It's not often a new, usable and fairly different instrument is born ! The other day, we posted something about Amon Tobin and he's in fact has been using this relatively new instrument, the Haken Continuum (first released in 2002), quite extensively for his latest work "Isam".
Basically the Continuum, invented by Dr Lippold Haken ( a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Illinois) is a a touch-sensitive keyboard with a playing surface of nearly 8 octaves (they have a 4 octaves version too) which can control midi instruments (synths, samplers, drum machines, MPC, etc...) but also generate intriguing sounds by itself thru a 32 voice polyphonic sound generator. Ok, it sounds very technical so let's just say this amazing and beautiful machine delivers great sounds and is extremely reactive and expressive, something that can be missed on most keyboards. This is due to the fact that the surface of the neoprene keyboard reacts to the smallest input, in a three dimentionnal way: pitch of the note, additionnal timbre control and slides between notes. The possibilities are immense and already famous composers are using it, like John Williams on the soundtrack of Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull, or Lou Reed and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).
An amazing demo of the Haken being played like a violin on: http://www.cerlsoundgroup.org/Continuum/html/intsounds/isRosin.html
Richard Lainhart uses the Continuum: http://www.otownmedia.com/he/about.html