Retro Ads: WMS Interphaser and Powerhouse Rhythm Unit

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Today’s retro ad page is a twofer of extreme rarities: the Wasatch Music Systems (WMS) Interphaser 1080-B effect and the EMI Powerhouse Rhythm Unit, advertised in our December 1976 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

There is scant information to be found online for either item, but possibly the least for the Interphaser 1080-B. We know from the great EffectsDatabase.com that it appears to be somewhat basic yet intriguing phaser effect, with controls for the amplitude of the LFO wave (Intensity), the LFO rate (Speed) and amount of effected signal fed back into the effect (Emphasis).

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There three versions of the Interphaser: 1080-A, 1080-B and 1080-C. WMS also made a 1020 Sequencer that they advertised in the magazine, as well. This gear, however, is basically wiped from memory, and there were no Ebay auctions we could find for any WMS gear past or present.

The EMI Powerhouse Rhythm Unit on the other hand, is almost comically novel in today’s day and age, but there’s at least some proof that is was used in the pantheon of distributed music.

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This pre-digital, electro-mechanical piece is a tape drum machine, similar in the way that the Mellotron and Chamberlin were tape keyboard machines. The Powerhouse had eight tape playing cartridge slots, and different tapes were available with such rhythms as Quickstep, Old Time Jazz, Slow foxtrot, tango, Samba, mambo, Merengue, Rumba, Cha-cha-cha, Bossa nova, Polka, Motown slowbeat, Latin Rock, Cuban rock, Glitter Rock, disco, funk, etc. Basic controls let you choose basic or complex rhythms, muting and the tempo.

See the YouTube video below to remind you that there once was a time when you couldn’t change the tempo of a track without also changing the pitch.

An Ebay auction from 2011 had a Powerhouse Rhythm Unit up for sale at an opening bid of $499, but it received no bids.

A photo from 1977 shows Vangelis with the Powerhouse Rhythm Unit in his ample rig.

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