The Rokton Drum Machine, AKA ‘The Soviet 808’

In his latest video, synthesist Hainbach takes a look at a rare Soviet drum machine, the Formanta UDM, aka the Rokton.

Hainbach tells a little history of this unusual device, explains why it’s built like a tank, shows how it’s still great for making electro beats and explains why it’s sometimes called ‘The Soviet 808’.

Video Summary:

“When I first saw the Formanta UDM, also know as Rokton, I was intrigued – a Simmons-like drum synthesizer with cheesy preset rhythms? Add to that the typical Soviet “they make tanks here too” look and I knew I had to explore it. I was surprised by how bleepy and klonky it sounded once I turned of the preset drums. It has the energy of early Warp and Rephlex records, with a dusty and dry tone that yet goes low. The integrated rhythms became suddenly amazing, as I programmed the sounds to be different. I never heard a tango like that from a preset.

Sadly, I could not learn much about the history of this machine. There are just a few pages on it out there, so I hope this video can be start for more information. For me, I set the goal to visit all the Soviet production sites, once the world is traversable again, and find out more. Drop any info you have below, I am very curious to learn more and apologize for any factual errors I might have made.”