My friend Tom Carpenter who creates the amazing Analogue Solutions synthesizers and Medic Modules has a new Eurorack sequencer that’s just about hitting stores. It’s smartly called the EKG because well the cool red LEDs go across the unit metaphorically. Tom always has some nice tricks or maybe I should say unique features that add extra musicality to his devices. The EKG’s wonderfullness comes from the knobs under each pitch slider. They each have a “Function control” which can be used for various functions. I like this module as it hides it’s complexity in a fun interface. Tom knows analog sequencers as his Oberkorn is widely regarded as one of the best.
“Each step also has a unique Function control. Each step can be turned off, skipped, repeated or set as a reset point. Modes; Off (rest), x1, x2, x3, x4, Skip, Reverse, Rest” – medicmodules.com
The MakeNoise Phonogene is hands down one of the coolest most interesting Eurorack modules. It’s a sort of sampler, tape machine, looper and grain slicer with CV control. This week there has been a firmware update and the video above shows some of what has changed.
“The Phonogene rev 372 upgrade includes: Improved Audio Fidelity, Improved Vari-Speed response (shorter scale, greater resolution), End of GENE Pulse (EOS outputs pulses for both Splices and Genes, turn up Gene Size see this in action), Longer Record Time (improved memory management and improved audio fidelity make longer recordings possible), Broken ECHO Mode: all new behavior allows for realtime processing of audio signals.” – Walker Farrell
I am happy to report that the Control Voltage Fair is returning on Saturday July 6, 3pm-12am. It will be held once again at the at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. This is where I first really got into modular synths. Be sure to check out my post and photos from last year’s show: click here.
“Part exposition, part block party, Control Voltage is New York City’s annual fair dedicated to celebrating the modular synthesizer. Synth makers and distributors share their creations by day, inviting audiences to see, hear, touch, and talk about the modular synth. Musicians perform at night celebrating technology, invention, community, creativity. The fair will take place on July 6th, 2013 at Cannon’s Walk, and will feature the interactive fair followed by a concert. Kickoff and wrap-up concerts will take place on July 5th and July 8th. Workshops involving building voltage-controlled instruments will take place throughout the weekend. Participating Exhibitors include (tbc): 4ms, Casper Electronics, Control, Intellijel, Knas, Main Drag, Make Noise, Meme Antenna, Pittsburgh Modular, Skychord, Snazzy FX, Tip Top Audio, Toppobrillo.” – harvestworks.org
I picked up a Jupiter Storm Eurorack module from hexinverter.net at Control last week. Hex’s vcNOIZ became an instant favorite of mine so after less than a minute demoing the “JS” at the store I knew I had to have it. It’s basically 3 special noise oscillators, CV inputs and several outputs. In my demo video above I start off with just a basic output, show you how it sounds going stereo out, I engage the Noise Core Disruptor, modulate with with a Synthesis Technology E355 LFO, FM it with a vcNOIZ and finally sequence it with a Doepfer Dark Time. This is a very fun and useful module. There is a breakout coming later this year that will add even more functionality.
“Jupiter Storm is a cosmic noise oscillator. It creates sounds that can only be described as out of this world! Where it differs entirely from other pure noise generators (such as vcNOIZ) is in the algorithm used to produce the sound. Jupiter Storm has a tonal character very much of its own. Jupiter Storm does not create pure white noise like the vcNOIZ noise oscillator module from hexinverter.net. Rather, it derives what is similar to noise (but not quite) from three square wave oscillators in a unique algorithm. Some of the sounds possible are reminiscent of the sound of a broken radio being blasted with noise from the cosmos, hence, the name “cosmic noise oscillator”. This creates noise with significant harmonic content and other such interesting timbres you will not hear anywhere else! Engage the Noise Core Disruptor to create horrific sounds. In this mode, part of the noise core is creatively abused in order to generate insane sonic textures. Voltage control inputs for all three square wave VCOs in the noise core are available as well as a control voltage input that addresses all three oscillators at once. In this way, very dynamic sounds can be achieved with complex modulation routing. For example, you can apply a taste of LFO modulation to all three oscillators, while modulating a select oscillator simultaneously on its own with something more drastic. This module is based entirely around analogue opamps and discrete logic gates. No microcontrollers are used in the design of this module.” – Control
The Ataraxic Translatron is one of twelve new Eurorack modules about to be released from Noise Engineering. The Ataraxic is an oscillator like one from an 8bit video game console. I played with one at Control last week and it’s really fun. The purple module with little green display also looks cool as hell. About $150 USD.
“The Ataraxic Translatron is a linear feedback shift register oscillator similar to those used in the first generation of home video game consoles such as the Atari VCS as well as many other classic arcade games. Linear feedback shift registers are an ingenious way to produce a variety of sounds with an extremely small amount of hardware. The Atari VCS used only around 35 logic gates to produce all of its sounds. The complexity of tone for relatively minimal hardware made this synthesis technique common for sound in the first generation of video games where hardware costs were the primary development constraint. As video games entered popular culture these sounds became iconic but have seldom made it out of the video game world except when sampled from the games themselves or as their own genre of music “chiptunes”. The Ataraxic Translatron gives you classic arcade sounds in Eurorack format to be used just like any other VCO. 12 patches vary from a simple square wave to white noise with your favorite arcade sounds in between. All tones are available in 6 octaves range. A standard 1 volt per octave pitch control and CV control of the current patch are squeezed into a compact 4HP. An external clock mode that allows an external clock to drive the shift register allows for additional tone generation and modulation.” – noiseengineering.us
For those of you who still have not grabbed some modular stuff but want in on the sounds Izotope has released a Sound Library called Modular for Iris. Iris is on my list of interesting plug-ins to get when I have the chance. This library has 600 samples and 300 patches for $34 USD.
“From the vintage classic, the ARP 2600, to modern Cartesian sequencing, the Modular sound library stems from a wide range of both musical and chaotic sources. Start experimenting and you’ll find that any Modular patch could inspire your next track, from pulsing tones to lush effects to glitchy rhythmic syncopations to fat bass sounds.” – izotope.com
Last night I went to Control in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to see Dan Snazelle demo his SnazzyFX Eurorack modules. Of all the demos I’ve seen so far this was the best. He’s really into it and spent a solid two hours showing how to use is stuff in musical contexts. After seeing it in action I know I really want a Chaos Brother. It creates random gates and more but in a really useful way. He had it hooked up to a DPO’s strike with some Tiptop drum modules as a back beat and it was instant Berghain (infamous Berlin nightclub). The Dreamboat was similar but faster and more chaotic. The Dronebank is a simple module designed solely to make drones. It’s six triangle oscillators and in person it’s quite wantable. Wow & Flutter mutates your incoming signal sort of like tape. Lastly there’s the Ardcore module. This module is a chameleon which loads programs via USB. There are about 60 to choose from right now. You can have things such as a bit-crusher, arpeggiator and even a drum machine. Dan mentioned he will be doing a run of modules with “normal” faceplates later this summer. As usual Daren & Jonas (the owners of Control) were great hosts. If you’re in the NY area you really owe it to yourself to visit.
“The Chaos Brother is a new modulation module full of enough options and knobs to keep it interesting no matter where you decide to use it. It all starts with the CHAOS knob, when turned all the way to the left, you get repetitive, tame oscillations like you would find in a basic LFO. Start turning the knob to the right and the Chaos ensues.” – snazzyfx.com
Dan from SnazzyFX will be demoing his Eurorack Modules tonight at Control (416 Lorimer St. Brooklyn, NY 11206). I am pretty interested in what these modules can do. Bring some beer and see you there! 6-8PM
“Our second spring event begins tomorrow night with Dan Snazelle of Snazzy FX. He will be discussing his current and future line of modules and effects.” – ctrl-mod.com
If you want to see a huge amount of modular synth patched together and sounding like a few hundred television sets falling down a flight of stairs start following Richard Devine. I’m not certain I would listen to his “music” while driving or even be able to pick out one composition and say this is one I love. However, as a movie soundtrack or in the elevator going up to the top of One World Trade center I think it’s perfect.
“Richard Devine is an Atlanta-based electronic musician and sound designer. Devine has designed sound patches for NI’s Absynth, Reaktor, Battery and Massive. He has also scored commercials for Nike, Touchstone Pictures and engineered and performed his own music worldwide.” – Wikipedia
Put this video on at about 6:14 in and it sounds like Front 242 during their Front by Front era. It reminds me of the basslines in Until Death or Welcome to Paradise. Sounds so wicked as he pitches the Make Noise DPO sequence using the Flame Tame Machine.
“The DPO is a voltage controlled oscillator designed for generating complex waveforms and implementing FM synthesis within the analog domain. Expanding on the classic arrangement of Primary and Modulator Oscillators, the DPO has both of the VCOs operable as complex signal sources. It is in essence a Dual Primary Oscillator.” – ctrl-mod.com