Korg’s techno sketch-pad lets you create weird and wonderful sound effects on the fly – and virtually anyone can use it…
The Kaossilator looks just like Korg’s Mini KP DJ effects processor, but the differences go much deeper than the alternative colour scheme. Whereas the Mini KP takes a sound and mashes it up, the Kaossilator creates its own warped, mutated noises all by itself.
Think of it like a synthesiser – but one you play but moving your finger around the touchpad rather than hitting notes on a traditional keyboard. Good news, then, for all of us who don’t know a crochet from a semibreve (just so you know, one’s a form of knitting, the other is a short intake of breath).
There are 100 pre-programmed sounds selected from the little silvery knob, categorised into sound effects, drum hits, drum loops, synth washes and chords. Press the touchpad and your chosen sound gargles out of the headphone or stereo RCA sockets.
Moving your finger from side to side changes the pitch of tuned sounds, while sliding up and down affects filters, delays or other effects. It’s all set up so it’s virtually impossible to hit a duff note or veer off-key, but as there are no markings on the pad to show where one note stops and another starts, you’ll never play the same tune twice.
Some voices are totally off the hook – imagine a spaceship filled with Martian frogs on helium flying down a time tunnel that loops back on itself into eternity. Push up for warp drive and go right to pump in more helium. That one is number 67. Or is it 54? Can’t remember now, we had to give our Kaosillator back yesterday – it was, after all, the only one in the country.
The point of the Kaossilator (have we mentioned it’s totally brilliant yet?) is to give anyone the chance to create fantastic techno soundscapes without thinking about it first. It has no MIDI or USB connections, so everything has to be done on the fly. That means you have to either use it live or skit around on it and record whatever comes out, editing the best bits together after the event.
However, it does have a few tricks to elevate it above toy status. There’s a tempo control (select the required BPM or just tap the button), 50 arpeggios for playing sounds in automated rhythms, and a loop recorder that lets you layer up countless sequences.
The Kaossilator is basic but so much fun. Literally anyone can use it and turn out amazing sounds.