Favourite 5

Scrimshire’s Favourite Five Soulful Synths

Believers Vol 1 is Scrimshire‘s own tribute to the Black music he grew up loving and continued to love as it developed into various strands. The song choices are deliberately optimistic, instruments swimming in Afro-disco, neo soul and jazz. And Soul loves synths.

The album “represents warmth and hope” according to Scrimshire.

“Everyone I worked with early in lockdown seemed to want to express those longings for physical and emotional connection too. The whole album reaches out, I think it’s full of long embraces.

“But it is also, for me personally a love letter to Black music and the Black artists that shaped everything I care about sonically, from my very first memories of music until now.

“It draws from sounds I grew up around in the early to mid-eighties, classic records from the seventies that I’ve never tired of, but important dance records from the late nineties and early 2000s that celebrated and subverted those ideas too.”

You can buy and stream the album here. 


As an extra insight into the LP, Scrimshire has pulled together songs on the theme of the synthesizer for a Bonafide Favourite 5. Here are some of the finest examples of synths in soul

T.O.N.T.O. was The Original New Timbral Orchestra synthesiser created by Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil, that was made most famous by Stevie Wonder on the 70s recordings including Music Of My Mind, Talking Book and Innervisions.

It included a whole lot of Moog, but also additional modules/panels by Arp and Oberheim and others. I thought I’d put together some tracks that felt the influence of that sound, or used the instrument itself.

It’s been a huge influence on me and especially on my new record, Believers Vol.1.”


The Stairsteps – Theme Of Angels

Best known for their hit Ooh Child, the album 2nd Resurrection was co-produced by the band with Robert Margouleff and Billy Preston. There’s bits of Moog to be heard throughout, but never clearer than on this bit of gorgeousness.

Billy Preston – I Can’t Stand It

Very moody instrumental from the It’s My Pleasure album. This is the full sound of T.O.N.T.O on this one, Cecil and Margouleff both involved. Even Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright make appearances on this album. But I love this moody jam that almost feels a bit Pink Floyd in places. Soulful synths at their soulful best.

Isley Brothers – Highways Of My Life

The Isley Brothers were in the same studio in 1973 recording 3+3 when Stevie was making Innervisions, and Margouleff and Cecil were involved in making 3+3 too. Highways has the sound, I think from the Arp 2600, that I probably love most. You’ll know it from the breakdown in Stevie’s Superwoman too.

Stevie Wonder – Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You?)

Obviously too many to choose from with Stevie, but this and specifically, the bit from 3 minutes and 5 seconds to 3 mins 48 seconds. If there were such a thing as heaven and I could pick what my heaven was, I would die and live forever somewhere in those 43 seconds.

Björk – Army of Me

Slightly off theme, but I’m happy to break rules for Björk. Army of Me uses the Arp 2600 you also hear on those Isley Brothers and Stevie records and I remember hearing this track for the first time and being completely confused and in love almost immediately. So thank you to the legendary Graham Massey for that. Here began my love affair with Björk and her brilliant mind for collaborating.

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