Coolest Instrument: Soviet Occult Synthesizer

    Cool instrument alert: the ANS synthesizer, a Soviet-made tool that combines electronic music with the occult. The ANS was created in 1938 by Evgeny Murzin and named after the Russian composer and budding occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin.

    And no keyboard is required. According to Boing Boing, “you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, [triggering] a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets.”

    The ANS is a product of Russia’s avant-garde, which also produced the Theremin and other works of occult-influenced art as a means of unifying several modes of thought into one universal system. The experiments continued for several decades before buckling under political pressure as Stalin tightened his grip on the arts community.

    The ANS itself was used as part of the score to the 1972 sci-fi epic Solaris and now it languishes in the basement of Moscow State University. In 2002, the British experimental band Coil were given permission to record with the ANS, and you can see the sheets they produced in the photo.

    Somewhere, every witch house band is secretly pining for one of these. [Daily Swarm]