Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Why So Late To The Parade?

(Image from synthtopia.com)

For obvious reasons, I've been a fan of Mutable Instruments' work since their beginnings. I loved the early builder-focused machines, but really got on board with the Braids, Peaks and Branches. But for some reason, I never thought I wanted a Clouds - despite the fact that everyone that I knew had one in their systems. My reasoning was that a) I didn't want to deal with more [virtual] menus in my modular, b) I could do things better with external effects, and c) I'm running out of space anyway.

I ended up with one in a trade deal, and decided to spend a little time learning it. I ran directly into a few things: I couldn't get anything interesting outside of a reverb wash, some of the seemingly useful options didn't have much sound for me, and there seemed to be a lack of immediacy to the module. I took it out of the rig, put it on the shelf and kind of forgot about it.

When I was putting together a test rig for some Cycling work, I pulled it out again and started messing. Still not much love - until I ran into the Rabid Elephant Wiki Space, which contained a collection of notes and information on uses (both novel and common) that one should consider. It was then that I realized the missing piece: modulation. I went on a tear with modulating things, and found a lot of joy in both controlled and uncontrolled modulation of all the parameters, using the ArdCore to cause very specific functional changes over time, and VCA controlling both the mix and the modulations to implement more-better behaviors.

Of course, about the time I experience this, Olivier decided to discontinue the module - and I can understand why. Technical debt is a bitch, and in his mind, there's a bunch of design and implementation decisions that he regrets. Luckily for the universe, he's open-source the work, and others will step in to provide Clouds for those that need 'em. But I have to say that, in using Clouds, I'm again reminded that great work sometimes takes time to germinate and grow; I'm glad that the Clouds is doing that for me now - it's a great addition to my module set, and something that's hard for me to imagine doing without!


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