Total Recall -

Total Recall -

by Jason Czyeryk’s Total Recall doesn’t just share the name of one of my favorite sci-fi movies of the 90s, but it also happens to be a super handy performance module that makes it easy to program—and like, totally recall—CV to send out to your patches, attenuate/attenuvert external incoming CV, control many parameters with one twist of the knob, and do a lot more with all of that.
The module has a sleek, attractive look and is laid out nicely, with a pleasing symmetry in the extremities while alternating back and forth in the middle portion between its three channels.
First, you should know that like the main character in Total Recall—who is sort living a double life [unbeknownst to him at first] in the movie—there are two modes of operation in Total Recall the module; PRESET and MACRO. Both PRESET mode and MACRO mode each have two sub-modes [1 and 2 for PRESET, 3 and 4 for MACRO].
At the very top of Total Recall each channel has their own output, labeled CV OUT 1-3. Below that there are three bi-color LEDs to show the strength and polarity [red for negative voltage, blue for positive] of the signal for each channel. Four white LEDs below those signify which preset and mode you’re in, and underneath all of the LEDs are two toggles; one to switch between bipolar and unipolar CV output, and another toggle—SMOOTH—for smooth CV transitions [via a 100ms slew] as opposed to stepped transitions. The main body of the module consists of the three channels labeled PRESET 1, 2, and 3 with their MACRO mode functions printed below. In PRESET mode each knob determines the amount of CV being put out by each channel, or acts as either an attenuator [for unipolar CV] or attenuverter [for bipolar CV output] if external CV is patched in. When in MACRO mode each knob sets the minimum and maximum ranges of the CV for each channel. At the bottom right of the module is a META/MACRO CV IN/TRIG input, which depending on the mode is either a CV in to morph between the voltages of all of the outputs [modes 1 and 3], or as a TRIGGER input to switch to the next preset state. For switching between presets and modes you press the SAMPLE/MACRO SEL. button found at the bottom left of the module. The manual says that to go from mode 1 to 2 and vice versa, you press and hold the SAMPLE/MACRO SEL. button for 1 second, but I found that I needed to hold the button for “three Mississippis” to switch between the different sub-modes [1 and 2, 3 and 4] and to hold the button for a count of “five Mississippis” to switch between PRESET and MACRO mode. The LEDs will blink to let you know you’ve made a switch; once for switching between sub-modes, and twice if you’re switching from PRESET to MACRO mode, and vice versa. Maybe I just count too fast, or maybe I just like saying “Mississippi," but it took me a minute to figure this out.
PRESET mode is pretty much what the name says; it generates CV levels set by the knobs, or attenuates/attenuverts levels if CV is patched in. You can store each of three CV output channels in eight available internal memory slots, and it’s easy to program a slot by turning the knobs where you want them and pushing the SAMPLE/MACRO SEL. button. You can quickly save all eight slots in no time, and these are also saved at power down.
PRESET mode has the ability to cycle/scan through the presets, and you can do this manually—by pressing the SAMPLE/MACRO SEL. button—or by patching CV into CV IN/TRIG. The ability to modulate the cycling through the presets is one of the highlights of Total Recall and where you can get really interesting modulation possibilities. One thing I noticed is that when you cycle through manually it only cycles from left to right, but when I patched in certain CV—a sine wave in this case—it would cycle forwards and backwards.
The difference between the two PRESET sub-modes is that mode 1 scans the presets with CV patched into the CV IN/TRIG input, and mode 2 switches from one preset to the next with a trigger patched into the CV IN/TRIG input. The two modes act/react quite differently and it takes some experimenting to figure out which mode works best for which application. Mode 1 brought out really interesting modulation to whatever I’d patched it into, and was pretty unpredictable, in a good way, and mode was pretty handy for changing things up in a more rhythmic fashion. Anything that has CV in for modulation was fair game, and Total Recall made friends with many filter cutoffs, resonance amounts, VCAs, reverbs...One thing that I found interesting was using a square wave, essentially a trigger with only two outputted voltages—in this case 0 and +5—in mode 1, which is the CV scan mode. With the square wave it mostly alternated between saved preset 1 and 4, which makes sense considering the voltages thrown out, but occasionally—and randomly—it would glitch out a bit and quickly throw in either preset 3 or 4 and change it up a bit. Both modes were a lot of fun and switching the SMOOTH on and off toggle added some good variation, giving Total Recall a feature normally only found on Sample and Hold modules, which Total Recall can be—sort of. When it’s cycling or scanning through the presets via the CV/TRIG in, it can be thought of as a looping, non-random S&H of sorts. Patching in external CV—like from three different LFO sources—into each channel and scanning/cycling through those brought everything to another dimension since you can alter the amount of incoming CV for each CV OUT. Since you’re not just scanning through static voltages anymore, and could potentially have three different waveforms moving at different frequencies going through Total Recall, things can quickly get abstract. Turning the frequencies up on the LFOs and you can get those fart noises you’ve been searching for. That last sentence was supposed to be a joke until I got some pretty cool alternating mouth-fart noises cranking the LFOs and modulating the WORNG Parallax’s FM and SKEW for the frequency. One man’s fart noises is another man’s...
One thing I found was that as I was saving my initial CV levels for each PRESET mode slot, I would just turn the knobs, hit save, and move to the next slot, doing the same until all the slots were filled and do this at random, without any thought or planning. Of course this is fine, but I wanted to be a little more deliberate and try to come up more patterned CV movement for each channel, to really plan out the modulation, so I started over with channel 1 fully CW and channel 2 fully CCW. With each successive slot I turned the channels towards the opposite side, in equal increments. Channel 3 I just kept random. For some groups of modulation this turned out to be kind of cool, especially in mode 2 when it would go from preset to preset and showcased more definable and predictable changes, like when I patched channel 1 to sweep the frequency of the Parallax while channel 2 was patched into a V/Oct input on the Expert Sleepers Lorelei. The truth is, for doing stuff like this it makes more sense to do it in MACRO mode [more on this in a second], and I found that saving the presets randomly turned out to be just as effective as trying to plan them out for a specific outcome.
Speaking of MACRO Mode, with a long “five Mississippi” press of the button, we can switch into it from PRESET mode and explore the other side of Total Recall.
MACRO mode turns Total Recall into a macro-controller and lets you control a few [in this case three, one for each channel] parameters all with a twist of a knob—PRESET 3—by setting minimum and maximum boundaries with the first two knobs for each output. As mentioned, there are two different MACRO modes—3 and 4—and mode 3 will morph between the min and max settings you’ve selected for each channel, while mode 4 will alternate between the min and max with no voltage transition between the two positions. I actually got confused by this for a while, not due to Total Recall’s, and not by the functionality, but by forgetting what CV was patched where, and how it was controlling things. I’d patched CV OUT 1 to control FM on the Parallax filter while using CV OUT 2 to control the SIZE/PITCH of the Strymon Starlab. Depending on the setting of any of the modules I might get no sound coming into or out of the Starlab, and sometimes it took a minute to figure out what was happening. Stuff like that showed me the immense sculpting power behind Total Recall as once I got everything dialed in a way that sounded good, I was off. I found I liked controlling the module in MACRO mode by hand as opposed to modulating it with CV at the CV IN/TRIG input, and if you’ve never used a MACRO controller in Eurorack, it can be unbelievably satisfying. Total Recall does a good job of administering this into your rig and I can see how two of these in a rig could be really powerful, just for use in MACRO mode.
I know that size and price often [or always!] dictates feature sets, but I would love to have a reset input or some way to change the cycling/scanning range because you’re always cycling from 1-8 and having the option to cycle presets 1-4, or 3-6 or something like that could be really cool rhythmically. Other than that wish, in Total Recall there’s a lot of control in such a small package, and this is an excellent module for performances. There are other macro controllers and CV preset managers out there, but I really like the way Total Recall works, how it interacts as well as its feature set. It’s also made me realize that while a lot of people have their different rigs for different purposes—percussion, effects, voices, etc.—I’m starting to get more excited about that bottom row of a rig, the row where you put the performance modules, the one with all of the controls, the one where you make the choices, where you control the magic.

6 HP +12v 55mA −12v 15mA
Price: $209