The Roland Boutiques have been out a while now- and I fancied one since my partner Chrissie bought one – the JU-06 on a whim when they first became available and supposedly limited edition. One year on they’re still making them and have since expanded the range, and finally I had the opportunity to own one- I opted for the JX-03, for started it imitates a synth from the 1980s that I really liked back then- only this time with knobs on!
I found it a really effective tool, and what was great, its footprint was tiny, it was light (could get it easily in an overnight bag, will run on batteries and micro USB), much better built than I imagined, knobs are sturdy and top is nice and solid.. Also has 5 pin din MIDI in (very useful if you have driver/USB issues on computer) and % pin din MIDI out- this can be used to connect to another model (of the same type) to double the voices from 4 to 8 note polyphony, and it needn’t end there- people on youtube have demos of connecting 3 or 4 units up in this way.
Having already a Roland System-1 in my studio and live rig, I was quite happy with the ACB VA that Roland have implemented in these models- it can give really nice results, and its interaction is good enough for on-the-spot live tweaking (via a manual button which immediately sets the sounds to what the knobs are set to)- each of these models (the JU, JX and JP) also have a sequencer inside- though its use can be a bit clunky- if you want to change pattern lengths whilst running (this is part of my live practice), however its there and its useful none the less. Theres more here on the Roland Boutiques
Onto the piece. I had a formscheme for a while for a minimalist, evolving piece along the lines of Howard Skemptons Tendrils since last years muspro conference, with a voicing of notes G,D,A,A#,B,F and C, and for 3 parts- which easily fit into the 4 voice polyphony of the Jx-03. The one downside was I wanted to use different timbres on the 3 voices so I had to multitrack it as the JX-03 is not multitimbral- but thats no way an issue. The sounds you hear pretty much out of the box of the JX, they’re not presets, but the only thing Ive added is some Reverb and delay. The silent spaces in the piece are absolute key to the structure.