Rainbow Circuit’s Crush is a free instrument for Max for Live, combining FM and physical modeling into a unique, deliciously unruly percussion device. It’s such a joyous treat that the Hallmark Christmas movie practically writes itself.

New Hallmark movie idea: The Christmas Crush. A mad scientist moves to town, disguised as a mild-mannered Ableton Live Certified Trainer. Over hot cocoa, there’s a meet-cute – she craves weird glitchy percussion sounds, somewhere between chiptune and physical modeling…

I just want an FM ratio I can adjust for unexpected inharmonic results! (She’s me!)

… wait, a conflict! She’s supposed to go back to her parents’ place in Florida, and they only want to hear tech-house and tribal beats, not her crazy IDM and deconstructed club music. And she’s got no money to spend on another Max for Live download after investing in a Live 11 Suite upgrade (with the free upgrade to Live 12 next year, natch). But wait – a freak blizzard hits Champaign-Urbana! She can’t make it to Ft. Lauderdale! He reveals his true identity as a Weird Sound Design Prince – and at once, they exchange evil mad science laughs! “SCIENCE!” It’s a very glitchy Christmas, as we accept the immaculate conception of physical modeling (with Alexander StrongKevin Karplus, and John Chowning as three wise men bearing VLSI chips to, erm, Berkeley I guess!) “Hark the herald angels resonate unpredictably as you change the FM ratio!”

Okay, I’m back.

Crush is the newest instrument from Rainbow Circuit (Takuma Matsui), developer of the beautiful and inventive Max for Live creations Whistle (granular/phyiscal modeling instrument) and multi-delay Petal (see review).

It’s a percussion synth, and at first glance, you might think of creations from Elektron and whatnot, but this is not your typical FM drum voice. It glitches into extreme territory that makes it sound like a classic FM chip at one moment, then extreme resonance the next.

  • Two FM operators
  • Ratio control, “untunable by design” – so expect “inharmonic surprises at every turn”
  • Physical modeling plate resonator (2D waveguide mesh)
  • Material parameter for stiffness (which also can make this noisier for different percussion sounds)
  • Decay control

It’s a wonderful, approachable FM voice with a wide range. You can go really glitchy by dialing in these controls as you play, or dial in some sounds you like and drop those in a Drum rack.

Here it is dry, for a sense of its timbral range and the impact of parameters:

And yes, this does match perfectly with Petal – listen to that full range of sounds! I’ll be playing a lot with this one for design; it’s an inspiring idea:

Just one criticism – I really wish all those parameters were mapped for modulation and Push control, and hope we can get an update. (We did get the two things I wished for on Petal – mid/side mode and parameters mapped for Push and control!)

But what a lovely gift. Enjoy!