By Lorraine Kay
One of the main highlights of this year’s NAMM Show was the presentation of the new power keyboards workstations. This year there were keyboards for just about every kind of music and wallet size. One of the more impressive keyboards with a surprisingly affordable price tag was Alesis’ new offering, the Fusion Synthesizer.
On hand to demonstrate the new features of the machine was recording artist and producer Erik Norlander. Norlander was involved in the design of the Fusion and probably knows its capabilities better than anyone. His expertise in Progressive and Epic Rock helped create an innovative workstation capable of stretching production for most musicians.
“The Fusion is a new workstation synthesizer,” explained Norlander, “It’s combining four different types of synthesis – user sampling and sample playback, with analog modeling technology, physical modeling technology and FM synthesis. That’s where the term fusion came from – that they are fusing all these different kinds of synthesis. It also has a really powerful sequencer and then a built-in hard disk recorder as well.”
Norlander’s contribution to the Fusion design was from a production standpoint. “I am doing sound design, sample editing, and programming for the unit,” said Norlander. “But I’m not actually writing the software code that runs the engine of the machine, That’s more of a software engineer background. So what I am doing is coming from a synthesis/producer standpoint. Obviously I have some engineering knowledge to do this as well but it’s more on the creative side rather than the engineering side where I am involved.”
“I was involved with the early Alesis keyboards – the QS synthesizers and the Andromeda and all that and it is really satisfying,” continued Norlander. “I am really proud to be involved with this new generation of things. Alesis had really taken it leaps and bounds beyond where it was 10 years ago. So that is very exciting.”
Norlander explained how the Fusion exceeds the capability of its predecessors, “This is a workstation product. It kind of does everything at once. It does as I mentioned all the different synthesis types; it does sequencing and all that. So you can certainly do everything with this keyboard – that’s kind of the idea of it.”
As a spokesperson for Alesis, Norlander puts his money where his mouth is proudly using the products in his own stage show and while touring with singer/songwriter Lana Lane, “I do. I use almost exclusively Alesis products. In fact, almost anything modern I use is made by Alesis. I do have some vintage instruments like a modular Moog synthesizer and a Hammond organ and things like that I use. But as far as things like piano and sampled instruments, sampled Mellotron sampled strings – I’m using the Alesis instruments for that.”