Trent Reznor & Alessandro Cortini Discuss The Virtues of Analog / Modular Hardware Synths

Here’s an  interview with Trent Reznor and fellow Nine Inch Nails member Allessandro Cortini, courtesy of the good people behind the I Dream of Wires modular synth documentary .

In the video Reznor discusses the evolution of the synthesizer from the big, analog synths he grew up with through the digital do-it-all synths of the eighties and nineties and then the emergence of the world of virtual instruments to the re-emergence of the modular synth, and  how working with real, analog hardware can yield benefits not limited to just the sound itself. We also get some input from Cortini on what the discovery of hardware synths has meant to him. Definitely worth a watch – so I thought I’d share it here.

To order your copy of the I Dream of Wires documentary, visit

EMW WCS-1: a Brazilian Hybrid Mono-Synth That Sounds Great

Electronic Music Works – EMW for short – is a young (est. 2011) Brazilian synth manufacturer whose stuff I’m starting to find really interesting. Their growing range of exotic standalone synths, eurorack modules, MIDI-accessories and novel patch programmers seem to be gaining popularity among electronic musicians, and it’s easy to see why: these products aren’t just different and eye-catching (check out the somewhat quirky looks of the synth on display here), but some of the sounds coming out of them are also really, really nice. I’ve always been a real sucker for good digital/analog hybrid synths, and the first unit to really catch my attention was the EMW WCS-1, whose digital oscillators and analog filters seem to be a match made in Heaven. There’s some juicy tones in the demos below, so waste no time in checking them out. And take note of this: the cost of this unit is a very modest $249. We’re talking a lot of synth for the money here, in other words.

What you get here is a MIDI-controlled synth module with a DSP-oscillator (which is also available in eurorack format) going into a signal path consisting of all discrete analog components (including what sounds like a very nice 18 db low pass / band pass filter), and while the WCS-1 is definitely a fairly simple synth it does allow for some interesting tones you won’t find everywhere else. The Wave Composition Oscillator (WCO) going into the dual input VCF can generate a larger variety of wave shapes than what one might guess by just looking at the front panel.

The WCS-1 doesn’t offer a ton in the MIDI-control department, being limited to On/Off and pitch bend messages, but considering the cost of this synth and how good it sound I’m personally going to be quite forgiving of that.

The Electronic Music Works Wave Composition Synthesizer is an inexpensive, exciting  little synth module whose sound I really enjoy, so I’m quite sure I’ll be ordering one of these for myself sometime this winter. I’ve also got my eye on a few of EMW’s eurorack modules – if they sound as nice as this little guy my humble modular system could soon be wearing a lot of black…

(And hey, I’ll have to admit this: the idea of owning a Brazilian synth or two certainly appeals to me, as I’m a HUGE fan of the country. My last visit was earlier this year and can’t get enough Brazil-stuff. What a place.)


Learn more about the WCS-1, Electronic Music Works and their interesting range of synths and gear at their home online.

Richard Devine Takes You On a Tour of His New Studio

Loved this video, so I obviously had to share it here. Richard Devine is not just a remarkably talented and skillful sound designer and musician, but he is clearly also a really great guy. Besides, he has an absolutely rocking new studio (moved downstairs from his old one) that you should check out if you have not already done so:

If you’re not familiar with Richard Devine and his work, Richard has been releasing his own music for nearly two decades now, played live around the world, and made music for both video games and a host of commercials, including work for Nike and Touchstone Pictures. Check out his stuff on or follow him on Twitter.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at FutureMusicMagazine for the video.

Analogue Solutions Medic Modules – These Should Be Bloody Good!

As an owner of a humble but growing Eurorack modular system I will admit to spending waaaaay too much time online looking for new gizmos to fill my Doepfer case with. It’s fun, though, and there’s so much fantastic stuff coming out regularly that I feel compelled to keep up with it all. Has there ever been a better time to be a modular synthesist? Not that I can see, at least (actually, there hasn’t been a better time to be a synthesist period, in my opinion). We’ve been really spoiled for choice these last few years – and spoiling us even more is British Analogue Solutions with their new Medic series of Eurorack modules.

While I wouldn’t classify these as the first pieces of music technology that look like medical equipment (even my Akai S900 would look right at home in a hospital), these modules have the look of something having gone very wrong at whatever clinic they came from. Because there’s blood spattered on them (not real blood, I presume, but it does look quite convincing in pictures). These would no doubt be your first modules choice if you were making a horror movie about a crazy modular synthesist. Knowing how great Analogue Solutions gear can sound, however, I’d say they’d stand a good chance of being many people’s first choice regardless. And I won’t be too surprised if at least one of them ends up in my rack.

The Analogue Solutions Medic modules – designed by AS’ own Tom Carpenter – also come with fitting names like EKG and Defibrillator – the latter of which you can get a glimpse in the video above.

The Debrillator (which can be had for £249 exc VAT and delivery) is described as three independent modules: a High pass / low pass VCF, a low pass VCF, and a VCA. It is based on the Korg MS20 filter and the Analogue Solutions SY02 module. Each circuit is independent, andb can be linked in series using the Link switches, or used separately in parallel for individual processing or stereo filter effects.

The EKG Elektro Kardio Gramm (also £249) – is an 8 step analog sequencer with “unique mode switches.” It has CV Out, Gate Out, Clock in, Clock Thru and Reset In. Each step can be turned off, skipped, repeated or set as a reset point.

There’s also at least one more module that will hopefully be ready for sale soon – I’ll keep you updated on that here.

For more info and to purchase these bloody modules, head straight to Analogue Solutions. If you’re partial to quality hardware synths you’ll find plenty of other bloody good stuff to spend your money on there as well, trust me.