Synthmaster, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, and industry pro Chris Stack met with Arturia to chat about his journey as a musician.
His passion for the synthesizer and work with Bob Moog, and how he uses MatrixBrute in his creative setup. Hailing from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, the editor of experimentalsynth.com recalls his first steps into the world of music performance: the ubiquitous piano lesson.
Pioneering musician and synth expert Chris Stack has put together a selection of 16 MatrixBrute presets resulting from his irrepressible aspiration for sonic experimentation.
A regular at industry trade shows, it was at NAMM 2016 that Chris got his first look at Arturia’s flagship analog monosynth, MatrixBrute.
I think my first impression was “Whoa! Look at all those knobs!” followed by “Whoa, look at all those buttons!” followed by - when I finally made it through line to get to play one with headphones on :
Whoa, this thing sounds huge!
To me, synthesizers, particularly many modern analog synthesizers, cry out to be used in an ecosystem with other synths and processors. When I play I almost always have multiple layers of communication happening, usually MIDI for notes and master clocking, and CV for expression and articulation. The MatrixBrute has so many connection possibilities it really works well with other gear, in a wide variety of configurations. It’s also hugely powerful! A common setup for me looks like this:
I’ll sync the sequencers on my MatrixBrute and DSI Pro 2, send the master MIDI clock to an Eventide H9 and Line 6 Echo Pro. Occasionally I’ll set each sequencer to different lengths, creating patterns that evolve. ’ll then run them or other synths through these effects, synced to the sequencers. On top of this, I’ll run a number of CV connections between the MatrixBrute and Pro 2 and/or to other synths like a MicroBrute, Moog Voyager or Little Phatty. Playing leads on the Voyager over sequenced patterns while its filter is being modulated by clock-synced CVs and it’s being processed by a clock-synced complex delay on the H9 is a joy! It’s a deep setup, and the MatrixBrute is a big part of why it works.
Not only does it have more than one filter, but also each filter has multiple types; not just low pass. On top of that, each filter can be modulated independently via CV, so it feels like having two synths in one machine.
The depth of sound design possibilities is staggering.
A lot of what you’d think of as tricks don’t really seem like tricks on the MatrixBrute because it’s all there, staring you in the face, easy and accessible. Still, there are a couple out-of-the-ordinary things I like to do…
Processing other synths and modules through MatrixBrute
I like to control external synth modules like a Make Noise 0-Coast or Moog Slim Phatty from the MatrixBrute via MIDI, and run the module’s audio into the MatrixBrute’s audio input, to be processed by the filters and effects. This is basically like adding more oscillators to the MatrixBrute, and opens up other worlds of sound design. I’ll also do simpler things like just run an iPad playing field recordings into the audio input and mix that in with a sequence or paraphonic pad.
Creating a MatrixBrute Vocoder
I have a vintage Electro-Harmonix rack-mount vocoder, but it doesn’t have an on-board carrier oscillator. MatrixBrute to the rescue! I use an insert cable to connect the carrier in and vocoder out. Now I just need to hook up a mic, and I’ve got a badass, incredibly flexible vocoder setup.