Humor

::: Boris Blank Rules :::

This is going to be a large quote of a post.  I love the band Yello.  So much so as to have all of their records on vinyl! Apparently Boris Blank's Fairlight III is for sale.

Totally refurbished to boot!

Here you go:

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"Every Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument has a story behind it. Hugely expensive when new, their unique sounds and legendary user interface were used by music pioneers who changed the sound of music forever.

At a cost around $65,000 in 1985 (which could have bought you a very nice house) the list of Fairlight III owners reads like a who’s who of musical innovation of the time. Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Thomas Dolby, Hans Zimmer and Pet Shop Boys were owners in the UK, with many studios catering for those who didn’t own one. For a complete list take a look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairlight_CMI

The particular system being offered here belongs to Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello. One could argue that during the 1980’s Yello used the Fairlight more, and more interestingly than virtually anyone else. Every hit single they had (and there were quite a few) used the Fairlight CMI extensively..

So, if you ever lusted after one of these legendary instruments, here’s a chance to acquire one with some serious street cred!

Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris's sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives. Boris is on holiday at the moment, however his assistant has promised some more photos and goodies when he returns!

Offered for sale is a very rare, vintage classic Fairlight CMI III computer musical instrument workstation in excellent condition. The system is a late model, in three rack units which are 8U, 8U and 5U for the hard drive enclosure. It has the latest and best in technical innovations, whilst still retaining the classic legendary sound of the CMI. The system is switchable for 110, 220 or 240V so will work ANYWHERE in the world.

The system has the latest 9.34 music software, has 16 voices, mono graphics card and monitor, and 24 output router.  Instead of the usual 14 Mbytes RAM memory fitted as standard from the factory, this unit has a brand new 32 Mbyte card, which is the maximum possible in these systems. It also has a digital sampler module and a Turbo-SCSI card: It is therefore fully optioned with the last and best revisions of both hardware and software. There is no music keyboard, however any MIDI keyboard or external computer/sequencer will work brilliantly. I can supply a colour graphics card at additional cost if desired, to enable the system to run with many flat LCD screens. If required, the original mono graphics can be re-installed in minutes..

There are four hard drives installed. Three are original, with Boris's sounds, and the forth is "My" collection of libraries I normally include with my systems for sale. These are as follows:
 Complete Fairlight library, Prosonus Strings, Brass, Percussion, Sound 
Genesis strings, plus many libraries collected over the last 25 years 
dealing with top producers and musicians. These include libraries from: Pet 
Shop Boys, Trevor Horn, Hans Zimmer, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise and many, many others. The complete Fairlight IIX library is also included.

The floppy and WORM drive work intemittantly, however these were only used in the 1980's before more reliable and cost-effective storage emerged. Therefore there is no warranty on these parts. The only other points of note are that some of the keys on the alpha-numeric keyboard are beginning to lose their legends (see picture), and the graphics pad is worn in places. I have however adjusted the keyboard so that the worn spots on the pad doesn't cause problems.

The system has been serviced, will have a full set of manuals on CD, all leads, latest firmware, and come with 3 months warranty (apart from the two drives mentioned above).

Please note you’ll see other Fairlight systems advertised, and some might be less expensive. However, do some research before you buy. What may look like a bargain might not look so appealing when its obsolete parts finally give up. This applies specially to earlier systems.  This system is complete, fully functional, and will work straight out of the box. I worked as product specialist and studio manager at Fairlight in Sydney during most of the 1980s, and have been involved in re-building Fairlight CMIs for over 25 years. I have sold and supported well over 45 of these classic samplers. If you are in any doubt, please type “Peter Wielk Fairlight” into the worlds favourite search engine and see what comes out.

You might be apprehensive about owning a big piece of technology, however the Fairlight CMIs were designed to last – no new technology comes near it for build quality. All the cards and modules of a series III are plug-in which makes servicing a breeze (and also helped push the original price up). In the unlikely event of a board failure, this can simply be swapped out for a replacement from me, to either repair or replace. I have a huge amount of spares, since I bought most of the factories old stock and spare parts. I also do repairs at board level, and re-manufacture parts when unavailable. I have been supporting these incredible systems for many years, and hope to continue this for many more…

I have tried to describe this system as accurately as possible. However, please feel free to ask any questions, or if you’re passing through Sydney, you would be very welcome to have an extensive demonstration. Lastly, these systems were designed and built with no compromises, reflected by their US$75,000 price tag when new. The sound is completely awesome. You might buy a sample CD of the Fairlight sounds, it will sound NOTHING like the real thing.

Also, only about 200 systems were built, and they were sold to the most influental musicians and producers in the world. The sounds of the Fairlight CMI formed the soundtrack of the 1980s. So, if you’ve always lusted after one, here’s your chance to own a part of music history!

Please note price is in Australian dollars, and excludes freight. I have an account with TNT couriers here in Sydney and ship many systems every year. I will ship for my cost. Please mail for more exact figures to your location. All shipments can be tracked through TNTs own site. IGNORE EBAYS SHIPPING PRICE CALCULATORS: THEY ARE WORSE THAN USELESS !!!!!!!

There are many currency conversion sites online. Australian residents please add 10% GST.

Lastly, due to the number of frauds and scams on ebay, please contact me if you have less than 10 positive transactions. I won't even consider shipping until funds have cleared this end, so please don't ask. I am sure any honest bidder will not resent this precaution.

Extra information:

This system is multi-timbral, in that it can produce 16 different sounds at any given time. It also has dynamic voice allocation, meaning that although the device is 16 channels, one could play for example, 16 voices of piano in one bar of music, 16 voices of brass in the next, 16 of vibraphone in the next, and so on. Each sound is output through it's own dedicated router output, of which there are 24. A loom will be provided to interface the first 8 "routputs" with your mixer. This differs from the earlier CMI IIIs, as they had only one monophonic output per XLR. As producer and Fairlight programmer extrordinaire Andy Richards (look him up for credentials) once said: "Having a router is like having a Fairlight and a half

Horizontal Productions in sunny Sydney"

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:::IF:::

::: Cocaine is a hell of a Giorgio Moroder Song :::

I don't often quote but here is a quote worth reprinting. It's from here:

 

MILES DAVIS

Used to call Nile Rodgers on the phone every night, saying “Write me a ‘Good Times.’” Nile’s point being we all want mass success.

Nile used to be a jazzer, but then his mentor said “You’re too good for pop?” If millions love it, it can’t be bad. And Nile went home and wrote “Everybody Dance,” mashing up jazz and dance.

DRUGS

Nile gave them up because he heard a recording of a live show where he thought he was killing it, and found out he sucked. He loves drugs, but he loves music more.

DAVID SMITH

You probably don’t know him, I certainly didn’t. But I know his products and so do you, the Juno! He’s one of the original synthesizer innovators. When asked for advice, Smith said you have to have fun doing it. Too many people focus on the end goal, mass acceptance, fame and riches. But if the journey there is gonna bore you, do something different.

TIESTO

Said they were trying to turn Ibiza into St. Tropez, that there’s been no innovation and the prices are too high, that’s why he skipped the season and went to Vegas instead, where everybody can get in and have a good time.

CURIOSITY

It’s the key to Giorgio Moroder’s success. He’s always wanted to try new things.

BLACK PANTHERS

Nile was one. He’s friends with Bobby Seale to this day. He said the black panther was actually the Esso tiger! Just painted black! His section leader’s dad had created the mascot for the oil company and the Panthers repurposed it!

BURNING MAN

That’s where Mikhail takes all his potential investors. To bond as people before he pitches them. Because humanity comes first.

SALESMANSHIP

It’s the hustler’s currency. It’s the essence of the entrepreneur. You’ve got to learn how to tell a good story. I was sold by some of the best today.

ELECTRONIC MUSIC

Is about the beat, not the words, and therefore it’s international.  Shailendra said it was booming in India, where you reach your audience via social media on mobiles.

BICYCLES

Have their own special lane in Amsterdam. Keep your eyes and ears open, otherwise you’ll get mowed down, cyclists brake for no one, and wear no helmets.

BAKED GOODS

Are better here than at home. Or maybe it’s just the weather, everything tastes better on a gray autumn day.

TALL PEOPLE

They say it’s the milk and cheese. It builds better bodies.

ROXY MUSIC

Was the inspiration for both Nile Rodgers and Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire. Nile was playing in a soul band but after seeing Roxy Music in London, he went home and started Chic. You think you want to imitate, but really you want to innovate.

PRODUCING

Musicians are generous, when it comes to skills. See something you admire and its propagator will tell you how he did it. Nile learned to be a producer by picking up tips in the studio. Luther Vandross taught him how to record vocals, Quincy Jones instructed him. To the point where when he was in the studio and somebody was doing something wrong, he’d speak up and say “No, this is how you do it…” Do that enough, and they put you in charge.

HITS

Are outnumbered by Nile’s failures. People only remember the hits. And if you’ve got the chops, you know the failures are only momentary blips.

HEARING

Is not easy for Giorgio Moroder. Too much loud music or old age, I don’t know. Protect your ears.

TWEETING

Tiesto does most of his own, because the public can tell the difference.

MOANING

Donna Summer said she couldn’t, didn’t wanna try. But Moroder sent her husband out of the studio, turned down the lights, and she got into it for ten minutes, which Giorgio cut up and inserted into “Love To Love You Baby.”

THE OHIO EXPRESS

Inspired Giorgio Moroder, he sang a few bars of “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.”

COCAINE

Made Giorgio’s studio musicians blow out the monitors on a regular basis, not when they were recording, but when they were playing back after hours, when they were high and Giorgio was home eating and sleeping.

COCAINE 2

Refused to allow Nile Rodgers’s heart to keep beating. They had to restart it eight times in the hospital before it would keep going. Nile swore off the marching powder…for two weeks.

 

::: Roland Juno 106 Restoration :::

I always enjoy trying to improve the functionality and or update / repair the instruments i own but recently I have been in the process of taking on more repair work for other people.  This can be intimidating but i like the challenge and i always learn something. Some friends of mine had a Juno 106 that finally died after  years of touring and gigging.  Apparently this Juno 106 was a frankenstein made out of 2 previously corpse-d Juno 106's that the band had been using previously.

Amazing and yet common story for the Roland Juno 106 as they have parts that are bound to fail and there's many of them in circulation.

When i received the Juno it was totally deceased.  It wouldn't even turn on.  As i started at the beginning ( the power supply ) i began a long journey that took me to every board in this beast.  As will many Rolands of that era, the Juno 106 is nicely made and laid out inside.  it's relatively easy to work on and retains the Roland style of sophistication and simplicity.

On to the process:

The AC wires from the receptacle to the PSU were rotted out so i replaced them.  After that step i noticed that the power transformer was toasted.  Once i sourced a replacement transformer from a parts machine ( Roland HS-60 that someone had pulled the voice chips from previously) i at least had some voltage!

But thats where i met my next obstacle.  The regulators on the supply were down.  This an easy fix and i soon had AC to DC conversion at all the required voltages from the PSU.  When i reconnected all the other boards the regulators immediately started overheating .  This was a bad sign and meant that the other boards had problems yet to be deciphered.  I reconnected each board one at a time and found out that the Voice Module board ( the most important one! ) was shorting out the power supply.  A little research informed me that when the 'Voice' chips in Juno 106's fail they sometimes become a short that persists.  It doesn't cause the unit to shut down or the fuse to blow.  It just goes supernova!  Based on how hot it was getting within minutes i can see what had brought this instrument down.  The short had occurred in the module board and the power supply allowed so much current to pass that the regulators and the power supply were destroyed!  Pretty catastrophic!  This probably didn't take long either and it was only minutes from when the synth stopped making sound at a gig until it had melted itself to death.

Side note, There were several problems i eventually addressed to bring this baby back to club awesome.

1, The bender assembly was trashed and just sloppily banging around inside the bender housing.

2, There were 2 sliders on the ENV / VCA section that were broken off and had screws jammed into them ( they still worked apparently! )

3, One of the voices was dead.  And once i got that sorted the CPU on the voice module board was toasted and wouldn't trigger voices properly.

4, The power supply and transformer were dead.

5, The jack board where the outputs live had issues too as there was no audio from the main outs but the headphone jack had been working.

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On to the work!

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So it took a lot of research and work but this instrument is now rockin' again!  I've burned it in for 24 hours and it still sounds great so it's time to release it to the wild!

Here's a list of all the work i ended up doing:

1, The power transformer was blown and replaced.

2, The voltage regulators in the power supply were toasted and replaced.

3 The CPU on the voice board was toasted and has been replaced.

4, The bender assembly was broken and has been replaced.

5, The 2 broken sliders have been replaced and have original matching caps as well.  i also lubed all the faders with teflon fader grease so they feel less gritty and more similar.

6, There was blown parts in the jack board that were replaced ( hum and dead outputs ) and all the outputs are now making music!

7, The power cable input could not be switched to IEC 3 prong because there is not enough room to put a deeper receptacle in without being dangerously close to exposed AC points.

8, The main culprit of this catastrophe was a dead 'voice' chip ( Roland 80017A ).  When these go they sometimes become a short.  this is what took down the power supply and many of the other parts that needed replacement.

9, lastly, i replaced the end cap chassis screws so this synth will be more structurally stable and hopefully last another 30 years!

I forgot how specific the 106 vibe was.  Too bad they are so prone to failure.

As always, thanks to Doug at synthparts for synth parts!

::: IF :::

::: So this happened : The Fabled Simmons SDS 6 In the Wild :::

Today in the shop i have a Simmons SDS 6.  This one is serial number 105.  Seeing as there was only 109 of these ever made i'd say this is practically a Chupacabra! It was shipped to the US from Europe so the power supply had to be changed to see 110 volts.  The transformer has two primary coils that were hooked up in series for European voltage but once they are changed to a parallel configuration it should be fine!

The manual also says to use a 1A fuse in the US.

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There's not much info on these in the world ( google ).  I have the manual and schematic here with this one which is helpful.  The circuit boards are riddled with modifications that were probably done on the production line.  This one doesn't have MIDI but supposedly a few had been updated to support it.  There's a few videos on youtube that show off how utterly awesome this is to program and watch:

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I doubt i'll ever see another!

Here's an add for the Simmons SDS 6 ( thanks Simmons Museum! )

Other Resources:

Simmons.net

Simmons WIKI

::: IF :::

::: Sequential Circuits Max Firmware Upgrade :::

It's a tech kind of weekend! A while back I met a guy named Bob Grieb on the sequential circuits yahoo group who was working on a firmware and memory upgrade for the Sequential Circuits Max.  I am a huge fan of the SCI Multitrak as posted here and the Max is basically the same synth in a smaller package with less programming capability ( no editing grid on the faceplate ), performance features ( arpeggiator and wheels ), and an even less colorful color scheme! ( I'll have one totally 80's football font on grey sparkle please!!! )

As soon as Bob had kits available i had him ship me a set so i could do some tech work on the weekend.  It consisted of a PCB, a new larger ram chip, an eprom with updated OS features, some chip sockets, and a few diodes, resistors, caps, and wires to assemble.  He posted instructions on his site to assist in the process as well.  Its not too complicated but there's several steps that are pretty hard if you are not comfy soldering multi pin chips.

1, First i needed to remove the 2 old non writable ram chips from the mother board.  Thats right, the original OS didn't allow you to rewrite the basic patches, although they could be edited via midi and were remembered while the unit had power.  The same went for the sequence memory: lost at power down.  This was the hardest part of the process.  The memory chips are right next to the CPU and had a very tight space between them for desoldering.  I chose to use a liberal amount of solder wick to pull the solder from the joints.  it took a while but finally the two chips literally fell out without damaging the board!

2, I then assembled the new PCB.  Theres a socket for the new ram and the new OS eprom as well as a set of pins on the bottom that sit in the old eprom socket.  I then added the other components to the board and checked to see if it fit into the socket on the mother board without touching anything.  It looked good and i actually attached a small bit of foam to the bottom of the PCB to relieve the weight of the whole assembly resting on the eprom socket.

3, after attaching the 5 wires for os, ram addressing, and power to the new PCB i was ready to start the Max up!  That wasn't too bad once i got past the chip removal!

At startup the max loads it's basic patches and default sequences from the new ram location on the new chip. Then it goes through the voice tuning routine as it always would.  Pretty smooth actually!

I also did a few other maintenance things while i was inside the max:

1, I gave it a thorough cleaning.  30 years can leave a lot of dust!  I also noticed that the metal supports for the mother board were totally untreated metal and they were corroding.  They were covered in a fine dust of rust and it was gross.  So i scrubbed them in the sink and let the whole bottom plate dry in the sun for a while.  I then used a can of Rust-Oleum clear enamel to coat them.  This will hopefully help keep them from corroding more in the future.

2  I also removed and cleaned the small red window that covers the led display.  I re-taped it on all four sides so it will keep dust out more effectively and look better.

So, the Tauntek SCI Max firmware upgrade adds many features.  Here's a list of them:

1) 100 downloadable programs (Max had 20 that could be downloaded)

2) Storage for ~3200 notes in two songs (Max could store about 500)

3) Unison mode (Max did not support Unison mode)

4) Battery-backed storage of downloadable programs and songs

5) MIDI chan and a few other parameters are also non-volatile

6) Three sets of programs in EPROM, loadable on request:

a) Max orig 80 programs plus Six Trak Unison programs

b) Six Trak orig 100 programs

c) Multitrak orig 100 programs, without chorus and velocity sens parameters

7) Current voice parameters, including any CC changes, can be stored in program #99

8) Program #99 can be copied to any other program.

9) MIDI receive buffer increased from 64 bytes to 128 bytes

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Pretty RAD!

:::IF:::

::: Synth kids in the 80's :::

There's a blog i love called internetkhole. They mostly post family photos from the 80's a la FFFound but with the added twist of generally focussing on music, partying, and all things earnest about cloths, cars, style in the 80's.

Imma post a few of my faves here because i just dug through a few pages and there was some good old synth band shots :

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Happy Summer!

I.F.

::: The Unibomber's 909 ?!? :::

I can't pass up the chance to share this hilarity.  I've seen this Roland TR 909 come up on Ebay in the past and now it's popped up on Craigslist in Denver.  I wanted to  memorialize it in all it's glory before it's gone for ever!  Be sure to check out the gallery.  It's just crazy.  The TR 909 looks like it was brought into a burning house to play a DJ set by the fire department! TR 909 Fire 1

Direct Quote from Craigslist :

Roland TR-909 Drum Machine - $1500 (Longmont)

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Roland TR-909 Drum Machine... Original owner. Bought it new in late 80's. First $1500 buys it. Everything works, but tarnished from being stored in a studio that was heated with wood stove.Totally clean in the inside other than very little dust.When I plug in with speaker... all seems to work. All instruments sound perfect and work, including the loud and soft keys. I didn't notice any scratchy sound on knobs other than when the main volume is turned almost all the way down. I think minor cleaning would solve that.Now... I bought this new in the Mid 80's... they JUST came out when I bought it. I played around with the programming of it, and I either am not remembering how to clear written programs, or it might have a internal battery that needs replacing. Or, maybe it has issues. My point is that I know everything works, but I don't know 100% if the programing memory thing works. Probably does, but I don't have time to re-learn this unit. It's not supper use friendly.
Any in 100% perfect shape are over $2500 Will sell this as is for $1500. Cash only... no pay pal.NOTE: I personally think an old item like this is better viewed in person. No returns, sale is final, so you get what you get. Cash and carry, no shipping offered.
::: IF :::

::: Movies by Year :::

So, have you ever thought about how good 1982 was for movies? E.T.   Tron   Bladerunner   Star Trek II   The Thing   Poltergeist...

Wow...

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Not to mention the soundtracks!

It's funny how many spoilers they have in the segment.  I don't want to know E.T. is friendly and Sean Young is a robot.  How about the Star trek spoiler!

::: IF :::

::: Korg VC-10: A diamond in the rough Part 1 :::

This week i am going to start an extensive series of mods on an old Korg VC 10 Vocoder.  The Korg VC 10 has a reputation for being flawed in some ways but i think it has a lot of potential despite this.  I always felt that it had an ill defined sound over all.  It lacks a clear robotic synth vibe and also employs it's noise generator in a not always useful way. The demo is pretty dorky and kitchy but someone posted the original korg demo for this box and i think it clearly demonstrates the design limitations i'm referring to.  It wants to sound cool but it comes across sounding mushy and muddled to me...

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So, i did some research and found a good amount of info as to possible modifications, this first post will pertain to two major sound quality related modifications:

1,   There's a quirk in the way the 20 sound generators are treated. Channels 17 to 20 have their carrier input connected NOT to the generator/noise/external mixer, but rather to noise only. The problem here is that this noise signal is attenuated by the generator/noise mixer, resulting in that there will be no carrier to channel 17 to 20 if you turn the generator/noise mixer knob to the generator only position! (which you may often do). Yes, the four highest channels will be quiet! Performing this mod will increase the speech recognition and add the missing edge to the sound.

2,  The bias signal for the sound generator does not affect channels 15 - 20.  By routing the bias signal to all the channels you get a brighter and more well defined vocoder output as all the channels will behave together.  This will also increase the effect of adjusting the bias.  This requires adding a few resistors that are not there for channels 15 and 16 and rerouting the 100k resistors for the remaining channels 17-20.

*** On to the dangerous part! ***

1,  The process:  Locate and release PCB KLM-134 (the filter board).  Locate the wire attached to header H3-1 (noise in).  Cut or unsolder the wire.  Now locate IC1 on the same board.  Find pin 1 and follow the trace to channel 16.  Connect from this point to the (now unconnected) corresponding point of channel 17.  The channel numbers and the traces pretty easy to locate on the PCB.  That one was easy!

2,  The process:  On KLM-134, find IC1 pin 7 (bias).  Follow this trace to R2414 (100k).  Now locate Q115 (channel 15 VCA).  Solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q115 (R2315 is connected to the base).  Then locate Q116 and solder a 100k resistor between bias and the base of Q116 (R2316 is connected to the base).  Channel 17 to 20 already have the 100k resistors you need, but they are connected to ground.  Find R2417, R2418, R2419 and R2420.  Connect them to bias instead of ground.

Both of these mods sound complicated but are very easily seen in the schematic here:

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Korg-VC-10-Channel-inputs-s
Korg-VC-10-Channel-inputs-s

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gallery columns="4"
gallery columns="4"

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While i was inside the VC-10 i found a few other curious things that i will be discuss in a future post. I had to order more parts to do these bits!  It was filthy in there too, so i disassembled the bottom plate and did a thorough clean below the key bed.  It's sounding way better to me with the first round of mods.  I should have done a before / after recording to reference...

To Be Continued!!

PS: These are the main sites i used for reference, technical info, and modification ideas:

Korg VC-10 Flaws & Features

Korg VC-10 Modifications

Vocoder Historical Notes

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It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...
It's a Cat's Universe, and we are merely playthings...

::: IF :::

::: I Are Dream Robotic :::

I don't know a lot about these peeps.  They are awesomely cut from the same material that Attitude and other robot funk music between 1980-1983 were cut.

::: At I Tudinal ::::

They are more difficult to research than most.  With a name like Gift Of Dreams there's no easy way to google them!

Band : Gift Of Dreams

LP : Mandroid

::: this one holds down the italo line fantastically :::

http://youtu.be/2R-M6kEy-3g

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love the arpeggios!!  it's sooooo italo...

::: and this song is so funky! :::

http://youtu.be/YUfMbOJ7zNs

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::: IF :::