Kerpow! That was Superbooth 2018. It’s an enormous throbbing mass of electronic noise making machines stuffed into a weird FEZ building in Berlin. There were dozens and dozens of stalls and synth builders demonstrating their stuff, releasing new products, unveiling prototypes and lots of performers tweaking their knobs and banging out those beats. And all of it shared with the public for a few Euros. And more often that not you were getting a demo from the person who designed and built the thing. And everyone is having such a bloody good time.
So in this months early May monthly I’m simply going to be talking about what I thought was cool and groovy and possibly interesting. I’m bound to miss stuff – tell me about it in the comments.
Here’s what we’re talking about:
Behringer cubed – Dreadbox Erebus 3 and the Medusa to die for – Analogue Solutions get sequencing – ALM had a bunch – Casper got feedback – Falistri is the new maths – I’ve fallen in love with Instruo – Erica Synths Techno techno – Elektrofon Klang makes chords beautiful – Befaco are kicked, sliced and burst – AJH get swarmed – Endorphin go full on hotblack desiato – U-He gets all polymorphic – Soulsby get into keyboards – Bastl have cool things – TINRS make envelopes sexy – Vpme has some spooky action – Hexinverter has a Mutant Brain and a mindphaser – Xaoc nails envelopes and has a harmonic cluster – Black corporation reveals Kijimi – IK get into hardware monosynths – Sequential Circuits release a hybrid synth no one asked for and your Grandmother turned up to the party late but looking fabulous.
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But first, software –
Noise Engineering Propellerheads
Noise Engineering weren’t at Superbooth but Propellerhead were and between them was something quietly awesome. Noise Engineering announced that they are releasing three modules as Rack Extensions for Reason. I know right – didn’t see that coming. The three in question are Basimilus Iteritas, Manis Iteritas and Loquelic Iteritas Percido. Now they do look super weird in the Rack extension format but other than these are as crunchy and crazy as they are in real life. Basimilus is a 6 operator additive synth designed to create drum sounds but it also finds itself doing leads and bass too. Manis was designed as a nastier version of Basimilus but it became it’s own thing with cool knobs like profundity and smash. Loquelic is all about lasers and space farts – it’s a complex oscillator. They sound amazing to me and they’ve got all the CV control on the back. There’s a fabulous demo that Steve from Noise Engineering has done taking you through the rack extensions which explains the modules in far more clarity than i’ve ever come across before. I now know what my Basimilus is supposed to do. These are amazing.
Of course it begs the question – why Reason? Well because it’s an awesome modular playground – it just doesnt look like Eurorack. They say they will be making VST versions at some point. But why not VCV Rack or Softube Modular? Who knows. Reason just seems like a good fit.
You can’t ignore Behringer at the moment, they have wedged themselves firmly into the world of synthesizers and they had 3 big announcements at Superbooth. In quick succession we had the long anticipated clones of the TR-808, the ARP Odyssey and the SH-101. This, i think, could be a turning point. With the Model D and the great looking Pro One clone you can kind of dismiss them because of their size – squeezed down into an unnecessary Eurorackable size, making them cramped and less impressive than the originals they are cloning. They do sound great but there are valid reasons for turning your nose up. These 3 new clones changed that completely. Behringer has gone for full-size, no compromise, we’re-going-to-do-it-right proper bits of gear making it really hard to find proper criticisms.
The RD-808 is a clone of the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer and by golly does it look the part. It’s big it’s chunky it’s got all the buttons and proper sized knobs and will dominate your desktop just like the original. Behringer have added a couple of things like a wave designer, compressor, dual mode filter, solo/mute on each track and comprehensive MIDI and USB. It’s the 808 that Roland should have built.
The Odyssey is a clone of the ARP Odyssey, recently re-released by Korg. But Behringer have gone straight for the full sized keys. One of the additions is an integrated effects bus and some lovely blue LEDs. Korg were stupid to release there’s with minikeys – they’ve released a full-sized version now but its limited edition and very expensive.
The MS-101 is of course the clone of the Roland SH-101. Again it’s nice and chunky, looks the part, has an extra waveshape and FM modulation, an updated sequencer and MIDI/USB as well as CV/Gate. It will come in all the colours and with a free mod grip for full keytar action. It’s the SH-101 that Roland should have built.
Prices and full details are still not available at this time but you know they are going to be competitive. It’s interesting hearing the engineers from Midas talk about the development – they are obviously having the times of their lives.
I think these are awesome – it’s exactly what they should be doing – proper synths that we want and will be able to afford. It’s what Roland should have done instead of this Boutique stuff. I think the Boutique thing is great – but they are expensive and do not compare to having a proper sized synth. And hopefully it shows Korg and Roland that we don’t want minkeys, or mini synths – we want the real deal. So yeah, put them on your Christmas list or share your disgust in the comments.
Right – back to awesome companies doing awesome things. Dreadbox had one of the most beautifully and interesting looking synths at the show – Medusa. Designed with Polyend who make that lovely big light button sequencer this is a sort of hybrid synth and inbuilt grid controller. It looks completely different to the images we saw last year – this is stunning. On the synth side it has 3 analogue oscillators plus 3 digital oscillators. 5 looping envelopes, 5 LFOs, a filter and a mixer to blend all the waveforms. A lot of the same controls are used for multiple versions which keeps it neat but potentially annoying. It has a preset engine and can generate mono or 3 or 6 voice paraphonic sounds. Which is pretty interesting.
The 8×8 grid is a playable interface, a sequencer, an expressive generator which lets you play notes, trigger things, map out modulation, work presets changes into sequences. You can waggle your fingers to generate modulation in all sorts of interesting ways. The Medusa is an unexpected machine which sort of overflows into the Novation Circuit market. It’s a synth that lets you play in unconventional ways – but it’s not for the analogue purists.
But for the purist they had a new version of the Erebus. I love the Erebus – great little synth and since they released the lil’ Erebus kit i had assumed it was all over for the original desktop monosynth. But no – here’s version 3. The new version has a new big oscillator with 7 waveforms. But it can also be an LFO and an FM modulator. The idea is that the oscillators can modulate each other giving you a bit of an analogue playground of sound discovery. There are a lot more enhancements including a greatly opened up CV patchbay. Nice.
Analogue Solutions make that big Fusebox and those little effects boxes – all great quality chunky stuff. At Superbooth they had brought along a not-quite-finished desktop sequencer that seemed a little confused but potentially very awesome. Now there’s a whole load of things going on with this thing. You have 16 rotary encoders for pitch but also another row that could be filter cutoff and another row that could be modulation. So that’s three channels of CV to play with. They had LEDS in the top to show the gate pattern and if they are active or not. There’s a whole pattern thing going on based on the Patternator in the fusebox where you can use 4 knobs to work up the complexity of rhythms. Then it has this weird little triangle keyboard thingy. It’s aimed at live performance and generating on-the-fly. I think it will get more and more interesting as the functions become clearer – it’s a few months away yet.
Are they called ALM or BusyCircuits – i’m not quite sure but anyway they had a bunch of new modules. The first one is a yet-to-be-named sampler which is sort of designed to be the opposite of the Rossum Assimilator in that it’s trying to be simple and straight forward like an old Akai rather than a complex Emu. It has 8 channels of sampling to a USB stick. Directly sampling through the front panel – it automatically tidies up the sample start and end points and is immediately ready to be played. They want it to be instant and very patchable – and that seems to work, although the layout seems a bit kind of scattered and disordered – or maybe i dont like the colours – it’s weird looking anyway.
They also have a wavetable oscillator with an extra pulse width modulated output based on the Roland Alpha Juno. And a remarkably named Quaid Megaslope 5-stage envelope, LFO and step sequencer – actually it’s a bit like the Mutable Instruments Stages.
Electronic music performer and synth designer Peter Edwards has been pulled into the Bastl family and is releasing a new line of Eurorack modules. The first is Dark Matter which feels like an overused name for something but what it is is a module for generating feedback. It contains a VCA, EQ and a feedback loop where you mix in your signal and turn it into an intense, thick and brutal sound. It has an envelope follower that can fade in the feedback and a crossfader to control the depth. It sounds nuts!
He had another called Party Mix which is a little 4 channel mixer that drives and adds colour while applying some slew modes to incoming gates. Stick in your drums and bass and it all sounds better and presumably gets the party started.
There’s something else called The Domain Shifter which generates digital values and rhythms or something – didnt really understand that one. Loving the Dark Feed Matter thingy though.
Frap Tools make weird stuff – it looks weird and does weird things that i don’t really grasp most of the time. So they mostly make me feel stupid – But they are weird in a really good way. The latest bit of weirdness is the Falistri which will light up your patch and take core of how it moves through sparks, motions and crackles. The other module that makes me feel stupid is Maths – and guess what, this is just like that. Falistri is a box of functions and logic. The top half of the module generates stuff the bottom half edits stuff. So it generate envelopes and LFOs like the Maths, and then edits signals into flip/flops, ring modulations and glide. Nope, i have no real idea what I’m talking about. Looks colourful though!
Love this stuff. There’s something in the look, the function, the intention, the attitude and vibe that comes across with these modules that i find completely captivating. Just gorgeous. But they have been frustrating in that you get glimpses of awesome modules on social media and then nothing ever appears on the website. They have been building to order on a commission basis but that would require you asking them to build you something and i’d never know what i’m talking about enough to do that – let alone dare ask how much it would cost. However, they are now starting to ramp up production, they’re working on the website and are actually quite reasonably priced. They had cool things to show.
Harmonaig – we’ve seen this before but you can now actually buy them and i wish they’d been available before i bought my uscale. It’s a 4 channel quantizer that generates chords in a very musical way. It can generate 4 harmonised intervals that you plug into 4 oscillators. Then you can mess around with the voicing and chord type sweeping through modalities in delicious ways. There’s a whole world of complex harmonic progressions in this lovely looking thing for £300.
They had 3 new oscillators. First is Tona, a simple sawtooth oscillator with inbuilt wavefolding (lot of that about this year). It’s only £190 which isn’t bad for an oscillator. Ts-L is a smaller but more featured triangle core oscillator with 5 outputs including a PWM output that crossfades between two waves and a wavefolder. £250 for that one. And then there’s Cs-L which is a complex oscillator that combines the two other oscillators and cross modulates the heck out of them. Could get very interesting and will be along in small numbers for £510.
They also had a new filter based on the ARP 2500 1047 resonant filter. And an incomplete mixer, CV generator, sequencer thing called Neonach which they are not exactly sure what to do with yet. But also on their website is a project under development called the Sinfonion which is like Harmonaig on steriods – 8 channels of quantization and all sorts of melody shaping and chord creation that could run your whole show.
I keep almost buying Instruo modules but i don’t have the room or the money at the moment – but something will be mine at some point.
Erica Synths Techno machine
Erica Synths have put together a phenomenal techno banging modular system. They’ve filled it with their new drum modules, a great acid bass synth voice, their drum computer and some handy little mixers that bring it all together. There’s 15 modules in this system including a new Sample Drum – guess what it does – but it has 2 channels and 3CV controls over each channel and a screen for selecting samples. On the analogue drum front there’s Bass, snare, toms, clap and hi-hats all with the usual tuning and decay knobs – it’s a killer kit in a row. There’s a distortion module called Dual Drive and three new mixers. The key one is the 7 channel drum mixer designed to run the kit with a built in compressor. There’s a lite version that takes up less room and a stereo mixer that offers 4 channels with panning. The Dual FX module is really very cool – it’s like 2 Pico DSP modules in one better sized and more knobable module. And finally there’s the Bass Line analogue synth voice with the filter from Acid Box and a knob labelled BEEF all tied up in a 16hp module – that’s very cool. The drum are all run by the fabulous mechanical keyed Drum computer and contains everything you need to blow the roof off your local techno club.
Release date on the new modules looks like June/July – i wonder what it will all cost.
Hidden away on a rack in a distant corner of the show was a remarkable looking prototype module from Rube Warhuus of Elektrofon. It’s called Klang which is quite amusing for silly reasons but doesn’t really describe the module very well. Klang is simply a chord generator. But what’s special about it is how the interface has been realised – it’s simply beautiful. Plug a CV pitch in and 4 pitches come out. The stunning OLED clock face interface displays the currently selected chord. The four colour coded knobs move the hands around in pitches and octaves. It’s such an alarmingly wonderful way to depict the chord I can’t believe I’ve never come across it before. Rune has done a great job on the design, the choice of colour, and the simplicity. You can store up to 99 chords and select progressions via CV or with the plus/minus buttons. You could of course use this to run polyphony in your rack, assuming you have available oscillators, but i was actually thinking about it more in terms of transposing sequences on 4 different oscillators and running progessions in 4 different monophonic ways. But you can use it for whatever you like.
I think Klang manages to pull together all the facets you look for in a Eurorack module – aesthetic, interface, usability, and usefulness into one stunning module. It’s the stand-out module of the show for me. Rune has now gone off trying to work out how much it will cost to produce the thing – he hopes it will under €300 – exciting things to come.
I like Befaco because they have this thing with kits. I don’t have any of their stuff yet but i’m planning a full DIY row at some point and Befaco will definitely feature – they had 3 new modules at the show.
First the Kickall – it’s a kick drum that sounds like an electronic music kick should sound with control over tuning, pitch envelope, a nice big knob for waveshape and a cool slider for the decay – simple/effective/job done.
Muxlicer is a sequential signal processor that does all sorts of stuff. It’s a digital step controller, a gate generator and an analogue switch. So you plug one thing in and it comes out of 8 outputs, or 8 things in to one output – and then step through them like a sequential switch. You can sequence with it using the sliders and gate outputs. You can use it as a gating effect on audio, or mix together all sorts of complex patterns. And you can chain more together to create longer sequences and more mayhem. Sounds really interesting to me.
And Burst is a burst generator which is the sort of thing I feel i need to have. Stick a trigger in and you get a burst of up to 64 triggers out with control over probability, time and distribution. Great for generating rachets and multiplications, polyrhythms etc.
No news on pricing but they are all coming soon.
Alan Hall makes classic looking modules – no funny business. He had a couple of interesting modules that act on waveforms. The delightfully name Wave Swarm is a dual 6 stage wave animator which can make a single signal sound like a swarm of 6 or 12 oscillators. Just dial them in to create supersaws and complex waveforms – nice. The other was the V-Shape which kind of adds a pulse width modulation type of sound to any sort of wave including sine and triangle. It does it by actually twisting the waveform. It also has some soft distortion and a wavefolder built in. Good solid, unexciting, serious sounding stuff.
Highly anticipated on the run up to the show was the Endorphin BLCK_NOIR. Their modules are usually yellow and full of colour so these seemed to be a departure for these aviation obsessed modulars. From the teaser video I was hoping for a synth so i was a little disappointed when it turned out to be a drum generator – but my disappointment didn’t last that long because this thing looks flippin’ awesome. Just like the Erica Techno rack this beastie has 7 channels of drums but fits into a much smaller space than those individual Erica modules. You have bass, snare, tambourine, hit-hat closed and open, cymbal and a metal bar – no toms in this one. The osunds are synthesized using digital noise with spectrum animation injected into analog circuits – nice!
Effects are built in from their Grand Central module and include a bunch of reverb, delay and a freezer/looper. There are individual as well as a mix output. Tuning and decay available on most of the drums. Thrust and Flaps are the filter whereas Throttle moves the sound from noise to metallic.
It’s a banging box of synthesized drummy goodness in a single 30hp module with convenient features like mixing, effects, filtering all built in – it some ways i guess it’s cheating but sounds like an ideal solution to what i often find as the messiness of modular drums. Should be available in July for €500.
Urs Heckmann of U-He usually builds ace software synths but now he’s having a go at Eurorack. His first module is deceptively complex. It’s called Cvilization and is two columns of 4 knobs with 4 ins and outs and a couple of CV inputs. Initially it’s a 4×4 matrix mixer – anything in and out of anything else. Bu the knobs are also buttons so you have mute switches, or hold them down to enable the routing for each colour coded channel. It then has quantizing built in if you are routing CV with different scales on different outputs, and then sample and hold and glide and all sorts of CV processing. The next mode is a 4×4 sequential switch, then ADSR envelopes, the looping AD envelopes and Sample and hold – really it can be anything he can dream up between now and when it’s released. His intention is to pack a lot of utility functionality into a small space with an easy and intuitive interface – looking good so far.
Originally It’s all about the Atmegatron 8-bit monosynth they’ve had for a couple of years – they had a Eurorack version last year and when i spoke to them at the last SynthFest they weren’t really sure whether the Eurorack thing was really working for them. So it looks like they went back to the drawing board a bit and formulated a cool new plan. It starts with the Atmegatron 2 which is really 2 Atmegatrons in one box. Now one thing that frustrates me slightly is that Paul Soulsby talks like we have any idea what he’s on about. He says things like “obviously you can see the two voice cards” – what? Like what’s a voice card? He seems to be pointing at a row of patch sockets – presumably inside the box these are PCB cards in a slot but Paul why would we know anything about cards? Anyway, it’s all upgraded with new controllers, OLED screens and CV connections.
But the most dramatic version is the Atmultitron – the version with the keyboard. It has 8 Atmegatrons inside giving it 8 voices presumably with 8 cards. It also has 8 analogue CEM3320 filters and 8 analogue VCAs all under digital control. It also has the crunchy digital filters from the original Atmegatron. All the voices can be routed internally to modulate one another or you can patch in from Eurorack to do interesting things.
Each voice card can run a different firmware from the Atmegatron library so it can be a synth and drum machine a something elsey synthy thing – whatever you want making it a very deep 8-bit workstation. So 4 voices of synth poly, a couple of drums a couple of bass lines all of which can be sequenced by the internal performance sequencer.
It’s a bit weird, but it’s very open, hugely versatile and is going to be a lot of fun for 8-bit enthusiasts everywhere.
Bastl had a couple of things outside the connection to Casper Electronics. The first is a polyphonic MIDI-to-CV converter called the 1983. That was the year MIDI came into being and they wanted to brings us back to the future or something. Anyway it’s a super cool converter that has 4 outputs for running 4 oscillators with a special sauce of autotuning that keeps your polyphonic patch from drifting apart. Plug in, hit Tune and it adjusts the CV output to keep it all together. There are many routing options and configurations that use notes with velocity, or CC’s or triggers or whatever you want – clever and usable.
The other is Timber which offers wave diving and wave folding and so affects the Timbre of your sound – geddit? It takes simple waveforms and drives them and folds them adding harmonics and stuff and then you can blend between the two and add back in the original. It’s a cool machine for creating complex waveforms.
This is not rocket science recently had a Wobbler LFO module well now they’ve followed it up with quite an interesting envelope. I generally find envelopes annoying so it’s quite something for me to be interested in one. This has the cool name of Edgecutter and two things that i like. Firstly it has a row of LEDs that show you where you are on this bastard envelope and secondly at the end of every stage is a trigger which you can send out to do other things – which leads me to believe i can do more things with envelopes than i thought – always good. It also has a gate mode where it stays open until the gate drops and a loop mode for AD. Loving the LEDs thing. TINRS seem to think Edgecutter is somehow sexy – well i guess envelopes need a bit of pizazz.
Vladimir of VPME was there with a couple of modules the first one brilliantly called Spooky Action is an Ableton Link module with a few more features than what we’ve seen so far. Along with the wi-fi sync to your Ableton Link enabled software it also has configurable CV inputs and outputs for routing clock sources. It also does clock multiples and divisions, start/stop/reset and even MIDI clock. I’d really like to try this sort of thing out.
Second is the Quad Drum which is a colourful 4 drum voice with a large library of sampled and modelled drum sounds. Each voice has 3 controls, it’s own metering, panning, mutes and stuff going on. Looks like fun.
Now Hexinverter were only showing the Mutant Brain but they also released details on the Mindphaser but didn’t have one on demo. Mutant Brain is a MIDI-to-CV converter with 16 outputs, 4 are CV, 12 are trigger/gates. Its all configurable via a webpage interface and dumped as SysEx and remembers it all until next time you change it. It’s designed to be as simple as possible and it looks really easy to read. People say it uses the same interface as the CV.OCD box and apparently is based on the same code.
Mindphaser is a bit different. It’s a Thru-Zero Phase Modulation Oscillator. “Thru-Zero” just means that rather than grinding to a halt at or below zero volts it starts running backwards giving a much smoother experience. Anyway, Mindphaser is a complex oscillator that’s all about carriers, modulators, waveshapers and thru-zero modulation. The Carrier VCO is in the middle and has the usual oscillator stuff which then feeds into a waveshaper which folds harmonics up to 5 octaves with feedback and amplitude modulation. The modulator VCO is identical to the Carrier but also has PWM. You route it into the modulation bus and send it to the FM, AM, wavefolding, feedback or whatever destination you want. Lastly there’s the thru-zero bus which does something else. Really i’m not sure i understand all that but it sounds flippin’ awesome.
Another one of my favourite modular makers is Xaoc. They have a very vintage and arresting vibe going on – loving all the sort of cold war style knobs and interesting names for things. I’ve only got a Batumi but i could easily have a whole rack of theirs. They had two new modules.
The first one was a bit out of character – it’s called Zadar 1973 quadruple envelope generator. It uses deformable vector shapes to generate hundreds of different envelopes. It’s a bit like a wavetable but where the waveforms are being envelopes rather than oscillations – although of course it can go up to audio frequencies. It’s 4 channel module but you can set it up in chains and loops. It can run from under 1ms or up to half an hour. I struggle with envelopes in grasping what to do with them and how to make them work for me. Usually i’m seeing them as amplitude modulation – rise and fall, ADSR but of course they are just kicking out a varying voltage and can be used for all sorts of things. You could send a knob on a complex half hour journey with this thing. Very interesting. You can’t load your own shapes but you can deform the existing ones to your hearts content.
The other one is an additive synthesis oscillator which is something we’ve not seen before in Eurorack. Additive is all about adding harmonics or partials to a fundamental waveform which results in a quite glassy, rich sound. I used to have a Kawai K5000 additive synthesizer and i didnt really understand much about it other than it had hundreds and hundreds of parameters hidden away in pages on a tiny screen – however, mixing the partials was very interesting. That’s what Odessa is all about. You turn the knob to build up complex harmonic and in harmonic spectra. And then you get to work tilting and squeezing them. Odessa manages to curate the parameters down to 9 macro knobs which gives it some instant playability with things like density, tension, warp and so on. It looks amazing and some of the demos manage to pull off some crazy cluster phasing and space radio tuning like sounds. Cool stuff.
We’ve been chasing the Kimiji around for a while. It’s an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer inspired by the sound of the RSF Polykobol. It’s analogue, using 16 CEM3340 oscillators (2 per voice) with discrete SSM20140 filters, waveshapers, polyphonic aftertouch and MPE support. It’s like a proper synthesizer with a large modulation matrix. With the waveshaping and modulation it’s possible to generate a very wide palette of sounds.
Black Corporation say they are interested in resurrecting classic old synths that you can’t get any more. Very much like Behringer except the Kimiji is $3500 – so the intention is the same, the business model is definitely not.
I mentioned last month that IK were bringing some hardware – and they did and it’s called UNO. It’s a little analogue monosynth designed with the help of Sound Machines. It’s immediately disappointing because of the lack of knobs and the sort of plastic front end. However, if you give it a bit more of your time it does start to be a cool little thing. It has a bit of a Korg Volca mixed with the MicroKorg vibe about it but in a sleek way rather than a retro way. It’s covered in membrane buttons a bit like the Moog Source and has a 2 octave keyboard built in. On the left the 16 knobs it could have had have been condensed into a neat matrix with 4 knobs controlling the selected row. On the right you have dedicated filter knobs and that’s about it for controls.
The keyboard doubles up as a 16 step sequencer and arpeggiator and you can store 100 patterns. Each pattern can contain up to 20 tracks of parameter modulation and you can have a completely different sound on each step if you like.
You can very much turn on and play – it can be battery powered but there’s no onboard speaker. And that’s really what they’re after – something that you can get into really easily – the presets are going to help with that – just run the sequence and get playing.
The sound of the 2VCOs hold their own with continuously variable, modulatable waveforms going through saw, triangle and square. They can be independently tuned and modulated, the filter has overdrive, the LFO has 7 waveshapes including sample and hold. There’s a bunch of cool effects like Dive and Scoop, tremolo, delay and wah.
So it’s piss easy to use, no complex patching, plays a bunch of notes so you can tweak, it’s small, neat, versatile, unfussy and under 200 Euros. So, knobs aside – I’ve got no complaints and by all accounts it’s a lot of fun to play with.
Dave Smith Instruments announced the ultimate Sequential Circuits Prophet – he’s calling it the Prophet X. In light of Behringer messing around with the vintage Sequential stuff DSI responded by putting out a rompler. It’s kind of a synthesizer but mostly it’s a massive sample library of the sort of sounds you’d find in Kontakt that you can run through the DSI analogue filters. It’s sort of like a Yamaha Montage or a Nord Stage Piano – a combination of synthesizer and sample based sounds and I just don’t know who it’s for. I guess it’s for people who want huge sounds on stage but don’t want to use a laptop. There’s no doubt that it’ll sound great but when everyone wants synthesizer and you make some of the best synthesizers on the planet why would you do something like this? It’s a weird decision and for me a devaluing of the Prophet name – call it something else, this is not in the spirit of the Prophet 5 or anything they’ve made since. Couldn’t they release a kick-ass monosynth or innovative little polysynth to show Behringer how it should be done? What’s the matter with these manufacturers?
And finally. Moog should have had this at Superbooth but they decided to save it for Moogfest which happens this weekend. It leaked a bit early so i’m able to squeeze it into this monthly. So what do we know – well we know that it looks completely fabulous – or terrible depending on your personal taste. It’s a 2 oscillator monosynth built in a modular style and is actually made (i believe) from modular components rather than the stuff you’d find in the Mother-32 – so this is going to sound more like the System 15. All the patch points, and there are 41 of them, are where they should be – next to the thing they control not over in some silly patch bay. It’s got a sequencer/arpeggiator a physical spring reverb and a 32 note keyboard with pitch and modulation wheels. I think it looks flippin’ amazing. Many people don’t like the colour – not me, i love it. It harks back to the Moog Source and is striking and fun and feels adventurous and why the hell not. I know it’s called Grandmother but Moog assumes that your grandma was a trippy old hippy chick who was probably at Woodstock – and that’s pretty cool.
To begin with they are making 500 to sell at Moogfest for $899 and they’ll come with a free denim jacket – which is bizarre but let’s go with it. If anyone wants to fly me to Moogfest to pick one up – just get in touch. It’s expensive of course for a monosynth, but i think it’s an instant classic. It could also perhaps herald the start of Moog Eurorack modules? I mean these could so easily be modules – they’re not, but they could be. We shall see.
So to pick a couple of highlights for me from Superbooth then I’m really liking the Dreadbox Medusa – i think it’s innovative and different. Love the Endorphin BLCK_NOIR, i think it’s a lot of fun and i’m really into the Casper Electronics Dark Matter feedback module. But then there’s Instruo and Klang looking so friggin’ fantastic. So it’s really hard to pick. But i guess what had the biggest impact on me personally was the Elektrofon Klang – just a beautifully designed simple solution that does one thing brilliantly. Oh and I want a Moog Grandmother denim jacket please.
Coming up next is my review of the Erica Synths Graphic VCO, followed by the Eventide EuroDDL. I’m going to do some stuff on Bitwig and the Hermod working together and some more Surface updates. I’ll try to get that all in before the June monthly.
I’m sorry i wasn’t able to get the podcast thing going – i will look into it again at some point. But the live stream i did a couple weeks back seem to work ok – managed to fill a couple of hours with me talking nonsense but i think we pulled it off. Sorry about the crap 10 minutes at the beginning and sorry for the low video quality – apparently i choose it to be like that. So we’re going to give it another go – this Sunday 8pm BST all being well and the plan will be to do this once a month after the monthly to use it as a discussion starting point. So let’s talk about Superbooth – and anything else you like. And failing that i’ll just start patching something together. So join me on Sunday 20th May 8pm.
And remember if you really want to get in on the action then check out Patreon where you can support me and join the merry band of Moltenites. Otherwise if you enjoy what i do then please share it about.
In the meantime – go and make some tunes.