The 1984/"The Boys of Summer" thread brought up something that's been on my mind a lot lately. The last few weeks I've really been getting into synths, watching instructional videos about how they got this sound for that song, etc. I bought a Behringer Poly D (a clone of the MiniMoog Model D) and I spruced up my VSTs with the new Arturia V Collection 8 (I already had the more limited Analog Lab, along with other VST synths). I also updated my guitar recording rig with Line 6 Helix Native amp sims and effects. The sounds I really like are played on the more primitive analog synths, like the early Moogs, Arps, Junos and Prophets. The Moogs and the Arps feel the most musical and alive, probably because of their instability and imperfections. The Poly D recreates that experience, and not always in the best ways. It needs to be warmed up and tuned. It has no presets and settings can't be saved on the machine, so I document them by taking a photo of the knobs and switches with my phone. But it's a blast to use and it sounds like a beast. As the synthesizers advanced and became more programmable, the sonics suffered. The limitations of early sampling synths (Fairlight, Emulator) gave them a quirky character. But early FM synthesis was stiff and brittle, and the omnipresent keyboard that used the tech, the Yamaha DX7, was impossible for most musicians to program, so they relied on the presets, stamping the music with a sonic sameness. You can hear the negative effects of the synthesizer evolution in the sonic evolution of Devo, as they kept pace with the latest technology. On 1984's "Shout," it became all about programming the Fairlight, and it sucked the life out of the band and its music. Something similar happened with Kraftwerk on "Electric Cafe," as they brought in Emulators, Synclaviers and FM synthesis. At the same time, both bands were probably also running low on steam creatively.