Fine, I know...it's already May when I'm posting this. I got busy; for those wondering on what, exactly, see
[There's supposed to be a SoundCloud embed here. You'll notice that there isn't one. I really don't know why, aside of the fact that SoundCloud's embedded player process is an obtuse load of crap, IMHO. To my reckoning, I should just be able to paste the URL for the project in, but no...that won't work. So you'll all just have to continue to wonder what I was doing. Thanks, SoundCloud!]
But the wait is worth it, I suppose. There's been another big uptick in amazing stuff popping up as we get toward the summer months. To start with, there's the jaw-dropping pair of...
1) Mutable Instruments Stages and Marbles. Oh...holy...crap! Stages is a transient-shaping/mod-generating one-stop module. I'm not even about to go into depth about everything Olivier tossed into this stunner! Just check it. Same goes for the Marbles, an insanely-complex randomness/sample-and-hold/quantizing/sequencing thing that clearly says that, if you can't find a use for it, you are tragic! Both of these demand serious consideration on the order of modules such as the Make Noise Maths et al.
2) Arcus Audio Buff Mult with Attenuators. Y'know, this is one of those 'it's so simple, why didn't someone come up with this sooner?'-sort of modules. Very, very simple...the description says it all, but the functionality is actually a bit more elegant than that implies. It combines a lot of ideas all behind a 6 hp panel very smartly; I'm thinking a lot of users have been looking for something like this for a while.
3) Erica Synths Black Code Source. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Stereo noise. Rewindable randomness. Polynomially-generated signals. And an expander that provides AR envelopes, pitchbend (yes, pitchbend on NOISE) in order to help the main module come up with all sort of chiptune-type craziness in addition to what it already does, which is a veritable buttload. Noise redefined, quite possibly.
4) Malekko Heavy Industry Quad Envelope and LFO. Wow...more hyper-versatile modulation sources, with multichannel capability and – surprise, surprise – the ability to store multiple presets when used with Malekko's Varigate modules. Live performance heaven, these...Malekko's really building on their quad architecture and coming up with some special stuff that might be a major solution for anyone taking a modular onstage, or for users who need a library of certain modulation behaviors for on-the-fly recall. I hope this trend continues...
5) Monde Synthesizer Ribbonz. A real ribbon controller setup, on the order of the discontinued Doepfer A-198, with a proper-sized ribbon controller. For those wanting to work out their Keith Emerson-isms or experimenting with all sorts of microtunings, this thing is a godsend. The controller looks quite serious, too, with a lot of extra performance controls present on it besides the sizable ribbon itself and what looks to be some beefy build quality. This would work great as either an expression controller or, for the intrepid, a master controller in of itself.
6) The Space Case TE-2. This one makes my head swim from the possibilities. On first glance, it looks like a cassette deck in Eurorack format. Which it is...on the most basic of levels. But the massive addition of CVable controls, multiple presets and on and on and ON belie the fact that this is more than just some tape delay effect. Again, this is yet another function-packed device that should be looked at to be believed. The website (http://spacecasetapeecho.com/) states a release date of April 3, 2018 and contains a massive amount of info on the module, which can also function as a stand-alone in its own skiff. It's not cheap, not by a long shot at $1250. But damn....
7) Pittsburgh Modular Electronic Sequence Designer 128. Uhhhh...wow. Sort of like nearly half of a Koma Komplex in a 48 hp module. Mad complexity and feature set. Onboard quantizing, too. Internal Euclidean pattern generator on each channel, ratcheting, just too much to detail here. Again, check the MG listing on this one for the rundown.
8) Kitsch-Bent PISSbox. Hey, it's a golden shower of noise reduction! OK, fine...I couldn't resist that one. But seriously, that's what this is about, plus a bit more. The PISSbox uses a transformer circuit to invert half of a stereo signal, then recombine it to a summed A-minus-B output. If you put your desired signal into A and the noise only into B, the result...kindasorta...will be phase cancellation of the noise, plus a little bit of (in theory) artifacting. But also, since Kitsch-Bent used a little iron in the audio path here, you can also take advantage of that in mono with a bit of overdriving to create nice, euphonic transformer-saturation harmonic distortion. So...a tad more useful than it might seem, plus it's cheap enough to warrant tossing one into most anything if you've got the 6 hp for it.
9) Dreadbox Lil' Erebus. Need an extra voice module for cheap? This could be it! Basic little monosynth with a delay, very patchable, in 42 hp for a measly $200. Not much to say, aside of this being a killer value, done right.
10) Hexinverter Mutant Brain. I was somewhat upset when Hex discontinued their previous small, versatile, and well-done MIDI-CV interface. I'm not upset now, booooyeee...because this is that, times 4 and then some! Reconfigurable via SysEx messages, this again is one of those devices that live performers are going to be drooling over. It's still in prototype phase, apparently, but this is one to wait for.
11) Happy Nerding PanMix Jr. Damn...the simple stuff keeps rolling out, too! Same form factor as the other triple HN modules, but in this case we get three channels of manually-pannable stereo mixing for the dirt-cheap price of $100! And you can use it as a 3-channel attenuator/distributor, too. This is another of those “it's soooo simple...” devices that fix so much in so little space for so cheap. A no-brainer.
12) Xaoc Devices Zadar and Odessa. Superbooth 18 prototypes both, these are not exactly what they might seem to be. Very much digital-in-analog clothing for all the RIGHT reasons, the Zadar offers four very complex EG/LFOs under a massive amount of user control, with a planned expander for CV patching. But the Odessa...oh...my god. FPGA-based additive. In a Eurorack module. On the scale of something like a single Crumar GDS generator. Done right. I...uh...think I'm having a stroke or something. Literally, I cannot believe what I'm looking at, but knowing Xaoc, it's not a prank. Just read the MG page on it. This changes so much in terms of VCO architecture possibilities. It is definitely THE NEXT STEP in VCOs. And for me, one of those 'warm fuzzy moments' when I know I'm looking at where the future should go!
13) Synthrotek Fold. And for the last, another simple, small, inexpensive, and super-useful tool. A six-stage wavefolder plus ring modulator in a tiny 4 hp package for a paltry $125. West Coasters, take note...this is a toy you won't want to live without! Also, those doing small builds who want big sound altering capabilities need one of these. Or, for that matter, anyone else!
Like I said, the month of April(ish) was a wild one, and there's some things in here that are going to be game-changers. It's a good time to be doing electronic music, folks!