“This hardware and software gives you limits,” says Piotr Raczyński, CEO of Polyend (not related to Bogdan Raczynski, the musician he collaborated with). “When you own a DAW these days with any computer, you can have thousands of tracks and thousands of effects. It’s tempting and it can be a little intimidating. But here you don’t have any fancy graphics. You have to listen to it; the main receiver is your ears. This limitation gives you a kind of freedom that you no longer have to think about the process. “
Trackers first appeared in the late 1980s. Karsten Obarski, a sound designer for video games, created a program called Ultimate Soundtracker for the Commodore Amiga as a way to streamline the game rating process. The concept proliferated from there, inspiring similar programs like OctaMED and Renoise. The characteristic 8-bit sound samples of trackers have become a staple of video game soundtracks and have been used to mark games like the original. Deus Ex and Unreal. Trackers also became instruments of the ’90s rave scene, due to the ease with which users were able to quickly create frenzied, dancing beats using a simple laptop keyboard. Polyend’s choice to combine this functionality with retro appeal to create a sleek hardware controller was inspired by not a small amount of nostalgia.
“If ‘retro appeal’ is a code for ‘cheesy’, then yes, trackers are (not exclusively) for geeks,” says Bogdan Raczynski. “Musical evolution owes immeasurable debt to the nerds who have electronic moonshot music where it is today.”
Raczyński and Raczynski met at a concert in Poland in 2019 where Bogdan was performing. (Incidentally, Legowelt was playing at the same gig.) Polyend’s Tracker was then still in the prototype phase. Bogdan, who had been using tracking software since the 90s on albums like Samurai Math Beats and Rave Till You Cry, offered advice that shaped the development of the material.
“He showed me what was going well, what maybe needed improvement,” says Piotr. “It was a very, very important point in developing this.”
For Bogdan, the inspiration for his custom Polyend tracker – a bright yellow design named “PROHIBITIONS“: Comes from a series of Instagram posts who presented the carrier fruit. He wrote on its website that the design was meant to “evoke a sense of joy” that would encourage users to happily explore the device.
“The wonderful thing about every instrument, from Trumpets and Trackers to Tracker, is that they’re just a medium,” Bogdan says. “Anyone can pick up a saxophone, but no one will ever sound like Gato Barbieri. It is wrong to hope to be like anyone else. The Tracker is an instrument that gives you the opportunity to express yourself in a way that you cannot do with any other instrument. “
If you miss this series of limited edition material from Polyend, know that the company is also developing another new product with the creative contribution of the electronic musician. Aphex twin. Expect this collaboration to begin next year.
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