KICK ASS!!! for March 2019
OK...now we're starting to percolate! March brings us a month closer to Superbooth, the festival of all things synth for Europe. April should see even more action, but for now, there's some nifty stuff that's peeked over the edge of the box in this past month's Eurorack offerings. So, let's dive in and have a look at some interesting picks...
Ladik L-122 Uncertain LFO – Ladik kicked a couple of LFOs out last month, too...but neither of those were as laden with Abuse Potential as this thing. Frankly, I'm surprised at what they crammed into 4 hp, but even moreso, amazed at the price of about $73! No mere LFO, this...it offers 36 fixed waveshapes, but the real excitement here has to be the randomized amplitude and waveshape change actions this module's got. This is no mere 'waveform-goes-up-and-down' LFO...it's a really complex and capable modulation source, and much too complicated to nail down here, so go check its listing!
G-Storm Electro Transistor-82 – And who doesn't like ticky, hissy, blonky analog drums? I know I do, and apparently G-Storm does as well. On first glance, you'd think this was simply a single voice-only module...but not so! With several modulation points to vary settings on the fly, you can sequence up a number of tasty analog beats and have 'em all coming out of this in a crazy, retro-beatbox style. Knobs on this beg to be twiddled on the fly, too. Those in search for way-cool electro-style drum sounds need to check this...especially G-Storm's short but very revealing video. 14 hp, $175.
Mutant Modular Fan Synth – It's a...fan? Yep, it's a fan, and it's not designed to make noise. Rather, it provides ample “suck” to pull cool air into your Eurorack cab, which you can then vent through some other vent panel or a couple of spare 1 hp “holes”. So...why this? OK, let's say you gig out with your rack, and it's summer, and the venue is a blazing 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, add that to the normal heat buildup inside the cab, and pretty soon, things are probably going to start misbehaving. Tunings get weird, timings slip, and all of those other no-fun thermal problem results. But with this cheap fix, you can now have forced-air cooling of the insides of the cab at all times, bringing down the thermal load on your power supply, stabilizing temperature-sensitive modules, and doing other similar thermal stress-relief things that your Eurorack will thank you for later. The only downside is that Mutant Modular doesn't offer a matching vent panel to go with this (would look snazzy, mind you), but that's just an aesthetics issue, not a functional one. 4 hp, approx $56.
West Oakland Music Systems Sinulator – Two tasty waveshaping functions in one! First, the Sinulator can take incoming saw or triangle waves and smooth 'em out to nice sine tones. But for the real bring-tha-crazy, it also can do up to six folds, letting you turn waveshapes from tame to insane inside this one module. And not only that, it's got an onboard VCA which allows the circuit to also function as a TZFM modulator. Waveshaping is CVable as well. Yep, this thing screams ABUUUUSE!!!!, plus the size and price are right for all of this waveshaping mayhem: 8 hp, $150.
VOID Modular Gravitational Waves – I have two problems with Buchla-esque complex VCOs in Eurorack. One, they tend to be pretty chunky, taking up a lot of panel space. And two, they're usually not cheap. Then along comes this thing...and it blows those issues all to hell! This module offers two cross-modulated and fully-featured triangle-core VCO/LFOs together with an onboard ring mod, in just that sort of configuration that insists on creating oscillational madness! And as the cherry on the cake, VOID put the “fine” tune control on the BIG knobs, meaning that you have some manual pitch-tweaking leeway here without throwing the whole thing out of tune immediately. Smart! But the big smarts are these: 18 hp, $250. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
Rossum Electro-Music Panharmonium – Moving along from complex oscillators to crazy-as-hell oscillators, we find this. Technically, it is and isn't an oscillator. It has oscillators (33 of them, to be precise), but what they get used for is to sort of...ah...”reconstruct” an incoming sound. This is more than a little crazy in analog synthesis, because that functionality is much more something you'd find in the classic high-end digitals such as the Fairlight or the Synclavier, where this sort of thing is more commonly referred to as “resynthesis”. Dave Rossum uses that term here too, because...well, that basically is what it is. The Panharmonium analyzes and then resynthesizes incoming spectra, with ample opportunities to also screw around with the incoming and/or outgoing spectra. This is another one that simply does too much to go into in these short little blurbs, and I insist you check out the listing on MG to get the full-on skinny about this. Oh, and did I mention it was super skiff-friendly at a skimpy 25mm depth? That's a nice stat...but these are (given what this thing is capable of, which even I can't 100% speculate on...it's that function-deep) even better: 26 hp, $499.
Plum Audio Dazzle tile version – Only available as a DIY kit, this might be a worthwhile excuse to figure out how to solder. Plum Audio's got something neat here: a 1U (standard, not Intellijel) format tile that gives you some nifty functions derived from Mutable Instruments' Blinds. Panning, CVable polarization, and VCA pair all in one tiny but potent package. Frankly, it's not only a good argument for beefing up your construction skills, but for the worthwhile inclusion of a 1U row or two in your build, as those can take basic functions like these and move 'em out of the way, leaving you more space for the meat-n-potatoes stuff in your 3Us. 20 hp, $150.
So, not a monster haul of Euro goodness...yet! But if the sorts of things starting to pop up in this month's column are any indicator, there's going to be some brain-meltingly-amazing stuff in the pipeline for May and Superbooth. Keep watching!