Well it's Moogfest 2019 people, and you know what that means?!? Yep, I'm stuck here in the UK whilst my pals gallivant around North Carolina playing with all the new goodies that Moog have announced...like this rather lovely limited edition synth thingie called Matriarch, a semi modular 4-voice paraphonic analogue synthesizer.
You could be forgiven for thinking that you've seen this rather tastefully coloured synth before and that's because it shares a similar aesthetic to the Grandmother, and that's not just where the similarities end.
The legacy lives on:
As you may or may not be aware, a few years ago Moog went deep into their back catalogue and revisited their legacy modular systems from the 50's and 60's and released a select number of these iconic systems, using the original schematics and build techniques (hand stuffed boards, using discreet components, made by hand) to produce, authentic, true to era replicas of some of history's greatest synths.
During this process of analysing their vintage circuitry, it seems Moog rediscovered some of the secret ingredients that made those legacy systems sound so damn good. A selection of those incredible sounding building blocks can be found in the Grandmother and the brand new Matriarch.
All in the family:
As Moog's Grandmother so adequately displays, by getting the constituent components implemented correctly into instrument juuuust right it can lead to highly musical, beautiful sounding results. Matriarch takes that concept and expands upon it.
The collection of "modules" in this synth is really something to behold: four Minimoog oscillators, a CP3 module mixer with the classic asymmetrical clipping behaviour, 904A filters, 911 envelopes, 902 VCAs, and a stereo analog BBD delay that's inspired by the Moogerfooger MF-104M. Plus it has a 256 step sequencer and arpeggiator derived from the Subsequent37, which can be decoupled from the internal clock to sequence external gear.
So, you're getting four oscillators, stereo filters and stereo analogue effects, plus four voice paraphonic playing capabilities and a gorgeous 49-note Fatar keybed. Banging.
As you'd probably gathered from the front panel, Matriarch (just like it's smaller sibling) is completely user patch-able, it does have a standard subtractive, normalised signal path, but the fun really comes into play when you start pulling the signal to pieces and exploring what this thing can really do.
90 (yep, count 'em) Eurorack compatible 3.5mm patch points adorn the front panel, giving you access to all of the components of the synths signal path, letting you re-wire and reconfigure the flow of voltage to suit your own personal needs and requirements. Or you can just make challenging drones, nowt wrong with that.
And what would all that patching be without modulation? Moog's got it covered there too...there's a wide rage, multi wave LFO, a simple analogue LFO and two envelope generators, that coupled with the vast array of mults, inverters, and attenuators on this beast...give you more than enough to keep even the keenest patch-nut busy.
And integrating external audio and modulation signals is as simple as patching a cable in, you can process your favourite instruments through Matriarchs filters and effects, imparting the synths lovely analogue character to your mixes or audio sources.
But, it's limited edition though?
True dat. Currently it looks like this beast is going to be restricted to 250 pcs for Moogfest goers (another reason I am sad I couldn't make it....my shrinking wallet is cheering), but if their previous Moogfest special edition releases are anything to go by, we can probably expect to see some variation of this machine one day. Here's hoping eh?
To say that Moog are on a roll is somewhat of an understatement, if you look at their last few releases you'll notice that their not just sticking to one formula, they are continually evolving and making machines that the synth market at large GAS for, I hope they keep the pace up.
If the Matriarch makes a "retail edition" appearance you can bet your sweet ass we'll be the first to let you know.