This is a brief exploration with a couple minimal synths I received this Christmas from my wonderful mother in law: the Teenage Engineering PO-24 Office and the Korg Monotron Delay. Out of all of the Pocket Operators, the PO-24 seems to be the most maligned. It has a very specific, noisy sound that is hard to fit into the workflow of most PO-based music. I’ve never had that feeling about it, though, and when I was first introduced to these little wonders, it was at the top of my “OMG I need this” list, alongside the PO-20 Arcade (first one I got!) and the PO-28 Robot. At that point, they hadn’t released anything in the 30-series, which took the rough concept of these synths–specific-sound doodads on the cheap–and exploded them into wildly customizable powerhouses. For me, as much as I enjoy the ability to sample whatever I want on the PO-33 KO or synthesize my own voice with the PO-35 Speak, having a set of constraints to the tools was kind of part of the appeal. Whenever I have to input my own sounds into a synth before I can even start making music, it’s a major creative block. The original six Pocket Operators just go, and you can crank them up to their limits in no time. Also, I LOVE the rough-around-the-edges vintage printer and computer sounds. They get really gritty and heavy with a little filtering and delay (provided here by the Monotron), giving an almost industrial techno vibe. I expect I have many more similar explorations to come with these and my other assorted pocket synths. Jamuary is just around the corner, but more about that later.