Akebono (literal translation: Dawn) comes from Japan and was probably released sometime in the mid-1980s. Detailed information is scarce as it was never intended for use by western musicians.
It re-creates a number of traditional Japanese instrument sounds using a combination of samples and digital synthesis.
Designed primarily as a Koto practice instrument, Akebono uses buttons instead of piano keys, has a joystick for pitch and volume modulation, and a speaker built into the suitcase.
Unlike current MIDI pitch-bend controls, the Akebono joystick only altered the pitch of the notes the player was still holding. Any notes in their release phase would be unaffected.
This behaviour was re-created using a custom Kontakt script.
The Akebono Collection uses high-quality samples to emulate the original hardware as accurately as possible.
Performance options allows you to select the original behaviour of the hardware, or more conventional playing styles.
The Akebono was a strange little box of tricks and Icebreaker Audio have provided a carefully crafted reproduction of it, with a few extra options to spare. It’s cool, it’s charming, it’s retro and it’s obscure. If somewhat niche, if you find the right project for it, it will add a whole new dimension of lo-fi, understated fun.