Electro-musik/Dec, 1971/page 42
CURRENT CURRENTS IN ELECTROMUSIC
The ELKA SUPERCHARGER
by Clifford D. M. Torrence Jr.
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The Elka SuperCharger: Prototype #3 As it appeared in late Summer

CONTROLS
ORGAN: DRAWBARS (Flute) 16',8', 5-1/3',4',Mix1=2',1', Mix2=2-2/3', 1-3/5', 1=1/3, BASS; Ext, shapr/normal, Percussion, long/short EFFECTS: Vobrato, depth, speed, Reverb, Perc, Reit, length/rate; long/slow, med, short/fast. pitch shift, up/down, Wah, pedal/keys, depth, emph, VOICES: Drawbars-tabs Mix, 16'; Diaphone, String, Bassoon, 8'; Diapason, String, Cornet, Oboe, 4'; Octave, String, Salicet. Mix Bright (brightens the two Mix drawbars), On/off pilot light.
MOOG TANGENT: FILTER; Contour/bypass, final decay, modulation, cutoff freq, emph, attack, decay, sustain, TONE SEELCT; flute, whistle, clarinet, sax, string, trumpet noise OCTAVE SELECT -1, 0, 1, 2, volume, modulation MODULATION; depth, rate, wave; trangle, square, saw, S/H, on/off

As the sixties gave way to the seventies, the psychedelic sound gave way to the grittier blues-based rock and the combo organ started to give way to the Hammond. It also helped that as bands became fuwer, a greater percentage of them could aquire roadies, either paid or using the services of hangers-on. This was and is bad news for the Vox Continentals and Farfisa Compacts and FASTs. Vox responded with the Baroque and Farfisa created the Professional line. The Vox added to their famous organ sounds the percussive sounds, Farfisa, while having similar sounds called "Sustain" voices in the FAST series, put into the Professional has 9 footages separately voiced in the Flute and Clarinet tones and boasted of the Hommond like sounds.

With Vox following the lead of RMI and Farfisa metomorphosizing into Hammonds, The Elka company tried something else entirely. Though they made more models than either of the two giants at this time, they too, faced the problem of declining sales. What to do?. Makers of the Panther, Lo Doca and Capri, Elka would still suffer the fate of Vox and Farfisa if they did not adapt to the changing tastes.

After the introduction of the Panther 300 and Duo Deluxe, Elka had been in the process of a follow-on top-of-the-line combo organ. In 1968 they began work on an instrument called the Charger ("Paladino"). This was the Pahter 300 with "Pedal pitch bend" and Wah-Wah that could either be run by the pedal or triggered by the keys and with adjustable depth and resonance. As 1969 prgressed, they decided to give the Hammond a slight wink by putting the Flute voices on drawbars. Other improvements were the 25-note bass pedalboard the installation of which sends the treble voices across the full 61 note keyboard. Also, there were cirucit modifictions, use of integrated circuits and roadworthiness modifications. They topped it off by adding new footage controls, a separate Quint for the Jazz Organ sound and new mixture arrangements. This made them basically competitive. However, just as Vox and Farfisa were adding unique things, Elka felt the need to keep up.

In early 1970, Andrea di Vincnzi, a design engineer at Elka, heard that the R. A. Moog Synthesizer company was expanding, prodded by the success of two albums, Dick Hyman's MOOG: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman and mostly Switched on Bach.

The company was going in two directions, mini-synthesizers and semi-preset "performance" or "combo" synthizers. He contacted Moog which was also looking to go into the foreign market and this is what came of that. Moog was developing a small, semi-preset synthesizer project that went by the working title of "Tangent" that was to design a non-VC unit that could be, once developed put into organs and the like. This project was about at the prototype stage. Mr. Di Vincenzi hurridly spoke to the Elka leadership and it was decided that they would buy three prototype Tangents and integrate them into the Charger.

Several methods were studied and it was decided that the Tangent would be set up to play by its own keyboard and installed as a separate unit rather than made an internal part of the instrument and played by the main keyboard. This particular branch of the project and the results was known as SuperCharger Three prototype SuperChargers were made in the period January to March 1971 and toured Europe, Asia and North Amereica. However the anti-combo organ bias has gotten too strong and is sending these instruments into obscurity. Though some compaies are still making them, like Farfisa, Yamaho and even Elka, The emphaissi is totally on Hammond imitators rather than the characteristic thin, reedy or buzzy sound that defined the type.

Thais would be a truly unique instrument, offering both a very advanced combo organ and a synthesizer (unless you're a purist and consider voltage-control to be a necessity. but Moog felt that VC ciruits were not roadworthy enough) in on package. Just how it would be marketed is not clear. Would it be the much-discussed Panther Combo 450 or would it go in the Lo Duca or Capri line? The white sharps and flats were a departure from tha Panther line and there was talk that Elka would sell it under their own name. The voicing was quite extensive, even for a top of the line combo organ, There were three additional flute voices and all the flutes were on drawbars. The Principal was extended across the 16', 8' and 4' range with the Diaphone, Diapason and Octave tabs. The 16' Contra Oboe was replaced by "Bassoon", a thinner, more resonant reed and the Trumept was replaced by "Cornet" which is a bit shaper. Overall, this would give the organ a wider timbral palette. The voice tab coloration follows the theatre organ covention; white for flutes and principals, yellow for strings and red for brass, horns and reeds. Another new feature was the wah had been moved to the pedal with an option to trigger from either the pedel or keyboard and the effect was variable in both depth and resonance. Added was pitch shift with a choice of up or down also pedal-controlled. With the 25-note bass board, the unit was expected to retail for the unheard of price for a combo of $1525.00

The last known prototype was actually used in an album and on tour. This was by an obscure Los Angeles psychedelic-era holdout band called Space Patrol. This quintet was created and led by Ed "Buzz" Corey, who had been part of the mid-sixties' George Adamski Interplanetary Blues Band.. Space Patrol was a less bluesy group that played something called "Sci-fidelic". The instrumant both the organ and syntheiszer can be clearly heard on the Terra City; Rockin' and Rollin' album on such cuts as Terra Five, Baccaratti's Blues, Time Warp Drive, Martian Totem Head and Exploding Stars. When Space Patrol toured this last summer, they had replaced the glossy indigo epoxy paint with a flat plastic covering that matched thier "uniforms". spruce green and a subdued red. This picture that we have is of that organ. (Continued on page 175)