09 May 2005

BZZTT!!! BLEEP!! BZZZZTTT!!!

In response to Kek-W's recent insectoid theme...



Couldn't resist the excuse to do a spotlight on the mighty Wasp synthesiser - British- made budget monophonic synth that was one of several machines that drove the imagination of the post-punk electronic innovators. Designed by Chris Huggert (who also built the OSCar) at EDP (Electronic Dream Plant) in Oxfordshire, the Wasp was intended as an affordable alternative for those starving musicians who couldn't afford a Moog or ARP. Costs were cut by housing the Wasp in a light-weight plastic case and non-moving touch-sensitive keyboard (the keys were delineated by a plastic sticker that eventually wore away from repeated use!) and 'cheating' by using digital oscillators and filters (so it's not really an analogue synth). Tinny little built-in speaker reveals EDP's intention to sell the Wasp to the home market. It went on to sell more than any other synth until Yamaha's DX-7. Other products in the range included The Gnat (a cut-down version of The Wasp) , The Hornet (cut-down version of The Gnat that never actually made it into production) and The Spider sequencer, which could all be linked-up using EDP's own interface system. As the advert states, upon it's release the Wasp could be purchased for an unbelievably cheap £199. Incidently, doesn't the artwork look like an early Dave Gibbons piece?

Thomas Leer & Robert Rental built their 1979 album "The Bridge" using just two Wasps and a Spider, plus some guitars. This album never ceases to amaze me. I wrote a bunch of stuff about it once before, so won't start frothing at the mouth again here.


On the downside, the Wasp also provided an entry-point for Nick Rhodes, The Eurhythmics and Thomas 'bloody' Dolby to inflict the world with their nonsense. But clearly, there was something special about the Wasp sound - why else would money-bags stadium fillers like Pink Floyd and Jean Michel Jarre invest in them?

I've never owned or used a Wasp. Sometimes I look at my Minimoog and think; "what the hell am I doing with this piece of crap? Anything endorsed by Keith Emerson and Rick Wakemen must be shit, surely?!" (but then I play it and it's feels so fucking good). I should be keeping the DIY spirit alive with a Wasp (although could I have the Deluxe version with the proper keyboard, please?)

2 comments:

Jerry said...

Great post!

Really love that advert ...

Anonymous said...

I've got an original, working EDP Wasp sitting in my crawl space, waiting for someone to offer me a shitload of money for it - any takers?

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