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
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
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
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
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
Born in 1970 I spent plenty of time turning radio knobs searching for signals. The Evaton Technologies RF Nomad put that fun in a Eurorack module and makes it CV controllable. How fantastic! $176 USD.
“The RF Nomad voltage-controlled sideband shortwave receiver Eurorack module is currently in final stages of prototype evaluation. The RF Nomad adds the squealy, squelchy, noisy, unpredictable vintage sounds of shortwave radio to your modular. But this is no ordinary shortwave; it’s been designed to be extra noisy, extra squealy, extra gritty, and just downright nasty. No built-in output filtering means that a rich spectrum of harmonic content is available on the audio output jack. Audio levels can be driven to distortion. CV control lets you add your own creative spin on sound design. Hissy interstation audio. Squealy heterodynes. Fading stations. Atmospheric noises. Faint voices in foreign languages from distant broadcast stations. Fire and brimstone. It’s all in there, just like your granddad’s old tabletop shortwave. But, the RF Nomad adds a twist: The tuning is voltage controlled. Sure, when you were a kid, you discovered you could make spacy noises on Papa’s shortwave by slowly turning the tuning dial. But just how fast could you twist that dial? Faster than an audio-rate LFO? Hardly. Voltage controlled tuning means that the RF Nomad will let you explore sounds you never imagined you could get out of a shortwave receiver.” – evatontechnologies
When I first got into Eurorack there were not too many options for Reverbs. Now we have a handful including the Audio Damage and soon to be release Make Noise modules. Intellijel has announced the availability of the Springray. You can choose between three tank sizes and has a host of other good features. $240 and the tanks range from $10 -$25.
“PRE tank and POST tank Ambler Tilt EQ. VC Feedback. Limiter in feedback path so you can prevent high gain feedback from clipping the output. (Uses THATcorp RMS and VCA ICs). Selector switch to choose up to three different connected tanks (one on the front and two on the back). VC Mix of the wet/dry balance (uses a full linear VCA xfade circuit). Drive input with large gain (can overdrive the tank inputs). External processors can be inserted into the feedback path via the SEND/RETURN normalled inputs. Extremely interesting results when patched through modulated BP filters etc. Three different sizes of Accutronic tanks are available.10HP (skiff friendly)” – Intellijel
I use Audio Damage plug-ins all the time. I have to admit I was excited to see them get into Eurorack Modular however I didn’t grab any of their first efforts. On Chris Randall’s blog Analog Industries he posted info on their new module called Sequencer 1. I will be grabbing this one day one. Besides it’s myriad of features for the sequences themselves it has a mini keyboard quantizer (yes!) and a LCD screen with patch storage. This is fantastic. Expected to be released soon at about $600.
36HP, 20mm depth. 4 banks of 16 patterns, each pattern can be from 1 to 64 steps long. The entire state (all banks and patterns) can be saved to SD card as a preset, so the memory is essentially unlimited. Clock input can be per step (like any other sequencer’s clock), or 24ppq or 48ppq for DIN sync (via a simple 5-pin DIN -> 3.5mm adaptor). Clock output can be a staggering number of choices, which is handy if the unit is acting as the master clock. The Run input can be operated a couple different ways, as can the output. In short, it can interface to pretty much anything clockish, and can in turn drive pretty much anything in a clocklike fashion. Each step gets a 1v/Oct output, three CV outputs (that can each be either 0-10v, -5 to +5v, or 0 to +5v), a main gate output, and an auxiliary gate output. Gate length is programmable per step. The playback modes are forward, reverse, pingpong, pingpong with double end triggers, skip forward, walk, and random. This is programmable per pattern. There are several ratcheting features; you can program a ratchet of various lengths per step, or you’ll note the 6 buttons labeled “REP.” These will repeat, in order, the last 8, 4, 2, or 1 steps as a loop, or cause the step you hit them on to repeat in half or quarter time. (In the same manner that the MIDI triggers in Replicant work, basically, if you own that plugin.) As I hinted before, SD card for storage and OS updates.” – Chris Randall (Audio Damage)
TipTop Audio has released another in their line of Roland TR-808 modules for the Eurorack system. I own all of them so far and they are all stellar. I believe I read Gur used to repair or clone real 808s so he really knows what he is doing. This time the Rimshot and Clav are covered in the new RS808 module. The sound is right and besides the flexibility of being in the modular environment the module has slightly more variation than the original.
“The RS808 is the TR-808’s analog Rimshot and Clavs sound generator in Eurorack format. It’s a low-cost module that brings back that classic sound, but with even more variation and control, continuing to expand your Tiptop Audio modular drum machine. The RS808 comes with two switches that give a total of 4 different positions: two are the classic Rimshot and Clavs sounds as found on the original, and two are unique to the RS808 module adding a range of snappy “click” sounds the circuit is capable of producing. Two control knobs were added, each have different effect for the selected sound. In general, these controls can be categorized as Pitch and Snap as they control the frequency of the oscillator and decay of the envelope generator. The RS808 is an exact reproduction of the original circuit which sounds like a fresh machine coming off the assembly line back in the 80’s.” – tiptopaudio.com