Back in 2013 a bunch of likeminded Ammanford synth heads that’d been brought up on electronic music decided to start the Welsh Modular Alliance (WMA). They were definitely the type of people that in the past would have been scouring second hand shops and eBay for both vinyl and vintage synths. Though they might have scored some rare Transmat or Drexciya record, none of their endeavours were ever likely to lead to the ownership of a modular synth. The vintage synthesiser secret was out in the early 90’s with respected artists namechecking the classics, and soon synths like the Korg MS20 and Roland SH-101 became expensive acquisitions. Time showed that the love of analogue wasn’t a fad. The big name synth companies seemed to dig their heels in and continued to produce cold synths, and in the meantime Doepfer were out there chipping away at the consciousness of artists disillusioned with pre-set digital sounds. Many would find out that they were only a few YouTube clips away from crystallising the idea that they could build their own modular synth.
Several WMA members pulled the trigger and purchased their first Eurorack cases and modules. To the consternation of their neighbours they held regular meetings and jams at their homes. The first half of our jams would follow an agreed structure such as tuning simple tones with anything up to twenty VCO’s, them gently modulating the sounds to produce waves and random rhythms. Often the evenings descend into a melee of machine noise and sonic detonations that would have seasoned veterans of experimental techno and electro running for cover. Confusion often descends and great moments can be found at these gigs when an abstract sound will occasionally come out of the noise wormhole, and the members look at each other not quite knowing who is responsible for the ruckus. Creativity, inventiveness and experimentation are at the core of the WMA, and their mixture of ambient tones, harmonic voltages and machine funk continues to evolve. The world of modular synthesisers continues to be exciting with tradition modules and imaginative new products working in together.
For the group having Cymru Beats a dedicated and welcoming Eurorack synth shop in Wales is like having an appreciated crack dealer in the capital. If there was a common law against the regional misuse of machines and sound, some of the machines would be retraced back to Soundworks Studios in Cardiff Bay. The WMA Facebook group is now 222 members strong and growing, so whether you’re an enthusiastic module builder, a noise freak, designer of complex sounds or a lover of melody, please feel free to join. And don’t worry if you’re not Welsh they’re an inclusive bunch! In the meantime take a listen to the fruits of this passion in this music compilation and pass the word.
Thank you very much / Diloch yn fawr iawn.
Cat No. WMA Comp1
released September 21, 2016
Curated by the Welsh Modular Alliance
Photos by Mark Thomas
Design by Mattia Travaglini Artworks
Text by Christian Griffiths
all rights reserved