I met François of the Belgian Eurorack company Shakmat Modular at Superbooth 23 for a developer talk and a first look at the new modules.
In Belgium, the Eurorack community has developed strongly in recent years. In addition to a constantly growing synth community, there are more and more developers from the land of good beer and fries. It is nice that the developers cover very different topics. For example, Joranalogue shows with its modules that analog synthesis can go beyond classic designs.
Another fascinating company is Shakmat Modular, best known for its complex rhythm oriented modules. They are all about manipulating clocks, sequencing, and more. For a year now, the developers have also been going in the direction of sound. In addition to an analog oscillator, they presented two drum voices this year. At Superbooth 23 I made with François a developer talk, the head of Shakmat Modular.
Shakmat Modular Superbooth 23
At Superbooth 23, Shakmat Modular presented four new modules. First, they gave versatile drum voices to their popular rhythmic modules.
Let’s start with the punchy one. The Battering Ram is a bass drum Synthesizer voice made in collaboration with software designer Marc Nostromo. It gives you control over different parameters, including decay, tuning, depth, click amount, and drive. According to Shakmat Modular, it has been fine-tuned to be a sweet spot machine.
For additional juice, the engine features a multi-type drive section with two types of wave-shapers ranging from smooth drive/compression to hard-clipping distortion. They also added an output providing the amplitude envelope or its inverted shape.
Exciting is its possibility to store and recall potentiometer settings. So you can save your favorite bass drums/kicks or change them quickly with a push of a button. There is also a three poles low-cut switch and the option to use the module with gates instead of triggers. The module sounds very punchy and has a lot of “booms”.
The built-in distortion is high quality and sounds very “analog” although it’s fully digital. A preset morphing function would be cool as a new future feature update. A full demo is available in the linked video.
Every groovy beat needs hi-hats. Shakmat Modular will soon have them, too, in its growing portfolio. The Archer’s Rig (8HP) is a hybrid all-synthesis-based hi-hats voice module consisting of a digital sound core and an analog processor part with a VCF, VCA, and distortions.
The digital source generates different noise types, such as detuned pulses, filtered white noise, or cross-modulated VCOs. From here, it goes to an effects section packed with various algorithms, including ring mod, phasing, glitching, and digital lo-fi. The Archer’s Rig provides direct access to the analog process chain, bypassing the digital sound generation in order to feed it with any external textures, say the developers.
Like the Battering Ram, the core of the Archer’s Rig has a store/recall functionality. You can save and load up to 96 presets, which can be recalled by CV or select-bus. Then, you also get a randomization function for each parameter for subtle up to crazy influences. Full sou A full demo is available in the linked video.
From the section: “I’ve seen that before”, is the next module. Shakmat Modular already showed the prototype of the Centaur’s Gates module at the Superbooth 22 last year. The final version, then this year.
Centaur’s Gates is a multi-type gate with eight different types. It has two different types of multimode filters, including an MS-20 flavored mode. Besides, this, you get an analog LPG emulation and VCA with distortion and a feedback loop for additional characters.
The module also offers an “opto mode” that simulates the classic vactrol CV response. Clever, this analog engine can be run in series or parallel. And Centaur’s Gates is also compatible with Shakmat’s Select But.
Clock O’Pawn Mk2
Last, Shakmat also introduced a new MK2 version of its best-selling clock generator Clock O’Pawn. It offers the same features as its predecessor but also many new additions. It has a new transport section with play, stop, reset, pause, and tap tempo operations.
The clock source algorithm also got a makeover. It now hosts a groove generator consisting of a set of different clock timing patterns and accent sequences. This feature gives a wide range of results, from classic drum machine swings to modern hip-hop inspired grooves and even experimental clock manipulations. There is also a new humanize function that adds a subtle amount of randomness to the clock timing making it more organic.
Clock O’Pawn Mk2 also offers different utility functions, making the Clock O’Pawn a suitable clocking tool for almost any modular rig. Plus, you can store settings in presets in a non-volatile memory with select-bus recall functionality and MIDI support via a MIDI input.
All four Shakmat Modular Modules for Superbooth 23 will be released in 2023.
More information here: Shakmat Modular