DivKid 2016 Rundown

Inspired by Justin from Abstract Data‘s Facebook 2016 run down month by month (and the others that followed suit) I wanted to round up the year month by month as to what went on. Partly just to look back over the amount of videos that went on and also to show you lot that list too as there’s probably some that were missed. Prepare for a big list of links, here goes!

January 2016

The year kicked off with the Mystic Circuits Vert video and I had an SH-101 for a few weeks on loan to play around with. For those interested I prefer the SH-09. I can’t remember what else went on to be honest, like most probably an uneventful first month of the year.

February 2016

I remember spending loads of time mulling over the details of all the things announced at NAMM in January it took a while. Modular Podcast also launched this month with Greg and Matthew joining me for the first show, it feels like ages ago now … probably because I’m bored of their company at this point 🙂 . I also made a video for the Flame FX6 as I wanted to do it and reach out to the company but never managed to get any response from them. I find it odd how they’re completely off the radar yet have good modules. I also got round to the first performance video from Ross Lamond’s Bells N Whistles Crackles N Pops from November 2015. I’m always behind with event videos but I capture things when I can then get to editing in-between work.

March 2016

March March March sweet lordy March … I’ve no idea what happened in March 2016 to be honest. Nothing too eventful and prep for Superbooth following in April. Plenty of videos though, so (just for you Scanner) LET’S GET STUCK IN!

April 2016

Superbooth! I was a real come down after Superbooth but along with Matthew Shaw we got loads of footage as Modular Podcast. It was also my birthday this month both DivKid’s (stupid character has a back story don’t you know) made up birthday and my own.

 

 

 

 

Interview – deStrict

For issue 16 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular I asked deStrict (a modular using techno producer in Italy) some questions for an interview about his work and use of modular. Here’s the interview. 

I met deStrict as he was getting into eurorack and he was adding that to his studio to work alongside other equipment and software creating more minimal techno. So I wanted to talk to him about life pre and post modular regarding music production arm talk about the use of eurorack in a production context.

Hey Igor, so first of all tell us who you are and what it is you do. It’s easy to skip that as we’ve been speaking for sometime now but it’s good for everyone reading to have an idea of who you are.

Nice to meet you all I’m Igor Lessio some of you know me as deStrict or S!LK or 50% of SKMK I’m a music producer and also DJ. But since i started the music production school most of my time is devoted to that so let’s say I’m a retired DJ and music producer/teacher 🙂 I run Opium Audio and I’m the A&R of the Involuntary movement project alongside Chstiandi Stefano. We can practically say that music is my life.

So how did you get into music early on and what made you lean towards minimal techno?

Back in the days I was 6 and my father was used to keep me awake during Folk bands “after party”. Is where they get aware I was made to play percussions, then music school then bored to death by classics… then late after techno (also hardcore) DJ and party boy. Minimal came form a romantic walk under rain in Milano, I remember I entered a shop called Fluxus and they was selling ambient stuff so instead of get back to the rain I listened some of the CDs… and boom! Fuck there was a way to groove without and kick drum?? WOW I must learn that. So even if I made various genre in my various aliases my love if for small super detailed grooves and 8am after party music.

Before getting into modular synths what were you using for music production?

Like everybody I had a many transitions. Back in the days machines and clock problems then computer only then computer and machines but I was keeping me far form modules for many reasons like the price and all that people that keep you scared telling you will never finish a track with them.

And what was it that started to interest you about Eurorack modules?

I was at a Ricardo Villalobos concert and after listen what he was doing and producing in real time I decided to try it. Then you know, you give me a lesson one day ahaha. The use of modules and their simply but really effective workflow was perfect for my way of work.

Did you have any frustrations or issues working with Eurorack or did it slot into your workflow pretty easily?

Euro slipped in my workflow with absolutely no issues, I can do in same project everything form Euro to sampling to computer and not a single clock issue or problems. I’m pretty happy with that! Plus the real frustration comes from looking into my 300000 samples and find something…. you know that kill me for real!

How are you using your Eurorack system? For drums, custom synths, FX etc?

I use them for everything from synth to drones to percussion. About FX I prefer pedals or VST I still think that there is a lot of work on eurorack to achieve their usability. But you know this is my point of view. Now Eurorack has firmly taken place as a key part of your studio do you wish your system could do anything else? My studio will do what I do, instruments are something that are there to help your expressions but you cannot be a slave to that hardware. I will keep getting more modules I have some in mind but to be really honest, talking about my own style I already have enough to make records till 2050 🙂

To finish on tell people where they can find your music and more about you.

Well if you play records so you can find me as deStrict at this link https://goo.gl/wIa88K on Decks and all major and minor record stores. But if you are my friend you can also play my unreleased music in you next set 🙂 I’m thinking I will avoid releasing my stuff and keep giving it to the right people to test out, itwill be even more underground that way!

 

Module Of The Month – January 2017

For issue 16 of DivKid’s Month Of Modular I picked out the Performance Mixer from WMD as my module of the month. It’s in pretty much every patch I make at the minute and will be fully overviewed in the usual DivKid video style in the near future.

TipTop Audio – One

 

EDIT – Pricing has been announced at $175 and there’s now a video embedded below.

TipTop Audio have teased us for a while now about One, people seemed to start guessing it was a sample player as that fleshes out the TipTop system nicely and also offers a range of potential drum sounds their 808 and 909 analogue clones can’t offer. Well the predictions were right as One is a sample player. It’s only 4HP, high quality (up to 96kHz sample rate, great for pitching things down and retaining quality) with basic controls and CV / gate inputs. The module takes micro SD cards and there’s 6 SD cards with content designed by GLITCHMACHINES which we’ll get into below. The blurb from the website is copied below that too.

Getting into the cards we start with ‘VCTRS: Lets Get Started’. This is a mixed material one shot library with 60 sounds across 5 banks. This introduces the most compelling material from each card to demonstrate the strength of the module. KERNL is another one shot set of sounds which are percussive and textural in natural that’s labelled ‘Binary Manipulated Percussive Impacts’. BENT is (you’ve guessed it…) Circuit Bent sounds again percussive and this time digital. It’s made up of 256 sounds harvested from a variety of customised circuit bent machines. HYBRID again is percussion with 256 foley and field recording sounds. SBSTRT is called ‘Natural Percussive Elements’ agains both percussive and textural with 256 raw, natural earth sounds made by manipulating materials such as metal, stone, ice, plastic, vegetables etc. Finally PERC is again percussive but this time they are multi layered drum hits and percussive hits with tight attacked and bright harmonic content coming from a variety of sources.

It all sounds very good to me and the GLITCHMACHINES sounds I’m sure will deliver the goods!

ONE brings organic sound and super low latency sample playback to the modular. It differs from other sample players in that it handles the digital audio bits as a continuously manipulated electrical flow, a feature inspired by our analog knowhow. This unique core makes ONE truly integral within the Tiptop percussive modular ecosystem thanks to a lightweight and responsive digital circuit with a very analog feel.

ONE brings a world of colors to the modular right out of the package. We have invited some of the best sound designers in the Industry to create professional sound libraries with content tailored to the unique sonic framework of the modular synthesizer and that fully takes advantage of ONE’s unique qualities. To start with, ONE comes with a SD card loaded with a free set of 60 sounds designed by Glitchmachines. More cards are available to purchase separately each containing carefully selected material with up to 256 sound files. Using your own sample libraries or recordings is easy too, just copy 16 or 24bit mono WAV files onto the SD card, pop the card into ONE and go.

ONE offers several modes of operation, with the primary being the super low latency Trigger mode that retrieves audio data off the SD card adding no artificial processing such as click removal, crossfading, eq or gain normalization. In this mode, it’s a highly transparent player up to 24 bit 96kHz with no interpolation of the audio data: what you put in is what you get out. With a delay as low as 0.25ms from the moment the trigger hits, ONE offers harmonically dense, clear and detailed audio with a great rhythmic feel.

ONE handles external CV through a user selectable multifunction jack. Pitch is the main control with two modes available: Free pitch allows for fine tuning of the playback rate, great for adding subtle vibrato or wild tape speed effects; Quantized pitch maps CV to the standard 12 tone system over 3.5 octaves and is ideal for melodic content. CV can also be used to sequence through files off the SD card allowing far more varied sounds from a single source; almost like an entire percussion section behind the slim panel.

Although originally designed to play tightly with our analog drums and envelopes, ONE’s rich sound quality encouraged us to make it work in a variety of other applications that are less demanding of sub millisecond timing response. The extra headroom at the core level allows features such as Gated playback, Looping, and Triggering with fades in and out to accommodate different types of sound sources from drum loops to polysynth chords to noise sources and other yet unimagined uses.

ONE offers another useful dimension since it can play CV signals too. Drop in a card with LFO signals, random CV, slopes and envelopes for a whole set of new control and modulation possibilities.

ONE is as simple to use as it is affordable and plays extremely well with it’s analog cousins – our vision for bringing samples into the modular world.

 

Steady State Fate – Entity

Oh Andrew Morelli …. Mr SSF … What a killer drum modules you’ve made! 🙂 Calling Entity a Bass Drum Synthesizer is a bit misleading but it certainly makes for a cool kick drum. I wanted to make a post to share the vast tones in the videos direct from SSF for the module.

I’ve just finished up a series of work for Future Music magazine (two pages in the magazine as an article and tutorial and video to accompany it) based around the Entity and drum synthesis and alongside that I used the Gatestorm from Erogenous Tones & SSF (collab module).

So here’s the videos from SSF’s YouTube page and watch out for my coverage surfacing in the coming months. Cheers!

Oberheim at NAMM 2017

Sonic State and Tom Oberheim … nice combo for a trade show right there. Head to the video below to check out Nick Batt talking to Tom Oberheim with a little history lesson and walk through of the projects. Features aren’t discussed at length so I’ll dive into those myself below. Above is an image of the first Ring Modulator available aimed at performing musicians in 1970. Tom brought this along to NAMM and there’s also his phase shifter (that I believe went on to be a Maestro product) that was made in 1971. Both of those are now going to be available in adapted form in the eurorack format along his new synth modules.

You can see both the Phase Shifter and the Ring Modulator in the image above and both look to be fully featured, however a little big (hides under chair for my criticism). It’s interesting to see an effect in and out switch rather than a single on off button or switch. I wonder if there’s an advantage to doing it that way, or just something to follow the original designs. You have 3 speed buttons for low, medium or high frequency phase shifting along with an external modulation input, speed CV input and direct out. The direct out I think might be the internal LFO modulation. There’s then the obvious input and output. The Ring Modulator again has the in and out effect switch and low medium and high ranges. There’s knobs for input (input level no doubt), frequency and depth along with small trim knobs for the X and Y. The bottom input section gives us a big hint into how the unit works. There’s an external carrier input which hints at an internal one. That would also make sense for the carrier output and 1v/oct input. So there’s an internal oscillator to be used as a carried which you can also control the pitch of with your usual sources. There’s then a input (for the modulator I imagine) and an output. Both modules are “exactly the same circuit for 1970 and 1971”.

The new synth voice SEM-X is current development of the SEM+ (they didn’t like the name) that Oberheim had showed at a previous NAMM show. In the picture you can see the SEM-X modules and their Patch Panels. Each SEM-X module is going to come with a Patch Panel but you can re arrange these in the layout above for ease of patching. Each SEM-X is an Oberheim voice with two VCOs, a multimode VCF, two envelope generators, one LFO and a small mod section.

According to Tom in the video these products will be available in a few months “probably in May”.

 

10 new intellijel modules at NAMM 2017

UPDATE – I’ve now replaced all the photos with HQ web images direct from Intellijel. Be sure to click on them for full resolution images.

intellijel dropped 10 new modules at NAMM was that more or less than Erica Synths when they announced the PICO range? Anyway, they’ve been busy so let’s get stuck in!

Regarding Intellijel, by far the most exciting module for most will be Plonk (good name, I like!) Which is a new collaboration module from both intellijel and Applied Acoustic Systems A|A|S. If you’ve not heard of Tassman or Chromaphone from A|A|S you’ve probably seen their work in Ableton Live. They developed Analog, Tension, Collision and Electric for the DAW which are all great devices. You didn’t come here for DAW devices though so … Plonk brings in that software technology from A|A|S and that’s in the new module Plonk. It’s a physical modelling module suited to percussive sounds through modal synthesis. With beams, plates, membranes and strings there’s a wide range of objects to excite in various ways. Modal synthesis works with an exciter and a resonator first seen in the eurorack world with Elements from Mutable Instruments. Rather than choosing to build a large module with all the controls on the front Plonk offers macro control and a crisp and clear OLED screen to show / change settings and modulation. As we’ve seen with Rings from Mutable Instruments Plonk offers polyphony in the way of overlapping notes, meaning that as one sound decays you can strike and create another and the original sound won’t cut off. Fast forward to 15:18 in my Rings video to check this polyphonic feature out. Plonk runs at 24bit and 44.1kHz so no concerns with quality.

Next up is the Tetrapad which is a four part custom touch and pressure controller with various modes. The pressure is true ‘force sensing resistor’ pressure and not capacitance based. Meaning you can press the pads/strips harder with any object to get the pressure output. There’s a basic level and pressure mode with gives a value from the vertical position of the pads as well as a pressure output along with various other modes than can create strumming like gestures, 4 different pitch intervals for chord generation and there’s an expander coming that will allow you to sequence between those too. It looks like it will fit in nicely among the likes of Pressure Points and the new Twisted Elektron keyboard controller, likes those two modules Tetrapad will also be able to link with a second module for extended functionality.

Third in line is a new Quad VCA with adjustable response like the uVCA, cascading mixing, normalling between channels (that can be broken), amplification (see the boost switch) and everything you’d want from a bunch of VCAs. There’s a few quad VCAs around now included Mutable Instruments Veils, ALM’s Tangle Quartet, Bubblesounds VCA4p and no doubt a few more. Super handy modules well worth considering for plenty of extra control over your modulation and audio control. It’s third in the series of multiple VCA modules (is there a collective name for a group of multiple VCAs? Like a gaggle of geese for example) from intellijel after the original HexVCA and Linix. Fun fact – I just grabbed a second hand HexVCA (they’re long out of production) and it’s great. I also use the uVCA a lot so I’m sure this will be just as good.

Module four (no particular order I should say) is the Shifty. Which is a sequential switch and shift register where you can either sample the inputs or have them track or sample. You can randomise or ping pong the play through or have outputs cascade across each other for the shift register mode. Shifty looks as if it will bring together multiple modules in a compact unit to control and modulate through multiple voices and or sequences. You’d need sample and holds, a shift register, switch etc to put similar patches together, so it makes this look very immediate. There’s manual buttons for step through and reset and four gate and CV outputs from the one gate and CV input. That makes this a one way system (surely for the processing involved) unlike more basic switches that can go from 4 inputs to 1 output or 1 input to 4 outputs.

The fifth new module is actually a remake of the Springray module. It was previous a voltage driven spring reverb circuit that limited frequency response. So that has been updated to a whole new circuit that is current driven for a better response. There’s also a fully parametric EQ instead of the tilting EQ that was on the previous version. Patching in an LFO to the EQ frequency with a high gain reduction would give a phaser like sound over the spring reverb due to the notch EQ moving frequency – nice! There’s still a limiter circuit which is optical (like opto compression or vactrols) to stop your feedback getting out of hand. I can’t find a picture or get a good cut from videos of the new Springray so you’ll have to compare the video below to the image used here.

The next 5 modules are all 1U tiles and the first is a basic line input with level control. Simple but useful. The picture above in the new clock generator, noise generator, probability based random gate, sample and hold / track and hold and slew generator … that’s a lot crammed in and a mouthful, or finger full as I’m typing. There’s also a buffered mutliple which albeit plain is a good use of the space saving the precious 3U ‘normal’ rows for other duties. There’s also a “high quality” headphone driver that’s stereo in and 1/4″ stereo jack out with level control. Finally there’s a digital reverb that comes from Accutronics which I imagine is a similar digital brick to the one that’s compatible with the Music Thing Modular Spring Reverb module. There’s also new sizes in the case range and a carry bag for the cases. So lots of action in the intellijel camp!

 

 

 

Eventide knee deep in Eurorack at NAMM 2017

Click bait stupid title – check, shock and awe at Eventide entering eurorack … erm … not really for me. And to be fair we’re more tip toeing into a swimming pool that knee deep 🙂 but that’s not to say I’m being negative about it.

Ok I’m not surprised as I think a lot of people may be about Eventide entering eurorack. Larger companies entering the market to experiment and test the market with single module releases that port over their technologies into the format seems like an easy exercise for a bigger companies.

We saw Strymon (granted not as large) announce the Generalissimo last year then pull it (they did tell me recently they were making good progress with eurorack though, so we’ll see where that leads). As well as progress on this.

Anyway onto the Eventide delay. The only place I’ve seen this is in a picture from Richard Devine’s Instagram Feed, so hopefully Sonic State and the like will make it over to get some video before the NAMM show ends. If I find anything else out and or see video I’ll go back and update the thread.

Working through the panel with have the audio in and out with level control along with a send and return in and out. There’s then drive control, tap tempo, multiply (tempo divisions and multiplications I imagine) infinite feedback, on and off (not something we see in modular often but something obvious for say guitar pedals), active (not sure how that’s different to on and off) and a kill (again similar to on and active maybe). Knobs are for delay (on a push encoder) with a low pass filter, feedback and mix control. CV is over feedback, mix, delay, LPF (low pass frequency) and delay multiplication. There’s trigger ins for infinite feedback/hold, kill and active as well as a clock input and output.

I’m sure it will sound great and hopefully take to modulation that you can really push to make it well worth while in your case. As I said above I’ll update this if/when we see more information.

birdkids new modules at NAMM 2017

birdkids continue to impress with their new module announcements at NAMM. There’s a wide range 6HP analogue VCO which is screaming to be used with the awesome Bateleur modules I covered a while ago (video below). I can just about make out some information from the VCO as neither of the videos I’ve seen so far go into detail but there’s a shape input and a PWM input. It’s always intriguing to see some additional shape control on an analogue oscillator that just takes it that bit further than the obvious sine, triangle, square / pulse and saw wave.

There’s also a studio quality (I’m guessing that means lo noise, high headroom) input and output. The star of the show is a 4 channel sequencer with button keyboard that will see more of ready for Superbooth in April (not many details yet). There’s also a 3hp mixer, quad VCA and more of the birdsnest system with a PCB installed inside the case for moving signals around (again not much information on this at the minute). Check out the videos from Synth Anatomy and Analogue Zone below for a run with Mike from birdkids.

Qu-Bit new modules at NAMM 2017

On all accounts it looks like Qu-Bit Electronix have absolutely smashed it for NAMM. 4 new modules covering envelopes, mixing, random and filtering. I’ll be posting updates about NAMM (I’m not there) with my personal spin on what we’re seeing. So strap in for blog posts a plenty! Click images to zoom in. 

Lets start with Chance the new random module. It has 9 outputs including white and digital noise (no sign of that rate controlled by anything), random gate, random ‘in time’ rhythms, clock out (also takes clock in) and 4 random voltage outputs. Smooth (ramps between values), discrete (stepped), wavetables (random shifts between in time sine, ramp and triangle waves) and the blend out (can shift and random mix the the first 3 cv outs). It’s looking great, and if it’s anything like a big brother to the already awesome nano rand then this will be fantastic! It’s 14hp and also has a freeze knob to control freeze and hold its current state.

Next up we’ve got Tone … now NOT that holy pilgrimage guitarist trek through hundreds of pedals, stringS, cabling and amps combos to find … it’s a new quad filter! This looks very “Mutable” to me in design, not judging just popped out that way, clean, symmetrical, those knobs etc. Anyway, it’s four 24dB per octave low pass and band pass filters with input for audio (duh liiiiiiike obviously!) and frequency CV with attenuator with knobs for CV depth, cut off and resonance and a LP and BP output per channel. It’s a cascade OTA design providing a “warm, buttery character” that looks like it would be great next to samplers / mixers and drums to me. Multiple filters for left and right stereo imagining or mono sub mixes of drums before hitting a final mixer would be a breeze. It’s 18hp for those shaping up space case to squeeze one in.

Third up is Contour which is a quad attack / decay generator with a few tricks up its sleeve. There’s a trigger in and cv inputs for both attack and decay. The output has an attenuverter for inversion and scaling of the output which is a nice addition as plenty of modules don’t have CV input controls. The envelopes can loop and change between linear and exponential as well as link channels. The channel linking is the unique part as you hold the loop control for 3 seconds then click the next channel (these flash and you can pick any, in any order) which will trigger the linked channel at the end of cycle from the first. Pretty cool! It comes in at 20hp and is due to ship at the end of this month. Others ship in coming months.

Finally we’ve got Mixology. We saw this last year with the old design Qu-Bit were using with slightly different features, so it’s good to see its new look and features. It’s a four channel “output/performance” style mixer with panning and a single send as well as solo, mute, output meter and CV over level, pan and send. It certainly fleshes out the new look Qu-Bit range well and is slightly larger than before at 28hp, offering a more ergonomic layout.

The Analogue Zone videos (as with other event coverage) are great so far and here’s one with Andrew from Qu-Bit going through the modules.