Icon – AlphaSphere

Part disco ball, part musical instrument, AlphaSphere is trippier than a backie on Jim Morrison's trike. And it'll probably make better music

Okay, I’m going to take a guess. Disco ball? Speaker? Bacon slicer?

You were closest the first time, Sherlock. But while an AlphaSphere would look nice hanging from the  ceiling, that would ignore its main function: this is likely the world’s most futuristic musical instrument.

Cool. So what do I do? Blow on it?

You pick it up, and you manipulate its 48 pressure-sensitive pads like the far-future space-monkey you are. Run the AlphaLive software on your computer and you can map scales of MIDI notes on to the pads, making it a true instrument, or set the pads to trigger and manipulate audio files, making it a controller.

So far, so synth…

Oh, but there’s more. In Sequencer Mode, you can program up to eight sequences of notes for each pad, switching between them by varying pressure on the pads’ stretchy membranes. Combine sequences on some pads, MIDI notes on others and sound samples on still others, and you’ll create music so complex and new that you’ll need to be on some kind of 23rd-century mindspice to understand it.

And it lights up! Like a disco ball!

Well, yes. It also has responsive LED lighting – handy for knowing which pad is which. While you’d think it would be from supergadget tech country, it’s actually the first product of a startup from sunny Bristol. Local geek pride, engage.

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