stuck in sequence

I haven’t mentioned these things in my blog, but posted about them on forums I guess.

I miss the Zorlon Cannon mk2 I used to have. To simplify the technical details, an LFSR is a device that takes a random binary number, rotates the bits, and uses the bits to generate gates and CV in looping patterns, as well as crunchy noise. It’s the same technique older video games such as Defender used, a sound that screams cyber-retro-futurism to me.

I found myself checking out the Music Thing Modular Turing Machine; after videos from DivKid and Mylar Melodies and several hours of joyfully playing with a version in VCV Rack, I bought the After Later Audio version: Alan and the expanders Morcom and Enigma. Turing Machine’s particular take is to give control over the chance of flipping the feedback bit, which effectively determines how random or repetitive the sequence is. (Mutable Instruments Modules took inspiration from that in its design, though the technical details and feature set is very different.) The expanders allow for a second, more tunable CV sequence (but related in “patterny” ways to the first), and triggers that follow the first 7 bits of the number, generating cascading rhythms and also mixing nicely into Zorlon-like noise.

To make the room for these, I’m selling off both FM Aid and jroo Loop.

I spent a little time a couple of weeks ago recording and comparing different flavors of FM from my modular. It was a flawed comparison and I accidentally deleted the recordings (they were in a Bitwig “temporary project” and it’s kind of a crapshoot whether those are allowed to live when you close the software) but I still had some findings.

  • Spectraphon’s FM is much more unstable than I thought; it sounds like there’s pink noise being applied to the FM index. This is completely unnoticeable when modulating the FM index though, and can be masked by other things.
  • Odessa’s FM isn’t as dirty as I once thought, it’s just susceptible to messy modulation signals. It’s got by far the deepest modulation of any of my gear, but I think also it doesn’t have much DC blocking. So, clean signal in, good ratio and a bit of restraint = clean FM out. Anything else = potential dirt and chaos… which of course can be useful!
  • Shapeshifter’s internal FM is ridiculously clean, just not that strong. External FM is relatively weaker still, while the PM is somewhere in between. The DAC specs are good, but noise in the system does have a noticeable effect, and I think I do get some noise when I run stuff through Tallin.
  • Akemie’s Castle is, of course, never clean. All of the operators “leak” when they should be silent, there are only 6-bit registers controlling those levels, and so on. But it sounds like discount 1990 in the best way.
  • Rings in FM mode has a neat “round” character to it that nothing else does, and is worth exploring more.
  • For “FM any two signals” purposes, Koszalin is a lot smoother and cleaner than FM Aid.

FM Aid has that unavoidable spike in its waveshaping, and I just couldn’t find a purpose for it where I didn’t like something else better. So even though it’s my second one and I’ve said in the past I should never let it go… it’s time.

jroo Loop is a neat thing but honestly, I haven’t been using it for its intended purpose, as a performance looper. I’ve occasionally used it as another delay, just because it’s there. For other looping purposes I’ve just continued to capture recordings in Bitwig and then loop them there. So that space can be better used to generate some cyclic mutating patterns.