Sometimes it’s the little things. Software Xenakios took the Mutable Instruments Plaits oscillator and created a free fork with new features and more front-panel accessibility.

If the name Xenakios is familiar, it’s because this developer has created weird, excellent sound tools like HourGlass and PaulXStretch / the PaulStretch fork. Now they’ve gotten into VCV Rack – and we get to reap the benefits.

Mutable Instruments’ Plaits is a contemporary classic of modular – a packed module that can shift into all kinds of forms. In hardware and software, it gets near-constant use for a lot of us, and the open-source VCV Rack clone – Audible Instruments Macro Oscillator 2 – is terrific. It might even make you hunt down the hardware once you get hooked.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. The big issue with Plaits is, beautiful as its minimalist design is, it can be hard to actually tell what the panel does. And there’s a significant amount you can’t control. That can lead to the phenomenon that’s the one pitfall of the Mutable creations – getting stuck on particular sounds.

New animal. Click to embiggen.

Atelier Palette is more readable, more patchable, and more controllable. It has an aesthetic all its own, and makes me glad to have both. (Think of it as having both salsa verde and sambal in your kitchen cabinet. Sometimes you want a choice.)

I’m just starting to dig into it, but straight away you get:

  • Control voltage control over lowpass gate color and decay
  • A main/aux mix output
  • Unisono/voice spread (okay, now you’ve really got me)

It’s also polyphonic. And just having those labels is already handy – especially if you hadn’t completely memorized them on Plaits/Macro Oscillator 2. It’s hard to even document what’s special about this – it’s completely reorganized in a way that’s likely to make you use it differently. If this is what we can expect from Xenakios, sign me up for this whole series.

Free, open source, GPLv3, head to the library and you can add it to VCV Rack on your macOS, Windows, or Linux machine:

While we’re on the topic of VCV, this isn’t the only good news in the module world this week. Stoev Interference is a new polyrhythm generator, for US$10. What’s beautiful about it is its simplicity and multi-functional approach – so even in a small space, it can be a clock source, clock modulator, trigger sequencer, or combination. While it’s capable of some of the same rhythmic goodness, it’s kind of the opposite of the sprawling Frozen Wasteland sequencer we visited recently, in terms of design. (Read our guide to that by the inimitable Kent Williams, who unlike me is not distracted by every new, shiny module that becomes available for download.) But polyrhythm lovers have plenty to play around with. So I don’t want to hear any of that dull 8-count cycle that never changes.

Wishing you some happy patching this weekend, as we need positive things to do now and then.