Can't Live Without It

EM talks about how System of a Down's Serj Tankian used Melodica handheld keyboard on his 2005 Mezmerize Album.
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Jack Barnett, vocalist and laptopper for the U.K. art-rock quartet These New Puritans, can't say enough about his Yamaha SU-10 sampler. “I once sent an email to everyone on our mailing list telling them to buy one,” admits Barnett, whose band recently released Beat Pyramid (Domino Records). About the size of a videotape cassette, the SU-10 is so small that, he says, “you can sit in the park or at the beach and make a beat or edit sounds. I use mine to sketch out ideas.”

Relatively inexpensive and durable, the unit offers stereo digital phrase sampling and real-time scratch and filter effects. “One of my favorite things about it is the x-y ribbon pad. Basically, you move your finger around and the sound changes,” says Barnett. “With it, you can control the direction of the sample. It's one of the most peculiar ways of warping a sound that I've ever come across.”