In a now-infamous debate with music critic Stanley Crouch, the late James Mtume fought to explain how music cannot advance without technological innovation. These forces are inseparable, and they’ve been that way for thousands of years. I’m reminded of this fact today, as Roli hopes to solidify a new category of instrument with its Seaboard RISE 2.
The original Seaboard RISE keyboard was an overwhelming success. Its silicone keyboard opened the door to a more “analog” playing style, where vibrato, gliding notes, and shifts in tone are achieved through movements of the finger instead of knobs or switches. Seaboard RISE is featured on hit albums, the Stranger Things soundtrack, and online music courses. Still, some people see it as a trend or gimmick.
But Roli may prove that its instrument is more than just a trend. The new Seaboard RISE 2 improves on its predecessor in a number of areas, including controllability. It’s “more intuitive and effortless” than the original Seaboard RISE, thanks to an improved key design, which (according to producer Marco Parisi) makes playing in tune a lot easier.
Additionally, the updated design should prevent musicians’ fingers from slipping between keys, which is a common problem for novice users. “Any piano or keyboard player will now be able to translate their skills more quickly than ever before,” says Marco Parisi.
The new Seaboard RISE 2 also features some quality-of-life improvements. There’s a USB-C port, thank goodness, plus a premium platinum blue chassis, a more durable playing surface, and expanded compatibility with other instruments over MIDI and USB.
And like the original Seaboard RISE, this new generation of “keyboard” comes with a bunch of neat software. There’s the Equator2 synth with over a thousand presets (a $250 value), Ableton Live Lite, and ROLI Studio. Even if you don’t own an expensive DAW, you can use these tools to create and record music.
Roli has opened an initial run of Seaboard RISE 2 pre-orders today. The company hasn’t clarified when orders will ship, but get ready to pony up $1,400 for this beast.
Roli Seaboard RISE 2
You can now pre-order the Seaboard RISE 2 for $1,400. It features an improved, more durable playing surface, plus other major improvements.