EMS Synthi 100 – David & Stephen Dewaele

4 out of 5

This came packed with the latest Soulwax release. It’s a 45 page, magazine sized, softcover, full color book that’s about half photos / diagrams, half text, all concerning the titular snyth that was used, solely, for the album.

The first half-ish of the book is artsier – color closeups of different bits and pieces of (presumably) the device, and then handwritten mappings of how (again, presumably, since this stuff is foreign to me) some of the circuits and whatnot work. The latter half has four text sections: an intro by the Dewaele’s about their inadvertent collection of instruments and synths, and how they came to work with the EMS Synthi 100; a history “written by” the device itself; a slightly more technical bit expounding on the possibilities the Synthi 100 offers; and an interview with a technician that had worked on one EMS Synthi 100 back in the day.

I found the first two sections the most interesting, although I wish they’d either fully committed to the “this was written by a machine” concept or done away with it, as it’s sort of a throwaway gag that doesn’t add much; the latter two bits are a bit more open-ended but both have some really fun factoids and / or recollections.

While this isn’t, like, a guidebook on how to use the device or anything – not that you’d expect that, I guess, I just didn’t know what to expect of this – it definitely makes it clear how much love there is for the machine from those in the know, and how complicated it can be to work with, while offering massive satisfaction from the time put into it.

The pictures and quality are certainly top notch. As a type completely in the dark on all this stuff, I guess a bit more context on what I’m looking at on some pages would’ve been cool, but simply as an art book of sorts, and especially as an extra component to an amazing album, the book enhances the experience of said album very well.