Following a year of intense instrument modelling deep inside XILS-lab’s ear-opening laboratories, the XILS V+ virtual instrument and effects plug-in has finally emerged, sounding nigh on indistinguishable from an instantly-recognisable keyboard vocoder classic much loved by both contemporary and acclaimed artists alike.
But what keyboard vocoder are we talking about here exactly? And what’s a vocoder, anyway?
By definition, a vocoder is a synthesizer that produces sounds from an analysis of speech input. Vocoders arguably had their musical heyday in the Seventies with the likes of British record-producing heavyweight Jeff Lynne’s symphonic rockers ELO making much use of them throughout several striking recordings — think smash hit ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and the Time album (featuring the Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus keyboard) — while German techno pop pioneers Kraftwerk crafted themselves an ongoing robotic vocoder-led career that’s still resonating throughout EDM’s many modern-day stylistic offshoots;
French house music stalwarts Daft Punk became big vocoder fans with several memorable club-friendly hits to their eminently danceable name, par exemple. Historically speaking, the aforesaid Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus is also musically immortalised on celluloid thanks to Greek synth wizard Vangelis’ memorable early-Eighties electronic scores to the Oscar-winning Chariots Of Fire and Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film noir classic, Bladerunner, both of which made much use of the instrument’s signature Strings — ‘emulating’ the sustained portion of orchestral strings — and Human Voice Ensemble ‘choir’ — remarkable and unique — sounds. Subsequently the long-since-discontinued VP-330 Vocoder Plus has become something of a sought-after classic itself… for those in the musical know. Yet finding a fully-functional, pristine example of this 30-plus-year-old temperamental hardware has become nigh on impossible. Which is exactly where XILS V+ comes into play, of course, thanks to XILS-lab’s labours.