Back in the late 80s, I used to play drums in a band called Idle Frets. We were MASSIVE in our local town and occasionally got to play in the even bigger town just up the road. And that was the extent of our fame and fortune. But the important thing was, we had fun. We were four (expanding to five in later years) guys, all with regular day jobs and limited budgets but a huge passion for playing our favourite songs to our small but passionate group of adoring fans. My drum kits were either cheap and nasty or second hand and we all scraped by, reinvesting our band earnings into gear and beer. This was also true for our keyboard player, Mike.
Unable to afford a DX7 or Korg M1, Mike made do with a Juno 106 and a CASIO CZ 5000. Casio employed a synthesis technique called PD, which stood for Phase Distortion and was as close as you could get to FM synthesis without infringing Yamaha’s copyright! Casio had built up a significant reputation for cheap home keyboards and their entry into the professional synthesis arena was derided by some, but by bringing their own clever (and affordable) synthesis method to the table, they also gained a number of plaudits and deserved respect. Mike would later acquire a Casio AZ-1 keytar, to properly complete that 80s look 😉
Whilst PD wasn’t exactly the same as FM, it certainly had a unique sound and was able to create some really powerful and useful sounds. As such, Casio’s CZ range of synths sold incredibly well, not only for their sounds, but for their very reasonable prices. Prices that were ideal for aspiring, gigging pub bands like Idle Frets.
And so it is to these synths that UVI have turned for their next instalment of classic synth sample libraries with CAMEO. And very welcome it is too. Even after all these years, and after so much recognised success, the Casio brand still struggles to garner the kudos and respect it deserves. So it is nice to see UVI turn their attentions to the brand and bring it back to a modern market at an affordable price.
For your money, you get three distinct instruments. The Cameo CZ, Cameo CX and Cameo CM.
The Cameo CZ delivers CZ sounds both old and new. A large number of instantly recognisable sounds are here, along with many modern patches too. As usual, UVI have categorised these sounds into folders such as Bass, Bells & Mallets, Keys, Leads, etc. and they have also supplied 33 raw waveform samples for you to experiment with. All of these are delivered underneath yet another superbly recreated front end that is instantly familiar to anyone that knows the CZ range, and also to anyone familiar with the UVI layout of all their instruments. Instantly familiar and full of features to easily and quickly shape sounds to your own liking. This interface also includes an arpeggiator and step modulator, allowing you to create constantly evolving and rhythmic sounds with just a few clicks. There are also effects such as overdrive, delay, reverb and phaser as well as the usual filter and amp envelope settings and mod wheel mapping options.
The CX takes things to the next level, allowing you to layer huge amounts of CZ sounds with each other, and still allowing you to tinker with each layer individually. This is very much the same modus operandi as UVI’s CS-M or Synthox instruments. Again, the scripted front end is delightfully nostalgic as well as supremely functional. This is CZ and PD on steroids! After using this, if you’re still of the impression that PD was just a poor man’s FM, then your ears aren’t working well at all.
Finally, things go properly next level with the CM instrument. Using CZ samples as a starting point, CM is more of a hybrid, utilising the features of the powerful UVI engine employed in their amazing new Falcon instrument to deliver something regular PD couldn’t. It’s obvious that the UVI team wanted to fully exploit Falcon’s superb feature set with this instrument. And they succeeded.
I’m almost getting bored of saying this, but UVI have done it again. They’ve taken an oft-neglected classic, spruced it up, done it justice and breathed new life into it. CZ synths fetch average synth prices on eBay, with CZ3000’s commanding £150-£200 and CZ5000s up to £500. But for around €130/$130, you can have a trouble free, expansive set of CZ sounds, sampled from most of the CZ synths and exploit them even further with the powerful UVI engine. Don’t forget, CAMEO is also compatible with UVI’s free UVI Workstation, so it will work straight out of the box, so to speak.
If their stuff wasn’t so damned good, I’d be getting bored of saying it, but once again, UVI come up trumps with a superb package of inspiring sounds at a throughly affordable price. It is definitely not to be sniffed at!
Size : 9.16GB (FLAC lossless encoding, was 14.73GB in WAV)
Collection : Phase Distortion Suite
Content : 3 Instruments, 478 Presets, 27,874 Samples
Sample Resolution : 44.1 kHz. Recording at 88.2 kHz
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