weighs the same as a duck

This week, Make Noise announced Bruxa, a module based on the prototype “Time/Filter Experiment” from the Strega. The delay is based on the PT2399 chip, a super cheap digital delay with analog feedback path, used in dozens of guitar pedals and quite a few Eurorack modules. It’s often meant to imitate an analog BBD, and it has similar characteristics — a fixed buffer length, limited fidelity — but it does use memory rather than capacitors. (Some marketing copy will call it an “analog delay” anyway, some hybrid, and some “digital”. It’s just words.)

The PT has a characteristic distortion, and when clocked too slowly (trying to extend the delay time longer/slower than it can handle) it tends to generate weird insectile/crunchy noises. In a lot of designs, the clock rate range is limited — using multiple chips in series if longer delays are needed, instead of slowing them down too much — and the signal is filtered and companded to reduce the noisiness but give pleasant, dark echoes. But in the Strega, and now the Bruxa, that noise and degradation is celebrated rather than suppressed. It does use multiple chips but also multiple parallel feedback paths to tailor the sound.

Bruxa is apparently only going to be available for preorders, and the price is a bit on the high side. Given that this one is quite close to what the Strega offers anyway — maybe some subtle differences in the feedback paths? — I don’t feel like I’d benefit all that much from also having this one, and making space for it means giving up something else. But contemplating it has got me patching up Strega in new ways, running other audio through it from the DAW or modular rather than using it as a self-contained instrument (or as a pair with the Minibrute 2S) and finding a new appreciation for not just the gritty delay, but its integrated filter and what happens when you modulate various things.

The sound of Strega’s delay fits with where this album has been naturally heading. Far from avoiding delay and reverb and going “dry” like I’d considered a few months ago, this one is celebrating noisy, distorted delay and reverb, and some similar textures achieved via other means. The new Aberrant DSP Lair reverb and Audiority Doomagorgon fuzz plugins have featured, as has Sinevibes Integer (which was inspired by BBD and PT delays). At one point so far, Noise Eng Morbus Legio adds some sub-audio noise to a distorted signal, which also has a crawly sort of texture though very different from the PT. (And again, I want to emphasize that while the gear certainly contributes to the sound and often its “natural” behavior inspires it, the biggest factor is me. This is the sound that is right to me at this time. If Lair and Doomagorgon and Bruxa hadn’t been released this month I’d still be heading in this direction, even if the exact path and destination are different.)

Anyway, I’m at about 34 minutes of material for the album and going strong. There was one rejected track, but that’s fine… a lot of the ideas that went into it (both in terms of patch design and general musical concepts) went into the next attempt, which worked. Sometimes you just have to let your brain reboot and take another stab.

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