Synthesizers on Sans Parade album


Although Sans Parade is far from being “electronic” there are plenty of synthesizers on the album – some in  minor roles, some in bigger. For enthusiasts we’d like to present a detailed list here:

Yamaha CS-50

Big Yamaha  CS polyphonic synths are some of the most expressive analog synths ever. Aftertouch and specially the ring modulator attack time can be used to make the synth respond to keyboard playing styles the way only a few synths can.

On “Dead Trees” the chords are played with heavily ring modulated CS-50 thorughout the song. In part C the keys are held down longer so the ring modulation gets worse! On many tracks (“The End of the World 1964” for example – in unison with banjo-mandolin) CS50 plays translucent melodic lines. “One of Those Mornings” chords are distorted acoustic guitar chords with CS-50 playing fifts on the bottom.

All in all, CS-50 is the most influential synth when it comes to Sans Parade’s music.

Bass sounds: Korg MonotronRoland SH-09 and Roland TB-303

Most bottom-heavy synth sounds on the album are based on this well-known wonderful gritty little box called Korg Monotron. Our Monotron is modded with CV and gate inputs and also features a filter key follow pot (located in the CV/gate breakout box). So Monotron was played on a big midi keyboard, not on the internal ribbon. Often Roland SH-09 was used as a second oscillator and feeded into Monotron filter. Sometimes Steinberg/Waldorf A1 soft synth was used for that purpose – in our humble opinion A1 is a very nice intuitive soft synth that can produce wide variety of sounds but it’s bass sounds lack the raw analog power.

On “The End of the World 1964” the synth bass is gated (sidechain-gated) with the bass guitar performance by Pekka, so the resulting synth envelope is equal to the envelope of the bass guitar (the synth doubles bass guitar mostly in unison).

On “The Night I Fell Down Like a Snowlake” (not included on the album, listen at or download for free at the long bass notes are from Roland TB-303 – the lyrics of that song mention this famous acid box so it was an obvious choice. But since the Sans Parade album is performed, not sequenced also 303 was “played”  on its tiny plastic buttons. Amusingly this might also be the only track ever where a 303 can be incorrectly identified as a bass guitar – as supposed byt it’s designers. Of course since the 303 is replaced with a bass guitar in the middle of the song it is easy to make that mistake…

Yamaha PortaSound PSS-260

This 1985 digital keyboard was used on “The Last Song Is a Love Song”. The Vangelis-inspired warm string pad provided more depth to the acoustic high strings.

Casio CZ-101

On “On The Sunniest Sunday” the only synth sound used is an occasional Casio CZ-101 driven through Alesis Quadraverb multieffect unit (probably something based on it’s “Taj Mahal” preset) so loud that the AD input of Quadraverb distorts severely.

Tama Techstar TS-305

Electronic snares on “Dead Trees”. Sounds from Tama drum brain, played live on old russian drum pads and tweaking release time and other knobs live.

NI Reaktor / Steam Pipe soft synth

Reverberated synth sound for example in the intro of “The Last Song Is a Love Song”. On many tracks Steam Pipe sounds double the vocals in order to fill all the space in choruses. Also long heavy synth notes in the “Swept Away” choruses are.

NI Kontakt soft sampler

On “From Leytonstone to Canary Wharf” the chord pad is a combination of a traditional synth pad sound and a short loop created and tuned from a London metro location recording. The track also features some more metro-themed location recordings that were heavily treated with Native Instruments products.

Scanned Synth soft synth

Some strident high notes, on “Dead Trees” for example. An interesting piece of software that doesn’t go the boring old substractive-synth-emulation way.

Also some unusual and unique convolution reverbs were used to treat traditional acoustic instruments but that’s maybe a topic for another post!


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