is no midi, but it's possible to get access to using a midikit which I bought from here.

I haven't had a chance to install it yet, but from other reports it greatly enhances the unit above its seemingly toy status. Unfortunately he has retired making them for the time being. Another option is the Miditribe, but it was costing a bit more.

While it doesn't sound like a 303, I can't help but thinking if Korg can make an affordable analog bass machine, why can't Roland reissue a true analog 303?

Monday, 25 June 2012

He Ain't Heavy

He'd be away for three months from Australia, backpacking around Europe. At the end of all this he decided to take a week extra to see me in little Tokyo. It's not often that I get family coming to visit. While there are ways cheaper than the Narita Express, I thought it'd be the simplest option, and with a Suica pass, not too bad.

His first words, "concrete jungle".

Unfortunately because I didn't take any days off, I wasn't able to meet him. With a detailed explanation and Google Maps, he managed to find my apartment. First night we went into Shinjuku for a quick look around and a nice and simple, sushi train dinner.

Tuesday, we had typhoon number four passing Japan so we were lucky that I finished early. It would've been better though if they announced it before I completed my kids classes. I made a nice Yakiniku-style dinner that tasted pretty, damn good!

For my day off on Wednesday, I thought it'd be nice to take him to one of my favourite places, Yokohama's Minato Mirai. It was the most windy day I've experienced, possibly the remnant of the previous day's typhoon.

Because it was on the way, before and after we went through Shibuya. He's an avid photographer, so plenty of photo ops, including a young J girl jumping in frame and asking him the universal "Where do you from?" We ate Shabu Shabu at Nabezo. I didn't eat as much as I usually do.

Friday I took him through Ginza. He wasn't that impressed with the most expensive place in Tokyo, but he took a few photos at the International Forum in Yurakucho. Leaving him to start work I let him go on to the Imperial Palace area and Akiba.

Saturday night I proposed drinking in Shibuya. We were going to have a combini drink, but somehow a "lost in translation" moment, he thought it would be Shinjuku. When we finally found each other, I took him to Hidekaya, a place that serves a quick, cheap feed.

I thought it'd be nice to take him to Tasuichi, the first bar I went to when I arrived in Tokyo. To my disappointment, the beers are much smaller and four hundred yen now. Still the same ordinary J girls looking around for foreign guys. I was totally put off by the bad gaijin who thought it intelligent to steal someone else's potato chip while the staff was serving it. Terrible. Time to go. We went to my usual bar. It's better than Tasuichi, but the smoking still gets to me.

Finally on Sunday I took him to Odaiba. We walked across the Rainbow Bridge. I brought my Nikon lenses. I swapped lenses between his Tokina 11-16 and my fisheye. Apart from the obvious barrel distortion, I found them fairly similar. I had my 18-200. I'm thinking about leaving my manual lenses on for a while.

For dinner we had Italian. He bought some Uniqlo shirts and Vans shoes, and I was tempted by a ¥4,000 pair.

So, what did he think of Japan? He said the Japanese were friendly. He stands out as a tourist, a curiosity and an opportunity for English practice brings that out. He wanted to see more traditional Japan, and remarked it was similar to Sydney.

Maybe that's the illusion of Tokyo. But with all the places to go, he loves Yodobashi Camera. Thanks for coming.