OSCAR Synthesizer


....On the subject of the filter, there was another idiosyncratic feature which gave OSCar a unique (if split) personality. It came from a suggestion of mine, inspired by reading somewhere about artists like Billy Currie of Ultravox and Jan Hammer putting their synth solos through fuzz-boxes or distortion pedals. I thought it would be a really good feature if we could implement this inside the OSCar so the distortion setting could be saved within a program. Chris suggested that the same effect could be achieved more simply by overdriving the analogue filter. As a result, the volume knob had a mark two-thirds of the way round which represented full volume without distorting the filter, and then the rest of its travel would progressively overdrive the filter without the end result getting any louder. This volume setting was then saved as part of the patch, and gave OSCar a powerful capacity for raw screaming lead sounds.

The first time I tried this new feature, I came up with a patch emulating Billy Currie of Ultravox's lead sounds. Eventually, a refined version of this was chosen as preset number one, so that when you switched an OSCar on it was the first sound you heard. The greatest moment of job satisfaction I got from the whole OSCar experience came six months later, when I had the chance to show it to the guys in Ultravox while they were finishing off the Lament album in Matrix Studios in Primrose Hill. Billy Currie turned to Midge Ure after hearing just that first preset and said, "We'd better have one of these each before the [ARP] Odysseys break down for good." In fact, by the end of the afternoon, they had ordered three, one for Billy, one for Midge and one for Chris Cross to run synth bass lines from. From that day on, they stopped touring with the Odysseys and even used the OSCar as the main instrument on the last 'classic' Ultravox single 'Love's Great Adventure'.....

[Source: www.soundonsound.com]


The ARP Odyssey was an analog synthesizer introduced in 1972. Responding to pressure from Moog Music to create a portable, affordable (the Minimoog was US$1,495 upon release) "performance" synthesizer, ARP scaled down its popular 2600 synthesizer and created the Odyssey, which became the best-selling synthesizer they made.

The Odyssey is a two-oscillator analog synth (the Minimoog has 3 oscillators and its sound is considered "fatter"). The Odyssey was the one of the first synthesizers with duophonic capabilities (the ability to play two notes at the same time). One potential appeal of the Odyssey is the fact that all parameters, including a resonant low-pass filter, a non-resonant high-pass filter, ADSR and AR envelopes, triangle (not sine) and square wave LFO, and a sample-and-hold function are editable with sliders and buttons on the front panel.

There were many versions of the Odyssey over the years. [Source: BillyCurrie.com]


YAMAHA SS30 [Reap the wild wind]





YAMAHA DX7 [Live Aid 1985]


PPG WAVE 2.2 [Quartet & Lament Tour as e.g. Mine for life]

EMULATOR II [Live Aid 1985, Reap the wild wind]

OBERHEIM OB-X [Live Aid 1985, used on "Rage in Eden"]

MOOG MINIMOOG [Bass sounds]



LINN Drum Machine LM-1


Roland TR-77 Drum Machine


Simmons Drums Units SDS3, SDS5, SDS7

Sequential Circuits Drumtracks

Return to Eden Tour 2009/2010:

Novation Midi Controller
- used by Chris Cross as Bass Synth, used by Midge Ure and by Billy instead of the ARP Odyssey and Oscar Synth.

CME Midi Controller UF 70 [used by Billy Currie, Live 2009/2010]

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