The improbably small Kastle noise making, semi-modular synthesizer has had an upgrade. Along with a new look and tougher exterior, it’s got a whole new sound engine, more synthesis modes and micro USB power.
I ran into one of the originals at a Synth Meet and it’s a terrifically fiddly but ridiculously fun box of chaos. The upgrade to the box is very welcome because it was a bit squashy, and, let’s face it, it looks more bad-ass in black. You now have two synthesis engines running at the same time, replacing the square wave output with a second output. This means there can be 6 different synthesis modes instead of 3.
The modes include the original Phase Modulation (with a lot less aliasing), but now the second output is where you’ll find Phase Distortion with the waveshaping affecting the sync of the oscillators. The next mode is the original Track and Hold Modulation while on the second output you have Formant Synthesis which is based on a really old Helmholtz tuning fork resonator machine from 1865 (yes, really). Noise Mode uses a granular playback of the Kastle’s memory buffer. “Exposing the nature and true beauty of the digital misrepresentation” is such a great line. The other output provides a Tonal Noise version of the same algorithm.
With the terribly tiny knobs and super annoying mini patch wires you’d think it would be a frustrating experience, but no, it’s too much fun for that. Capable of producing a wide range of weird blips, noises, drones and proper melody if you like that sort of thing.
Bastl didn’t quite get it together enough to make it available for Christmas. But it should ship in January for €80. There will also be a kit version coming along soon.
Bastl Kastle 1.5 webpage.