Madrona Labs Aalto is one of the few software synths that feels anything like hardware in use – even when only using a mouse.
Its semi-modular, Buchla-esque approach makes it both inspiring and difficult to tame. It can take a lot of time and patience to programme usable, predictable sounds. Or you can just go with the flow and let Aalto loose upon your composition, where one complex patch can be nearly all you need.
Electro Modular seeks to tread a fine line between order and chaos, and mostly succeeds. There are 128 sounds divided into; arps, keys, leads, percussion, sequences, special effects and TEX. Arps, keys and leads are pretty self explanatory, the arps making nice use of Aalto’s powerful sequencer to deliver some solid sounds. Keys and leads are also very useable starting points, nicely programmed and nearly all in the ‘classic analogue’ style.
Aalto’s virtual analogue engine excels in this area and these sounds use it, and the excellent spring reverb, well.
The remaining sounds are where Electro Modular gets interesting. There are a lot of sequences here plus more in the percussion and TEX (techno experimental?) sections. Aalto’s sequencer is a beast and Adrian Jimenez tames it well. There are a lot of great sounds here, glitchy and ominous with a sense of humour and, when required, a lighter touch. They all play nicely over a good range and respond well to velocity and the mod wheel – if you use a keyboard.
Adrian Jimenez has a good understanding of Aalto and also how to create a varied sound set. This set would suit both those new to Aalto, showing its vast range of programming possibilities and those more experienced users some fresh approaches. Recommended.
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