Songs In The Key Of… The Korg MS-20
DJ and producer Attaque (aka Dominic Gentry) picks out a selection of tracks which were built using the classic synth
Growing up in Essex I went to a lot of raves in fields and abandoned warehouses. I then moved to Sheffield where I was a regular at Urban Gorilla, Remedy and Tribal Nights. Then, moving back down south, I was a regular at Fabric, Turnmills, The End and XOYO.
My first love was The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, LFO and Orbital, moving on to Adam Freeland, Plump DJs, then the electro scene of Soulwax, Justice, Boys Noize and the like. I’ve always loved squeaks, bleeps, LFOs and wonky synth lines. Everyone always goes on about the Roland 303, but I feel the Korg MS-10 and Korg MS-20 from the 1970s should be getting more attention – I have a Korg MS-10 which I take out on tour and still sounds incredible. So here are some tracks which use these wonderful machines… To listen to all 10 tracks in one go, check out the YouTube playlist.
KRACK (NITE VERSION) BY SOULWAX
Soulwax has it dialled in when it comes to the MS-20. Seeing them tour Nite Versions was incredible to see how well they know that machine.
VISION ONE BY RÖYKSOPP
Really love what they do with the MS-20 on this track, it sounds like its being constantly wound up.
GIRLS BY THE PRODIGY
My friend Damian Taylor worked on Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned with Liam [Howlett] and said that most of the synth lines are the MS-20 through loads of distortion and fuzz.
IT’S THE BEAT BY SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO
Such a simple and effective way to use the MS-20. SMD used it all over the Attack Decay Sustain Release record and they certainly know what they’re doing with it.
THE BIG JUMP BY THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
The Chems certainly make the most of the MS-20 – all the squiggle synth lines are from the synth. I think they use it a lot and put it through loads of FX. I remember seeing them live at Brixton and Tom Rowlands was jamming on it at the end, just really fucking with the sound as part of a huge encore. It was a pretty special moment.
DA FUNK BY DAFT PUNK
Still some debate on chat room forums between synth nerds if this is the Korg MS-20. I’m beyond caring and it’s on my list anyway.
FLAT BEAT BY MR OIZO
Probably one of the best-known tracks that use the MS-20 for the main lead. There are loads of far better and more interesting tracks that Mr Oizo has done, however this really demonstrates the sound of the MS-20.
BANQUET (BOYS NOIZE REMIX) BY BLOC PARTY
One of Bloc Party’s best tracks gets the electro treatment from Boys Noize – sounds like an MS-20 to me.
DELTA BY MOUNT KIMBIE
Love the way Mount Kimbie use the MS-20 on the track – really lo-fi and kinda punk, in an electronic way.
OPEN EYE SIGNAL BY JON HOPKINS
Yes, I saved the best use of the MS-20 to last. All the synths you hear in this track are the MS-20. Just shows how amazing this machine is when you know how to use it properly. Jon Hopkins manages to make dirty yet so emotive as well. Genius.