In a further departure from the rustic handmade boxes Ellitone (formally known as Ellistronics) used to make the Ellitone E(64) is a proper product with a wide spectrum of sonic possibility and experimental interaction.
The Ellitone Multi-Synth from last year was a surprise after so many little noise boxes roughly hewn from bits of old wood. It looks like the rebranded Ellitone Synthesizers is continuing the more serious range of products with an interesting looking synthesizer and sequencer.
The idea behind the E(64) is to “break away from the struggle of composing musical sequences by hand.” To move away from the blank canvas approach to music making and embrace an engine that could generate complex patterns of notes, chords and rhythms without all that mucking about in piano rolls and sequencers. So inside we have what they are calling a “musical theory engine” which is like a Rubiks cube where different sides represent scales and chords and voices and so on and each twist and turn of the cube brings together different parameters.
This is then all fed into a 12-voice digital wavetable synthesizer. The synth has 2 oscillators (or layers) per voice that can have different waveforms taken from the included set of 128. These can morph and blend from one to another. There’s then some filtering and delay effects with downsampling and feedback loops.
It requires no musical knowledge at all – you just have to play with it. Experimentation is the key. As an example check out this video which is made purely with the E(64).
For something so playful and playable the interface seems a bit functional and uninspiring. I really like the Rubiks cube idea of twisting and turning and the box doesn’t really project that. Rather it looks like any other handheld music-making device or game controller. The lights are nice though!
The Ellitone E(64) is available now from their Etsy shop for £276.