Looking to compete with recent offerings from electronic music rivals KORG, BeepStreet and VirSyn, Moog Music has unleashed new virtual analog synthesizer Animoog, an iPad app which lets tablet PC owners create space-age soundtracks on demand. Cheekily billed as the "first professional polyphonic synthesizer designed exclusively for the iPad," it's notable less for technological breakthroughs than the ease with which users can emulate favorite 1980s and prog-rock acts.
A simulated synth designed for play via touch-screen, tapping the application's computerized keys produces a range of haunting or hyperactive high-tech tones, ready for assembly into futuristic compositions. While no threat to more expensive real-world models (a staple with some of pop and rock's most accomplished acts), the control scheme and range of options should feel instantly familiar to longtime fans. In addition to the keyboard itself, located at the bottom of the display, users are provided with numerous adjustable settings including delay, speed and frequency effects, and options to record their own presets.
But beyond token support for tweaking pitch, range and tenor, or adjusting audio output to evoke different cultural influences and moods, owners are also afforded a unique oversized X-Y display and graphic visualizer. A visible on-screen reflection of what's happening as sound waves are modified, its trippy, old-school vector display, filled with glowing grids of sinuous lines and swirling multicolored nodes, provides a psychedelic complement to 21st century concertos. Tap in notes or polyphonic tunes then drag corresponding visual representations around, and you can actively modulate and modify the way creations sound.
Custom designed for the iPad's multi-touch interface, the app's ample combination of knobs, dials and sliders scores points for splitting the difference between amateur and expert-level use. Veteran tinkerers can quickly dive in and start expanding their musical horizons, while graphical elements should captivate and ease the learning curve for more casual admirers. Letting you rapidly summon up and record a scintillating mass of sound on-command, Animoog succeeds as much at evoking the surreal atmosphere so many associate with Moog's creations as replicating its signature high-tech tones.
From haunting hymns to tinkling shimmers of sound, soaring swirls of chords to portentous dirges rife with latent menace, the app lets you idly experiment or shoot blasts of chiptune fire from your fingertips. While coaxing full-length ditties of any gravity or manipulating advanced-grade features does require practice and skill, beginners who fire up the software for laughs can at least enjoy a brief trip to the outer limits. Currently selling for the introductory price of $0.99, at which it's a bargain, artists and homebrew hackers are encouraged to have a look. Do so quickly if interested though, as costs jump to $29.99 in a month, at which time the program, soon to be overpriced compared with competing products, becomes a waiting case of sticker shock.