NAMM: Doepfer, Jomox, Black Market Modular, WMD, SSF

We pick up our post-NAMM coverage where we left off after the show. As stated in earlier articles, this was a great year for synthesizers, including analog modular synthesizers. For the first time, several manufacturers formed a super booth in Hall A in the main show floor.

Do you like synths?

Holding court in the center was Deiter Doepfer himself with a giant Doepfer modular system.

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The new modules from Doepfer this year included an opto FET filter (an alternative to the popular vactrol filters), a quadrature thru-zero VCO, and a large trigger sequencer. The trigger sequencer has a nice appearance and provides a lot of outputs. It plays well with a new clock divider that Doepfer introduced as well. The FET filter has some interesting properties for doing FM filter effects as it can modulate much faster, though it apparently distorts at higher volumes.

JoMoX has been long known for its small tabletop instruments. This year, like several other manufacturers, they introduced Eurorack modular versions, including the T-rackonizer filter matrix along with some of their drum synths.

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Black Market Modular collaborated with Foxtone Music to bring the Colour Pallete to the Eurorack modular format. It’s really a “modular inside a modular”, where one can mix and match up to three “colour palettes” (expansion cards) that operate as standalone modules, each with its own VCA. They hope to release more expansion cards over time, which will be compatible with their outboard system.

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Another interesting collaboration featured WMD and Steady-State Fate (SSF). There are some basic modulesl, but also some specialized sound and control elements such as the Spectrum and Mini Slew modules. And all of them can put together in this neat little case complete with keyboard that supports MIDI and CV.

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This is only the beginning of what was on display in the analog modular superbooth 6990. More will be presented in subsequent articles.

NAMM: Big City Music (Swarmatron, Jomox, Metasonix, and more)

Once again, one of my main destinations at NAMM was the booth of Big City Music, where I can always find analog synthesizers and exotic electronic musical instruments that defy categorization. There certainly was no shortage of modular systems, including this scary looking yellow box full of Metasonix modules.

Because Metasonix modules, especially the R55 VCO, take a huge amount of current, this case can handle a ridiculous 7500mA. That is half of a standard home electrical line. Other manufacturers besides Metasonix were represented as well. Just to the left of the case one can see the new vactrol filter from Koma Electronic, a module I recently acquired.

On the more exotic end, Leon Dewan of Dewanatron was on hand again this year to demonstrate the Swarmatron (watch as our feline mascot nearly gets carted away on the nearby Mellotron):

I tried my hand at it as well. The ribbon controllers feel different from anything else I have tried playing, but once I got used to the feel I was able to start using the instrument expressively.

Perhaps the most visually intriguing but confounding instrument at the booth was this little geometric puzzle with lighted transparent tubes sticking out in all directions:

It turned out to be a prototype for the Akasha synthsizer from Jomox. Today, Jürgen Michaelis from Jomox demonstrated his new device:

In the corner behind the Jomox devices was an increasingly rare analog TV monotor, which was displaying audio from Critter and Guitari instruments rendered using an audio-to-video converter (also by Critter and Guitari).

The simple video converter caught my interest, especially if I decide to do more with video synthesis in the near future.

Thanks as always to the folks at Big City Music for being very hospitable and supportive of CatSynth!

CatSynth video: UKU MAZE shy and strange

A music video this morning, via matrixsynth:

“‘Shy and Strange’ by Uku Maze, 11. december 2011

Lyrics, melody, vocal, arranger & production: Tine Louise Kortermand
Bass & arranger: Boe Katharina Demsy Przemyslak
Beats, synth, arranger & production: Kristoffer Ovesen

Other participants: The dog Zeus, the rabbit Stampe and the cat Gilbert.

Video concept and finalcut edit: Tine Louise Kortermand
Camera: Tine Kortermand, Camilla Kortermand, Xenia Haurand & Rico Feldfoss. Colourgrading: Rico Feldfoss
Thanks to drawings and assistance: Xenia Haurand & Karen MØ”

Look for the white cat Gilbert about 2 minutes into the video. Also look for the bowed electric bass. There are also some interesting moments with line drawings and costuming (particularly the pink and white outfit), as well as a few gear shots with Jomox, Korg, etc.

CatSynth pic: Gravitarium 2.

Via matrixsynth:

This one in via Silent Strike who composed the tracks for the app with a Clavia Nord Modular 1, Micron Alesis, Jomox Mbase, Reason 4 Propellerheads, M-audio Axiom 25, Elektron Drumachine (pic at the bottom of this post). The app does not allow you to manipulate sound, but I thought it was interesting to acknowledge some of the gear used to create the audio for this app. The Waldorf Blofeld and Yamaha AN200 pictured however were not used.

Looks like Silent Strike had a studio supervisor involved.

There is also info on the app itself.

Gravitarium 2 combines music, art and science in one relaxing experience. Use all your fingers to guide the star flow. You can create 10 different animations depending on the number of fingers touching the screen:

1 – Rocket, 2 – Sparkle, 3 – Energy flow, 4 – Atomic, 5 – 3D freeze, 6 – Circularium, 7 – Fish, 8 – Vortex, 9 – Lasers, 10 – Lightning.

Use different options to create spectacular drawings made of stars. You can load the “Drawing” preset from the “Options” screen.

I will be taking a look at this app. The idea of creativity and relaxation does appeals to me, but the game-play part is a bit less exciting – though it is the trend in the mobile-app space.