Learning Modular Synthesis in 9 Simple Tracks with ((konexo))


Artwork for The Shortest Days

((konexo))’s album, The Shortest Days, reaffirms my growing interest in modular synthesis. All the tracks were made using MakeNoise eurorack modules, in single takes. That’s the beauty of modular synthesis and having knowledge on what the individual modules can do. Modular synthesis allows one to create their own unique instrument.

The first track (I’m going to shorten the names for the sake of typing them out) xmas jugband is pretty good start to the album. It introduces the odd mix of freedom and order that one will find using this type of instrument. loose ends somewhat highlights the frequency range of instrument and beckoned astray provides a fun random, yet organized, arrangement.

sharp signals is definitely one of those improvisations you hear in demo synth videos. It’s blend of non-sinusoidal waveforms grabs your attention, the arrangement is recognizable but curious. Modular synthesis also allows for sonic opportunity. See how beeps can make a rhythmic progression, an organically made digital beat in beginners luck. Where guitar players use a wah pedal to alter the sound of the tone, a synth uses a filter while altering the cutoff and resonance. This can be automated on modular synths, which is most likely the case in march forth. Or it was done manually. Or I’m completely wrong.


While listening to evening snowstorms, I tried to imagine an orchestra playing it. It’s a very dynamic piece, certainly lending itself to be transposed. home alone is also very dynamic. The phrasing and space in it, like the other songs on the album, is what keeps things interesting while still sounding repetitive at times. Ending with grey sunday, ((konexo)) displays how the modular synth can create a kick sound, bass and a high pitched flute.

This shit just makes me want a modular synth even more. I’ve been looking at the Lifeforms System by Pittsburgh Modular. So thanks, now I’m closer to making that purchase.

Essential Track: sharp signals





  1. Artist here. Thanks for the thoughtful review, and glad to pique your interest in modular. Thought I’d clear up a few things you were guessing about in your post…

    Manipulation of filters to carve out different sounds is a hallmark of subtractive synthesis but isn’t really what’s going on here, as my Make Noise system doesn’t really have a filter module per se. Most of these sounds are the result of altering the waveforms themselves through FM and waveshaping, or tweaking the envelopes controlling the VCAs.

    There’s no automation going on here in the typical sense of using a DAW to control parameters over time – I used a DAW for mixing/mastering, but the performance/recording was done strictly on hardware (I used an external hardware sequencer on half of the tracks). What you’re hearing as modulation over time is typically the result of LFOs, sequenced control voltage, or, yes, real-time knob twiddling.

    I’ve not played with the Lifeforms but sounds great and seems like a cool option for a starter system. Pittsburgh’s stuff is more in the East Coast, subtractive vein, whereas the sounds on this album are more typically associated with West Coast synthesis. A gateway into these particular sounds could be had through Make Noise’s 0-Coast semi-modular. That said, the Lifeforms is certainly capable of an infinite variety of sounds as well, and I’m planning on incorporating more subtractive modules into my next rig.



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