Mantikor’s Journey: Departure

A few weeks ago, I described how the combo of Granturismo and Groove Riemann could turn into Mantikor. Only now that it’s come to this, the end result is quite different. This is the first chapter of Mantikor’s journey through Riemann’s World.

Preparations for the Journey

Only a few weeks ago, the design drafts for Mantikor looked some like this:

Then I waited for the case. Which had a shipping date of 6-6, that was then quickly changed to end of August. Fortunately, another retailer (thanks, SchneidersLaden!) came to the rescue.

But what had come out then looked rather differently than the earlier sketch (which, may I assure you, wasn’t a kind of initial draft or something). Which had to do with my experiences with the Riemann System. But I digress, here’s a modulargrid diagram:

And that’s how Mantikor’s Journey began last Friday.

Systems Design Choices

The new Mantis colour variant looks its best in the evening.

The architectural approach for Mantikor was thus as follows:

  • only one geometrical item (the Mantis case),
  • five voices in total, two more “melody-like” and three more “drum-like”,
  • four voices (all except for the bass drum) configured to be played melodically without re-patching,
  • no possibility to program or record sequences,
  • portable, and performance-ready,
  • no more 0-Coast! Instead, a discrete “Supercoast” voice.

New Voices: Kickall and Supercoast

Compared to the Riemann System, there had been two major changes in the voices: voice 0 (formerly a Disting loaded with Volca Kick samples plus WK2 to select them) got replaced by a Befaco Kickall, and voice 1 (formerly 0-Coast) got replaced by a discrete voice dubbed “Supercoast”.

Let’s start with the Kickall: it blends from sine to square, has two sharp-attack, adjustable decay envelopes (for amplitude and pitch), tracks pitch and has a dedicated VCA for velocity if you want to use it like that.

Experiences: it’s weaker than a Volca Kick. However, the ability to adjust the sound in multiple dimensions (with four knobs/faders in total) might make up for that. I still don’t know if I’m happy with it.

Then for the Supercoast: the motivation for that was to a large degree that I’ve been seriously overusing the 0-Coast. It has been in at least one system all the time since I first got it, and that was more than four years ago! So I decided to do something loosely inspired by it, but also different. Take the 2hp VCO and one half of a Klavis TwinWaves Mk2, send that through a Disting somehow (usually with the Wavefolder algorithm), mix it, and filter/VCA it with a Squawk Dirty to me. Add one half of an A-140-2 and a PipSlope, and a MISO for CV mixing/attenuvertion/etc, and you’ve got yourself a voice.

What’s with those half modules? The other halves are used for voice 2 with the A-111-6!

The result: great! Starting with the TwinWaves, you get such a big number of synthesis option: standard VCOs, synced VCOs (one VCO can run another aux VCO it syncs to), ring modulator configurations, additive, filtered noise…and you still get a bread-and-butter analogue VCO with the 2hp.

The Squawk is used differently than I had originally intented, as it’s a stereo device, but…it does filter AND VCA, adds a highpass, and works nicely.

And finally, the Disting does wavefolding. But could also do rectification, 4Q multiplication etc.

With that, we’re truly Supercoast in that we can do pretty much all synthesis forms. Wait, I hear you say, what about wavetables? And samples? As you may or may not know, the Disting can do a lot of things, among them multisample oscillator, wavetable oscillator, and even pulsar oscillator!

Great voice. I like it!

New Sequencing Options: Grids, more Stages – and improved routing.

The biggest change was the addition of Grids, or Microgrids to be precise, for additional drum options. Which meant that from a drum sequencing standpoint (or in the updated taxonomy, triggering of voices 0, 3 and 4), we now have a choice for each voice between Pamela and Grids, Pamela doing 4-on-the-floor for voice 0, a looped random (with length and reseeding controlled by WK2, replacing Stages) for voice 3, and a Björklund with fixed length, triggers controlled by WK2 for voice 4 (also replacing Stages in that function).

I already mentioned that WK2 replaced parts of what Stages did, more specifically the control of Pamela’s CV ins. With that, two stages of Stages became available, and Stages is now configured thusly: 1 – Cheng chaos, 2 – LFO, 3/5 and 4/6 Turing into quantizer. With that, I get two random-generated repeating CV sequences, each in unqantized and quantized form. The quantized ones I can use for the pitched voices.

Excursion: The voices right now are: 0 – Kickall, 1 – Supercoast, 2 – A-111-6, 3 – BIA, 4 – Plaits

Pitched voices, of which we now have four that are always patched this way, get their triggers from Marbles (1, 2), Pamela (2, 3, 4) and uGrids (3, 4), and their pitch CV from Marbles (1, 2, 4) and Stages (2, 3, 4). That way, I can use identical pitch sources for pairs of two, and trigger 1 and 2 identically – or have everything run from different pitch and trigger sources. Speaking of pitch, voices 1-4 are run through Quant Gemi, allowing me to select the register, to e.g. have Supercoast play a bass line, while the A-111-6 does a lead voice, all from the same parameter selection for Marbles.

Apropos Marbles: it’s now running in the mode where X2 follow the controls and X1/X3 do the opposite – making X2 an interesting wobbly CV source for parameter modulation most of the time.

Loops done by a Professional

I already said it in the video on the Riemann System: I can do better than using a Boss desktop unit for loops, namely using something by a loop artist I know and respect: Andrew Ostler aka Os aka one half of Darkroom aka Mr. Expert Sleepers aka Mr. Disting.

Disting EX is run in its loop single algorithm. Loops 1 and 3 record the input to Mimeophon (which gives me the option to do a separate mix for what to loop), while loops 2 and 4 record Mimeophon’s output. As I can work with each loop independently, that allows for a lot of fun things.

Note to self: it’s configured to sync to clock, so don’t get confused if it refuses to mute a loop after you did stop the clock source!

The Journey so far

An unordered list of experiences after the journey has been going on for two full days:

  • The move from 0-Coast to Supercoast has really brought new possibilities to the system. While I’m not sure it’s an improvement, it is definitely a change. And I can say that without having even scratched the surface of what Supercoast has to offer.
  • Part of the charm of Supercoast is TwinWaves. Which lends its other half to voice 2. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the oldskool analogue voice vs kinds of digital thing.
  • I need to learn Grids. But I think given the power per TE, this was the thing I needed. Or I might get a LL8. Well, I had received two defective units before, so maybe not…let’s learn Grids instead. And it would be against the non-programmable idea, anyway. Maybe an Ornatment&Crime? I did actually get one of those….
  • UI considerations mainly focus on how (close to each other, and with which side up) modules are placed, how things are wired, and that I need to learn how Disting EX stores its configuration.
  • The MMF does not work in its intended role. Which is ok, because the LPG fills that role quite nicely. The Synthrotek DualLPG rules.
  • I didn’t use the Unity at all.
  • I ran out of sub-30cm cables.
  • Mantis. A fantastic case. The decksaver doesn’t fit it, though. I might return it. That’s a problem of sorts.
  • Adding loops is a blast.
  • Am I really happy with Kickall?
  • There’s still much to learn.

Ideas for the Journey ahead

I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t already planning ahead.

Right now, and this might be surprising, there’s 4TE to spare. Which right now I use to lead cables from bottom to top. Which I can get rid of by just flipping most modules in the lower half.

There’s also two modules I don’t need at all – MMF and Unity, and I can get rid of them for a further 4TE to spare.

I could do some audio-engineering-related things. Like highpass. And sidechain ducking.

And I might add a VCA (an A-130-2, which I can also use as an attenuator. And mute switch). And a Clep Diaz if I feel like it.

All in all, this might look like this. Or not.

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