Jimmy Tamborello has been involved in numerous projects over the last 15-plus years—many of which we revisited in a 'Rewind' feature back in 2012—and although several of his various monikers and bands have had a real impact, we'd like to think that it's his work as Dntel that will ultimately stand the test of time. (Admittedly, legions of Postal Service fans might disagree with that notion.) Next week, the LA-based producer and Dublab regular will be issuing a new album, 'Human Voice,' via Leaving Records/Stones Throw, and the LP's impending release got us wondering about what tools Tamborello is using to craft his tunes these days. As such, we hit him up for a list of the five most essential items from his studio.
Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator
One of my favorite Eurorack Modules. I love gear that can be unpredictable, and I depend on accidents to provide a lot of my favorite song moments, so this gets used a lot. As the name suggests, it generates melodic patterns based on a few parameter knobs and switches. Once I have a song going, I'll sit with this and slowly turn knobs and flick switches until it starts playing something that fits with the song. With some patience, it'll usually come up with something that I would have never come up with on my own. A lot of the melodies on Human Voice originated here.
Analogue Solutions Vostok Matrixsynth
This was my first modular gear. I think half the reason I bought it was because I thought it was cool that it had a pin matrix and it closed up like a suitcase. For the first few years, it was pretty frustrating—I'd usually spend a long time trying to remember how to get it to make sound, do one (usually noisy) overdub, and then put it away for a few months. It's embarrassing how long it took me to start getting my head around the way the modular stuff works, but this was a great introductory piece to learn on. It's got all the basic modules you need built into one unit: three oscillators, two LFOs, two envelopes, a filter, sequencer, VCA, ring modulator… I've since expanded my modular set-up quite a bit, but the Vostok still integrates in really well and gets used regularly.
Critter & Guitari Kaleidoloop
Like their Pocket Piano before it, Critter & Guitari's Kaleidoloop seems simple and toy-like, but ends up being really inspiring and useful in the studio and for live performance. It works kind of like a tape machine—you just record audio into it with one button, then it starts playing back in a loop and you have a knob that adjusts the speed and direction of the audio. It has a decent amount of memory, so you can record long segments if you want. It's another good machine for generating happy accidents. Sometimes if I'm stuck on a song, I'll run an element of the track through this and then just start messing with the speed and direction until I stumble on a new way it can fit into the song. It's a good tool for getting out of the grid mindset the DAWs can put you in.
I use this reverb pedal a lot. You can get really giant reverbs from it, and also a lot of the modes have FREEZE and INFINITE settings, which are really fun when you want to drone.
Elektron Analog Rytm
I've been a fan of the Elektron machines for years. Anything I've made since 2005 probably has some Elektron sounds in it. I really like the way you interact with them, how the sequencer works. The Rytm is its newest drum machine and I've used it on practically everything I've made since I got it. The sounds are really good and flexible, and it has the usual Elektron-style sequencer. It's also got a grid of performance pads, which is nice when you're messing around, trying to figure out what kind of beat will fit a song.