The EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256: beautiful design, very rare. Only two dozen of them were supposedly built. One unit now appeared on Reverb.com (auction by the Belgian vintage shop Ocsidance). According to the dealer, this sequencer belonged to German composer and sound artist Jürgen Karg (born in 1942, age 79).
Karg’s career was varied and vibrant. In the 1960s, he gigged as a double bass player side by side with jazz musician Wolfgang Dauner. And he also played in the German classical orchestra “Süddeutsches Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester” (Stuttgart).
In the 1970s, Karg switched to electronic music. The collective recording “ELECTRONISCHE MYTHEN” (Electronic Myths) was created. This recording was made exclusively with EMS snthesizers. Four VCS3 produced the tones, controlled by the digital memory unit, the EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256.
Karg, who had several (!) VCS3 synthesizers in use, was surprisingly critical of them:
“The analog VCS3 synthesizers from EMS […] were extremely primitive and were hardly suitable for serious sound production, since they were not frequency stable. Only ring-modulated sounds could arouse my interest. And the Sequencer 256, the entry into digital technology, only slightly expanded the possibilities of control technology. Those 256 storable were rapidly being used up and had to be controlled in frequency in order to allow variety at all.”
(Translation from: http://juergenkarg.de)
Karg has made some modifications to the EMS sequencer, such as two additional VC Slew Limiter and extra outputs, in order to be able to control the already mentioned 4 EMS synths all at the same time.
The EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256 is a stunning machine. In addition to its many outputs, its external (clock) control options and its unusual (massive!) appearance, it features a luxurious 5-octave keyboard.
What a pity that the original logo (“SYNTHI Sequencer 256”) is missing on this unit. However, the useful extras / modifications by Karg will surely compensate for that.
- Jürgen Karg (Wikipedia) German only
- Jürgen Karg (Website) German only
Jürgen Karg: “Die Versunkene Stadt” (The Sunken City)
(from the Vinyl “Elektronische Mythen”, 1977)
They may have been primitive and not very stable, but in their defense they were not several thousand dollars each, they were around $600 each, so more bang for your buck, prices today reflect how good these “pathetic little machines” to Quote Peter Zinovieff are, and are still highly sort after, and copied by amateurs and professionals alike.