Industry employs three Japanese workstation synthesizers’ presets as the only primary sources of sound. Any movement in timbre is inherent in these presets and does not constitute any expressive content that was to be shaped in the process of creation. On Industry no aspect of sound design whatsoever has been individually formed.
Yamaha TG33 (1989) is a so called vector synthesizer which combines Yamaha’s FM chip (which is most famously used in the DX7 synth as well as on early PC sound cards) with 12 bit AWM samples (aka PCM synthesis or “ROMpler“). The TG33’s presets represent blends of and movements between FM and PCM sounds.
The Technics WSA1R (1995) has been described as Technics’ “first and last effort to build a synthesizer.” Its synthesis is called Acoustic Modelling – which is better known as physical modelling. As opposed to PCM synthesis, its imitations of existing instruments don’t rely on samples but on complex models of the physical behaviour of these instruments. Its editing section thus allows for control of the physical behaviour of sound creation along different parts of an instrument, which invites the construction of Frankenstein-ian instruments: a bowed viola, a beaten clarinet, an organ with a mouth … but that’s if one was to edit sounds. Its presets thus resemble physical qualities, yet they sound artificial in their very own way. There are also dozens of creatively synthetic presets, whose intended qualities remain in the dark due to the lack of documentation: copies without originals.
Korg Triton Rack (2000) is a late descendant of the uber-successful Korg M1, the mother of all workstation synths. Being a workstation, it’s ladden with hundreds of sample-based preset sounds (here marketed as “hyper integrated (HI) synthesis”), emulating acoustic as well as existing and imaginary electronic instruments. Its German Wikipedia entry lists Nightwish, Linkin Park and Toto as renowned users… has the Triton been central to their sound? Probably not. More notably, the Triton has been the soloist instrument of choice in South-Eastern Europe.
All three instruments came with a wealth of sounds aimed at electronic music production. Still, all three failed colossally at finding significant use for these in techno, house, drum’n’bass or any other related electronic dance music style flying high in between 1989 and 2000. A feature of successful presets is that they are universally known – this is certainly true for Yamaha’s DX7, Korg’s M1 and Roland’s 909 (which featured sampled sounds). More recently, the presets of software synths like NI’s Massive have spawned entire genres. Thus Industry doesn’t rely on successful presets, but on failed sounds of now obsolete synthesizers – industrial assumptions of where culture will go, but where it chose not to.