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Hand-built in the Czech Republic, Bastl Instruments are something special.

And tonight in Berlin, the Bastl Instruments creators showed their new modulars in public for the first time, in advance of showing them at Musikmesse. At an informal demo event hosted by legendary synth boutique Schneidersladen, the creators gave us a window into what they’ve made.

Fans of increasingly-popular Euclidean generative rhythms will appreciate this demo on their sequencer module:

And it’s really compelling how nice a jam can be on the whole ensemble of modules:

There were also some interesting takeaways from the event:

  • The hardware is open source. Code for the digital modules is on GitHub, and schematics of the circuits will be published soon.
  • If you love the smell of solder in the morning, the modules are all through hole and kit versions are coming soon.
  • The granular Grandpa module is especially interesting: an SD card inside can load up to 35 wav files of your own choosing. And then you can route that sample to any CV out – meaning you can load simple wavetables or entire samples and use them as an analog routing source. Ah ha – yes, that makes it meaningful that this is modular.
  • The wood panels were themselves a particular challenge to get right – normally, these things are metal. They’re made of oak.
  • Even the knob caps are themselves handmade.

Can’t wait to play with some of these. And Bastl’s desktop tools remain compelling, as well. Check them all out:

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/

Also, marvel at Andreas Schneiders’ wild Hall of Mirrors:

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Watch for a full video of this workshop soon.

  • Virtual Flannel

    Did they have any different systems to show off or just the one we’ve seen so far. Really interested in a smaller pre-built system.

    • Well, this isn’t a system – it’s literally just a rack with one of each module they make. 🙂 It wouldn’t be hard to assemble the modules you want in a rack. But they are promising systems later. (but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?)

      • mg

        but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?

        There is a good argument to be made that, no, the point of a modular is an integrally thought out, consistent, well tested system whose modules can be swapped according to the user’s needs.

        A Buchla 200 “sounds like a Buchla” for a reason: it has been conceived by a single person who took responsibility for its sound aesthetic, and built and tested and refined by a small team around that vision. The same reason why an Analogue Systems RS Integrator with whatever choice of modules, or a Make Noise Shared System, or a Doepfer-only rack sounds the way it does: someone conceived it, and took responsibility for it. And there is a reason why the all too common mishmash of “cool” modules with different panel colors made by fifteen different manufacturers stuffed into a rack with little or no thought given to the overall aesthetics of how they work together sounds.. random, characterless. Because nobody, including the user drowning in the sea of module fads, listened to and tested thoroughly, for a long enough time and with careful enough ears, the way they interact. And very importantly, no single person knows the specifics of the underlying electronics of the whole system to any depth. Hence, the result is “cool noises that you’ll get bored of after a few days and won’t be able to make into actual music”. And the cycle is completed when the user buys another module to bring in more novelty and quell the boredom.

  • Virtual Flannel

    Did they have any different systems to show off or just the one we’ve seen so far. Really interested in a smaller pre-built system.

    • Well, this isn’t a system – it’s literally just a rack with one of each module they make. 🙂 It wouldn’t be hard to assemble the modules you want in a rack. But they are promising systems later. (but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?)

      • mg

        but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?

        There is a good argument to be made that, no, the point of a modular is an integrally thought out, consistent, well tested system whose modules can be swapped according to the user’s needs.

        A Buchla 200 “sounds like a Buchla” for a reason: it has been conceived by a single person who took responsibility for its sound aesthetic, and built and tested and refined by a small team around that vision. The same reason why an Analogue Systems RS Integrator with whatever choice of modules, or a Make Noise Shared System, or a Doepfer-only rack sounds the way it does: someone conceived it, and took responsibility for it. And there is a reason why the all too common mishmash of “cool” modules with different panel colors made by fifteen different manufacturers stuffed into a rack with little or no thought given to the overall aesthetics of how they work together sounds.. random, characterless. Because nobody, including the user drowning in the sea of module fads, listened to and tested thoroughly, for a long enough time and with careful enough ears, the way they interact. And very importantly, no single person knows the specifics of the underlying electronics of the whole system to any depth. Hence, the result is “cool noises that you’ll get bored of after a few days and won’t be able to make into actual music”. And the cycle is completed when the user buys another module to bring in more novelty and quell the boredom.

  • Virtual Flannel

    Did they have any different systems to show off or just the one we’ve seen so far. Really interested in a smaller pre-built system.

    • Well, this isn’t a system – it’s literally just a rack with one of each module they make. 🙂 It wouldn’t be hard to assemble the modules you want in a rack. But they are promising systems later. (but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?)

      • mg

        but… isn’t the point of modular buying modules?

        There is a good argument to be made that, no, the point of a modular is an integrally thought out, consistent, well tested system whose modules can be swapped according to the user’s needs.

        A Buchla 200 “sounds like a Buchla” for a reason: it has been conceived by a single person who took responsibility for its sound aesthetic, and built and tested and refined by a small team around that vision. The same reason why an Analogue Systems RS Integrator with whatever choice of modules, or a Make Noise Shared System, or a Doepfer-only rack sounds the way it does: someone conceived it, and took responsibility for it. And there is a reason why the all too common mishmash of “cool” modules with different panel colors made by fifteen different manufacturers stuffed into a rack with little or no thought given to the overall aesthetics of how they work together sounds.. random, characterless. Because nobody, including the user drowning in the sea of module fads, listened to and tested thoroughly, for a long enough time and with careful enough ears, the way they interact. And very importantly, no single person knows the specifics of the underlying electronics of the whole system to any depth. Hence, the result is “cool noises that you’ll get bored of after a few days and won’t be able to make into actual music”. And the cycle is completed when the user buys another module to bring in more novelty and quell the boredom.

  • Virtual Flannel

    Despite popular belief I think the point of a modular is making music!! I don’t want to get caught up in the module gas game. There are just too many cool euro rack modules out there! I don’t have the time or money for the obsession. What appeals to me about modular is patching and the idea of custom sounds and an intimate personal relationship with an instrument. You can see where a small Bastl modular would tick all the boxes for me! Thanks Peter for the great coverage and convo!

  • Virtual Flannel

    Despite popular belief I think the point of a modular is making music!! I don’t want to get caught up in the module gas game. There are just too many cool euro rack modules out there! I don’t have the time or money for the obsession. What appeals to me about modular is patching and the idea of custom sounds and an intimate personal relationship with an instrument. You can see where a small Bastl modular would tick all the boxes for me! Thanks Peter for the great coverage and convo!

  • Virtual Flannel

    Despite popular belief I think the point of a modular is making music!! I don’t want to get caught up in the module gas game. There are just too many cool euro rack modules out there! I don’t have the time or money for the obsession. What appeals to me about modular is patching and the idea of custom sounds and an intimate personal relationship with an instrument. You can see where a small Bastl modular would tick all the boxes for me! Thanks Peter for the great coverage and convo!

  • Axel Rigaud

    Amazing. This looks like the future of live electronic music. I love how compact it is, yet you can use it stand alone to compose or perform. Like an elektron machine with less capabilities but also less menu diving.

  • Axel Rigaud

    Amazing. This looks like the future of live electronic music. I love how compact it is, yet you can use it stand alone to compose or perform. Like an elektron machine with less capabilities but also less menu diving.