Simmons SDS-V

::: Simmons SDS V : Terms of Refurbishment :::

I had a Simmons SDSV in storage in the underground garage of our apartment building.  It's exactly like the other one I have written about here before.  It had the Kick, Snare, Tom, Tom, Tom cards and an MFB sequencer that i installed in the last two slots.  One day I went to the basement garage to retrieve it to loan to a friend for a recording project and got a surprise.  Much to my dismay, the cement ceiling of the garage had a leak and it happened to run along that ceiling to directly above the box i had stored the Simmons in.  I didn't even worry at first after the initial shock because i had wrapped the boxed gear in plastic for storage. This is where things got ugly...

Apparently the water had saturated the top of the box and began to run into the large wrapped bag protecting the gear.  I really couldn't believe it, the entire bag was FULL OF WATER.

Not just crappy rain water either.  I was mineral rich leeched water from the cement Which had solidified again and formed a crusty hard calcium like layer all over and inside of the Simmons.  After the shock, anger, depression, and acceptance of this catastrophe i decided with resolve that i had to save this instrument.  I felt like it was my duty to do so.  It took a long time to accomplish and a subsequently longer time to be able to get my thoughts together into a post on the subject.

So it begins.  Part One: The Damage Done

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::: IF :::

::: Simmons SDS-V of the Future :::

I've promised these and so fresh for 2013 here they are!  Extensive photos of the inner life and workings of a Simmons SDS-V with the MFB SEQ-01 sequencer built in. But first, a little background.

Simmons electronic drums were developed by Richard James Burgess and Dave Simmons.  Burgess' idea was to make a fully electronic drumset that could be played  by a real drummer or a sequencer.  He pioneered this idea while working on the first Landscape album From the Tea-Rooms of Mars... To the Hell-Holes of Uranus ( a great soundtrack styled listen BTW ).  In 1981 he produced the Spandau Ballet hit, "Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)".  It was the first breakthrough hit with a real drummer playing the now famous hexagonal pads and the first production Simmons SDS-V brain.

They offered a Kick drum, Snare drum, Toms, and even High Hats and Cymbal modules although the Cymbal and HH ones are super rare.  Seven of any combination could be housed in one brain and triggered via octagonal pad, sequencer, and even acoustic triggers attached to drums.  There was even an open/closed HH pedal input to trigger 2 different variations from the HH module.  You could program your own sounds via the front panel of each module with full controls for 3 presets on the front and one 'factory' set inside that are all adjustable.  The Brain did double duty of allowing trigger inputs while offering basic mixing of the internal sounds via a stereo and mono output ( with individual out as well ).  These brains quickly became cult like in their status and were used in everything from jazz bands by Bill Bruford to rock groups like Def Leppard ( by the one armed Rick Allen ) and of course funk and dance groups like Prince.

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And i never get bored of this song:

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I had picked up an SDS-V brain with a Kick, Snare, and 3 Tom modules.  But there was those two empty slots at the end... hmmmm... Then it occurred to me, What if i turn this Brain into a full DRUM MACHINE!!! Lo an behold, a few Googles later yielded my plan of attack.  I could fit a modern modular sequencer into this old brain and make an instrument of the future past! There's some technical hurdles to surmount in adding a sequencer to the SDS-V brain.

1, The MFB SEQ-01 is designed to work in a modular synth case.  the SDS-V case is of equivalent hight but the mounting holes are not lined up. So, more accurately, the MFB fits vertically and horizontally but the mounting holes don't line up.  To avoid damaging the original mounting setup i opted to temporarily put  washers over the adjacent screws to hold the sequencer in.

2, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be routed to the trigger or sequencer inputs on the SDS-V cards. I had a few options here.  One was to connect the sequencer outs to the Simmons' native sequencer inputs.  The other was to hook it up to the trigger or pad inputs.  I opted to use the trigger inputs ( counter intuitive, i know! ) because this gave me a gain adjustment on the face plate of the brain for each trigger from the sequencer to the drum module.  The SDS-V drum modules are very dynamic and it's useful to be able to hit them with sequencer trigger more or less to taste.

3, Lastly, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be powered and it runs at a different voltage than the SDS-V. I had MFB modify the Seq-01 to run on 15 volts in the SDS.  Then i connected the power from the +/-15 volt rail in the Brain to the power input on the MFB edge connector.  Pretty straight forward!

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Photos by J-poo.

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Future plans for the SDS-V:

1, So, there's one quirk in the Simmons SDS-V design i'd like to point out.  The audio outs are wired pin 3 hot.  This is the XLR wiring convention used by many old British companies and it's the opposite of the US convention of pin 2 hot.  Reversing this would be great to more easily interface with other equipment.

2, I'd eventually like to disconnect the back panel sequencer jacks from the SDS-V modules and instead wire them to the MFB SEQ-01 outputs.  This way the sequencer outs  could be used to drive more than just the Simmons modules.  there's actually 12 sequencer slots and the Simmons SDSV can only hold 5 cards with the sequencer installed. Maybe someday!

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References:

Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDS-V - Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

::: IF :::

::: Welcome to the Summer-Dome :::

XBS has been busy... jammin... fixin... jammin' n fixin'... Still totally obsessed with some of the Midnight Starr, Deele, etc etc...

::: Thanks Don :::

So, this is what came out this week when we fired up the synth army.  The original idea was to get some David Frank style bleep bloops a la Beat Street going:

http://youtu.be/9pMzUcB-QoU

...But it ended up being slower and more groovy which is still fun by me.  It's more summery and less on the John Carpenter tip we've been on too.  Usual suspects include Oberheim DSX Sequencer, Arp 2600, SCI Pro One, Mirage sampler ( OB-DPX-1), Linndrum LM2, Oberheim DX Stretch, Simmons SDSV, Roland JP-8...

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[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51223006" iframe="true" /]

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One of these days i'm going to just get a talk box and become Roger Troutman and drop some really beautifully vapid loves jams all over the ground. Zapp is great in the summer time.  I love running to some Roger jams.

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PS, D.F. has content on his site now:

David Frank | music production

COOL!

::: IF :::

::: Nature Never Knew Colors Like This :::

I like this one a lot.  It may just be the cowbell in the chorus.  Moar Cowbell!!!!!  Usual suspects: Arp 2600, Oberheim OB - 8, DSX sequencer, Linn LM2 ( Thanks 4 tha Cowbell ), Oberheim DMX, Roland JP-8, SCI Multitrak... [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/49073000" iframe="true" /]

I made a video for this one as well ( imovie is really limited so i didn't do much editing ), using some borrowed footage from the old sci fi movie Hardware (1990 movie):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp1mfvDmRms&w=420&h=315]

Not only may it be the poor mans terminator!  It has possibly the best movie description i've ever seen, " Inspired by a short story in 2000 AD, the movie depicts the rampage of a self-repairing cyborg in a post-apocalyptic slum. "  The bonus being cameos by LemmyIggy Pop, and Carl McCoy, famed weirdo and singer of Fields of the Nephilim.  Such a weird sleeper of a band.  The awesome thing about Carl's cameo is that he is playing a mysterious post apocalyptic scavenger in this crazy desert / spaghetti western outfit and that's how he actually dresses!

Wikkid!

PS: the post title is one of Iggy Pops lines from the film.  he's a radio DJ overheard in the cab driven by Lemme.  Desrcibing the weather no less!

PPS: I couldn't leave ou without a gif!

::: IF :::

::: Cold Wave Cold Gaze :::

We've been listening to a lot of old Talk Talk records lately.  The earlier stuff is straight british new wave while the later stuff is so outside and minimal yet super complex and evolving.  It can take years to parce the development of a band and or artist, especially Mark Hollis' descent into an erie drug induced madness and isolation on the later Talk Talk and then his one solo record. The reversed synth lines in this track remind me of the strange soundscapes that Mark Hollis would use on his more experimental records.  Tucked into an A Ha-esque British synth pop shell.  It's uplifting somehow, Like the Simple Minds and Tears for Fears stuff of that era always is...

somehow...

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[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35143601" iframe="true" /]

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The usual suspects too! Oberheim DSX, Oberheim DMX, Simmons SDS V, Linn LM2, Roland - JP 8, Arp...

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This one is dedicated to Mr. Knapp...

Can i call u that?

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::: IF :::

::: Løøkn frra Raynbow :::

It's particularly rainy here for January!  In lieu of snow XBS is stuck inside staying dry, which is fine by ME! We are still lovin' synth-funk-electro-crossover longtime and we can take this opportunity to post another 'XBS of the week'...

This week brought to you by : Atlantic Star, Midnight Star, Calloway, and all the other post Zap purveyors of robo awesomeness

Let's call it a miami disco tribute to Midnight Star and their song Midas Touch!

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[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/34750316" iframe="true" /]

 

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All the usual suspects!  (( Jupiter 8 ( still in the shop ) Simmons SDSV, Oberheim DX Stretch, OB-8, Mirage Sampler ( love the mirage sampler )))

I borrowed the a capella for Midas Touch by Midnight Star and threw it on for fun.  I just used the first few verses and chorus...

The vocal version is here:

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[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/34748010" iframe="true" /]

 

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Happy Friday...

::: I.F. :::

::: Happy Jam of the Week :::

Well, we spent a few days cleaning out the cave and finishing up some repairs ( i almost got a JP6 done this week to post pics of but it's being petulant so that will have to wait until it is 100 % happy functional ) so we figured we'd heat up the troops and make some celebratory saturday music. TGIS!

This one consists of the usual compliment of suspects: DSX, OB-8, Mirage, SDS-V, Linndrum, OB-DX Stretch,

but the bonus is a JP-8 that we've been fixing up! ( it's doing the little chorus line and the sliding fast arpeggio at the end... )

sweet.....

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/34821284" iframe="true" /]

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::: IF :::

::: Future :: NOW NOW NOW!!! :::

Happy Nu Year! XBS figured we could end on a nice up note with the universally known center of awesomeness, Carl Sagan...

...yummmmmmmy BRAINS!!!

Love the Quincy Jones, Love the Chaka Kahn!!

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/32067358"]

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This one is DSX/OB-8, Mirage, Roland Jupiter 6, Arp-2600, Simmons SDS-V and Linndrum...

Oh yeah, Vocoder by Korg VC-10. A prelude to more fun!

Thanks and C U Next Year!

::: IF :::

::: It's Passion :::

XBS loves getting new Vinyl.  Especially if its really old and was never played!  We just scored an original Mirage Records copy of It's Passion by The System  for one dollar and it RULES!  This reminded me that there have been no XBS posts on The System yet.  It's a travesty!!  XBS will do more we promise!  XBS will post that performance from MIAMI VICE at some point as well...

XBS owes a lot of art time inspiration to this band.  More than making some fun jams back in the day, they also inspired our love of Oberheim and the pre midi sequencing capabilities of  'The System'.

So, The DSX is the sequencer and it can control a DX or DMX drum machine and one Oberheim poly at the same time.  It can do 10 tracks of polyphonic ( 16 voices ) to an OB X, Xa, SX, or 8  via 'computer interface' and 8 CV / Gates on the back panel for mono synths simultaneously ( US scaling and polarity ( invertible! )).  It could record up to 6000 notes, record patch and controller type changes on a dedicated data track, and do real time transposition and track track muting!

So much fun!

Our OB-8 has midi so the DSX can actually control anything in the studio!  We upgraded the brains with some help from, you guessed it, Paul at Electron Gate!

http://www.electrongate.com/dmxfiles/products.html

::: [[START]] NERDY DANCING ZONE :::

::: [[END]] NERDY DANCING ZONE :::

We've been saving that dry hump macintosh gif for ever, now it has a raison d'etre...

Here's an awesome jam from the first System record. Note they have a PPG in the video for no reason i can guess other than they are dancing in space!!!:

http://youtu.be/FqeQ_PfKMAo

David Frank  is a Special and Visionary dude.  Thanks dude!

::: IF :::