Zorx Electronics
Foundation - Noise Reap

Foundation - Noise Reap

by Ian Rapp

While there are plenty of kick drum modules based off of much revered drum machines of years past, Portland, Oregon based Noise Reap has taken on the challenge of creating a kick drum sound from the ground up, with their bass drum module, Foundation. This isn’t a 606, 707, 808, 909, 1010, etc. emulation, this is their own thing, and while it can get sounds in those realms, it has its own character and some rather unique features.
Foundation is nice looking with its simple black panel, legible text, and zig-zagged knob layout. It’s a hybrid analog/digital module as the shape of two of the three envelopes—which are analog—that help shape its sound, are digitally controlled.
Starting at the top you will find RING, to control the length of the decay of the drum; BEND, which emulates the bending of the theoretical kick drum head when struck; TUNE, that shapes the overall tuning of the drum and has a range of about 20Hz to 180Hz; at the bottom of the module [in essence, creating the foundation for the layout] is where you will find TEXTURE, an emulation of an acoustic drum’s physical shell and the mid-tones that reverberate from it; and DAMPING, which is the pillow in the kick drum so-to-speak, used to soften and shorten the sound.
As for inputs, there is CV control over RING [where positive voltage increases the amount of the ringing, and negative decreases], a CV Strike input to get the drum sound going, 1V/Oct in for TUNE, with a 10V range, and a Nudge input for modulating the tuning of the drum in a really subtle way. There are outputs for Drum, Envelope out, as well as a SINE and a white noise output that is used by the TEXTURE control.
Right away, patching into STRIKE to trigger the drum, it’s easy to starting tweaking knobs and getting familiar with the sounds Foundation has on hand. With every knob pointing straight up [with TUNE about 11:00] in the 12:00 position, you get a nice, slightly muted punchy kick. Tweaking RING CW lets the drum decay longer, to the point where it can decay into itself, depending on how long of an interval you have your trigger set for. Turning the BEND CW gets you closer to a drum machine chirp with a more treble-y blip sound. TUNE can go from a low, quick blip, to a rubber can sort of sound, and RING does what it says and has the hit ring out for the desired amount. The Texture and Damping combination really help with the overall details of the sound, where Damping is used for smoothing out the high, while Texture—as stated above—effects the middle frequencies. Even without patching anything into the CV inputs, you can get a lot of kick variations from Foundation by just tweaking the knobs, and I found the asymmetrical control layout a nice environment with which to do so. Using CV to control the RING was pretty interesting and a good way to emphasize part of a beat and add interest to something that can sometimes be pretty static, that being the decay. I liked patching an odd low divisible [/9] square wave into the NUDGE, to add some random pitch changes to the tuning of the drum throughout a beat. This gives it a slight human element, a variation on the sound so that it lives, breathes a bit in the patch. NUDGE is already really subtle, as it’s internally dialed down by design, but if ‘’EXTREME’ subtlety is your thing [is there such a thing?], the NUDGE CV in can always be put through an attenuator to dial it down so it’s even more of a nuanced thing. For me, when it comes to manipulating an already great sounding kick, I liked the subtlety that NUDGE provided.
The SINE wave output corresponds to the TUNE control and is a constant wave—there’s no envelope on this output—and with TEXTURE full CW and DAMPING fully CCW you could hear two distinct tones exiting the Drum output; a low and a high. This becomes more apparent when you patch out of the SINE output with CV going into the 1V input. The DRUM output is now tuned to the CV and SINE out becomes a melody that corresponds to the kick. It takes a minimum 2V trigger at the STRIKE input to get the drum sounding, and I noticed that when I had a melody patched into the 1V input, while the melody sounded cool directly through the SINE output to my mixer, the sound of the kick only changed drastically when there was a noticeably higher voltage going into the 1V input, indicated by a higher pitch for the melody. In conjunction with the ENV out, patched into a VCA, Foundation gives you the ability to have a kick/bassline combo that is locked in full, by patching it into the CV of a VCA with the bassline for the input. Super tight sound, really quick and easy. Since the ENV output is the shape of the kick drum being made, it’s possible to layer on top of the kick with any sound you like that completely matches the envelope of the kick, and this can really help you create a unique kick sound, further differentiating your sound from the clone drum crowd [guilty as charged...well, not anymore!]. Using the NOISE output into a VCA while feeding the VCA somewhat random and short gates from Pamela’s Workout with Foundation laying it down, gave me some cool stuttering rhythms—only three modules needed.
I like Foundation a lot. It strikes a great balance with the perfect amount of features, and the options for tweaking help really hone in on a lot of variation in tones and sound. I do wish Foundation had some sort of visual indicator—an LED or something—for when it’s being triggered, but that minuscule nitpick aside, if you’re looking for something you can really build on [no foundation pun here], Foundation is definitely worth a look. I recommend it highly—it sounds excellent and is super versatile. I really hope Noise Reap does something similar with a snare module.
10 HP +12V 20mA -12V 10mA
Price: $180