To blame the entire nu-electro revival on Anthony Rother might be a bit unfair. But suffice it to say, the Offenbach, Germany-based producer was a central linchpin in bringing icy bass and synths back to life in the late ’90s. Rother has since drifted all over the place musically–from experimental works on FAX to the EBM and harder techno that he both makes and distributes via his Datapunk label, which just released its third We Are Punks compilation–but the driving, connective force of his sound has always been the drum machine. Here we tap him for his five favorite synthesized drum sources.
The Elektron Machinedrum is one of my favorite drum synthesizers. I used it on “Don’t Worry” and have been using it on newer productions as well. For me, the key features are its sound, the modulation of sounds, and the potential for using external samples.
JoMoX XBase 888
I used this one on the upcoming new Telekraft/Anthony Rother single “Hot Chocolate In the Milkyway.” It’s the newest drum computer in my studio and it really surprised me when I started to work with it. It’s second to only the Roland TR-808 in terms of delivering the fattest analog kick on this planet–the whole sound is very warm and fat. It’s so powerful that it doesn’t need any extra EQs or compressors.
It’s hard to say anything new about this Roland masterpiece. The TR-808 is the queen of drum synthesizers and its sound is still state-of-the-art. All of the sounds are timeless and I use them all often in my productions. In fact, all of the drum programming on Sex With the Machines was done with the 808.
If the 808 is the queen, then the 909 is the king of techno drum computers–and it’s also an often-heard element in my songs, but particularly on “Bad to the Bone,” as the toms are a key 909 feature. My 909 has a technical defect, so it plays the bass drum slightly lower than normal. I hope it never has to go to in for technical service as I want it to have this defect forever.
The Novation DrumStation is definitely the best 808/909 hardware clone on the market. I used it on “When the Sun Goes Down,” and I still use it a lot. I really love the sound architecture and its pitch-shifting and distortion possibilities. Also, the full MIDI control is a great feature. One of its best features, though, is its ability to change the start point of the sounds.