Zorx Electronics
Gorgone V2 - Arcaico

Gorgone V2 - Arcaico

by Ellison Wolf

While the original Gorgon is a Greek mythological trio of three snake-haired sisters (Medusa is the most famous, but there are also the lesser-known Stheno and Euryale) who could turn anyone to stone, Arcaico’s Gorgone V2, is an all-analog multi-effects module. This Gorgone has a VCF, distortion, delay, and stereo output with CV panning capabilities, and is internally chained in that order, though each section can be rerouted (by patching one’s output into another’s input) in any configuration, used individually, or used just a few together…and it won’t turn you into stone. That’s a plus!
The first thing that stands out from Italian manufacturer’s Arcaico Gorgone V2 module is what’s behind the faceplate: through-hole components. There’s not an SMD cap, resistor, or IC (though there is a PT2399 delay chip) in sight here, which wouldn’t be as surprising if this were a DIY module that was built and sent for review, but Gorgone V2 is strictly sold as a finished module. I’m having a hard time remembering the last time a module came across my desk for review that was only through hole and not a DIYable project.
Gorgone, while harsh, is more forgiving than Medusa, and much more flexible. In fact, this Gorgone rewards those who not only look at it, but also spend time with it, and each section on Gorgone V2 has a pretty nice amount of CV inputs for which to modulate. Starting with the VCF, it’s a 12db/Oct Steiner-Parker multi-mode type with switchable Low Pass, Band Pass, and High Pass options. It’s easy to get the filter to howl in any mode and it self-oscillates well, though there’s not a 1v/Oct input allowing for it to be used as a tunable sound source, if that matters to you. It matters not to me as there are plenty of VCOs out there and I don’t really understand the fascination with VCFs that can be VCOs other than as an exercise or learning lesson, but anyway, there are controls for Frequency, CV of the frequency, and Resonance. In LP mode you’re not going to get the whoomph of a 24 dB Moog ladder filter, but it’s got a nice smooth response in all modes, and is quite useful in sculpting sounds, though it can still get plenty aggressive with tone shaping/mangling. I was a little bummed about not being able to modulate the resonance, but still, it’s a versatile and nice sounding filter and there are some sweet spots to be had.
The distortion is based off of the old MXR M-104 (the yellow MXR pedal) with the germanium diode fuzz sound and there are controls for Input, Drive, and Output, and CV in for the Drive. There’s also a small mix control to add the desired amount of the effect, and again, it’s a nice amount of options to sculpt your tone.
The delay part of Gorgone V2 uses the aforementioned PT2399 chip, which seems to have disappeared from recent releases. Maybe it’s because it’s been out long enough to where the shine has diminished, but in Gorgone the delay circuit is a gem, and I’d forgotten how much fun the 2399 is to tweak, mangle, and add flavor (as well as, you know, delay) to a signal. If you’re familiar with this chip (who isn’t at this point), then you know what to expect. The delay times span 0.05 to 2.00 seconds and in this section there are controls for Input, Time, Repeat, Mix, and Pan, and with CV input for Time, Pan, and Wet. It’s a nice offering of control and outputs and there’s a ton you can do here.
Gorgone really gets better and better the more you engage and push each section. The distortion has a dirty, fuzzy—but not indecipherable—grittiness to it, especially if pushed by the VCF with the resonance on the verge of self-oscillation, and I was surprised at how much variety I was able to get from the Drive and Input combination. I was able to produce some marvelous tones and movement out of this combination, especially with the VCF in LPF mode and the highs being swept out quite a bit. With a subtle sine LFO from Xaoc Devices’ Batumi II patched into the CV in for the VCF, subtle shifts of timbre and distortion made a simple melody more interesting, and speeding up that same LFO into the lower range of audio rate brought in more dynamics. Then, pushing Gorgone’s filter into self-oscillation and tweaking the Resonance, Gorgone became less stable—in a good way—and made me realize that no matter how much I could or wanted to modulate Gorgone as a whole, it’s a module that can be played by hand even further. Computers…AI…CV…hands are still powerful things, they are.
Bringing the Delay (and Pan) circuits in the mix and you get into destructo territory where Gorgone can turn your sound into stone (I had to use that at least once). This might be a dorky reference, but there’s definitely a limit to what the 2399 can handle, and of course that’s a huge part of its charm. Driving it and modulating the Time, shifting the pitch, is a very disorienting affair as the 2399 plays catch-up in its delightful way.
With the VCF and Drive maxed and feeding the PT2399 delay, the poor chip just couldn’t handle it well, but still in a cool way. Again, its charm. Modulating the Time of the Delay with a slow square wave and the delay just sputtered and groaned, until I backed off a bit and let it be. The Pan was pretty fun to play with and even though Gorgone doesn’t produce a true dynamic stereo sound, and there’s no real ping-pong effect with the delay, with the two outputs and the Pan circuit, there was still a good way to get interesting movement and also destroy such movement with a high-powered signal. Patching the stereo outs into two different channels of a VCA and having random envelopes CV’ing those VCAs all while slowly modulating the pan of Gorgone was quite nice.
I tried patching Gorgone out of order with the distortion, going into the delay/pan and then into the filter, but Gorgone seemed to prefer its normalled operation for these first two features as witnessed by the distortion losing its potency when being fed into the filter. Patching first into the delay and then into the filter was a different story altogether though, and totally useful. With the delay being pushed and ditto for the drive, the top of the waveform got lopped off into square wave city and modulating the delay for pitch shifting into the filter was pretty great. Tweaking the frequency and resonance and modulating the delay time was tops, especially when the delay would sync with the original timing of the sequence and then move away from it, causing a phase effect that reminded me of how an ambulance driving past changes pitch with proximity to your ears.
Gorgone V2 is an anomaly among a lot of today’s microprocessor-controlled effects modules: no algorithms, presets, or firmware updates, just straight old school one-knob-per-function goodness. While this new version of Gorgone is missing the original’s built-in VCA (where’d it go?), with the ability to CV almost every parameter on Gorgone V2, and with each section sounding so robust, Gorgone V2 should appeal heavily to those who love analog effects and running them into each other—in any order—to attain some distorted (or not) analog sonics.
Price: €270