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What's New & Modular Technique: Total Dist-Os-tion!

Andrew Ostler By William Stokes
Published June 2024

Modular generic image

Expert Sleepers' Andrew Ostler provides insight into two of his favourite modular techniques.

It turns out I have a bit of a fondness for distortion — Cicely is obviously entirely that, but Pandora will happily crush sounds too, and Persephone offers some nice analogue saturation. One effect I’m particularly keen on is that of putting a short delay, maybe 300ms, before a distortion, and then playing some fairly long notes into it. You get some wonderful sounds when changing from one note to another, especially if they’re quite close. The distortion obviously does its thing to the sustained notes as well, but when the notes briefly overlap because of the delay, the non‑linearity of the distortion interacts with the non‑aligned partials of the two notes to give lovely intermodulation ‘wobbles’. It’s a fascinating sound and, better yet, because it’s only when the notes change, it’s not a constant overwhelming noise, just a bit of sonic ‘spice’.

Another favourite trick at the moment is to use my ‘stereo’ mixer as a dual‑mono mixer — one channel is clean, while the other runs through a distortion. Then the pan pots become blend controls between fully clean and fully distorted, which can be applied to everything running through the mixer. Use with care! - Andrew Ostler

What’s New

by William Stokes

Spanish modularists Befaco hosted a DIY workshop in London at the end of April, hosted by The Synth Shed and with support from Thonk. Befaco brought over 50 kits with them for guests to build; from the dual‑channel wavefolder Chopping Kinky to the three‑channel noise generator Noise Plethora. Be sure to keep up to date on future events via the Befaco and The Synth Shed websites.

Speaking of noise — and in more ways than one — Noise Engineering have unveiled yet another powerful firmware update for owners of their Legio module platform: a noise generator. Morbus Legio is a rather interesting combination of both processor and noise generator; capable of both processing external audio with clipping, wavefolding, distortion and chorus, as well as noise that can be spread across the stereo field via CV.

Clank have announced the Endline, an upgraded version of their preceding SUM module, which boasts four stereo channels of summing, submixing, two sends and returns, a headphone output and transformer‑balanced outputs — all in 10HP.

Erica Synths have also been at work in the signal processing department: the latest in their range of redesigned Hexinverter modules is the Mutant Hot Glue, a four‑channel bus mixer designed for analogue effects chain design. It features a compressor with series or parallel compression and a side‑chain input, as well voltage‑controlled “acid‑style” distortion.