Images courtesy of Moog Music Inc, used with permission
The iconic Moog synthesizer began its life as a monolithic modular synth used by the likes of The Beatles and Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange's soundtrack). So it’s rather fitting that the company is today releasing a new synth that hearkens back to those early days while also looking to the future of synthesis. Called the Mother-32, the synth produces some great sounds, as heard on Moog Music's SoundCloud page, which features samples programmed by The Haxan Cloak (a.k.a., Bobby Krlic). Krlic recently lent his musical talents to Björk’s latest album Vulnicura.
The Mother-32 is semi-modular in that no patching is required for the instrument to work. The modular patchbay, however, does significantly expand Mother's interconnect-ability with other Mother-32s, or modular instruments. You can buy an empty Mother case and a eurorack power module and fill it with other eurorack modules. It's as if Moog has fused its beautiful looking and sounding synth design with the Eurorack ethos of building one’s own synth sound with individual modules. While "leaked" images have been bouncing around already, today Mother-32 makes its debut, exclusively on The Creators Project:
During Mother’s prototyping phase, Moog called in three synthesists, Erika, Max Ravitz, and Bana Haffar, to produce a video that explores the synth’s sonic capabilities. We have to say, it sounds every bit as beautiful as it looks.
While Mother allows for the patching of cables with a 32-point patch bay like a true vintage modular synth, it’s by no means the only option. Moog wanted even beginners to enjoy the synth without having to wrap their heads around patching. And that starts with its onboard 10-octave analog oscillator with variable pulse width, and an analog white noise generator. The sound signal then travels through a voltage-controlled mixer (for sound creation and manipulation) and a Moog Ladder Filter with low pass and high pass filter options.
Moog Mother-32 three-tier rack version.
The real kicker here, though, might just be the Mother’s onboard 32-step sequencer for creating and storing patterns that its users dig. This sequencer can also be controlled via an external MIDI controller. In total, Mother players can store and recall 64 patterns from the synth’s memory banks. All of that for $599 is pretty incredible, not only within the context of Moog history, but in the larger realm of electronic music equipment.
Moog Mother-32 front panel.
As noted, Moog also enlisted The Haxan Cloak to program demonstrative sound samples for Mother-32. Krlic tells The Creators Project that he got involved in the project through working with longtime Trent Reznor collaborator Atticus Ross.
“I’ve used a lot of synths over the years and have a pretty extensive modular system in my studio, but when I turned on the Mother, within the first five minutes it was honestly blowing me away,” Krlic says. “It’s size completely belies its capabilities. The sonic possibilities are extensive. The semi-modular aspect really takes it to another level.”
The Moog Mother-32 in its two-tier rack.
For the sound samples, Krlic wanted to push the breadth of sounds that Mother-32 is capable of generating.
“I made some more ‘traditional’ sounds to show that it can do classic things, but I also wanted to demonstrate how, even with simple and subtle modulations, it can twist into something else completely,” he says. “I also wanted to document the sounds very quickly, and to try and capture that spark of experimentation and exuberance you feel when you have a new piece of equipment.”
“I then took a few of the samples and processed them further using external devices, just to give an idea of where they could be taken if desired,” Krlic adds.
Mother-32 angled view.
Moog engineer Amos Gaynes says that the Mother-32 grew out of several concurrent threads of interest. First of all, it was inspired by the Moog Werkstatt analog synthesizer. This was a synth that people really enjoyed, but they wanted more features and modular patching options. At the same time, Moog had reissued their classical original-format modular synths, which led to Moog getting customer requests for something in the smaller Eurorack modular format. The folks at Moog also loved the concept of synths with integrated sequencers (as seen in the Moog Sub 37). All of these threads led to the Mother-32.
“The goal was to create an accessible, easy to use, and extremely fun little instrument, which is self-contained and fully able to stand on its own,” Gaynes says. “It's also easy to integrate directly into a larger Euro-format modular system, which is a first for Moog and something that has been requested by a growing number of users over the years.”
Click here to check out Mother-32 on Moog's website.