Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:
Yes, it does look like the control panel from a TIE fighter. Yes, it could be a useful part of a Darth Vader Halloween costume. This is the Korg Kaoss Pad 3, announced this week after a leak on Music Thing. Kaoss Pads are fairly cheap digital effects/sampling boxes, but what makes them special is the interface -- a backlit touch-sensitive X-Y pad. When you move your finger over the pad, it changes the sound, tweaking delay time, shifting pitch, scrubbing a sample backwards and forwards. The first Kaoss Pad was introduced in 1999 as a DJ tool (even the new KP3 has only phono ins and outs) and pretty soon it started getting namechecked by the cool kids. Radiohead used them live to recreate studio effects, seen very clearly in this YouTube clip. Meanwhile, Brian Eno was collecting the things: "Kaoss Pads... are a way of taking sounds into the domain of muscular control," he said, as he does. "If you have a few Kaoss Pads in line, like I do, you can really start playing with sound itself, with the physical character of the sound." The KP2 arrived in 2002, with a bit more memory , a few more effects, and a more gig-ready aluminium case. The KP3 is again the same idea, but with still more memory, a USB connection, and SD card so samples can be stored and a crazy pixellated display which can, for no apparent reason, display scrolling text messages. UK Price is £315, and it should be in the shops in October.