M.F.S:Observatory talk through their most influential pieces of studio kit and different pricing options for those looking to get into production

An Italian pair based between Naples and London, M.F.S:Observatory have been banging out top class house and techno for the best part of a decade now, with their first releases arriving in 2012. Heavily influenced by the likes of Daft Punk, Maya Jane Coles, Four Tet, Butch and Santè, theirs is a wide-ranging sound – and it’s one that’s caught the ears of some of the scene’s most respected artists and labels. Indeed, their music has been picked up by many imprints, including Little Helpers, AlphaHouse, Flashmob Records W&O Street Tracks and Roush to name a couple.

In 2016 the duo kick-started their own label, Observatory Music, which has showcased some of their finest releases to date. The home for their letter series (whereby the boys release an EP dedicated to each letter of the alphabet), it’s seen them release a staggering amount of expertly-curated EPs, with a range of esteemed names throwing their support behind each release. Their latest release is another that’s sure to win them more fans further still. Released via Danny Serrano’s Eat and Beat, the Rosenfeld EP showcases their more ‘techno’ side with distinction. We grabbed the boys for a little chat recently, as they talked us through their favourite pieces of kit, and also gave us the lowdown on some different pricing options for those looking to get into production…

Approx €500 (Arturia KeyLab MkII 61, KeyLab MkI)

If someone asks me which essential piece I would buy with a e500 budget, i always point them in the direction of the Arturia KeyLab MkII 61, KeyLab MkII. It’s an expressive, versatile studio controller that works seamlessly with your DAW, virtual instruments, hardware and modular gear. You can work with Ableton Live and it also comes complete with thousands of sounds in 2 incredible software titles – Analog Lab and Piano V. 100% worth the investment.

Just over €500 (Ableton Push)

Actually I’ll probably buy Ableton Push soon, because I want more control of Ableton and to be faster with editing overall. Push is an instrument that puts everything you need to make music in one place—at your fingertips. Also, we want to use this for a live set and for us this is the best controller. It’s also super easy to patch with Ableton too.

…. and if money was no object?

I’m in love with the modular systems now and as I (Mattia) study music and sound design in London, this is a problem – because you need a lot of space for it and a lot of money too, because every little piece is really expensive. And in London, that isn’t ideal!

Anyway, the Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms Foundation Evo is a complete analog synthesizer that combines east and west coast style modules. All of the Lifeform modules were designed simultaneously to ensure they perform as a cohesive instrument. Along the top row you’ll find two Double Helix Dual Oscillator modules, two Binary Filter modules, and two ADSR modules, along with 2+2 Mixer, Distro, and Dual VCA modules.

Our 4 most influential pieces of studio kit

Roland TR8S

The first essential piece in our studio is the Roland TR8S, the new generation of the TR-8. Born from the most famous and influential drum machine ever made, the TR-8S combines the best of its Roland heritage with modern production techniques and professional sound design that we love.

The result is a forward-thinking, performance-tuned instrument unlike any other. With this one, you can build your dream kit from the most iconic drum sounds of the time, plus it includes the finest selection of samples from our vast library—and you can import your own custom samples also. Tap, tune, and tweak with hands-on controls and production tools that make your patterns move and groove

Moog MiniTaur

The second essential piece is the analogue bass synthesizer from Moog. We like to use this one with an external plug-in like the Arturia Buchla plug-in (this recreated the rare1973 Buchla Synthesizer) also with the Rob Papen sub boom bass2 and with our Arturia microbrute.

Arturia Microbrute

We love the Microbrute, an analogue synthesizer like no other. Packed with mixable waveforms, a new sub oscillator design, the famous Steiner-Parker multimode filter, a super-fast envelope and a syncable LFO. Not bad!

We love the brutal and massive sound from microbrute and we like to use this for the more melodic parts of our tracks. Also, the sound is good for those massive basslines also.

Native Instrument Maschine MK2

We really like how the maschine works. The library is full of samples and we also like to patch it with Ableton and use it for the vocals. Here, we cut the vocals in a lot of parts and we can rework and make a new and interesting track. The possibilities are endless.

Keep up with M.F.S:Observatory on Facebook, Soundcloud and Resident Advisor

M.F.S: Observatory’s Rosenfeld EP soon via Danny Serrano’s Eat and Beat label

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About the Author

UK based former DJ and promoter, co-owner, director, writer & creative at Decoded Magazine. Studied at the University of Wolverhampton graduating in Graphic Communication & Typography (BA Hons). In house video editor and avid MMA follower with a keen ear for dark, twisted, hypnotic, tribal progressive house and techno.