Movement Audio Visual
Originally an 8 track recording studio that was started about 1975, but then became primarily a management company that held out local bands such as “The Occupants”. In 1980 the engineer called Dave Goodway that handled the servicing of the studio designed a programmable drum machine based around a Nascom computer kit, despite the voice architecture being all analogue at a time when sampled digital voices were all the rage the unit impressed Mr. Dickenson enough to go into business with Mr. Goodway in producing those machines. The company shipped a few of them in 1981 and in 1982 introduced a new version that integrated a monitor and added a few sampled voices and in 1984 the company introduced the MKIII model that added the ability to save to disk and basic MIDI capabilities.
Only about 30 machines in total were ever made with about 5 MKIII and perhaps as few as 3 MKI’s being shipped, the company stops shipping drum machines around 1985 but if we understand it correctly it continued to exist as a demo studio and management company for a few more years.
MPC Electronics Ltd.
The device had by this time been dubbed simply “the Kit” and was an electronic drum kit with a slight twist in that it was intended to be triggered by your fingers although the production version had 4 of the trigger pads large enough that a number of drummers used it with sticks as a sort of a practice pad. After coming back from NAMM with orders the equivalent of 250 thousand pounds, a “Product Of The Show” award and offers of distribution from MXR Innovations in the USA, from Great West Imports Ltd. in Canada and Atlantex Music Ltd. in the UK Mr. Coxhead went on to incorporate as MPC Electronics the following April and make a deal with local electronics subcontractor Medco Electronics to make the electronics and an Israeli firm for the hardware with final assembly and testing being performed by the 2 partners at Coxhead’s farm.
Despite initial teething problems such as the cases arriving from Israel being of such bad quality as to be unusable the company had managed by the summer of 82 to not only get the Kit into full production but they had also introduced single sound expanders that could either be used clipped to the side of the side of the Kit to add extra sounds to it or as standalone drum sound generators, like the kit these got simple names including “the tymp”, “the clap” and “the synkit”. By August that year the company had grown to a 10 men operation and estimated that to meet orders for the Christmas season from the USA they would have to take on 20 more.
Sales of the Kit slowed down in early 1983 and the company hit some distribution problems, they stopped dealing with Atlantex in the UK and decided to start selling directly to punters via ads in the music press and later that year their USA distributor MXR went into liquidation. MPC responded by introducing the MPC Drum Computer, a sync box that allowed the syncing of the Drum Computer to tape and more expander modules for the Kit including a bass drum and hi-hat pedals. The Drum Computer (later renamed MPC-1) was a slightly oddball design as well, basically the sound generators were expanded developments of the ones in the Kit and featured much more comprehensive sound shaping options, the pads had been enlarged to allow the use of drumsticks, there were now eight channels/pads and in addition the unit could work as a drum machine. Not a traditional step time input one but rather a real time input variant but the designer had consulted drummers on the issue and they preferred the real time input via the pads, you could get an expander module that allowed you to control the MPC-1 from a Sinclair ZX81 with a 16k expansion pack that allowed you to edit or create rhythmic patterns in step time in addition to allowing you to save to tape and so on.
The MPC-1 sold reasonably rather than well, it was a bit expensive at around 900 pounds locally and at that price was in competition with and actually slightly dearer than digital drum machines from MFB, Dr. Böhm and Suzuki Musical Instruments that had better programming features and sounds, and a little later with similar pad/drum machine boxes from Allen & Heath and Dynacord that although more expensive featured digitally sampled sounds and much more advanced operation. And even though improved from the original Kit, the sounds were not all that impressive next to a Simmons drum or even a high end Roland analogue drum machine of the day.
MPC Electronics started the development of a budget sampling keyboard in early 1983 and to extend the life and utility of the MPC-1 introduced the “Stage Pads” in late 83 but that were drum trigger pads that were the size of a real drum and could be used as a replacement for real drums in kits or to replace the kit as a whole. In 1984 the company followed up with the DSM series (or Drum Synthesiser Modules), but that were the sound generating circuits from the MPC-1 placed in a 19” rack mount format that allowed those that wanted an electronic drum kit but had no interest in a sequencer/drum machine an option that was cheaper than the MPC-1. Later the same year the Sound Pad drum triggers were redesigned into a hexagonal shape rather than the original round one, this was to satisfy the American market that wanted pads visually similar to the Simmons hexagonal ones.
Even though their products appear to be selling fairly well, in particular in the USA, MPC disappears without a trace in 1985, the digital products that the company had talked about in trade shows never saw the light of day and new additions to the DSM range in late 84 or early 85 seem to be the last products the company introduced. One factor in the company’s demise may be the introduction of the Simmons SDS 8 in late 1983 but that offered people better sounds at only slightly higher prices than the DSM modules were going for. Mr. Coxhead went on to hold out a number of mostly music related ventures in the 80’s and 90’s but retired in the last decade while Mr. Button went on to become a freelance designer of bass and guitar amplifiers running his Clive Button Designs from the UK until recently when he relocated his operations to Bali, if you take a look at his homepage you will find pictures of most MPC products including the Kit prototype under the “Other” heading
Resources : http://www.lazyblueoctopus.com/MPC_User_Manual.pdf MPC-1 Drum Computer Manual in PDF format.
M. R. Artistic See --> Artistic Cover Products (Instrument cases - USA)
Naylor Engineering Inc
Noblet See --> Conn-Selmer
Ocean See --> GTRC Services (Basses USA/South Korea ca 2007 to 09)
Orozco (Classical guitars) See --> Juan Orozco
Otto Brückner See --> Conn-Selmer
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