Berlin label One Instrument releases compositions by artists using a single instrument of their choice – and with this challenge, Amsterdam-based duo Wanderwelle had the opportunity to explore the full creative potential of the Roland JUNO-106 Synthesizer with two unique tracks. In our interview, members Phil van Dulm and Alexander Bartels dive into the details of creating their most recent One Instrument track using only the JUNO-106. This isn’t their first time testing the vast capabilities of the synthesizer with One Instrument as they’ve also previously released another song with the label.
Wanderwelle – Roland JUNO-106
Interview with the Duo
How does being limited to only instrument influence your writing and/or creativity?
The tracks on our last album, and upcoming album, were a combination of many field recordings and synths, which gave us an almost endless palette of sounds. Being restricted to just one instrument is quite a different exercise. But nonetheless, a very interesting challenge. When you are limited to one instrument, you should try to increase your creativity, think outside the box and look at it in a completely new way. It drives you to use it at its full potential in ways you never tried before. So, it was a very pleasant way to work for us.
What do you enjoy about using hardware instruments? Does it affect your composition and writing?
We believe that hardware synthesizers and software synthesizers are equally important for production purposes. In this age, where virtual reproductions sound so genuine, using only hardware is not an option for us. Therefore, we try to incorporate the best of both worlds in our projects. However, the hands-on aspect of hardware still makes it infinitely more fun to use for jamming and experimentation. Creating a track with only one software synth would not be nearly as satisfying as creating a whole track with a JUNO-106, for instance. Also, while some great emulations are available, the true sound of this Roland veteran has not been matched by software as of today.
Our JUNO has scratches all over, a very noisy chorus and programs that aren’t working as they should. But all these flaws make it a great classic with its very own character. It’s a very romantic idea to make sounds of the future on a decades-old machine.
What made you want to use the JUNO-106? How did you use it?
We all know the JUNO series for its warm pads and strings and its lovely chorus, a true classic that has left a mark on music for decades. Although the JUNO-106 was originally built between 1984 and 1988, the freshness of its sounds still manages to surprise us to this day. So, we’re pretty sure the JUNO will haunt our productions in some way for years to come. The main sounds we made for the One Instrument project are the familiar, somewhat melancholic JUNO leads and pads with a touch reverb and some equalizing here and there. In the background, electric bird chirping sounds can be heard which are made by the filter with the resonance all the way up. It’s a fascinating idea that a machine can sound so organic and is able to generate sounds that are so recognizable from the natural world. Besides multi layering pads and strings we also included drum sounds which give the track a bit more tempo. The One Instrument project was a very nice way to rediscover one of our beloved synthesizers; architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was right, less is truly more.
Phil van Dulm and Alexander Bartels, musically known as Wanderwelle, produce electronic music that balances between the genres of ambient and experimental techno. Last year, their debut album ‘Lost in a Sea of Trees’ was released by the Canadian label Silent Season. The album’s main sources of inspiration were the rich Slavic folklore and the ancient pagan tribes that once roamed the European woodlands. The artists collected field recordings in Russian, Czech and Dutch forests. Throughout the album the ominous howling of the winds and other natural sounds play a prolific role. Within 48 hours the double LP was sold out worldwide, the repress just in a day. Wanderwelle closed their year with a 2.5 hour live set at the legendary Tresor, Berlin.
This year a new album will be released, which is inspired by the time the post-impressionist Paul Gauguin spent his last years on Tahiti.
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