On the sunday 11th of september we rode up some mountains in Eksingedal. Pretty offroad ride to do on onroad bikes if you ask me, you already saw some pictures in a post some days ago. So now I uploaded a video. Music is by Iceferno (@IcefernoAJB):
This year we celebrate 40 years of a creation from Yamaha. By 1976 the company was already known for making high quality musical instruments for ages, such as grand pianos and electric organs, but they decided to step into electronic synthesis terrain.
In 1970/1971 Yamaha came with their flagship Electone EX-42, a large electric organ for serious stage performances. This project had a large financial backing from the company with the best sound engineers available. After the EX-42 was released, the world was watching companies like Moog and Oberheim selling great monophonic synthesizers for rock bands and studios, while they didn't have any product to compete on this market. Then, like any good big Japanese company, they allocated the team of the Electone to make what would be the greatest, biggest, heaviest and most expensive analog polyphonic synthesizer ever built.
The GX-1 came in 1973 and comprised 3 manuals, 2 were 5 octaves with polyphonic aftertouch,1 was 3 octaves with velocity, an organ pedalboard, a large and sturdy stand and 2 heavy speakers. The complete system weighted around 950Kg and its price was 60.000USD. Try to think what was 60.000USD in 1973... obviously the targets of this instrument were recording studios (mainly for film soundtracks) and a few musicians who could afford one. Less than 150 were made. Something between 13 and 15 were known to be sold to western musicians: Stevie Wonder (who called it "the dream machine") has 2, Benny Andersson (ABBA), Hans Zimmer, Keith Emerson (ELP) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) have/had one. Keith Emerson had his GX-1 damaged on an accident and later bough that of John Paul Jones for replacement parts (a terrible idea if you ask me). The rest is presumed to have stayed in Japan.
Benny Andersson is reported to have said "the machine has no limits". If you want to see the technical specs of the GX-1, check for it on the internet to see why. The problem was that not only just a few were made, it was also impractical for transporting without any risk of "something" happening even if the musician could pay for the repair. Keith Emerson and Stevie Wonder had their units damaged many times due to taking them to concerts. To solve this, Yamaha used the GX-1 as a testbed for what would become a much more compact, portable and less expensive synthesizer whose features weren't matched even today.
In 1976 the CS-80 was launched. It had 5 octaves, weighted around 100Kg with its wooden case, featured a lot of GX-1 engine and costed about 7000USD. The instrument had 8 voices of polyphony, 2 oscillators per voice, 2 12db low pass and 2 high pass resonant filters, ribbon control with the zero insertion point where it was first touched, 22 memory positions, an extensive collection of performance/expression controls and a keyboard which had both velocity and polyphonic aftertouch with the effect being applied to EACH NOTE instead of to the whole voice. This keyboard implementation vastly augmented the already immense sonic power of the CS-80.
Not even the GX-1 had this keyboard capabilities, only the Yamaha DX1 had it featured again, and no other synthesizer on the planet, of any price and any manufacturer had it. In fact, the CS-80 was targeted to soundtrack composers, so it was designed to sound like an orchestra. The sonic power of the CS-80 is unspeakable and limitless, it has to be heard to be believed. Less than 2000 were made in its 4 years of production. But it was not until 1982 that we would see its true power.
In 1976 a certain Greek composer, Evangelos Papathanassiou, known commonly as Vangelis, bought a CS-80. If you ever watched Chariots of Fire, the theme features the CS-80 and a piano, played by Vangelis. In 1982 he composed and played what is widely considered the greatest soundtrack ever recorded in movie industry: Blade Runner. The vast majority of it is played on the CS-80, and it is in this movie that you really see what the instrument is capable of in the right hands.
If you pay attention to the dark soundtrack, it is easy to realize that the CS-80 and Vangelis were made for each other. The greatest performer ever playing the greatest synthesizer of them all (for practical purposes, disregarding the GX-1). It is so powerful in the hands of Vangelis that because of him there were at least 2 races for the synthesizer. First, in early 80s when Blade Runner came out people then realized what could be done with it. And then in mid 90s when the Blade Runner soundtrack was finalized released in LP/CD. This soundtrack essentially divided the film music industry in before and after.
I had the privilege to see one CS-80 in a studio in Rio de Janeiro. It was shining, new, the owner wouldn't let "unworthy" people play it even if they paid for the hour, only a few known musicians could actually rent it for recording. It was a beautiful instrument, very large for a 5 octave keyboard, sitting majestically in the center of the keyboard room, it was a very imposing synthesizer that easily stood out of the many other ones around it.
As for the sound, there is a lot and not too much, if you understand me, to talk about it. The sound is basically very fat from the 16 analog oscillators, the polyphonic aftertouch makes it sound like a furious monster, the 12db low pass filters have no equal in the industry, they sweep like a Moog filter just dreams of sweeping. The resonance whistle sounds like it came from outter space.
In 1978 Sequential Circuits came with the Prophet 5, which had proper memory patches, simplified programming and easy implementation of MIDI/CV Gate, and also costing half of the CS-80. Some tried to spread a nonsense that it put the CS-80 to obsolescence, which is of course a bullshit. Yamaha, a company with pretty much unlimited funds, came with the ultimate synthesizers for serious soundtrack recording, but they were very, very expensive and few of them were made. They were not for the general public, unlike the Prophet 5, which was far more affordable and also many more were made, 3x more.
As of second hand market, the CS-80 is the number one in both price and desirability, it is a very sought after instrument and is always the most expensive synthesizer to buy. It is justified by the impact it had in music industry, specially after Vangelis started employing it the vast majority of his work, the fact that not too many were made and that it still has features that not even the most modern synths/workstations have. Considering that the GX-1 is never in the equation, the CS-80 is still the most powerful polyphonic synthesizer ever made. Crank the volume and see for yourself... by the way, if you ever watched King Arthur (2004), you may have thought it was a large orchestra playing the soundtrack. It is in fact one CS-80.
Here, except for the drums everything else is the CS-80 in all of its glory. It still gives me the chills...
This is old news, if you watched the latest videos posted then you know about the RF900 that came to my garage. It is replacing the GSX600F that served me well for some time and was a loyal friend on the highways. The little 600cc was perfect for city use and pretty much any highway you threw it on. But because I will be cruising Germany very often, I needed something that could take me at 180km/h or more without complaining and, more importantly, without leaving my fingers numb for 2 weeks due to vibration.
The RF900 was my first choice but it is really difficult to find one in good shape for sale in Norway. If one is advertised, be sure it will need a lot of repair due to hidden problems. So I went for the 600 (which also need a crapload of repair too, but easier to do and find parts) while I looked for a good RF900, which I never found. So I just picked the red and prepared for lengthy and expensive repairs, finding original parts for it is not as simple as it is for the 600F, but here we are.
I will talk about the RF later, at the moment we are finding the sweet spot of the engine and cleaning the combustion chambers/valves by driving it hard and with the help of some additives to loose the junk. Aesthetics will be my last job on it. For now, this is the last picture of the 600F just before departing to Switzerland, loaded with this nice Bagster tank bag matching the paint and the Givi waterproof side bags I borrowed from Arthur. The backpack was almost empty, it was there just in case I wanted to bring something. I sold the bike maybe 2 weeks ago with the tank bag, there was no reason to keep it for a red RF.
The other shot is the RF900 pictured on our way to the top of some mountains near Modalen. Offroad ride with an onboard bike, as Arthur said. Most of the way was narrow, loose stones, sand, free fall on both sides, so dropping the bike was not just a bike dropped. One can end down the mountain with very little chance to survive. So that's it, the first of many adventures the RF will take me to.
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