To step into the studio of Mark and Matt Thibideau is to enter a timewarp of sorts. The place is filled with the synthesizers and other instruments that defined the music of the 1980s. All of it is authentic, most of it is rare, and none of it is easily recognizable to most people.
But Matt and Mark are not nostalgists. They don’t wallow in the past. They use all this old stuff (some of which only functions with the help of old computers, also from the 1980s) to make new music. Their record label, Obsolete Components, is built entirely on this premise. Take the best electronic instruments ever made (all of which were analogue, by the way, not digital) and put them back into service to produce something new.
Matt and Mark do this simply because they’re passionate about these machines and the sounds they can make with them. Yes, they use modern equipment too. Most of what they produce is ultimately recorded to an iMac with a recent copy of ProTools on it. But the sounds themselves originate from old machines.
One of the most surprising things about all this is just how unique an old Jupiter 8 synthesizer can be. As Mark says, many of these machines were handmade, and they all use analogue signals, so no two sound exactly alike. People talk like this about old violins – how the handmade nature of them means each one is truly unique. But it’s also true of the instruments at Obsolete Components.
One of Mark’s most cherished pieces of equipment is a strange synthesizer called the ARP2600, which he mentions briefly in the above video. Below, he describes it in more detail.
The Department is so impressed with what Obsolete Components is doing, we’ve had them create songs for some of the films we’ve made, including From Surplus to Serendipity, and Aquarian Leather Products.
And finally, if you’d like to see the entire Obsolete Components story in one video instead of three, you can do that too.