(Editor’s Note: This is a fantastic and distinctive guest post from GUNSHIP’s Dan Haigh that marries the Briton’s love for synths with his culinary interests. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Make sure to check out this great new GUNSHIP merch and listen to the band’s latest album, Dark All Day.)
When assessing quality, especially above a certain threshold, I think that the tiny minutiae that comprise the difference between good and great are everything.
In some ways, the excellence of top-tier synths and burgers can be defined by the tiny differences and idiosyncrasies that make them unique. I think these defining characteristics map quite well between their two respective universes: Oscillator tone versus meat quality; perhaps filter type versus cheese choice; and perhaps analog/digital signal path versus brioche/toasted bun. LOL. This is ridiculous. OK. The top 10 synths versus burgers — here we go.
10. Virus Ti2 Synth // KFC Zinger Tower Burger
KFC Zinger Tower: The only mainstream/mass-produced burger on this list and it’s also chicken. However, and let’s be honest here, this burger stands proud at the top of the mass production ziggurat. Readily available, hugely dependable, and slightly less “pure evil” than your average fast-food joint — these are qualities which make this burger squeak into the top 10. The dirty bird will never let you down and you can always get one in a pinch.
Virus TI2: The virus is a modern digital synth; digital but hugely capable. While it may lack that real analog tonal quality, the extremes you can take patches to are crazy. Creating real speaker shredders with this monster is a lot of fun. I tend to use the virus for complex and evolving atmospheric patches in GUNSHIP.
9. Arp Odyssey // Mother Flipper Burger
Mother Flipper: Home of “The Dirty Barbie” burger. This is London street food at its finest. Say “let’s grab a Dirty Barbie” out loud and hit Brockley Market for this ridiculously awesome thing: two burgers joined together with American cheese and coated in candy bacon, onions, BBQ sauce, and ketchup.
Arp Odyssey: The Odyssey feels stark, dark, and lethal to me — just like Snake Plissken in Escape from New York. It’s mean, and I use it for “exposed” or rather “prominent” bass lines, if that makes any sense. The raw tone has a huge amount of character. I love it. It can sometimes be a bitch to fit into a mix, especially with the filter open, but its unapologetic thickness is half the charm.
8. Roland D-50 // Hawksmoor Burger
Hawksmoor: My favorite restaurant in London. The best steaks in town without doubt, but god damn do they make a good burger, too. It might be their own unique ketchup, or the fact there’s bone marrow in the mix for extra flavor, but if you can make yourself not order a steak you will not regret it. No idea how you manage to not order a steak while at the Hawksmoor, though.
Roland D-50: Basically, if you plugged the D-50 in and threw it out a window, the resulting impact would still sound ‘80s. For GUNSHIP it’s our best friend. It is an absolute nightmare to program, but that’s OK because every preset is a slice of vintage gold, and also probably clearly audible on just about all of your favorite ‘80s hits. Collecting the memory cards has been “fun.”
7. Analog Solutions Fusebox // Meat Liquor Burger
Meat Liquor: No bookings, really loud music, no plates, it’s really dark — so, basically, 100 percent awesome. I usually go here for the wings, however their Dead Hippie burger, featuring their infamous Dead Hippie sauce, is a must if you’re at least halfway serious about burgers.
Fusebox: This thing is a current favorite. It’s one of those beasts that will always surprise you. You’ll go to it with an idea in mind, and almost always come away with something completely different, but better. Its Patternator function is simple, but an amazingly powerful ideas generator. Plus it’s orange.
6. Black Corporation Deckard’s Dream // Five Guys Burger
Five Guys: OK OK, we’re borderline mass “fast food” here, but you know what, whatever. This is the first legitimate and genuine dirty burger experience that is available across a good part of the UK, and is also routinely excellent. Five Guys is a template for how to scale up a winning burger outfit successfully. Amazing burgers, great music, and they also have cherry Dr. Pepper…
Deckard’s Dream: The lovingly recreated homage to the daddy of them all, the Yamaha CS-80. It sounds like silk, is insanely expressive, and is named after all synth guys’ favorite protagonist, Deckard from Blade Runner. It’s a modern masterpiece, tears of joy, lost in the rain for me… Shout out to Bob Rogue!
5. Moog Model D // Red Dog Saloon Burger
Red Dog Saloon: Inspired by Man Vs Food challenges, this place can get serious. Their Devastator burger is a 3,000-calorie, giant burger comprising three beef patties, six bacon rashers, six slices of cheese, and pulled pork. It really is a work of art, and 100 percent delicious. They also do time challenges — our drummer Alex Gingell missed the hall of fame by seconds (and nearly died, but that might have been the tequila).
The Moog Model D: Well, he’s the grandfather, an archetype, the first portable synth which still sounds insanely good today. We’re lucky enough to have a 1970s original, and we use it a great deal for bass, and bass sweeps on GUNSHIP tracks. Nothing sounds quite as “phat” or aggro as a pissed off Model D!
4. Roland Juno 106 // Dirty Burger
Dirty Burger: Affordable, manageable (as in, you won’t require an old-man-nap afterwards) and just the right ratios. One of the early London scene to get an American-style burger just right. They are pretty rare, though.
Juno 106: This and the Juno 60 are arguably a good chunk of ‘80s synth output along with the Oberheims — essentially, legit ‘80s results at a relatively accessible price (wish I had an Obie). It’s a very simple synth, and a great one to learn synthesis on. There is a magic quality to it, and especially if you turn on the onboard chorus FX, your stabs or pads transform into glowing neon bliss.
3. DSI Prophet 12 // Honest Burger
Honest Burger: Very similar to the restaurant I awarded second position to. These two outfits are the UK titans of the burger: melt-in-the-mouth succulence, medium-rare meat, and pure beef overdrive. They do brioche their buns, but they are soft so we’ll let them off.
Prophet 12: Another GUNSHIP favorite: digital oscillators, but ridiculously rich modulation options, and a completely original tone. It can do lush pads, percussive basses, and nice plucked stuff, all of which can be achieved on most polysynths — but when done on the 12 they inherit a unique character. The P12 can be crystalline and expansive, which is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. (Editor’s Note: Dan is posing with a 12 in this piece’s feature photo.)
2. MOOG Mother 32 // Patti & Bun Burger
Patti & Bun: P&B, as its known, is probably the finest burger available in London. You just can’t go wrong. In the end, it’s the delicate balance of just the right amount of moisture, the depth of meat-to-bread, and the way they melt the cheese in a way that almost merges it entirely with the rest of the components, that makes this my number two choice. American burger joy.
MOOG Mother 32: This little raw analog synth excels at voicing relatively simple but incredibly beautiful tones. It just sounds like pure “real synth,” if that makes any sense. I’m lucky enough to have three stacked, and use this tower of power extensively in sequenced and arpeggiated parts in GUNSHIP. Its semi-modular nature also comes in handy for late night nutso experimentation. Pure gold.
1. DSI Prophet 6 // In & Out Burger
In & Out: As Donny told The Dude and Walter, “Those are good burgers, Walter.” Even Anthony Bourdain voted In & Out number one. It’s their simple approach to the classic formula, the perfect ratio of meat-to-bread coupled with top-quality ingredients and mind-blowing flavor. The pinnacle of the burger universe — and deeply deeply frustrating you can’t get it in Europe.
Prophet 6: A modern classic: pure, unadulterated analog tone with the stability and reliability of modern gear. The P6 does a lot of the heavy lifting in GUNSHIP. She’s a relatively simple synth, but what she does do, she does with genuinely awesome musical character.
Dark All Day is currently available everywhere in physical and digital forms. Check out GUNSHIP’s internationally renowned music videos, starring the likes of John Carpenter, Tim Cappello, and maybe even you!
Additional musings from Dan Haigh on synths and food available in Greek at mic.gr in the future.