Usine is an overlooked gem in music making, a PC-based modular environment and live performance tool that runs as a host or VST plug-in. Pick the modules you need from a set of powerful building blocks, and build a custom musical rig, complete with multi-touch control on new Windows devices. It sounds like something you might request from a magical genie, but the thing is real, priced at EUR120 (or just EUR60 for educational users).

As with any modular environment, having ample access to powerful modules and some patches to get you started is everything. But that makes this week’s news worth noting: co-developer Olivier Sens has made some 200+ add-ons and patches free. All you have to do to grab them is register on the forum. The demo version of Usine is surprisingly capable, too, so if you’ve been waiting to test-drive and you have a Windows machine (or a dual-boot Mac), now could be a good time.

What’s included? Our friend runagate goes into details about the new patches and add-ons, as well as reviewing why Usine is worth some love and affection. And oh, yeah, a free update also promises a big boost in speed:
Usine 5.17 update available (it’s 20%% faster!?) and ALL 200 “add-ons” have been set free! [Digital Shiv @ noisepages]
(That blog is well worth adding to your RSS, by the way.)

Think touchable, monome-inspired multi-sequencers, multi-effects from dub to glitch, MIDI utilities, groove makers, synthesis, and … well, just a lot of stuff:

To whet your appetite even more, check out the Flickr goodness (photos and videos) uploaded by nay-seven, embedded at top, or at:

Usine users, we count on you — got some tips on starting with the tool? Add-ons from the list people shouldn’t miss? Shout out in comments.

And meanwhile, I’ll just keep dreaming of a multi-touch tablet worth getting; my bet remains on the HP TouchSmart TM2 revision expected any day now, though if something better came along, well, even better. Side note: if this is the first wish for a magic music tech genie, can my second be that Delphi-developed stuff would get a framework on other OSes (Linux/Mac) to make these tools easier to port?