I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff done with tape over the years. From the dying art of tape editing with bits of sticky tape to cassette scratching for the seriously analogue DJ. The OM-1 from Onde Magnetique remains in that slightly bonkers category of inventive uses for tape – the Cassette Synthesizer.
It’s a simple idea of taking a single continuous tone recorded to tape and then varying the speed to alter the pitch. You must have done this yourself with a pencil and a tape head at some point yes? Maybe that was just me. The OM-1 achieves the speed/pitch change via the 8 buttons. Each button has a tuning knob directly above it. Volume can be managed with a pressure sensitive pad – the harder it’s pressed the louder the sound. A three position switch controls the attack/release of the audio output. CV/gate inputs allow control over the pitch and volume from a linear voltage sequencer.
The OM-1 comes with a modified portable cassette recorder and the cables you need to run it. All units are built to order and allow 6 weeks for delivery. The cost is $285, but since this has no business being an actual product then I reckon they can charge whatever they like.
I’d like to see this concept taken polyphonic by using the tape head of a 4-track tape portastudio. Maybe someone out there is crazy enough to give it a go.
In the meantime sit back and enjoy the wondrous madness of it all.
More information on the Onde Magnetique OM-1 here.