Patch & Tweak by Kim Bjørn and Chris Meyer


$69.00

Books are a hard sell these days unless you’re the wife of an ex-president, political hack or a lifestyle guru.

Patch & Tweak is written by a couple of geeks: a smart ‘n’ savvy publishing dude from Denmark, Kim Bjørn, and legendary figure on the American synthesizer circuit, designer-turned-pundit Chris Meyer. Bjørn and Meyer ‘s creation is a must-have compendium of All Things Modular Synthesis looking at the inventors, the gear, the users, and the techniques.

Well, must-have if you’re a synth freak in general and a new modular—Eurorack or other—in particular.

Let's get physical

The hardback Patch & Tweak weighs in at a pre-diabetes-sized half-a-‘key’ (1.1lbs) for its 368 pages of glossily illustrated 130g acid-free quality paper. This is surely the ultimate Silicon Valley coffee table book (though for Generation ‘I’ as in Ikea I’m not sure I’d trust a Kvistbro or Fjällbo, more a Havsta or Listerby).

Who's who

Inside you’ll find a Smörgåsbord of information from interviews with the good and the great such as Caterina Barbieri, Ian Boddy, Russell E. L. Butler, Richard Devine, Hataken, Bana Haffar, Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL, Andrew Huang, Lady Starlight, NODE, Robert Rich, Robin Rimbaud / Scanner and Hans Zimmer to interviews and spotlights on many of the leading designers and companies like Verbos Electronics, Frap Tools, Mutable Instruments, WMD, Make Noise Music, Intellijel, Endorphin.es, 4ms Company, Noise Engineering, Rossum Electro-Music, Erica Synths, and Music Thing Modular.

What's what

But the meat on these hefty bones is an expose and clear explanation of the audio sources (VCOs, drum synths, samples), audio modifiers (filters, waveshapers, effects and more) CV sources and modifiers (envelope generators and LFOs) and notes & triggers (clock pulses, rhythm generators and sequencers).

If you’re someone who grew up in the first heyday of synthesizers a la Oberheim OBs, Prophets, Rolands and Korgs, it’ll be mind-expanding to learn about bit crushers, down sampling, comparators (an ‘if this then that’ circuit found in VCOs and envelope generators), and ratcheting (a trick popularized by Tangerine Dream that involves multi triggering of an envelope generator during a single step in a sequence). Explanations are clear and fathomable. Thumbnail sketches of circuitry and the plethora of sharply photographed modules and screens combine to make this both a pleasurable and informative read, whether you like to dip and dive or go the full immersion from cover to cover.

Commentaries on synthesizer technology tend to fall into one of two camps: impenetrably dense and worthy, befitting of a masters degree program, or gushing and glossy; only of much interest (and debatably that) to the music fan.

Patch & Tweak ploughs its own furrow: educationally accurate and informative but also approachable and beautifully presented.

Why you need this

Euroracksters, if you think you fall into an age / category of user where the concept of a hardback book is about as relevant as a desk diary or Teasmade (ask Uncle Albert), think again. As with the new-retro synthesizer technology you’re locked into, this book is not a volume in your parents’ collection of Encyclopedia Britannica. Bjørn and Meyer’s tome looks new, reads new; it’s compelling, and will both satisfy—and stimulate—your appetite for a patch and a tweak.

Highly recommended for any one with an interest in synthesizers ancient, modern or something in between.

Price: $69.00