It’s next-level chaos – literally. The radical sonic exploration of the original Softpop by Peter Edwards and Bastl has been massively expanded into a new modular analog synth and sound processor. In a chaotic universe, here’s the kind of unpredictability you want to swallow whole — rather than the other way around.
The Peter-Bastl pairing is significant partly because it has grown out of musical practice – and the playing sensibilities of both Maestro Edwards (Casper Electronics) and the crew out of Brno, Czech at Bastl Instruments. It was derived both from Dutch inventor Rob Hordijk’s legendary Benjolin and Pete’s own live and DIY adaptations of the same concepts. The “psychedelic analog noise creature” that evolved coupled trippy flashing RGB lights, cross-modulation, and wild feedback-driven oscillators, all in a little box you could carry like your school lunch.
If that was the grade school edition; this is that psychedelic analog noise creature grown up and headed to college. It’s just as trippy. It still has a Light Orb – ask if your favorite synth can say that. But now it’s smarter – more patchable, more hands-on, and with elaborate sequencing and effects powers.
So the same basic formula is there – light orb plus patching plus controls, chaotic analog oscillators with digital control and quantization, internal synthesis and processing, and a pick-up-and-go-weird case. And the concept remains directed madness – if still very much mad science territory.
It just does more of all of that. Plus, whereas the first model was “experimental” and had those awful mostly-unusable pin connections to use as patch points, SP2 is almost worth it for the full 37-jack Eurorack-compatible patch bay alone.
You can drone. You can synth. You can process. Features in brief:
- Oscillator with PWM input, pulse + triangle outs
- Automatic oscillator tuning, V/OCT semitone transpose
- Resonant filter with lowpass / bandpass / highpass modes
- Attack/decay envelope with lots of control – and a switch to ‘drone’ mode if you like (the envelope also cycles)
- Powerful sequencer (8 steps + chaining + banks) with CV, gate, and clock out
- Pattern effects – ratchet, arp, noise, etc.
- External audio input with envelope follower
- Analog sync input, tempo divide/multiply section
- MIDI input (sync + note)
- XY crossfader + 4-way mult
Oh, and extra twists abound, too, like a POP control which adds distortion/coloring.
It’s also all Eurorack-compatible (see specs on the site) – missing only the rail adaptors, which are available as open-source files.
Apart from the expanded controls and far more usable patching, the other big draw here is the new sequencer. You can start with a simple 8-step loop with pitch and gate control. Slides are there, too, for 303-style acid or whatever your portamento needs may be. You can also play and chain these into longer patterns, in real time, and you can use eight scales of user-definable quantization.
Yeah, you read that right – this simple-seeming box lets you choose what you want to use to quantize values, something far too few devices offer. You can also chain scales to make chord progressions. A “scale” can use the default semitone quantization, but you can also turn that off and tweak your own custom scales.
Those “temporary FX” are worth calling out, too – they give you some surprising per-step ratchets and whatnot, with twists (on top of various play modes that let you juggle which steps get played and in which order):
1-Tremolo – switching the VCO rhythmically to LFO range (affected by TRIG FXs)
3-Slow TRIG – combine with fast TRIG to get 3rd speed ratchet
4-Fast 4 Octave Arpeggio – combine with TRIG FXs to change speed
5-Pitch Envelopes – combined with 6 makes less depth
7-Noise VCO modulation (affected by all fx bellow) – combined with 6 makes deeper noise
8-Silencer-switches the VCO to LFO mode and mutes all envelope triggers
Still too vanilla for you, you weirdo? You can jam out on the PITCH MOD fader and transpose with PITCH, toss on all these effects on the fly. You could make smooth transitions, or go for a full “my cat is possessed by demons and now the cat is playing” vibe. Sorry, make that “aleatoric performance,” I should say.
The serious weirdness aside, it still runs on < 250 mA USB power, so you can ignore all that talk of “Eurorack” and tote this thing around on its own, just like the original.
If you’re outside the VAT-ilicious part of Europe / the rest fo the world, it’s 480 EUR. Inside our beautiful fortress, it’s 580 EUR with VAT (more or less, depending on your country).
First batch ships early February with dealer preorders; second patch expected April.
Full tutorials / demos:
Previously, in an alternate timeline known as 2017: