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Error Instruments Brinta

Eurorack Module By Robin Vincent
Published March 2024

Error Instruments Brinta

Welcome to another joyfully peculiar Error Instruments protrusion into normal space. It arrives in the form of a porridge‑inspired granular sampler that’s as brilliant as it is baffling. At times you feel you are meddling with forces you can’t possibly understand, until a random turning of knobs pulls everything into a moment of focus and you realise “Oh, I’ve been playing with a drum loop.”

Brinta is the latest collaboration between Error Instruments and This is Not Rocket Science. It’s an exciting creative space where TiNRS get to play with their weirdest algorithms, and Error Instruments get to break them. The result is immensely playful and experimental, inviting exploration rather than analytical inquiry. Which is a long‑winded way of saying that I don’t quite understand it, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

The basic idea is that you sample something into the granular engine and then mess about with the cascade of tiny slices or grains of sound that pour out. The action takes place in the ‘golden grain circle’ that glows invitingly at you from the middle of the module, visualising all sorts of activities. It shows the position of the playback and recording heads; it glows blue with high frequencies, green for mids and red for lows; and it documents the life of little golden playheads that materialise into being for the duration of the grain before vanishing from existence.

Turn the big knob in the middle to set the position of the playhead. It’s affected by the Speed control, which moves the playhead through the sample from that position. However, the Pitch control also affects the pitch at the playhead position, by speeding things up and slowing things down. Under certain conditions, the way in which these three functions interact becomes clear, but more often, it’s lost in the smush of granular beautifulness. Using the Size knob, you can drag some clarity out from the wash of large grains into the stark abruptness of tiny ones, but you never quite get there.

Finally, we have the X control, which means different things depending on which of the three modes you’ve selected. In Cloud mode, X deals in density, where you find the more traditional granular effect of shimmer and light. In Chord mode, the grains are shifted in pitch to generate either major or minor chords depending on which way you turn the X knob. Mode three is a harmonic probability function created in honour of Kid Baltan. As you turn the knob to the right, the probability of the pitch doubling again and again increases. All the modes are lots of fun to play with, and they are similar enough to switch between without too much of a jerk, while taking you in very different directions.

Brinta comes with five samples ready for your explorations. On my first go, these felt loud and slightly mad. You’ve no idea what it is you’re listening to, and randomly turning knobs does very little to provide any illumination. What you do have is a soundscape of weird and exciting granular stuff that starts to get frustrating because you don’t know what it’s supposed to sound like. Once you start recording your own samples, though, it all starts opening up, and I found that using my voice was a great way to understand what Brinta was doing. You have a choice of two inputs. The first one feeds the granular engine without any monitoring, whereas the second mixes your input with the output. The output is in stereo, with half the grains going left and half going right. Listening to it in stereo is definitely worthwhile.

If you then introduce some sources of modulation, Brinta becomes a mystical engine of improvised soundscapes and occasional hilarity.

Hit record, and a red dot runs around the circle displaying your sample’s recording time and length. Press play to get the granular engine working on the sample. You can enable both play and record to use it like a granular delay effect that’s constantly overwriting itself. Once you’ve recorded something recognisable, all the controls begin to make more sense. You can shift the pitch of the playback with the Pitch knob, and adjust the speed of the playhead going through the sample with the Speed knob. It’s possible to find the right pitch and speed to play the sample back as it was recorded, by watching for a pink flash in the circle as you turn the knobs. You can also halt the movement and use the Position knob to pick out sample slices and watch the golden heads sparkle out from your audio. As you push parameters and turn knobs, you tend to lose all sense of what everything is doing, but I don’t think that really matters. What’s important is that you are lost in a wonderful place of weird and beautiful occurrences. If you then introduce some sources of modulation, Brinta becomes a mystical engine of improvised soundscapes and occasional hilarity.