MATRIXSYNTH: Umbra and the Volcan Siege and the M4000

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Umbra and the Volcan Siege and the M4000

via Mi2N

photo: Brad Meese

"Chicago, IL September 14, 2010. Chicago-based psych-rockers Umbra and the Volcan Siege have a new weapon in their musical arsenal. Bandleader and mellotron enthusiast Jim Licka reports that he has just received the new M4000 from Streetly Electronics, the foremost experts in mellotron restorations, and the home of the all-new M4000.

Licka, who also plays guitar and Moog synthesizer with Umbra and the Volcan Siege, placed his order for the M4000 in 2007 after visiting Streetly's Staffordshire, England, headquarters and testing a prototype. An older model mellotron is featured on the most recent Umbra and the Volcan Siege EP, 2009's The Beginning of the End.

According to Streetly's official Website, the M4000 was designed as an homage to the original MKII mellotron. It has revolving drums, a chain-linked, failsafe cycling mechanism and includes the following features: 8 stations/24 sounds (equivalent of 8 tape frames in one instrument), inching facility in addition to factory presets, cycling optical failsafe to prevent damage to the tapes while the instrument cycles to the next station, a light and playable MKII keyboard feel, an MKII playing height for comfortable standing position, a positively pressurized cabinet to filter in clean air and protect the instrument from smoke and other contaminants, playback heads that are mounted in revolving collars so that each one can always be positioned for correct response and a standard 24 sound tape set based on Streetly's most popular tape sales over the last 5 years.

The M400 is the newest model of mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic keyboard that dates back to the early 1960s. Psychedelic and progressive rock bands used the mellotron extensively in the 60s and 70s and the instrument features on such classic albums as George Harrison's Wonderwall Music, King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King and Architecture & Morality by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

In a recent interview with Novo Arts, Licka stated that he purchased his first mellotron in Toronto several years ago and is proud to be among a select number of M4000 owners, including Sir Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire and Medeski Martin & Wood."

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