The Gristleizer: 4 modules emerge from the sound of Throbbing Gristle
Future Sounds Systems (FSS) announced a new range of Eurorack modules at ModularMeets Leeds over the weekend. Working with Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle and Roy Gwinn, the original designer of The Gristleizer guitar effects unit, they’ve adapted the circuit and the sound into four Eurorack modules.
The Grisleizer effect
Chris Carter built the original pedal back in the 1970’s based on a design by Roy Gwinn. It became part of the defining sound of experimental industrial band Throbbing Gristle. Chris says that in recent times he’s had a lot of people ask if he could build them one. Chris flatly refuses to do that sort of thing anymore although, the schematics have been freely available for many years. However, there have been various versions and rebuilds from different directions, all of which are detailed on Chris Carter’s website.
The Grisleizer Eurorack
The latest evolution is into Eurorack format working with Future Sound Systems. Rather than try to cram everything into a large module they’ve broken it down into 3 components. There’s the TG2 Generator, TG3 Filter and TG4 Modulator. A 4th module has been added, the TG5 Pre-Amplfier which is inspired by Jonny Reckless’ discrete FET-based designs.
This is designed to replicate the original functionality of the oscillator section, with some interesting additions. Roy Gwinns redesign has stabilised the oscillator and features 1V/oct tracking. It can range from LFO frequencies all the way up into the audible range making for “a killer bass oscillator as well as a fully-featured LFO”.
The oscillator is based on a shape-variable ramp generator with similar functionality to the Korg MS. The shape moves from descending saw through triangle to ascending saw. It then goes into a wave folder which outputs both fold and pulse waveforms. The ramp is finally fed into a comparator for the clock output, the pulsewidth of which is set with the shape control.
RRP £200 – more information.
It’s a JFET-controller multi-feedback band-pass filter. Originally used mostly for some wah-wah effect the module adds Resonance and Register controls to the original circuit. The Register shifts the resonant frequency of the core itself. Push the resonance and it will start to self-oscillate. At the end of the circuit there’s a bit of drive to keep things meaty.
RRP £150 – more information.
This is a JFET controlled, voltage-controlled amplifier. It was originally controlled by the oscillator to create tremolo effects. The TG4 can be controlled by anything so is really a regular VCA with some added features.
The Bias control sets the initial control point, whilst an attenuverter allows for full control over how the amplitude is modulated. And there’s a Dirt control which balances the mix between the VCA’s clean output and the output of the JFET. This can bring in some really nice audio character.
RRP £150 – more information.
TG 5 Pre-Amplifier
Chris suggested that a pre-amp is a good thing to use in front of the other Gristleizer modules, and so the TG5 came into being. Based upon Jonny Reckless’ FET-based discrete amplifier circuitry, Roy Gwinn reworked it into a rep-amp with a high-quality VCA back-end which allows any external audio source to flow into your Eurorack. There are guitar and line inputs which go through the pre-amp and into a THAT VCA. There’a “Clean” output taken directly from this point. Otherwise, the signal goes through 2 more FET amplification stages and tone section, with Bite and Boost controls to give it some wellie.
An RMS detector with sensitivity control is used as an envelope follower and gate detector. Access to the THAT VCA’s Gain control input allows the two Envelope outputs to be used as control sources for the pre-amplifier itself, turning the module into a dynamic compressor (Inverted Envelope) or expander (Normal Envelope).
RRP £250 – more information.
Chris Carter gave us a taste of the modules during his sublime performance at the ModularMeet. Although it’s really hard to tell what’s going on in terms of modules. I didn’t get a chance to talk to FSS or Chris myself unfortunately but I did grab this quick video. Release is expected in November, get all the detail and place your pre-orders here.