Studio Guide
Blawan & London Modular Alliance Discuss Their Favourite Modular Units

The term 'modular' has become something of a buzz word over the last couple of years - but especially since a particular ream of producers caught the the unpredictable modular synthesis bug themselves. Surgeon started integrating his units into his DJ set, Boddika confessed to his new, expensive habit and people like Untold, Mumdance and Blawan also took up their own stooped and nuanced stance behind the controls. But there's more than a love patterned blinking lights and for forests of multicoloured cables that unites these people; there's also the fact that all of them were supplied by the Hackney Wick based London Modular shop, a specialist retailer that was established by Simon Lynch and Phil Ventre just over two years ago. Alongside electro producer Gavin Pykerman (whose productions under his Koova moniker are supported by the likes of Helena Hauff) the trio have been putting on live events and demonstrations as the London Modular Alliance for nigh on three years now, making a point to underline the art of off the cuff improvisation (which the trio have finely honed into a tight performance judging by their recent and lauded closing set at this year's Freerotation festival).

The crew have already demonstrated some serious passion for modular systems, which is obvious in their name as much as their pursuits, but their events have seen them invite other producers from Untold to DMX Krew and Blawan for extended live sessions in venues as wide ranging as the Tate and Hackney Wick's darkest party spaces. This coming weekend Lunch, Pykerman & Ventre will be making their Farringdon debut joining former live collaborator and shop customer Blawan in Room Two, so we tasked them to disclose a few nuggets of their knowledge and discuss precisely what modular units they feel lend the most to the live experience.

London Modular Alliance's Picks:



Orthogonal Devices
ER-101 / 102


"These two modules make for arguably the most complex CV sequencer around. The ER-101 has 4 independent tracks and its possible to program, record, manage and recall 1,000's of steps. In a live situation, we find it invaluable, you can make drastic changes, quickly.

"Brian Clarkson builds these units in Japan. He is constantly updating the software so the functions are constantly improving. It really is out there on its own right now. Everything about it is really very exciting.

"We have arguments here that Brian has a long beard and lives on a misty Japanese mountain. Sadly, this is probably not true at all..."


Hex Inverter
Hot Glue


"The Hot Glue has a suitable name, its a 4 channel mixer/compressor/distortion unit. We use it as our end-of-chain mixer and gives all sorts of dynamic control. It's easy to patch feedback and get it howling like nothing we've heard before.

"Stacy builds these in Canada. It's a progression from other modules he’s made - the IDOW Battery Acid and more recently the Mutant Bass Drum. Both of these were excellent distortion units; really bright and gave natural compression. So when Hot Glue was released recently it’s safe to say, we were pretty excited!"


Abstract Data
OctoController


"Another brand new piece. This is a very dense 8 channel multi-function mega module. Simon used it last year for a few hours at Musikmesse. The interface is really easy to navigate. It will change small, simple systems into small, complex systems without any fuss.

"Justin Owen builds these here in London. We expect to see big things from him in the coming months, he’s got some really interesting plans."


Malekko Heavy Industry
Mute 4


"A super simple module. 4 inputs. 1 output. A mute switch for each input. Simple modules like these are the building blocks for bigger, complex systems.

Josh runs Malekko out of Portland in the US. He’s been in the game a long, long time. Over the past year he’s been working closely with Roland and also runs Dark-place Manufacturing which distributes some highly sought after modules. Simon got massively drunk with him last year. He’s one of Eurorack's funniest guys, a real character!"


Mutable Instruments
Clouds


"A beast of a module and easily the most popular we’ve stocked this year. It’s a real time granular audio processor which turns mundane mono signals into wonderful stereo textures. It sounds as superb on big sound-systems as it does on studio monitors.

"Olivier is based in France and is clearly some sort of genius. His modules are a mix of analogue and digital, and extremely well thought out. The digital modules are constantly being updated with extra firmware Easter Eggs which unlock new functions and sounds. Unbelievable sounding stuff!"

Blawan's Selections



Cwejman
QMMF


"This particular module is by far the best purchase I ever made so far in the modular realm. It's a huge beast that consists of 4 amazing sounding Multimode filters with 3 different res types and more routing options than you’ll ever need. It's an integral part of my live and studio creations and allows me to create pretty much any sound I want with just this module alone or using it as an ultra stable CV controllable equaliser in a full patch."


Synthesis Technology
E560


"My first ever Digital DSP Module purchase and I still use it as much today as the day I bought it. Amazing sound and an absolute essential when playing live."


TouellSkouarn
Strakal Brulu 2


"My favourite Eurorack Distortion and something that I never leave at home when playing live, super noisy and dirty but adds a lot of warmth to my patches. If I feed it the right stuff it can even gel entire patches together better than some big outboard gear, if your into stuff that's a little rough around the edges."


Make Noise
Optomix


"Essentially just two low pass gates that are normalised into each other but use this is a live context and fed some interesting CV it will allow for some really nice dynamic control of audio that is easily controlled and musically pleasing. Essential!"


WMD/SFF
Ultrafold


"A recent purchase after a friend recommended this new line of modules. It's a super powerful wave folder with some interesting parameters, I just feed it a sine or triangle wave and this folder can output a full palette of waveforms that is more than I would ever require for a live set."
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Saturday 26th September

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