Vlad Kreimer’s mind and circuit bending Pulsar-23 drum machine has been teasing us with its conduction infused rhythms and modulations for quite some time. I can happily announce that it’s finally been released!
We’ve followed the development since SOMA Labs showed a prototype back in July of 2018. For a while I didn’t think it would ever develop into a real product until it appeared at Superbooth last year. Since then a series of demo videos appeared before Christmas that made you think the release was imminent. But SOMA Labs have their own sense of time and there’s something apt about the Pulsar-23 arriving amongst the chaos of a world in the grip of COVID-19.
But anyway, Pulsar-23 is a semi-modular drum machine consisting of 23 modules and 4-channels of percussive sounds divided into Bass Drum, Bass/Percussion, Snare and Cymbals/Hi-Hat. Each channel has an envelope generator that can do everything from crisp pops to infinite drones. The drum machine part of the device is in the 4 independent loop recorders that record triggering events rather than audio, each with its own clock.
Other tools include a clock generator with an array of dividers, a wide range LFO with multiple waveforms, some DSP effects, a distortion, gates, VCAs and inverters. To mess things about they have the “Shaos” function which is a unique pseudo-random generator based on shift registers with 4 independent outputs. Plus a lot more including MIDI.
There are 55 knobs, 11 switches but what’s really interesting is the 100 or so inputs and outputs that can be patched, hacked, attached and abused. They are patched together unusually with wires and crocodile clips, although there’s also a row of regular patch cable sockets for minijack-to-crocodile conversion. Sound is triggered via the touch plate sensors at the bottom of each channel using the conductivity of your skin to affect the voltage. In fact you can make connections yourself simply by touching the connection points.
The sound is fierce, chaotic and uniquely SOMA and is unlike anything you’ve ever encountered before. It’s a drum machine and weird monophonic synthesizer rolled into an interactive device that will eat any of those cool and stylish groove boxes for breakfast washed down with a bottle of vodka.
Pulsar-23 is available in black, white or orange and you really have to get the orange. It costs €1500 excluding VAT and shipping and to order one you need to get on the waiting list which is already heavy with preorders. This is the most exciting machine I’ve seen in ages, can’t wait to have a go on one.