boss bx-800

the venerable boss bx-800 circa 1986
the venerable boss bx-800 circa 1986


Houses can be haunted but what about musical gear? Could it be that there are ghosts in the circuitry, the after-image of sonic experiments, revelations, and musical confessions? I’ve so far archived my musical efforts up to 1995 but before I fast forward to the next millennium, I have to pay homage to the venerable plastic toy-like mixer, the Boss Bx-800. Originally purchased in 1986, every single sound to date on this website was filtered through this thing in some manner: from the early instrumentals of animus (1986), the dark folk of statik 3 (1993), to collaborations such as 16:16 (1991), not to forget the recordings of Wept, the band I played guitar for from 1986-93.

When the Bx-800 was made it was the early era of the home studio revolution. Tubes had become passé (for a brief decade at least) and gear had become portable and affordable. But as cheap as this mixer was, the era of disposable tech had not quite hit: it’s sound quality and soft transistor clipping was extremely musical. In fact, to this day people use the Bx-800 to fatten their retro drum machine tones. Before the era of automated mixing, I learned to ‘play’ this mixer through muscle memory: Because of the limitations of 4-track recording, I could tweak the sliders for the final mixdown while at the same time adding one last live performance.

A couple months ago while packing up my gear for the long trip to Seoul I uncovered this relic, hidden in its dusty cardboard coffin. As I was about to toss it into the trash, memories flooded back: the countless hours spent behind its short-throw sliders and wobbly plastic knobs. Sheer nostalgia and curiosity guided me to plug it in: the familiar LED’s flickered and layers of distant melodies suddenly replayed in my mind… Or were they actual echoes, tiny sparks of waveforms built up within the capacitors, released one last time to haunt the future.

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