Last Saturday night I went to Long Island City to see Daren Ho perform. For this event he was doing a Eurorack Modular performance. The event which took place next to PS1 at a venue called The Print Shop was also a showcase for Generation Records. Generation was a store and record label in the East Village. Throughout the 80s they released noise artists including most famously Conrad Schnitzler’s work. Conrad who is from Berlin was also a member of Tangerine Dream. I got to meet Ken from Generation and I bought a Generation Unlimited Cassette “No Borders”. I bought 3 cassettes in 2014!
In my opinion live modular performances can be hit or miss. Usually they go on way to long as the artist gets lost in himself usually stuck on one idea for 20 minutes or more. I like a bit of structure in my music. Owning a modular myself I appreciate when I see modular live and the sounds are sculpted in a meaningful way. For example Daren kept his range of sounds very tight. The set was mostly tight pops, delay, and futuristic flanging type of effects. He relied heavily on stereo imaging. The set was all “minor” notes which is my cup of tea. If I had a crystal ball in the 80s and I could see what I would be listening to in the future this would seem about right. I really enjoyed the performance. I should mention Daren is part owner of the store Control and if you catch him there and ask him to demo a module you could get a mini private performance. To see the full set of photos: click here
“Daren Ho is a Brooklyn-based artist with releases on record labels such as NNA Tapes, In Context Music, and Root Strata. His recent release on In Context Music (2014) is a set of 7″ lathe cut records featuring music performed on a modular synthesizer.” – Generations Unlimited
For more info: facebook.com/events/1579183272313209
There has been a Eurorack module I’ve been watching develop on the Muffwiggler forums (link) that I have been watching. It’s called Stepper Acid from Transistor Sound Labs and it has just recently become available. It’s a sequencer somewhat influenced by the Roland TB-303. However the Stepper Acid has quite a lot more to offer. Watch the video above to see all it’s features. I love that it has a built in quantizer to pitch the sequenced lines. It looks amazingly intuitive with almost no menu diving and it’s beautifully designed!
“Stepper Acid is a 16-step Eurorack sequencer module designed with live performance in mind. Designed by and for musicians, Stepper Acid was born out of our need for a modern step-sequencer. Dual microcontroller design ensures tight timing: one runs the sequencer, the other the front panel interface.” – transistorsoundslabs.com
For more info: transistorsoundslabs.com/stepper-acid
I’ve had my eye on the Flame Talking Synth Eurorack module for a very long time. I just love speech synthesizers and the idea of having one in Eurorack is just well fun. When I saw the Ninstrument Speak & Read I looked for a buy now button. Luckily for my bank account Ninstrument is quite selling these yet. Watch the video above for joy.
“I have had so many of these as bent toys that I thought it was time to make a eurorack module of one. Lots of time spent trying to nail down the right registers for the best phonemes and words. Very fast response means you can use quick triggers and for longer glitches you can use longer gates. The response has been a little over whelming to this as I knew there were a few out there who loved these, but had no idea that it was this many!!” – ninstrument.com
For more info: ninstrument.com/?p=1695
Ah, two of my favorite things: Berlin and Daniel Miller. Slice (also based in Berlin) visits Daniel Miller in his home. I love seeing which Eurorack modules he has, the art on his walls and just hearing him talk all things Depeche Mode and anything else!
“Daniel Miller has earned his place among the most influential figures in the music business from the last three or four decades. Throughout his career, Miller has often showed great vision and an excellent taste in music; he founded the legendary Mute Label, discovered and produced Depeche Mode, signed classic acts like Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget, Erasure, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as well as contemporary greats such as Moby, Goldfrapp, The Knife. For this Slices feature on Electronic Beats TV we had the honor of joining him in his Berlin home.” – Slices
For more info: mute.com
Jonas at Control showed me the Hexinverter.net Mutant drums. When you control the pitch CV with a sequencer it’s very excellent! The kick is doing a bassline. The clap you can also hear but it’s also changing in a really cool way… almost like filter opening and closing. We had it going by itself and I had to own it. The high hat can sound quite 808ish.
“The TR-909’s clap featured one control the user could adjust: volume. That was not okay with me!” – Stacy (hexinverter.net)
For more info: hexinverter.net
If you want to sound authentically very early electronic music but still buy something new Denmark’s Gotharman’s Musical Instruments is a great place to start. The video above could easily be Throbbing Gristle. I’ve been looking through the website to try and figure out exactly whats going on in the video. I am very tempted to create my own small side set up of this stuff. I noticed he has a Eurorack module too. If anyone uses some of this stuff or know more let me know what you think of it I am very curious!
“Gotharman’s Little deFormer combines a granular effects processor with special effects like TimeStretcher, StepGranulator and PitchShaper and more usual effects like Reverb, delay, distortion, compressor, filters and bit manipulation, with some special parameters, with a 100 minutes sampler, a synth and a step sequencer. A MIDI Note Randomizer is also included.” – Perfect City
For more info: gotharman.dk
I used to own and use a Roland SBX-10 to get my 909 and 303s all in moving along nicely with my Atari ST. Today Roland has released the SBX-1. Not only will it sync MIDI and DIN devices but also CV. This is going to a very useful box for live or in the studio.
“The SBX-1 lets computers and electronic instruments communicate and synchronize with each other. It supports a vast array of both analog and digital devices through DIN SYNC, MIDI and USB, and any of these can be the master clock source. You can use the SBX-1 itself as the master sync and control your external devices with its rock-steady internal clock. With hands-on control over timing and groove, and support for CV/GATE, the SBX-1 is far from just an ordinary sync box.” – roland.com
For more info: roland.com/products/en/SBX-1
I would dare to say the only thing electronic drum wise out there better than a real Roland TR-808 is the Tiptop Audio Eurorack drum modules. The reason I say that is each module actually gets the sound right but is also controllable in a creative modular environment. It’s not just the sound they get correct. It’s also the pressure or chest feel. Tiptop gets it right. The fact that you can then take these sounds a throw them into Euclidean sequencers, Echophons, Plague Bearer’s etc is just fantastic. They just released the MA808 which emulates the TR-808s Maracas. $99 USD.
“The MA808 is Roland’s TR-808 Maracas sound generator adapted for modular
synthesizer use.” – tiptopaudio.com
For more info: tiptopaudio.com/ma808
A great eureka moment is when you get your modular system in sync with your computer and DAW. There a multiple ways to do this using various modules or by even simply sending a click track out of an output of an audio interface. In my studio I use a Innerclock Sync-Gen IIls. It works great but it’s not the most cost effective option. For my laptop set up I use a Mutable Instruments CVpal. The CVpal is a very inexpensive kit only that is actually very good. Without any software it gives you MIDI note control and gate outs. If I were to buy a solution today I think it would be another Mutable Instruments product called Yarns. It gives you MIDI and Gate outs. It also gives you a polyphony mode of 4 MIDI outs, a Roland SH-101 sequencer and other tricks. Watch the great Sonic State video review above to see all it can do. $360 USD.
“Yarns is a MIDI interface providing up to 4 channels of CV/Gate conversion, and providing some of the MIDI message processing features of Mutable Instruments’ MIDIpal, including arpeggiator, euclidean sequencer, and a SH-101 inspired step sequencer.” – mutable-instruments.net
For more info: mutable-instruments.net/modules/yarns
I am working on my next album. I have equipment lying all over the place in several totally different locations. In one corner of my apartment I have “little” Eurorack set up and for the sample of the track above Im using a Korg SuperDrums DDM110 for beats and sync. Your also hearing a Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas through a Synthesis Technology E440 which has it’s filter controlled by a Make Noise Pressure Points and transpose controlled by a Flame Tame Machine. Now to do some vocals…
“Where does all this leave the DDM110? Not realistic enough to satisfy people who want a drum machine to act as a convenient substitute for a real drummer, not considered ‘classic’ enough to command the extortionate prices paid by retro enthusiasts for just about anything 15 years old with a Roland badge and no MIDI port. This ‘half-way’ status, coupled with its more eccentric qualities, is enough to place the DDM110 in the ‘love it or hate it’ oddity category. I personally gravitate towards the former opinion.” – Sound on Sound
For more info: soundonsound.com/sos/jan01/articles/korgddm110