All of which is clever enough, although I suspect processor-wise you could probably do much the same on a top-notch Blackberry. But the whole point of making it on the DS is the similarity between the DS interface and the KAOSS pad. Once you've got your groove on, you can start to really muck about with it using the inbuilt KAOSS window. As you wiggle your stylus, you affect two parameters, one on the X axis, and one on the Y. There are three different pads, affecting Gate & Note (i.e. which note gets played, and how short that note is), Volume & Pan, and Peak and Cutoff, which lets you do filter sweeps (like the way bass and treble is affected when you make the sound "Neeeooowwwwww").
After that, there's a mixer, with some nice effects; chorus, flange and delay. The delay is particularly handy in that it allows you to have more than two notes sounding at the same time, so you can almost build - gasp - chords. And with two people, you can share a piece of music wirelessly, with both people tweaking it collaboratively.
I was initially pretty ambivalent about this software. But I did find that I could start to put something together with comparative ease - and I really don't come from the knob-twiddling school of music-making. The interface is either wickedly retro, or shockingly poor, depending on your point of view. It's a big monochrome circuit diagram, basically, punctuated by the odd red blinking pixel. But then again, it's all about the sound, innit. And the sound is really not bad. Not too much noise coming off the filters, which happens with a lot of cheap freeware synths. You could, if you really wanted to, make something meaningful with this software. It's not like Electroplankton. It's absolutely not a toy.
It sort of leaves me wondering who it's for. A musician with enough knowledge to get the maximum out of the DS-10 probably wouldn't bother. They'd have their own, better kit. If you don't have a laptop and want to muck about on the train, I guess it would be fun. It sort of makes me think of those people who install Linux on an Xbox, or nutty despots who make supercomputers out of PS2s - just because you can, does it necessarily mean it's a good idea?
I'm now in a position where I have more money than talent (don't get jealous - I never had very much talent), and I would rather put the money towards a better microphone, or more RAM, or a tambourine, I think. That said, I have found I keep returning to it, I keep tweaking my tune... There is something cool about it. And it is undoubtedly a very powerful tool in the right hands.
If you've got the money, I'd suggest you got a Yamaha QY70 and a Zoom H4 recorder if you want to make music on the hoof. And if you want to sequence stuff in any depth or sample on the DS, you really should check out the excellent NitroTracker. But if you like the idea of mucking about, making little trancey bleepy bits of stuff, maybe just creating elements for a bigger project in your home studio, this is a nice little tool. If you had the patience, you could build something really impressive. I just don't know that I have the patience.
The KORG DS-10 Synthesiser for DS is out now.