On Saturday night I went to the second annual Control Voltage Fair at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. It was at last year’s event where I first got the modular bug. Since that show I learned all I could about the Eurorack modular format and have purchased 31 modules and 4 racks to hold them. The modular “scene” is small and everyone I’ve met online, at Control or at these events has been friendly, helpful and really into it. It was extremely hot and humid on Saturday evening and this year the booths and live shows were outdoors. After a quick walkthrough I first stopped at the Tiptop Audio booth to play with the Trigger Riot and see the new Mix Z prototype. The TR lives up to it’s name as within a 30 seconds you can have a mass of drums making noise. The Mix Z is a mixer with a bus on it’s backside so you don’t have to patch the audio in from Tiptop drum modules. I met Richard Devine at the Make Noise booth. We discussed how he soundproofed his new studio. We also talked about how it’s important for children to hear a lot of music as they develop and how his own kid may end up a little different because of the modular sounds she’s hearing vs Row Row Row Your Boat. Ben Casey from Bangbang was there. He’s the de-facto Elektron dealer in NYC. Musician Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Knas the maker of the Polygamist synth were seen hanging out. Before the actual performances startetd Jeremiah Johnson had a small crowd gather around him while he improvised on the massive Control setup. They had the new Mutable Instruments modules in their giant Goikes racks and Jeremiah was making good noise with them. I talked to him after his was done about European gigs. I enjoyed Keith Fullerton Whitman’s performance. Modular sounds good live and outdoors. I like my music more structured and evil but it had moments where I wondered how he was doing it. Richard Devine’s performance had a certain sound to it. Plucky, vactrolish and for most of it happily quite dark. Due to the Tequila icey drinks they were serving right outside the festival I tired out and missed Lori Napoleon. Be sure to see my entire set of photos on flickr: click here
“People walking by outside audibly confused by the noise pouring out on to the street from RichardDevine ‘s set.” – Anthony Saunders
With the recent release of Waldorf’s Nave and today’s release of Propellerheads Thor for iPad it’s clear we are going to keep getting high quality synthesizers for iOS. Thor has a ton of features but my favorite is the Omnichord like Strum and Hit keyboard where you “Hold a chord and strum it with one finger. Or use the hit function to trigger the chord as a stab.”. It’s interesting to note that the Waldorf synth came to iPad first but will be a VST/AU shortly too.
“Thor for iPad puts the mighty Thor synthesizer at your fingertips. Reason’s legendary flagship synth delivers a thunderous sound, god-like sound sculpting capabilities and an innovative, lighting-fast keyboard designed for iPad. Thor is a synthesis playground, a flexible sonic workhorse, but above all, an expressive musical instrument for the iPad.” – propellerheads.se
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
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
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
Sometimes it’s good to go into the studio with no purpose other than having fun. Verloren is the German word for lost and so I did loose myself in this a bit. Ableton records my Eurorack synthesizer stuff. Hope you enjoy it as I did making it.
“in den Anblick verloren sein – to be lost in contemplation” – dictionary.reverso.net
Last night I stopped by the always fun Control in Williamsburg to see a demo of Pamela’s Workout and their new SID chip prototype module. As you can see there was a nice number of highly interested people there. We heard Pamela’s doing some nice swing steps on a Tiptop Cowbell (my choice of course). We also heard the new upcoming SID module. It’s has multiple oscillators, a filter, noise, ring modulator and more with CV controls. My ears were happy when it did some 80s style pulse width modulation. I really enjoy these little get togethers. To see a few more photos visit the flickr set: click here
“Control is an independent synthesizer brick & mortar shop located in the South Williamsburg Neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. We specialize in Eurorack Modular, with a passion for vintage traditional and unusual eccentric electronic devices both analog and digital.” – ctrl-mod.com
Tom Carpenter’s Analogue Solutions has some wicked synths and sequencers in it’s product line. Tom’s friend Rezfilter has posted a really nice video of the Oberkorn Sequencer, Telemark and some vintage Oberheims. I love how he gets the Depeche Mode/Nitzer Ebb sound perfectly. These demos always make me run into my studio.
“Here’s a little bass jam put together with 2 Studio Electronics ObieRacks, an Analogue Solutions Oberkorn analogue sequencer, and a Telemark V2 semi-modular synth. A five voice!” – Rezfilter
I really recommend people grab a hardware synth if they make music. For the same price of a lot of plug-ins you can grab something like the new Waldorf Rocket. In the US it’s about $330. It reminds me a little of the Eurorack module from Synthesis Technology called the Cloud Generator in that it’s mostly based on 8 digital Saw waves. Don’t let the digital part get in your way because bringing hardware into a DAW sounds different then using a plug-in. I also like that this box is small and can run of USB power making it cool to have around a laptop on the go. Sure it isn’t going to give you a enormous range of sounds but I’m all about limitations these days. The Rocket also has an arpeggiator, pulse width modulation and some other niceties.
“Monophonic Synthesizer with Variable Oscillator,Variable Waveshaping, Analog Filter, Arpeggiator, LFO, Modulation Envelope, Boost Circuit, and USB/MIDI I/O” – Sweetwater
This old Archie comic got it right except that we are all grooving and having much fun!
“Archie Comics is an American comic book publisher headquartered in the Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck, New York, known for its many series featuring the fictional teenagers Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Jughead Jones.” – Wikipedia