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In the 1960s and 1970s came the ideal of a new music based in new technology. Innovators Don Buchla and Serge Tcherepnin sought to build instruments to answer this call, and they succeeded. Their analog modular synthesizers now define "West Coast" synthesis—named for the birth of the Buchla in northern California, and the Serge at CalArts.
West Coast synths encourage experimentation. Modules each serve many functions, allowing small systems vast capability. Rich timbres emerge from deep modulation: frequency modulation, ring mod, and wavefolding are common, as seen in the Music Easel and other classic instruments. Buchla gear often employs lowpass gates, circuits that affect volume and brightness of sound to produce highly organic plucks and swells. Flexible CV sources abound: slope generators, random sources, touchplates, and more. Because of its experimental nature, this approach long remained in obscurity; however, the recent popularity of modular synths means that these tools are now easier to access than ever.
The West Coast series is a family of Eurorack systems geared toward the colorful and quirky methods of West Coast synthesis. Each system can stand on its own, offering a broad range of sounds, from Subotnick’s marimba-like sweeps to the effervescent arpeggios of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani and into uncharted territory. Whether new to modular synths or expanding an extant rig, Perfect Circuit's West Coast series offers new terrain to any sonic adventurer.
The West Coast Deluxe system is a complete toolkit ideal for musicians interested in hitting the ground running with West Coast-style synthesis. Inspired by the colorful mystique and peculiar, organic tones of Buchla’s 100 and 200 series and the Serge Modular Music System, this system offers novel methods of working with any genre and any setup.
From faithful recreations of Buchla’s woolly 100 series to dynamic reimaginings of classic Serge modules, this system brings old and new technology together to synthesize an instrument capable of plucky bongos, engrossing alien soundscapes, delicate sequences, and far more—all while maintaining the quirky and mysterious ethos of its predecessors. With all the tools needed for several independent “voices,” this system is at home in any setup: a MIDI-based studio, a keyboardist’s live rig, or as a standalone live instrument.
Whether looking to start a journey into modular synthesis or to simply add some metaprogramming, slope generating, happily uncertain magic into a growing studio, this system is a 208hp bundle of pure inspiration and experimentation.
The West Coast Expanded system is ideal for musicians seeking a synth with a strong basis in West Coast methods while still offering room to add in one’s own personality. Capable of several full West Coast “voices” with ample modulation and processing, this synth is tremendously powerful even as it is—but it allows the user to choose how to make the system “complete,” and how to make it work best for their music.
This system offers the hallmarks of West Coast instruments: dual oscillators with extensive modulation, variable-width bandpass filtering, ring modulation, plucky, rubbery low pass gates, wavefolding and beyond. And as Todd Barton says, “You are only as expressive as your control voltages!” This system has extensive modulation capability, with looping function generators, slope generators, random sources, and facility for dynamic CV processing.
The West Coast Expanded system is a great place to look for musicians who want a firm footing in West Coast technique while still maintaining the option to add to their system to suit their musical needs. From animated krell to rhythmic bongos and evolving drones, the lineage is clear and the possibilities are limitless.
The West Coast Standard is a system designed for musicians looking to add a complete West Coast-style instrument to their studio or performance rig. With a small footprint and several options for integrating into any setup, this synth is a solid choice for those looking for inspiration in a left-field approach with visceral analog sound.
Inspired by the classic Buchla Music Easel and System 101, this system features critical pieces of a typical West Coast voice: dual oscillator with wavefolder, plucky lowpass gates, ring mod, and other peculiar waveshaping tricks a la Serge DUSG. The control voltage generators include fluctuating and stepped random voltages, slope generators, envelope follower, sequencer, and several tools for combining and scaling CV. Additionally, this system is MIDI-ready; it can be connected directly to computer or any MIDI controller, so it is ideal for keyboardists or DAW-based musicians looking to add new life to their rigs.
Whether inspired by Todd Barton’s colorful plonks, Suzanne Ciani’s expressive sequences, or Bob Ostertag’s animated sweeps and screeches, the West Coast Standard system is an experimenter’s dream and a performer’s delight.
The West Coast Intermediate system is a formidable setup in a small space, geared toward musicians looking to start a Eurorack system with the option to expand. Built in a 104hp case with room to grow, this synth offers a full, flexible set of West Coast tools to start the journey into the modular frontier.
A fully capable synth of its own right, the West Coast Intermediate system offers a complex dual oscillator with wavefolder, dual low pass gate, and ring modulation: a configuration that closely echoes the voice path of the Buchla Music Easel. Featuring additional sequencing, Serge-style slope generator/track and hold, and multiple random voltage sources, this setup is staggeringly powerful given its size, and is immediately capable of everything from animated krell to repetitive melodic sequences.
From there, the user can grow as they please: adding more voices, touchplates, joysticks, MIDI control—the options afforded by Eurorack are nearly endless, and can be adapted to suit any musician’s workflow. A beautiful, organic experimental playground, this system is a stellar way to enter the modular landscape.
The West Coast Core contains the basic elements of a Buchla or Serge-style workflow in a tiny footprint; it is an ideal system for musicians looking to expand a small setup or to dip their toes into an experimental modular workflow.
Despite its small size, this system is tremendously powerful. The audio signal path includes stunning oscillators, wavefolder, and a rubbery low pass gate ideal for making classic Buchla bongos and Serge screeches. Control sources include a looping function generator, dual LFO, sample & hold, and an offset generator, allowing complex and nuanced means of setting up everything from generative patches to rhythmic grooves. Of course, this system is capable of integrating with any CV-compatible gear, so adding sequencers, keyboards, and other extended means of user control is simple.
Ideal for adventurous musicians looking to add an experimental voice to their bag of tricks, the West Coast Core system offers the visceral analog tone of classic West Coast instruments in a tiny footprint.