Frap Tools first showed us the USTA at Superbooth but now it’s ready to go and looking pretty special and sparkly. It’s packed full of a ridiculous amount of features and I wonder how long it takes to become as proficient as the person in the video with all that button-pushing and knob-twiddling?
It’s a 4-track sequencer for voltage and gates. They call it “The Voltage Score” which, no, I’m not sure what that means. It has 16 steps or “stages”. Each one can store 4 voltages consisting of 2 CV and 2 Gates for every stage. 16 stages form a pattern and 16 patterns form a track and then 4 tracks forms a project. All too easy. Every stage has a dedicated encoder that’s ringed in LEDs to show parameter values. The play head moves around the inner circle of lights showing the current step and what’s going on. The stage length is completely variable and you can pack up to 16 gates into one step for some serious ratcheting. And you can add slides, legato, rests, skips, play with time ratios and independent tempos and modulations.
You can introduce scales, microtones and chordal changes. You can have fun with polyrhythms, polytempos and syncopations. You can mess about with the pattern structure, adding loop points or one-shots and define cross-pattern loop sections for pushing the structure all over the place. CV inputs can be routed to multiple destinations across multiple tracks, so you can shift root notes across all tracks or add variations across some and not others.
The possibilities are looking rather endless provided you can remember what does which and where everything is going. The look of it is awesome and genuinely pleases me in ways sequencers rarely do. The screen is probably a necessary evil because this is a pretty complex box and you’re going to need to dive around a bit to access everything you need to access.
At 36hp it’s a wide module but you get a lot of control and 4-channels of sequencing in that space. And for €749 it’s a serious investment but one that I imagine rewards focus, patience and learning. Very cool.
- Frap Tools USTA