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
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
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
For more info: evatontechnologies.com/rf-nomad
My remix for 77tm’s song She Likes to Watch You from the Spam EP as been released on Limited Edition Vinyl and Digitally. I met Aga and Christian Gjelstrup at one of my live shows in Berlin and we have remained friends. For this remix I used mostly my Eurorack modular. Your hearing Tiptop Audio drums, Ataraxic Translatron, Toppobrillo Multifilter and a Make Noise Phonogene. Available now!
“The exclusive track “She Likes To Watch You” remixed by The Horrorist, taken from the B-Side of their forthcoming release “SPAM” – out on Mecanica Records” – 77tm
For more info: bigcartel.com/77tm-12-ep and bandcamp.com/spam
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)
For more info: analogindustries.com/b1873/The+New+Shit