My fascination with electronic music and synthesizers goes back to a young age. I guess the weird sounds and technical aspects of the gear itself had a strong attraction! My first synthesizer was a PAIA (remember them?) that I built from a kit. It was a crude device that had a keyboard made of shirt buttons!! (anybody else out there own one of those??) I graduated eventually to a Moog Prodigy, and have also owned a couple of ARP 2600s over the years, as well as an ARP Odyssey. In the late 80's I had the chance to acquire a collection (through a rather byzantine route) of Buchla 200 series modules, which I made heavy use of over the next couple of decades, both in solo material and in my work with the bands F/i and Vocokesh.
Move forward a few years. Analog fell out of favor and musicians began using various digital devices. It was the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel, or so many thought. Things went full circle and the limitations of digital synthesizers made themselves known. I won't go into that here, but suffice it to say that often, in the digital realm (in my opinion) digital devices, in working with factory presets, impose their will on you. You work with the sounds and settings THEY supply you with(for the most part) and you put things together with pre-existing tools.
Suddenly Analog was cool again!!
Enter the Eurorack world.
I have been slowly compiling a modest Eurorack system. There are now dozens of small and large manufacturers making synth modules. Some are large companies you're heard of. Others are one person operations, selling one particular module at a time.
I'll start with a module I recently picked up. In this and future observations, I won't go into a lot of technical data. You can look that up for yourself. I'll do this from a user's point of view.
Module: INTERSTELLAR RADIO by a very small operation, Schlappi Engineering.
In setting up my system, I have opted to track down devices that are 'off the wall' to 'outside the box'. This one fits the bill.
Imagine playing with the tuner on an AM radio, the often interesting noise you get when moving between stations. That's a lot of what you get when firing up this baby. A demented Ring Modulator/noise generator. The Interstellar Radio is a dual VCO that can be cascaded into one another, making ring modulator-like sounds, but they can be very subtly manipulated by a careful and deft turning of the various knobs. It can function as a stand alone noise generator OR an external signal can be introduced through the INPUT jack and be completely destroyed. What you introduce through the input is limited only by your imagination. I've put voices and spoken word stuff through it to great effect. Used as a noise source, the Interstellar Radio adds a bit of variation from the usual white noise.
But...this is not a 'one trick pony'. Looking at the photo, you'll notice each internal oscillator has its own set of inputs/outputs. If you're in need of an extra VCO for a particular patch, the Interstellar Radio will fill the bill. Running the output from either oscillator to whatever source you choose, you have a very fat and clean sounding tone. Each oscillator has a CV input, and can be modulated or sequenced like any other VCO. This makes the Interstellar Radio a very useful and versatile unit, and a great addition to any modular system. The very demented/dirty to the very clean in one package. If you want to hear it for yourself, there are some videos posted if you do a bit of searching.
I don't know much about Schlappi Engineering, how long they've been around or what else they've produced. At this writing, there are two modules they have on the market, the Interstellar Radio, and one call The Edge Grinder. I did find an interview with the designer of this module on the internet, and he indicated his taste runs to the harsh industrial noise aspects of electronic music. I can only imagine what The Edge Grinder must be like!!
Where to start? I became involved with the cassette culture phenomena in the early '80's, around 1983 or so. It's amazing what myself and other were able to accomplish BEFORE the internet and home computers! I swapped cassettes and made contact with HUNDREDS of people. Hal McGee was one of the first people I got to know through the mail network.