We’re a bit late to the party for this Kickstarter campaign, which funded its paltry €5000 within a day of launch. Created by Tokyo electronic music group DUB-Russell, the 2020 is a semi modular standalone beat-machine for Apple OSX. “What’s that?” I hear you say, “a real piece of music software running on real computers?” Oh yes, this is no iPad app. The concept is to be able to generate a million sound/sequence variations from a single small idea and do all of that in just one window.
That one window is a mass of colour, control and information. They describe it as being like the console of a spaceship and I’m reminded of that scene in the film Airplane where the camera pans a never-ending console of controls. Once you break it down a bit it starts to make more sense. It’s a beat making and performance tool, it has no timeline or arrange page. Instead, the idea is to perform and manipulate on the fly. I guess it’s sort of reminiscent of a groove machine in Reaktor. The beat making starts with the four grid sequencers with a maximum of 32 beats and different resolutions. Those can be routed to various sound generators such as the two FM synths, three sound loopers and 12 one-shot samplers or kick synth. Then there’s this thing called a Higurashi Generator which apparently makes a “pretty nice beeper” – I have no clue what that is. These can then travel off to a very interesting effects patcher which is where the semi-modular nature shows its worth, and then onto mixers and master effects and finally to your speakers. You can add external sound sources to the mix and patch in randomising functions over pretty much every parameter.
It looks complex and they recommend that you use a 13″ or larger screen to enable a half decent view of what’s going on. But the sound examples on the Kickstarter page and the performance in the video are quite jaw dropping (do watch the video of the performance of Daisuke Tanabe on the Kickstarter page), although it’s difficult to see how these sounds and beats are being produced. Yotaro Shuto from DUB-Russell has been developing this for 6 years and they are looking to release the final version by the autumn this year. I wonder what they need the money for – they’re not asking for very much, perhaps this is more of a marketing and awareness thing and an opportunity to feed off the excitement of the public. In that respect all the “early bird” reward versions have gone and so any potential backers now only have the option for the €89 standard version. This will get wrongly compared to the beat making apps you get on the iPad for a few dollars when really it should be compared to something like Reaktor, Ableton Live or Bitwig Studio. When you do, the price point appears very reasonable indeed.