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Optigan: OPTIcal orGAN
June 30, 2003 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The Optigan: OPTIcal orGAN. Long before synthesizers, ProTools, and Cubase, Mattel released a bizarre contraption called the 'Optigan' which operated by assigning each key to a track on an optical disc on which were recorded sounds of real instruments playing every individual note. This site is one guy's obsession with the instrument that may well be dead and forgotten if not for him. Check out his mp3s of his own, reasonably successful, band based around the instrument, to see how it sounds.
posted by wackybrit (18 comments total)

 
[this is good]

I'd read about the Optigan in a couple books, but never heard what it sounds like. Nifty!
posted by Vidiot at 9:01 AM on June 30, 2003


A jump to the page for the author's band, Optiganally Yours.
posted by LinusMines at 9:13 AM on June 30, 2003


Sweet. "Poodleman" has been in one of my more constantly running playlists for ages now, since I caught wind of their groovy sound stylings on Epitonic awhile back. Bizarre and oh-so-addictive. I put "Geppetto" on one of my MeFi swap mixes a couple of quarters ago, too. I can cha-cha all day to their niftiness.
posted by kittyb at 9:47 AM on June 30, 2003


sweet
posted by jacobsee at 10:05 AM on June 30, 2003


This sounds like a cut-rate version of the quintessential '70s keyboard, the Mellotron.
posted by deadcowdan at 10:39 AM on June 30, 2003


nice
posted by magullo at 11:28 AM on June 30, 2003


nice link! Thanks!
posted by shoepal at 11:47 AM on June 30, 2003


Tom Waits used an Optigan on 'Frank's Wild Years', but he didn't use the accompaniments, just the cheesy organ tones.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:57 AM on June 30, 2003


Black Heart Procession uses one of 'em too. I had no idea what it was when I read the liner notes to their last album.
posted by LionIndex at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2003


I know that Coil has used an Optigan on more than one ocassion in their recordings, and one of their techniques is warping the plastic disc so that the sounds produced by the organ are creeeeeeeeppppy. Good stuff.
posted by almostcool at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2003


[this is good]
posted by internal at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2003


Just downloaded "Poodleman".... BRILLIANT!~
posted by Witty at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2003


let me chime in and say:

great freakin' post.
posted by fishfucker at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2003


Warning: Do NOT download their Java Optigan player. I played with it for a bit, it froze and started to loop the same 5 seconds of music over and over, I closed it down, still looped, deleted the whole program, still playing.... anyways long story short, had to restart my computer twice to get it to stop.
But other than that, great post.
posted by krazykity16 at 4:04 PM on June 30, 2003


rob crow, the fine gentleman behind Optiganally yours, has about a million other bands, which include Heavy Vegetable, Thingy, Physics, and Pinback.

heavy vegetable was brilliant. i urge all of you to go buy one of their records, immediately.
posted by sunexplodes at 12:09 AM on July 2, 2003


heavy vegetable was brilliant. i urge all of you to go buy one of their records, immediately.

Can you make a further recommendation? They seem to have several to choose from.
posted by Witty at 12:32 AM on July 2, 2003


heavy vegetable was brilliant. i urge all of you to go buy one of their records, immediately.

pinback is brilliant. i urge all of you to go buy any one of their records, immediately, and see them if they're coming to town. rob crowe and his pal armistead b. smith IV are not your typical rockers. absiv does things on an electric bass guitar that i've never seen before, and crowe sings about video games and his dead pet fish (penelope is one of the catchiest songs written in recent history).

Can you make a further recommendation?

witty: i've got three of the full-lengths here, and have been meaning to listen to them....i'll let you know when i'm done.
posted by carsonb at 2:58 AM on July 2, 2003


Rob Crow is now also in a pretty intense hardcore band - THE ALPHA MALES. Check them out if you get the chance.

p.s., the BEST Optiganally Yours song is their cover of Jimmy Webb's Wichita Lineman
posted by afx114 at 9:25 PM on July 2, 2003


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