January 20, 2012

Roland Booth at NAMM

So, there is apparently some kind of rift in the space-time continuum over towards the Roland “booth.” Some exhibitors at NAMM come to show off new products, some just come to show what they’ve already released. Roland may well be the doing the latter. Though I wish to propose a far more radical theory that I imagine will not be accepted by the scientific community.

Bigger than a booth; Roland have a rather impressive and huge wing at the far end of the show blocked off. As a huge fan of Roland synths through the ages (even though I can’t claim to love everything they do, the ones I have loved I have really, really loved,) I was immediately excited to enter this treasure trove of new synthesizer delights. “Surely,” I thought to myself, “I have arrived at the place where I will discover the next love of my life.”

Then I fell through the time warp. Unlike the time warps we know from television and movies, this one seemed to take me to earlier in 2011, Namm show 2010 and Namm show 1999. While it is a fantastic synth at an amazing price point, I was surprised to see the Gaia SH-01 in a 6 up display. Then I turned and saw the Jupiter 80 being pimped by a total badass who was playing a full on performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Don’t even ask me how the time machine could wedge me squarely between the late 80s and a few months ago, but there I was. I found myself wondering if Whitney would find someone who loved her to dance with. I was even briefly optimistic about her and Bobby Brown’s future together. Then the Jupiter 80 pulled me into the present and I remembered that, no, Bobby and Whitney were deeply troubled and no longer together. After a brief period of mourning, I pulled myself away from the synths and headed off towards Sonar/Cakewalk/Roland world to see if they had anything that wasn’t old news. Spotting a control surface that looked slightly new to me, I asked if this was a revision only to find out that, no, it was not. It just looked different in person.

Starting to fear for my sanity, I pulled aside a friendly gentleman in the synth corner and asked “hey, man, what’s new over here?” He answered with a shrug, asked if I’d seen the Jupiter 80. I realized he was from the recent past and couldn’t be trusted. Finally, in desperation, I went over to the beautiful accordion girls. Yes, the beautiful accordion girls. Apparently, the one part of the Roland booth that existed in the present day belonged to these two. Maybe Roland knew that a rift would open up in their booth and that the only thing that could maintain a gateway to the present was these girls and the new V-Accordions.

I mean, this has to be the reason such a device was invented. Because I honestly can not imagine why on Earth the V-Accordion exists.  I can’t recall the last time I thought “that accordion needs more onboard chorus and reverb” or “dang, I wish that accordion player could access a series of orchestral instruments and ensembles.” Yes, these are essentially the features of the Roland V-Accordion. You can likely understand why, after my initial assessment, I determined that these were clearly manufactured to maintain balance in the face of unlikely temporal distortions.

Then, it finally happened. I began to be concerned with 90′s things. I wanted to surf on the web using AOL and play Quake and use hotbot as my favorite search engine. I became excited about 3D graphics cards and rumors of some magical Playstation 2 in the far away future. Somewhere in my brain I felt, no, knew, I was being pulled to 1999. Once my time travel was complete, Fender and Roland announced a partnership formed to release a Roland ready Stratocaster for use with the VG series of midi guitar processors.

That was when I knew that the space time continuum was surely ruptured and I wasn’t just suffering from a lack of sleep. It had to be time travel, surely, because why else would Roland be acting like this was new. This already happened. This wasn’t like a “huge thing” when it happened the first time either. Back then it looked good on paper, but didn’t appeal to a whole lot of guitarists. Or, it certainly didn’t appeal to any guitarists within my field of view and it didn’t appeal to this guitarist in the slightest. Roland and Fender would certainly never do something like that. That would be crazy.

So there you go kids. It’s like this: Either time travel is real and time actually does exist along a straight line- contrary to popular belief, OR Roland seriously  just trotted out a bunch of stuff they’d released last year, a V-accordion and some pretty girls. I would honestly be happier if it was the first one. I have always wanted to do a bit of time traveling. On the other hand, if you are gonna use a whole wing of a building to show off nothing really new except for some accordions, you should at least make sure they are being played by beautiful young ladies.

That’s all for the moment. I’ll see you- in the future!