The Movement Drum Machine
Steve Da Jarnatt has been bringing us some really amazing and obscure older gear for many years — a Helios console that belonged to The Who, a pair of huge and gorgeous Klein & Hummel tube EQ’s, original Aphex Aural Exciters, and a bunch of Quantec Room Simulators.
Our favorite project for Steve was the Movement Drum Machine. I had never heard of this model before, though I (and most likely you, too) had heard its sounds many times. In 2004, the Movement traveled the Atlantic and landed in our shop, dead and in pieces. It had a built in CRT monitor, a lot of strangely labeled switches and pots, and a rear panel loaded with odd connectors.
Not a page of documentation could be found, and the internet was little help. About all we knew was that the Eurythmics had used a Movement to get the drum sounds on Sweet Dreams, and that in its candy orange case, it was very cool looking.
Greg Filkins took the job and in the end, it wasn’t really too bad. The power supply had problems and needed to be restrapped for 120 volts. Greg figured out where all the loose cards belonged and within a day it was running, sort of. The computer was finally booting up, and after a lot of head scratching and menu exploration we began to get sounds.
Greg was on a roll and by the next morning the Movement was producing all kinds of retro 80’s drum tracks. Then came the ultimate test. We spent 99 cents to buy Sweet Dreams on iTunes and before long Greg had the drum chorus nailed and was bouncing around the shop like an older and less hip Dave Stewart. (Well, after all, Greg is a tech!)
Our client sold the Movement to a buyer in England, so ironically, it crossed the Atlantic once again, where it received a poor reception. For some reason British customs declared it a suspicious parcel, and totally dismantled it. In a sad example of Deòjaò vu, the English buyer received a carton of parts and a power supply set to the wrong voltage. (We hope he got it running without too much trouble.)
I was fascinated by the Movement and mentioned on a Pro Sound Web thread entitled Strange, Other Worldly Gear. A few people have emailed me with comments about the machine, most notably David Crabb who, with his wife, worked at Movement when this unit was in production. David was kind enough to write about his recollections of the project…
“My memories of the time at Movement have been softened by the passing of 25 years+.
Unfortunately I didn’t keep a diary of events and so this is purely from memory – any drastic errors are due to the onset of old age!”
Movement was John Dickenson. He previously played keyboards with Greg Lake in a band called ‘Shy Limbs’ as well as many other groups. I met him shortly after he moved from Bournemouth to Somerset here in the UK and I started doing some engineering and session work in his new Movement Studios. We were working on the recording of his album which was called ‘Divided We Stand’ by King Harry (which was John plus 2 of his old friends plus various local musicians contributing). This was released in 1977 just as the punk movement took off here in the UK which virtually killed the album stone dead. Timing eh?
A friend of mine also did a lot of technical work for John. His name was Dave Goodway and he was the guy who designed the Movement Drum Computer and wrote all the software for it. I’m not sure of the exact date of the development but Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were spending time with John after the breakup of the Tourists and before the Eurythmics came to fame. That would put it during 1980. It was about the time that the Linn Drum was first developed.
If I recall, several big stars of the day had Movement drum computers – Eurythmics, Thompson Twins and Pete Townsend spring to mind and I think Pink Floyd also used them. In fact most people had several as they were quite unreliable because the technology was still very new. I had one in my own studio for a few months which belonged to the Thompson Twins while it waited for a new display.
Models for sale were generally finished in orange but some of them had black cases and some others had wooden cases. I can’t remember if the different case types denoted any specification changes or whether it was just customer choice. I don’t know how many units were produced but it would have been a relatively small number.
John is now back in Bournemouth as far as I know although I haven’t had contact with him for 10 years or more. Dave Goodway, I believe, moved to the USA to work for Drawmer (probably 15 years ago) and I have run into him at a few trade shows but not for many years now so I don’t know if he is still employed by them.”