Midweek Modular: Major Tom, Wonky Snares and Psychosis
This time, Midweek Modular takes us into percussion sequencing space with Major Tom, finds the perfect Snare in AE Modular format and discovers that it all ends in Psychosis.
Hark the Herald Angels sing, here’s the finest modular to go beep and bing.
NONO Modular Major Tom
I don’t think it has anything to do with Bowie or an inspirational old geezer walking around his garden; this is a polyrhythmic performance sequencer.
Major Tom is about to be launched on Kickstarter, so, at this time, it’s more of a preview of what I hope will be a product rather than something you can buy right now. It’s designed with percussion in mind and layers up four independent channels of CV and gate.
The heart of the module is the circular screen and orbit of 16 LEDs for 16 steps with some triplet action. Each of the four channels has controls over pattern length, directional time skipping and up to 10 pattern variations and it’s all laid out in a luxurious amount of space. NONO could easily have given you one set of controls and buttons to switch between pages, but here, we have individual controls to give you a much more performative experience.
The Major Tom can be expanded with additional two-channel modules, bringing the possible track count up to twelve. That’s pretty remarkable. NONO says that the format allows for all sorts of additional functionality with further expansions.
I’m not sure if the Kickstarter will go live before this article, but this looks like a fascinating module, and I’m looking forward to some demos. NONO Modular is known for its cases, so Major Tom is a bit of an interesting departure.
- Major Tom Kickstarter page.
- NONO Modular website.
The Dreadbox Psychosis has flown a little bit under the radar. It was seen stuck on the end of a row of modular modules that were filled with the Telepathy synth-voice modules and patched together as a polyphonic synthesizer. So, all the interest was in the multiple Telepathys rather than what all the outputs were plugged into. But now it’s officially available from Dreadbox, and so it’s definitely worth a mention.
Psychosis is a compact, 6-channel stereo mixer. It has an interesting pan control called Spread that pushes everything about from mono to stereo and then inverted stereo. There’s an inbuilt LFO to give the Spread a bit of movement. Somewhere in the back end, Dreadbox has squeezed in four effects in the shape of Reverb, Delay, Chorus and Flanger. You have control over Amount, one parameter and a button that cycles through the types. I’m assuming you have to choose between the effects rather than having all four going at once and then just cycling between the controls, but it’s not clear in the documentation.
The Telepathy thing with the polyphonic connections is very interesting and something I would definitely like to explore at some time. Having it all pouring into the Psychosis modules seems like a perfect combination, but it also looks like a very useful space-saving module in any compact system. However, the one thing missing is any actual level control over the inputs.
- Dreadbox website.
- More from Dreadbox.
Back in the weird even-smaller-than-Eurorack world of AE Modular, Wonkystuff has been innovating and coming up with classics. The latest module is the SD110 snare machine.
The SD110 is nicely straightforward, You have a knob over Body Tone to control the pitch of oscillator driven body, then you have a Balance knob to control the mix of tone and white noise, and then you’ve got the Decay which handles the tail end of the hit. That’s it. Pump in some triggers and you have a lovely, analogue and fully active snare drum in your modular. You can even wire the output of the body and noise separately which gives you a lot of tonal versatility.
Not much else to say other than I’m impressed by the creativity Wonkystuff is putting into the AE Modular format.
- Wonkystuff website.
Apollo View IOU and CanCan
As a bonus, here are a couple of deeply cool-looking utilities from Apolloview to round off our last selection before Christmas.
IOU is an offset and inverting module. The big slider in the middle lets you set add any voltage from zero to 5 volts to the incoming signal. The offset can be applied pre or post attenuvertor. A Scale knob provides the attenuation while the offset shifts the voltages. You’ve got an input switch to accommodate a couple of different levels and a choice of normal or inverted outputs. It’s a very useful and space-conscious module that can be helpful in transposition, voltage management and side chaining.
The rather cleverly named CanCan is a dual headphone amplifier – get it? Very simply, you have a stereo input and output, individual gain knobs on the headphones and separate outputs. The metering in the middle looks superb. It’s low noise with a wide spectrum and support for a large range of headphones. Great stuff, especially if you’re someone who likes to collaborate.
- Apollo View website.
- More from Apollo View.
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