...and now Clouds


#1

Noticed on Facebook that Clouds is being discontinued as well as the beloved Braids and Peaks! Solid reasoning behind this decision, given prior explainations for stopping production of other modules…still, I like this module very much. Very curious about 2018 releases for MI…hoping they will complement the modules they replace, as I know I am likely to need to prioritize and budget to graduate to 6U and might have a hard time parting with the modules I already know and love.


#2

I imagine as Euro gets more popular and people get bigger racks, the need to compromise some of the interface to save space becomes less of a requirement. One knob per function.


#3

this is so refreshing.

the only thing I don’t understand is why Olivier choose to communicate on FB instead on here.

FB is such a closed community, if you don’t use it.


#4

For those without Facebook, here is the original message:

The last Clouds are being sent to dealers. The module is no longer in production.

To me, Clouds has always been a struggle, the ugly outcome of an entire year of inner battles during which nothing turned the way I expected.

Dyes started in January 2014 as a kind of phase vocoder/spectral freeze effect. Something really fun to play with in Pure Data, but which proved to be disastrous when put into a Eurorack case, because of latency and slow CV sampling rate issues. Throughout the year, my investigations followed two paths: How can we make things sound smudgy, frozen and weird without resorting to FFTs? And what on earth could we run on this bit of hardware with 7 knobs, stereo I/O, 6 CVs and 2 gate/triggers? These two tasks converged towards what is Clouds’ default granular processing mode. The enthusiasm of the beta testers confirmed that I was onto something and that I should absolutely release the module, but I was already getting way too conscious of its shortcomings to believe in its success.

One example: Originally the BLEND button controlled dry/wet balance and that was it. Feedback, pan randomization, reverb… had to be obtained through external modules. Then I tried adding those settings, and there was actually a point when these four parameters were still exclusive: if you wanted to use the reverb, then the output of the module was 100% wet and you had to use a mixer to do your dry/wet balance. But almost everybody requested independent, simultaneous control on all these parameters without resorting to external modules, and not in 24-HP please, so I compromised and we ended up with the current implementation of the BLEND knob, which I am not very proud of.

The testers got served a bunch of half-baked treats during the beta testing: delay and looper like functionality, a kind of SST-282 emulation, a reverb-based freeze effect, the original spectral freeze. And no matter how wonky this stuff was, no matter how arbitrary the chosen parameters were (after all everything had to fit in this 7-knob interface)… it still had a sentimental value to me and I could not totally let go of it. It ended up as hidden modes, the ultimate sin!

By the end of 2014 I was tired of the project, wanted to be over with it, so I decided to have 250 Clouds manufactured, which I hoped would simultaneously be the first and last batch. I predicted it would have the same destiny as Edges - something that a few people would totally get and love… and that would go unnoticed by the rest.

And then, in what could be seen as a very meta plot twist, the deity decided to use Clouds to process all the beliefs and perceptions surrounding the module, got confused with this damned BLEND knob, feedback and reverb got stuck to the maximum setting, resulting in a never-decaying smudgy howl of hype. And I felt awful about it.

Omens:

  • Explaining at least once a day that Clouds won’t make clouds unless you patch attenuated random sources to its CV inputs (corollary: your Doepfer mini-case with Clouds and an Intellijel audio interface is not what I would call a good starter system).
  • Clouds as a simple “end of chain effect” (one jack in, two jacks out), with the heavy lifting often done by the internal reverb and not much else.
  • Richard Devine still running the December 2014 firmware.
  • That the jokes were always about "Rings into Clouds”, but never “Clouds into Rings”.

Let’s take a break.

Clouds has shown that live granular transformation is an important sound design tool in a modular system. There ought to be a distraction-free device to perform it. I’m currently building it.


#5

You’re right. Maybe I should reopen a blog!


#6

" got confused with this damned BLEND knob, feedback and reverb got stuck to the maximum setting"

It took me a while to realise that feedback and reverb were like a fine whisky, drink the full bottle and you will be in a world of hurt. Taste a small sip and your palette is rewarded with a thousand delights.

I love my Clouds but I curse it regularly invariable because I have tried to be clever and use it in some other mode and forgot to turn it back to being a granular processor or I have it on the wrong blend setting! I look forward to seeing what is brewing in Dr Gillet’s lab. Anticipation is high.


#7

At least a announce forum here!


#8

Yes please :slight_smile:
I also somehow miss your long blog posts at the end of the year talking about what you learned, progressed, worked on, thoughts etc. It was always a very interesting insight :slight_smile:


#9

I guess adding a “meta” category could serve the purpose.


#13

STUPID! Received all your angry messages…


#14

Yes. You have a nice website. Those things work well for writing. :slight_smile:


#15

Never rest on your laurels, I say. I love my Clouds, but I’m looking forwards to what comes next, even if it’s a utility module, because it will be a MUTABLE INSTRUMENTS utility module, one that was designed to fill a need, not just a want.


#16

Is there any Eurorack related forum/community that doesn’t have a thread like this one? :rofl: People are crying all over the place …


#17

lines maybe?


#18

I have huge respect for you Olivier. Both for making such an impact on the modular community with your expressive and extremely popular modules (all of them on the top 100 list and several on the top 10 of the most popular modules) and for having the courage to chop modules that doesn’t live up to your design philosophy anymore.

With that said, I just ordered my first Clouds. :wink: I’m sure I’ll love it.


#19

Maybe, but at the same popularity = more and more modules, which means increased competition for space. Clouds (like Peaks) covers a lot of ground for me - I’m afraid I do often use it as an end-of-chain delay and reverb device (sorry Olivier!), but also as a grain synth, chopper-upper, jitter factory, sample mangler, drone provider, pitch slipper and various other functions that defy its relatively small HP requirements (and all this without taking Parasites into account).

New cases aren’t cheap, and I’d have to be very convinced indeed to sacrifice Clouds in my current setup, because I’m not sure anything else could fill and fit in the gap. Of course, I don’t have to sacrifice it. But a slightly smaller, dedicated grain module paired with a compact effect module - I guess I could see that working for me. I’m definitely excited to see what comes next, at any rate, and kudos to Olivier for not taking the easy route.


#20

wow are these messages from mentally ill? this is just crossing a line, really. someone please explain these people’s psyche to me.

some days I think we are passed peak bro modular. some days I feel we’re just getting started. :thinking:

other days I wish men would be better at interacting on the internet.

I’m so sorry you’re getting WEIRD negative feedback. I don’t understand why anyone would post this (twice? with caps for emphasis?).


#21

Well, it’s certainly clear that grain operations are pretty important, that’s what led me to Clouds in the first place and got my eurorack habit started. And the popularity of the Morphagene supports that assessment as well, though I’ve found Clouds much easier to apply than Morphagene, due to Clouds’ ability to continuously record into a looping buffer as opposed to requiring a “record enable” that as far as I can tell, doesn’t include a “continuous” mode in the Morphagene.

I see what Clouds does is largely the asynchronous record into a buffer and playback from a buffer.mechanism. The Spectral mode is interesting, but maybe because I don’t fully understand it, or perhaps because it’s not fully developed, I’ve found it less useful. The idea of continuous FFT based manipulation of sounds seems like it might have promise if latency isn’t too huge of a problem.

It does seem like Clouds could end up being a couple of different modules. A more sophisticated record-into-buffer/playback-from-buffer module would certainly have a place-- where I suppose rather than a simple wrapping buffer for record might give way to one where how the samples are laid in the buffer can be manipulated in various ways, and not just the playback of them. And some kind of equivalent of an FFT/adjust/IFFT seems like it would have promise, but would seem a completely separate type of operation. I’m not sure modelling it after a vocoder would be quite as useful, in any event, the potential need for complex middle-stage manipulation would be difficult to provide without making too many assumptions of how it is to be used. And raises the question of how one might provide for an array of complex envelopes without an overblown interface or rack size.

Still, at least for now, Clouds has plenty of utility, to the point that I’m using two of them in my rack. But I’ll be looking forward to the next phase, as given what I’ve read here and seen in MI’s work, I suspect it’ll be of significant interest…


#22

I was wrong. I don’t like it at all. :unamused:


#23

give it some time, the best instruments are sometimes the ones you hate when you first get them, but which unfold like a beautiful flower over time. On the other hand some instruments that seem big fun at the beginning become boring over time.