Totally tube-ular: weird and wonderful sounds of Erica’s new Fusion modular system

The synth world may be quieter this April, but that isn’t stopping the saturated, screaming sounds of tubes. Erica Synths have both a new system and new modules, true to their post-Communist, tube-loving legacy.

I’m going to say some words, but let’s marvel for a moment at the grungy, powerful industrial instrumentalism here first:

Tubes and Latvian electronic instrument heritage were part of what got Erica Synths started some years back. The Fusion series modules put those tubes to new and innovative purposes – a sign that the age of tubes isn’t out of new ideas yet.

And the other side of Erica’s formula is this: make new modules, but also make new systems into which those modules fit. That gives a coherence to their modular offerings – each module you buy has a larger system in mind already. You can invest in the system itself as an integrated instrument, or just take advantage of the individual module designs – you still get that sense of how it might fit into a larger whole, with or without the system in your rig.

Three new Fusion modules are here, and quite frankly I’m pretty intrigued by the VCA/waveshaper/ring mod with or without the system:

Fusion VCF3 is a new resonant lowpass filter that combines vactrols and vacuum tubes. It’s got a steep slope (24 dB/octave), a uniquely rich sound, and – surprise, they also threw in motion recording so you can store modulation patterns right on the module.

Fusion Modulator is a new set of modulation tools that reveal how much time the Erica gang have been thinking about the classic EMS Synthi lately. (See also their SYNTRX, not so much an EMS clone, but a from-scratch instrument built around the Synthi workflows – new sounds, historic interface.)

Basically, you get two looping envelope generators with all the options. It’s one of the more versatile modulation sources I can think of recently.

Fusion VCA/Waveshaper/Ringmodulator is the rum chocolate sauce of the bunch. Two pentodes – that’s the electronic circuitry we’re talking – operate together variously as an amplifier, waveshaper, and ring modulator. The idea is, by applying voltage to different stages of the amplifier, you get all those different applications.

It’s tremendously powerful sonic stuff. And to me, it widens Erica’s palette from the BBD delay line stuff we’ve heard before – which is still very much evident in the sounds you get from the new Fusion System, when you want them.

Just how good does it sound? Let’s listen to Headless Horseman:

The other nice thing about the Fusion System II is that it is not terrifically expensive, if you do want the whole system. You get two VCO2s, the VCF3, the modulator, the VCA/Waveshaper/Ringmodulator, and the Delay/Flanger/Vintage ensemble in one skiff case for EUR 1950 (minus lid and VAT).

You can also buy the modules a la carte, though, if that’s more in-budget.

The Modulator and VCF3 are available now; the System II and VCA/shaper are inbound on 5 June.

Of course, money, period in this economy is in short supply for a lot of people. And for the rest of us, I do recommend yesterday’s guide to the latest stuff in VCV Rack and – absolutely grab the Erica Synths modules available free there. The Wavetable VCO is part of why I’m so very addicted to Rack in the first place; Octasource is great, too, speaking of modulation ideas. We can window shop for the days we’re buying hardware again.

https://library.vcvrack.com/?brand=Erica

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