Whether it’s a pounding synthesised kick or randomly generated glitch patterns, sometimes percussion that’s a little unusual and experimental can really make a track. The bread and butter sounds of classic drum machines are great and all, but with some of the powerful machines on the market in 2018, there’s no reason to be limited to them. Many offer interesting or straight up bizarre features and characteristics that set them apart, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the percussion machines available that have got that extra something.
Arturia DrumBrute Impact
Arturia’s uber-fresh Drumbrute Impact has just dropped and we’re particularly excited about it. It shares a lot of similarities with its older brother the DrumBrute, particularly on the programing and sequencing side of things, but sonically the Impact has upped its game. Arturia say they’ve redesigned the sounds from the ground up, and it shows – the smooth and punchy low end of the kick drum and the cleaner decay of the snare drum are super-dooper nice. Add to that the Colour sound-shaping feature, polyrhythm, the beat-roller function and that absolutely immense distortion circuit (holy moly) and you have a simple to use machine that’s ideal for exanding your percussive sound pallette. Recommended.
Moog DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother)
Moog released its semi-modular analogue percussion synth earlier this year, much to the excitement of die-hard Moog fans world-wide. At it’s core the DFAM is a 2 oscillator synth with an 8-step sequencer attached. That might not sound too crazy but the layout and feature set discourages tuned or standard drum sounds and puts the focus on strange blips and bloops, meaning things can definitely get strange. For example, have you ever heard of a drum machine with a sequencer that can be run so fast it goes into audio rate? Essentially making it a wave-shaping drone machine? Sounds like a good time.
It’s hard to deny that Elektron are the kings of high-end ultra-complex boxes of fun. The Digitakt’s sound engine is a reasonably straight forward sampler, each track features filters, FX and extensive modulation routings to mangle your sample as you would probably expect, but it’s the combination of this sound engine with Elektron’s signature sequencer that really expands the possibilities for experimentation. You can utilise the ‘trig lock’ functionality to modify any parameter of your sound or fx on a per-step basis. You can even have your track switch samples on a per-step basis. Add in ‘conditional trigs’ that enable you to program steps in and only have them sound (for example) 43% of the time and you can end up with an organically evolving sequence that never plays the same. Enormous potential.
Korg Volca Kick
As the name suggests the Volca Kick is dedicated to making Kick drum sounds. No surprises there. You could be forgiven for thinking it makes ‘thunk’ noises and that’s it. Look closer. The sound source is actually the legendary Rev1 MS20 analogue filter with the resonance cranked – not a traditional oscillator. The drive and tone comes from an additional Rev2 MS20 2-pole filter. The 16-step sequencer features Accent, Slide, and Reverse parameters. Combine that with parameter motion recording, and its unique momentary effects and you have a compact unit that is more than capable of making interesting and completely whack kick and bass sequences. Plus, it’s incredibly affordable.
Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO24 Office
Because why wouldn’t you want to buy a drum machine look like a ‘80s style pocket calculator, powered by AAA batteries. This is about as cool and kooky as they come in the wide world of drum and noise generators and the sounds are equally as retro. The PO24 features 16 sounds, and real synthesiser engines, but what’s best is that all the models of the operator family can connect together so you can create your own pocket band. Cute.