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Qu-Bit Electronix Mojave

Eurorack Module By William Stokes
Published May 2024

The Mojave is concerned with all things granular. Conceptually, of course, this means sand. This ‘granular sandstorm’ is named after the Mojave desert, “drawing its inspiration from vast swaths of desert in the American Southwest,” and sure enough its faceplate conjures a rather lovely light‑up graphic of sand dunes and a zephyr. The image is a good one, in the sense that granular processing can be quite hard to rationalise. The allegory, I suppose, would be that Mojave renders your source audio a structure made of sand, or grains, and then presents a means of controlling the wind blowing that sand around. This could entail throwing caution to the wind (geddit) or zooming right into the micro‑sound domain to rearrange things with the most precise of breaths.

The host of parameters for rhythmic and melodic manipulation makes a rather crowded faceplate whose controls could easily populate a panel twice its size. A central Rate knob controls the frequency of grain generation, and can be clock‑sync’ed. Drift is concerned with where in the source audio the Mojave draws its grains from, and at extreme settings will span the buffer to grab grains at random. This often works in tandem with the Zone control, which determines the audio buffer position. Distribute generates more and more complex rhythm events over the course of its travel distance, while Structure deals in pitch and scale. Whirl sends grains bouncing, or drifting, around the stereo field. There’s also a Speed parameter to control pitch (which I was very happy to find can track at one Volt per octave), two different types of Freeze function and even an end‑of‑chain effect, named Gust, for adding internal feedback or even reverb.

Finally (just to turn things on their head all over again) there’s an onboard MEMS microphone, so the Mojave can take in acoustic audio as well. This has limited applicability — and would be essentially unusable in any environment but a quiet studio — but fair to say it seems to have been included as more of a bonus feature than a core component, and what a bonus it is!

Qu‑Bit are certainly a wildly ambitious bunch, and beyond panel graphics to die for — which actually do contribute to workflow, incredibly — they also love a poetic motif or two. Take the Mojave’s scale quantise button for example, which cycles through blue, green, yellow or purple indicators for different scales; only here it’s Sky Mode, and cycles through ‘Dawn’, ‘Day’, ‘Dusk’ and ‘Twilight’. Romantic. The grain generation mode button specifies where the Mojave gets its instruction to generate grains from: the clock, the input signal amplitude or manual triggers. Or, in Qu‑Bit’s terms, ‘Erode’, ‘Shear’ or ‘Chisel’. Being a Brit, it’s customary for me to scoff a little at this sort of thing, but in reality it simply suggests significant attention to detail and a great deal of pride in the design — something that should only ever be lauded.

Even the simplest of input signals can lead to gorgeous results from the Mojave.

Even the simplest of input signals can lead to gorgeous results from the Mojave. I started off feeding it the most basic of drones, which I was soon spattering around my stereo field with percussive, ratcheting complex rhythms, subtly shifting pitch to add chorus or ricocheting it between the extremities of various scales. Other sounds, for instance my own voice into the microphone, yielded much more complex results, and I particularly enjoyed sending two different signals into the left and right inputs to be processed together. Drums are endowed with complex syncopation and timbral depth, while live keys or even guitar can be sent into far‑flung rhythmic and tonal territories.

The world of granular seems to have opened up considerably in recent years. This is likely thanks to developers’ increasingly inventive explorations of digital platforms, which I partly ascribe to the synthesis world’s move away from the fetishism of all things analogue, but that’s another discussion. I still love analogue, by the way. There are other modules out there dealing capably in this world, for instance Instruō’s Arbhar, but Qu‑Bit have come upon something quite special here, and a good deal cheaper than the Arbhar, it must be said. It also gives the Make Noise Morphagene, which is a different beast but certainly operates in a convergent world, a run for its money — particularly since it can process pitch at 1V/octave. From wild explorative gestures to imbuing sounds with gentle movement, the Mojave is a formidable tool. Highly recommended.