The Event Boss is a plain-looking module, but one that’s gratuitously laden with functionality. Its purpose is to manipulate ‘events’, which are rhythm, clock and gate sources — or indeed anything involving square or pulse waves.
With no display to reassure you about what’s going on, it is worth reading the manual thoroughly, and perhaps printing off a page or two for reference. At the module’s heart are six Global Modes, which are as follows: Variables, Multiples, Probability, Logic, Phase and Gates. Switching between these is referred to (rather confusingly) as Global Edit, a process you initiate by holding down two buttons until an LED starts slowly flashing. At this point, clicking the Mode button scrolls through the different Global Modes; when you reach the one you want, the previous button combination exits the selection process. Now, and until you pick a new Global Mode, you’ve got six presets to play with, called (also rather confusingly) ‘Local Modes’. Fortunately the interface and terminology are only mind-bending for a while and I reckon more pliant brains than mine will suss them in the first session.
The Event Boss is true to its name, in that it produces nothing of value alone. It comes to life when given events to boss around, usually with a supporting control voltage to supply dynamic changes. I began in the simplest way possible, with a couple of clock signals running at different speeds. These I connected to the Gate A1 and Gate A2 inputs, taking a brief pause to verify the first Global Mode (Variables) was active. Using the module’s output to trigger a percussion module, I was then able to toggle between the two sources with the Gate Select button — or the corresponding trigger input. Keeping the relevant manual pages handy, I began to examine how each preset treated incoming CV.
Essentially, the 0-5V input is mapped to a variable (n) between one and eight. A counter keeps track of incoming events and a process decides whether or not to allow each event through. The first preset lets every nth hit pass and resets the counter every eight events — unless you do it sooner using the Reset input. It sounds a bit mathematical, but it’s not difficult. In practical terms my clock-sourced high-hat pattern clearly began dropping notes as the voltage (sourced from a gradually rising LFO) increased.
Select the next preset and you get the inverse, ie. instead of passing every nth event, the Event Boss blocks them. The remaining presets are based on various meaningful algorithms for filtering events — but the fun is only just beginning. Go deeper down the rabbit hole and you can apply an incoming voltage to switch presets. When this is combined with external switching of the input source, it’s already a seriously powerful tool for twisting events beyond recognition, and all from the first Global Mode.
Most of the remaining Global Modes work in a similar way, each with their own processing slant. The six presets of Multiply deliver either division or multiplication of the incoming events, with the most extreme multiplication offering a frenetic 12x. Next up is Probability, in which you set the probability of an Event being passed through. When 0V is received at the CV input, there’s no chance of the event appearing and at 5V it definitely will. In between, the Event Boss generates ever-changing output. Also in this mode, you can assign the probabilities that gates will be tied to the next gate and set percentage chances of the input being inverted, eg. a ‘gate off’ becomes a ‘gate on’. In one example, I placed the module between a repetitive sequencer output and a TB303-type module, using probability to mask notes, extend note length and induce glide. The result was an extended afternoon session of unpredictable sliding, gliding acidic joy.
After randomness comes Logic , and here the inputs work slightly differently, in that the Gate B/CV input becomes the second logic input. All the usual Logic functions are present — AND, NAND, OR, NOR, etc — and you can still switch freely between the sources A1 and A2. Phase is a Global Mode concerned with delaying incoming events, either in musical divisions, percentages or milliseconds. I confess that, rather than worry too much about the details of this, I connected my Doepfer ribbon controller to the CV input and homed in on the desired timing by listening and sliding my finger.
The final Global Mode concentrates on manipulating gates and triggers, either extending them by a number of events, extending then muting them or gluing them together. With all these different modes it helps to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, but it’s equally valid to explore and see what happens. Although I began simply, I soon graduated to ideas such as: adding rhythmic punctuation to some elements of a Sample & Hold output, turning a square wave LFO into a weird pattern generator, or blocking a single pulse out of every eight, thus enabling a pair of synchronised sequencers to gradually go out of step. I’m sure this is only scratching the surface.
Much of the Event Boss’s charm is revealed when you start to ask ‘what if?’ Granted it’s a bit inscrutable at first, but it’s one of those modules where your imagination really does pay dividends. After all, there aren’t many modules that will deliver endless rhythmic variations, randomised ambient pings and subtle timing shifts alongside more familiar roles such as clock division and logic. Having extensive CV control is always welcome, but now and again I pined for the simplicity of a knob to select specific values. That small wish aside, this is a very impressive multi-utility module with a huge number of possible applications.