Mutable Instruments has revealed the successor to the most successful Eurorack module of all time. It’s called Beads and could be the reinvention we need right now.
Mutable Instruments has taken their time with this. At one time the weight of expectations that surrounded Emilie Gillet’s development of the Clouds successor appeared to bring Mutable Instruments to a halt but this past 12 months has seen a steady flow of activity and new releases each of which increased our hope that Clouds 2 would eventually emerge. And now it has.
Beads is a texture synthesizer that follows the same granular processing concept of the original and has similar controls and patch points rearranged in a very pleasingly elegant layout. The important work has gone on behind the scenes with a completely rewritten firmware designed from the ground up to be crisper, broader with more playable control.
The audio engine has had a serious upgrade to improve the sound quality, give it a longer buffer, better interpolation and anti-aliasing algorithms. Everything about this module is rethought and refined to make it everything we hoped it will be.
So, what does it do again?
Beads is a granular processing module that creates textures and grains from audio. The main business is to do with granularising audio coming through the module and letting you play with the grains. If there’s no input you can get busy granularising the 8 internal banks of wavetables. It can capture up to 32 seconds depending on which of the 4 quality modes are selected. Hitting “Freeze” will hold the current buffer for sonic exploration.
The Granular Synthesis operates in Latched, Gated and Clocked modes. You can push the shape, move the time position, shift the pitch and fiddle with the density which can feedback and generate clouds of sonic awesomeness. All the while routing through a beautiful sounding reverb.
Randomisation is seeded throughout where each grain parameter has an “Attenurandomizer” to introduce controlled chaos. Delay is also available at all times.
Beads is the sort of module that enjoys modulation, that likes to be centre stage and the focus of your modular music-making. It’s the sort of thing you’d tinker with and lose hours in the wandering about and still never quite get to the bottom of it.
Will it have the same impact as the original Clouds? Well, there was something about the timing of Clouds arrival that made it so brilliantly unique and bonkers. There was nothing quite like in neither software or hardware. A unique impact that became so legendary that it was usually the third module every new Eurorack explorer would buy after a sound source and a filter. The Eurorack market has changed and evolved and the range of modules has diversified into all sorts of interesting places and so Beads has a lot of decent competition. While it may not have the same game-changing effect of Clouds, Beads will undoubtedly be a huge success because it refines and develops those key modular concepts of being weird, glitchy, ambient and bloopy.
Beads is available now for £259.