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Using this music app would be like trying to win a staring contest with God

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Sometimes you just have to admit that, yes, you're not quite sure what a thing is, or what it does, but you know — just instinctively know — that you love how it looks. So it is with 2020, a Japanese beat machine app that's being funded on Kickstarter, and has one of the most beautiful and brilliant-looking interfaces we've seen in a while. So much so, that its creators — Japanese music group DUB-Russell — recommend that you use the OS X-only software on devices with Retina displays. Presumably, because using it with any lower resolution screen will drive you insane as you try to distinguish between the amp and pitch envelopes for one of your six synth sounds.

DUB-Russell's Yotaro Shuto indicates that this was kind of the idea in his write-up on Kickstarter, noting that he wanted to create a piece of software that, like many of its peers, allowed users to generate a million variations of a single beat, but also fitted all the elements needed to do so into just one screen. That means no scrolling, no switching modules — just cramming everything from the sequencer to the samplers into a single window.

All of 2020's functionality is crammed into a single screen. (Image credit: 2020)

And while this isn't to say that 2020's interface is uniquely complex (other music software like Logic Pro, Reason, or Cubase looks just as intimidating), there is something about its balance of colors that seems particularly well thought-out. I imagine using 2020 would feel like you were in charge of a nuclear reactor, but at the same time you want to create fission on the dance floor.

As Create Digital Music notes, 2020 is pretty pricey given its capabilities. The early bird options are sold out, so you're going to be paying $100 for the software, and $200 would get you a more established alternative like Reaktor 6. Still, it might be worth it just for that GUI.