Bits and Bugs

While current virtuality-mania has undeniably expanded the possibilities of music production, it has also led to the relentless struggle for sonic perfection and a plethora of features that most musicians will never understand, let alone need.

At the end of the day, the techno-centric motorway might finally turn out to be a cul-de-sac. While many an instrument has meanwhile been reduced to a humble binary existence on a computer hard disc or a CD-ROM and while the functionality of a whole recording studio can easily be squeezed into a laptop computer, it becomes more and more evident that this process is primarily centered on the possibilities of current technology and often neglects the needs of potential users.

Now, history shows us that in most cases it's the warped creativity found in small enterprises with limited resources that defies the beaten tracks and comes up with truly original concepts (which, to complete the circle, are often snapped up by bigger companies and finally become industry standards). Why is that? Well, I guess if you're in a tiny market niche already, the obvious choice will be to focus on the unusual rather than compete with the big girls and boys that rule the mainstream markets.

One such small yet dedicated company is Eowave from Ivry-sur-Seine, an industrial suburb south-east of Paris. At the very core, Eowave comprises the talents of Marc Sirguy and Emmanuelle Gallin, both responsible for the design and construction of their products as well as business affairs. While the team at Eowave are in no way averse to clever software solutions, their hearts definitely beat for analogue musical equipment. Witness the colourful Bug series of effects units: all analogue, simple control layout, solid knobs and switches, designed to be set up and used straight away. While the Bugs provide the haptic impression of your average floor pedal box from the 1970ies, Eowave have built their favour for otherworldly sounds into the Bug units. The series comprise a ring modulator, a stereo delay, a filter unit and even an 8-step sequencer with a filter section. It seems Eowave's main idea behind the Bugs is to lend a dose of raunchiness to digital productions, but of course they seem equally suited to analogue environments that benefit from some serious sound alteration.

So much for the Bug family. Then there's Eobody, a transmitter box that links the analogue to the digital world (in this case the world of MIDI). Eobody has evolved as a joint effort between Eowave and the renowned IRCAM Institute for Music Research in Paris. Now, Eobody is sort of a modular system, as the base unit can be fitted with a wealth of sensors that capture all sorts of analogue signals and events and translate them into MIDI data. In a way, it's a real-time interface between human beings and machines.

Clearly, Eobody is a highly fascinating tool for experimental and performance artists, as the possibilities are seemingly endless. Fancy this: you could, for example, use a pressure sensor inside a stage object to control a virtual sound source, probably a Max/MSP project or indeed any hardware- or software-instrument that understands MIDI. You could also turn a sound source on and off or alter its tonal characteristics by the movement of your body. Strange and simply beautiful! Back to the basics: the Eobody base unit features up to 16 inputs for individual sensors and can be programmed via system exclusive MIDI data or a special editor that comes free of charge. The editor can also assign a choice of parameters to the switches and knobs on top of the Eobody base unit, a small box that's also well-built to easily withstand the tear and wear stage equipment usually has to endure.

> Back to the future

A bug in the hardware setup isn't always a bad thing


= Bits and Bugs
> Back to the future