MATRIXSYNTH: Dark Easel | Buchla LEM 218e, 0-Coast & Strega

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Dark Easel | Buchla LEM 218e, 0-Coast & Strega

video upload by Cinematic Laboratory

"This is a freeform improvisation with 0-Coast and Strega in three takes. The first take is 0-Coast doing plonks and textures, the second take is Strega doing a pad and the third take is a solo over the pad. Nothing fancy, and quite linear. More like parts - or movements - instead of overdubs. I am trying to show you that a DAW can turn a small set of modules into a huge wall of sound too. Doing everything in one go is really hard and only necessary if you need to perform live. I am happy I don't have to.

The Dark Easel is the nickname for the 0-Coast, Strega and 0-Ctrl trinity. As you may have seen in previous videos, I've been on a quest to recreate something close to the Buchla Easel in Eurorack. My quest came to an end when I took a leap of faith and got the Buchla 218e, which is the 'simple' 50% of the Easel case. However, I did not expect these capacitive touch keys to be such a big component of the authentic Buchla Easel sound.

It's a very big investment for a little keyboard, but I can't emphasize how happy I am with it. I am not a good keyboard player, but sliding over the surface finally allows my fingers to keep up with my brain. But it also feels like I am playing a bit of synth history. As I describe in the video, this combo is like a classic Corvette towing a skateboard. It's not intended as a disrespect to the 0-coast, but there are a lot of skateboards at the MN office in Ashville. Besides, 0-coast definitely qualifies as a great entrypoint into modular westcoast synthesis and honestly, I learned a LOT from this little machine. Like 'everything is voltage'. This time it's not racked and used as intended. With keys.
I am sure you'll get similar results with your Keystep or a more fancy controller.

I know there are a few Spartans out there who want it raw, with nothing but the bare machine. But it has a contour and sustain tightly related with holding down a key. And then, ofcourse, there's midi. In this video, I completely overlooked using the 0-coast with the midi output from the 218, but I don't feel like going through those PGM A | B pages. I will check it out later, because I wonder what would happen if I enable the Coast's internal sequencer AND an external one (e.g. BeatStep Pro). If it's any good, I'll post it. For today, I just wanted to cruise the Ease Coast."

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