Its independent cells are delay lines creating a dynamic equilibrium. It represents a temporal dimension and an “infinite now.” Okay, mainly, it’s covered in a whole lot of metal patch points you use with alligator clips to f*** up patterns and time.

Let’s do the simple take first.

Inventor Vadim Minkin has developed the ORNAMENT-8, from Russian builder Soma Laboratory. It’s an analog sequencer, but with 8 independent cells. Since there isn’t a clock to regulate what’s happening, you instead patch together your patterns with cables and alligator clips. Each cell runs from a tiny 50 ms up to 50 seconds – or even 5 minutes in total. And there are knobs and switches and buttons for each cell – that’s the familiar step sequencer bit, in that you can adjust the amount of time.

There are 78 contact points – input and output – plus minijacks for connecting to your Eurorack or other analog CV equipment. The patch points do lend it a lot of flexibility (even with four pulse converters of different shapes). And if that isn’t enough, there’s also an optional add-on for connecting to Soma’s own LYRA-8 – which is a good thing, because they’re clearly the sort of eccentric target market that would buy this.

It’s weird, but it’s also very clever. And 450 EUR gets you the whole thing with all the connectors and power (before VAT and other fees).

It’s probably not the most practical purchase ever, but it is a unique take on constructing with analog voltage. Patching those points together is a bit like forming a network, a pathway through time.

Of course, Soma being Soma – “romantic engineering” – they have fascinating ways of speaking about this. So since we’re grateful they’re not a typical manufacturer, let’s just gaze at those leftfield ideas as bullet points, shall we?

ORNAMENT-8 features:

  • Organismic sequencing
  • Behavior synthesis
  • Analog computation with temporal dimensions
  • Dynamic equilibrium inside a horizontal structure
  • Resembles a neural network, without distinguishing between processor and memory
  • A playground the size of a box of chocolates
  • Study the fundamental laws of life and society
  • Transcend linear thinking
  • Elevate yourself to the realm of an inter-dimensional being
  • Produce gripping soundtracks for night-long games of fifth-dimensional chess with your Vulcan friends
  • Concoct elaborate sculptures in the form of alligator clip-and-wire webs
  • Attract suitable mates from other planets
  • See beyond the veil to the inner fabric of reality and consciousness
  • Begin to communicate with the pigeon that is nesting outside your studio, as you learn the temporalities of bird syntax
  • Build an entirely new system of ethics based on the movement of voltage through your modular

I’ll let you work out the point at which I began making those up. Wait, SOMA, you are not allowed to use any of those as review quotes unless you send me a loaner unit.

A loop looks like this – patched with wires and alligator clips.