Stung by the Wasp

When the Wasp came out in 1978, it was received with a warm welcome by "alternative" artists who neither had the musical experience nor the money of the professional musicians, but were eager to expand their possibilities. In a 1981 "Sounds" feature on synthesized sound production, Genesis P. Orridge (then with Throbbing Gristle) states the Wasp synthesizer had liberated musicians by its "cheapness and availability". He added: "You don't need any great knowledge before you can twiddle on a Wasp, but that doesn't mean they're all going to produce something wonderful". Reminds us of current computer-based music production, doesn't it?

Another artist that has been drawn to the Wasp at a very early stage is Chris Carter, former bandmate of Genesis in Throbbing Gristle and later one half of electronic twosome Chris and Cosey (aka Carter-Tutti). Chris had listened to an early demo tape by Robert Rental and Thomas Leer and was absolutely fascinated by their experimental electronic sounds. It turned out that they had used a pair of Wasp synthesizers for these recordings, which made Chris go out and buy one of his own. Actually, the Wasps were quite popular in those days, but after the company stopped production in 1981, EDP products were soon forgotten. Twenty years later, however, there's still a couple of musicians out there who use the Wasp synthesizer, for example analogue-addicts Add N To X or 808 State.

EDP offered a couple of other - even rarer - products alongside the Wasp line. There was a luxury version of the Wasp (featuring a real, i. e. traditional keyboard), an even-lower-budget Wasp called "Gnat", the digital sequencer "Spider", and the "Caterpillar", a 3-octave keyboard for controlling up to 8 Wasps.

The Wasp is certainly not a "vintage" instrument in the common sense, but it's a highly original synthesizer and a welcome step away from any sort of perfection. However, it should be very difficult to find a Wasp in mint condition today. Only a few thousand units were assembled between 1978 and 1981, and most of them have not survived.

(rh MMII)


"Join the smart set - play with a Wasp today" (EDP ad)

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