Long-time readers may recognise the Stochastic Inspiration Generator (SIG). The brainchild of Phineas de Thornley Head, the module became a reality in 2019 through a collaboration between the dBs Modular Research Group and omsonic. You can read more about the early module here.
Now in its newest iteration and produced by Phin and Stuart's company, Stochastic Instruments, SIG is making waves and turning heads wherever it goes, and was recently crowned 'Best Module of 2021' over at the Eurorack Synthesisers Facebook group (which boasts over 26K members); edging out competition from the likes of Erica Synths, Mutable Instruments, Vermona and Intellijel.
In the wake of their award, Phin and Stuart were invited onto Robin Vincent's No-NAMM live streams series for a chat about SIG's history and for an on-stream exploration of the module's capabilities. We caught up with Phin after his and Stuart's appearance to hear about how it all came about.
How did you come to be invited onto the channel?
"Robin Vincent who owns and runs Molten Modular was the first big name to show an interest in SIG. He very kindly did a Gear News feature on it in its early form, quite unbeknownst to me at the time in 2019, so that was a lovely surprise. Actually we've not approached anyone for coverage, it's just grown organically on its own merits and seems to have really landed with people.
"Robin subsequently got his hands on one of the few pre-SI units then available and absolutely loved it, often mentioning it in general Molten Modular videos, and eventually also did a story on us moving away from omsonic and forming SI.
"One of the jobs there was to ensure that the few people who had managed to get hold of the limited run of omsonic units could be upgraded to our enhanced SI version and its compatible 4-track Expander, so I contacted Robin late last year to sort that out and send him his Expander.
“He then emailed me about a month ago asking if we'd like to do one of his No-NAMM LiveStreams, and there we are! A really kind offer, and extremely exciting and humbling to have him support us so publicly. It’s been incredible to see the enthusiasm the Eurorack community have for SIG: we’re really pleased that SIG seems to have hit a sweet spot between the familiarity of a looping sequencer/groovebox, the immediacy of a performative control surface, and then something more experimental, generative and Cagean."
The year's off to a great start for SI. Any exciting plans for the near future?
"Actually, yes! Most important to say is that we are 100% not a one product company, and we have some very exciting things planned over the next 18 months. The first of these to be released will almost certainly be a radically enhanced follow-up to the other module I designed that omsonic did a tiny single run of. That was a generative melodic contour generator called Strange - partly because of its unique behaviour, and partly as a pun on and homage to Allen Strange, who literally wrote the book on electronic music, his seminal 1972 'Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques and Controls'.
"We're planning the update as something that will retain Strange’s unique behaviour but also combine two opposite ends of the Eurorack modules out there: bog-standard-but-vital utility modules, and off-the-wall generative craziness. And, it also gets to make another double pun by riffing on a bit of 80s synth-referencing kitsch revival TV: since it's the Revision model, it's called Strange-R, as in Stranger Things.
"It's still in proto at the moment, but I'd be hopeful we'd have something for students and staff to start beta testing potentially in the spring. Like me, Stuart also has an academic teaching post (in electronics rather than music) so bringing education and industry together and giving students the opportunity to be an active part of real life marketplace innovation is a vital part of SI’s company ethos—and of course dBs’ too. Watch this space!”
Watch the full live stream below:
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