Dillon Bastan, the man behind the Iota Granular Looper, has released a pseudo modular synthesis environment for Max For Live. Ecosystem is part instrument, part audio effect and all about patching components together to create dynamic soundscapes, noises and textures. Or it can generate less dramatic, regular synthesizer type sounds.
I’m liking the name. It conjures up images of organically interconnected systems and Ecosystem definitely has that vibe. It contains three types of modules: Sound Generators, audio effects and controllers. You have a lovely large space into which you drag any number of modules and patch them all together. Very quickly a visualised molecular structure evolves while the sounds and layers of controlled modulation emerge in interesting and hopefully pleasing ways.
To create the sound you have a number of modules to play with. Four waveforms provide the basic oscillations – Sine, Tri, Saw and Rect. Alongside you also have a noise generator and Buffer/Looper device.
To treat the audio you have a Filter, Drive distortion, Delay and Vocoder. In a more utility mould, you have an Envelope Follower, Sample and Hold, Monitor, Plus and Multiply devices.
Ways to trigger the sound generation and control the modulation are found in the controllers section. You can add a Knob, Sequencer, MIDI Note, Envelope and Automation.
What’s not immediately clear is how these modules interact, how you patch and modulate. There doesn’t seem to be an LFO, however, on closer inspection, we find that the oscillators all have LFO modes to bring them in as modulators rather than sound sources. Each module can have up to 10 patch connections and Macros can be created for visibility of parameters in Ableton Live. It’s that sort of versatility that really makes this an interesting environment for sound design, experimentation and getting to the nuts of synthesis. Could do with a bit more colour! It’s best explained in the video below.
Ecosystem is available now for Max For Live 7 running in Ableton Live 9.7 and costs only £21.99.
- Ecosystem webpage.