I think you’re referring to the Roland Handsonic (not on used on the ‘08 tour but on earlier tours). The samples are in the Mac which is running Digital Performer containing the sampler engine MachFive as well as running multitrack audio.
I only worked with Propaganda on live projects (although with Claudia for her solo album). I think it might have been the first time I’d performed live in the UK with a band other than my own….(maybe?) Michael Mertens was the musical talent in the band and a very nice guy to spend time with. The other chap wasn’t even a musician and 95% of the music was on tape. Derek Forbes and I were the ‘live’ element. Their sound (the Trevor Horn school of production) was important to their success so no risks were taken. Anyway, it was techno-pop .. computers performed the music on the recordings so it’s of little significance if those computer recordings are used live (Kraftwerk broke that ground long before) as long as everyone was busy on stage … although in this case not everyone was busy. When vocals and the rhythm section are live there isn’t much else to distinguish as live if all else is on synths. It still makes me smile to remember when Mick (K) used to wind-up Richard (B) with the comment: “we play instruments, you play equipment”.
When I was invited over to record on the track it already contained programmed drums by David Torn with the rapid bass drum. I added my performance to that …single bass drum only.
Delfin Bröder circa 1981. Photo by Steve Jansen
I can’t explain where the influence came from but I wanted to design rhythms that didn’t use hi-hat or ride cymbals, without losing momentum. Those particular tracks were not recorded in part, they were played as whole takes and in those days you had to get through the entire track without any mistakes … unless there was an obvious drop-in point (such as the pauses in ‘Visions Of China’). Speaking of which, for the drum break in that song I overdubbed separate synth percussion parts on the Prophet 5 to augment the basic pattern and give the impression of multiple drummers. I did also overdub additional snares on those two tracks. The only drum track recorded piecemeal on that album was ‘Still Life In Mobile Homes’.
I think any album is worthy if there is a demand for vinyl. This decision rests with whoever owns the recording and the artists have no say in it (as we recently saw with Universal releasing ‘Tin Drum’ on vinyl). In the case of ‘_ism’ that is (was) Polydor, Japan therefore the decision to reissue isn’t ours.
We own the ‘Lumen’ live recording, but not the studio recordings, (apart from ‘Beginning To Melt’) and was therefore able to license it to Kscope for a vinyl release as well as the upcoming double CD release (c/w ‘Stone To Flesh’ also artist-owned), including a bonus track that Richard and I have recently recorded.
I wasn’t involved in any electronic drum development and yes, I did have a Simmons kit which I toured the UK with in ’81. They were very limited sonically and had no memory function so every sound alteration had to be dialled in. The pad surface was made from riot shield plastic giving no buoyancy or shock absorption thereby transferring the impact back into the hand which caused joints to swell. One tour preceded by a few weeks rehearsals was more than enough. Electronic kits have come a long way and are quite comfortable to play. They have a practical use in many situations but I’ve more commonly incorporated sampler pads (triggers) into a live rig rather rather than electronic kits with generic sounds (sometimes a bit of both) but of course they can’t replace the real thing when it comes to expressive playing.