Steampunk is a strange and unusual alternative universe sound generator featuring bellows-driven pipes, reeded tubes and anbaric circuits all working in harmony.
This is what synthesisers would sound like in a parallel-wormholed Dickensian London!
Across the grimy, smog-stained rooftops of the city, dodging between belching chimneypots and arcing Tesla coils, an evil genius in a clanking mechanical exoskeleton grimly pursues a dashing young woman whose only crime has been to dare to dream of becoming an aeronaut. Now, that dream will be crushed out of her in the dark, solitary confines of Newgate Gaol – unless, of course, she can reach her prototype gyrocopter in time…
Drawing its inspiration from alternative universes and alt-Victorian gothic excesses (with a bit of H G Wells thrown in for good measure), SteamPunk is a Frankenstinian mashup of barrel organ, steam machine and electrical synthesiser – the perfect instrument for serenading the night-ghouls of Paris as you drift safely above them in the gondola of your hot-air balloon. Or something like that. However you choose to use it, it sounds pretty cool.
SteamPunk is based around three sound engines: the Steam Pipes are wooden organ-style pipes with a breathy, flutey presence; the Reeded Pipes are sourced from our 37-note Suzuki Melodica, and introduce a buzzier and more harmonically dense tonality; while the Anbaric Waves access a crusty, electrically-generated set of oscillators driven through malfunctioning paper-cone speakers and prone to overload and breakup. In addition, Sub and Noise waves can be welded into the mix to broaden the sonic palette still further.
These sound engines create the core tone, but what really brings SteamPunk to life is the Mechanisms pane, where you can take control of the creaks, wheezes, buzzes and chiffs that any self-respecting alt-Victorian anbaric barrel organ produces in the course of its operation. Key-on and key-off noises are handled separately, while a dedicated block of dials controls precisely how imprecise you want your waveforms to be. Pitch and pressure are subject to random variation, and there’s plenty of deliberate instability throughout the instrument. Core waves can be detuned, set to 5ths, or doubled up for thickness; and the whole thing can be run through a nice chewy filter circuit to bring it under control.
The result is a soundset that can evoke either the nostalgic glow of the fairground calliope or the implacable threat of Dr Jekyll’s laboratory: the twist of a dial can be the difference between sweet simplicity and moody oppression. Balancing the Anbaric Waves against the two air-driven oscillators allows the organic vibe of the sound to be either subtle or full-on, while the filter and various control parameters mean that more traditional pipe-based starting points can be given a modern (or wormhole-universe) slant. And of course our Glitch Control gives you instant randomised patches to call your own!
SteamPunk is ideal for sound design, scoring or just adding instant inspiration and a leftfield patina to any genre. It pairs brilliantly with our other hybrid or scientific-style instruments (think Crank, Shortwave or Spaceman) and adds a strange and eerie quality when layered with more traditional synths. Put on your flight goggles, reset the chronometers and fire her up…