Building the Cinematic Laboratory

There are strange sounds in the air.
It’s a sound from a long lost time.
Yet strangely futuristic
It comes from a machine that demands to be touched
A machine that exists outside the world of a computer
A machine that requires a commitment that can border on obsession
A machine you can fall in love with.

I Dream of Wires – documentary

The Cinematic Laboratory is not just one modular synth. It’s a team of four separate configurations, each designed for a specific goal. As a whole, it’s designed for live performance, improvisation, sound design, tutorials and – last but definitely not least – fun.

Design Considerations
I did not want to invest in a Eurorack only to make the same music as I do on a PC. It’s quite easy for me to create a big sounding arrangement on a DAW because my VST collection is huge. I can basically pick every sound that I know of including a full Symphony Orchestra that sounds just as good as the real thing. And while it’s possible to create sounds from scratch, we (producers) basically pick a patch that sounds close enough for the idea we have, tweak it a little and use it in a song. This is – sadly – why so many productions sound more or less the same. Due to the many sub-genres in popular electronic music we’ve ended up with a formal structure of tracks too. This will make many tracks predictable from the opening pitch to the rise and onto the drop.

Design Consideration 1 : Live Performance
I can’t play my productons live because they’re too rich and complicated for that. It would be – kind of – like playing an MP3 and adding some sparse live elements to it. And besides that, computer based music has become far from special. Everybody can do it. Playing live on a modular is still rare because it’s difficult and really expensive. I knew I was taking a risk of buying a dead end street but after two months of exploration I am finally getting to a level to be proud of. In the end it’s not the gear that counts, it’s the music. So the configuration must be portable, it should be easy to fit into the trunk of a car. So I decided to use the ‘suitcase’ approach. Each suitcase measures 7U 104 HP and should be specialized for one specific task. They should be fun (and usable) on their own. Finally, it should be easy to clean up the room when guests are coming because my BatCave Studio is actually in my living room.

CASE 1 -The Any Coast Shared System
This case started off as an official Make Noise CV Shared System. I’ve learned a lot about modular with this case, especially patching everything to everything – except outputs to outputs. But the most important lesson is arguably that mixing modules from different vendors is the way to go. So I took the official case apart and mixed and matched other modules to create my Any Coast Shared System. The bottom row remains almost official, but the top row now features the Ornament & Crime, 0-Coast, Endorphin Blck_Noir and Clouds, adding much more firepower to the case. Check it out here.

The White Magic Case

The Black Magic Case

The Lucky Experiment Case
This is a messy case with all kinds of modules. I’ve discovered that experimenting works best with small configurations because otherwise you’d be ending up with too many options, choices and dead end streets.