Ouroboros Electronics has revealed Alea, an intriguingly wooden, unlabelled and banana plug socketed 2-voice analog semi-modular synthesizer.
They say it’s a standalone patchable instrument capable of generative melodies, morphing drones, psychoacoustic percussion and silky bass lines. It has all the usual things you’d expect a synthesizer to have like oscillators and LFOs but with a West Coast vibe that includes waveshaping and low pass gates assuming you can find them because the wooden front panel is entirely unlabelled.
The oscillators are sine waves with CV and FM inputs and two waveshapers where one adds harmonics and the other bends and folds the phase of the sine wave to create interesting timbres. The oscillators also have separate sine outputs that can be used for modulating each other. For added bi-direction modulation the VCA is vactrol based which can be opened via CV or Gate signals. You can use the oscillators separately or together as a primary/modulation combination. In either case they are controlled by LPGs which can be set to sustain with Gates or fired with triggers. You can also patch them open for drones. Rounding off the modulation is a pair of LFOs.
Alea has a stochastic sequencer based around a four-stage register, clocked by the LFO and uses one of the oscillators to generate the probabilistic pattern generation. It cycles through the four stages creating different outcomes on every pass.
It’s patched with banana plugs that you find in Buchla and West Coast synthesis making it quite unusual in our market dominated by the Eurorack format. But I love the way they stack. The lack of labelling adds a certain coolness to the instrument and I don’t imagine it will be a problem for very long. The sound is exploratory and experimental to subtractive ears and looks like it rewards a relaxed attitude to adventure.
Ouroboros make them in-house in New Orleans and will ship you one for $600 plus delivery and you need to give them a week to put it together.
- Ouroboros Electronics website.