Brooklyn-based instrument maker Landscape is on a mission to take modular synth sound creation in interesting new directions. It's bringing players closer to the action by essentially turning them into human patch cables. Instead of using a cable to patch between different modules on a rack, the AllFlesh jack is plugged in and the performer's touch bridges the gap.
With hard-wired synthesizers, the audio signal runs through oscillators, filters, envelopes, effects and so on along a path defined by the instrument's designer. A modular synth lets players design and build their own synth by racking up (usually) independent modules that are connected to each other using patch cables sporting 3.5 mm mono jacks.
Playing a modular setup is a little more involved than a non-modular – to generate even a basic sound often involves quite a bit cable spaghetti out front – but the creative flexibility offered by such systems is a big draw for performers.
To introduce a human element to patching, Landscape created the AllFlesh patch jacks. The jacks are plugged into patch points anywhere that a patch cable would normally be pushed into, with skin conductivity routing controlled voltage between patch points.
"The idea behind AllFlesh patching is to allow faster transitional access between patch points and expressive changes through finger pressure amounts as well as a new ways to move fluidly between patches with your hands during a performance," Landscape's Eric Pitra told New Atlas. "The performer has the choice to create a patch entirely of finger patching or to use a combo of traditional patch cables and AllFlesh patch points. The size of AllFlesh also means that the performer can stack them atop stackable patch cables if one wishes to have the best of both worlds and not give up that patch point to one or the other."
Like Landscape's Stereo Field device, connection between patch points on a modular synth are made by touching the 11 x 17 mm (0.4 x 0.6 in) gold plate mounted atop a patch jack. The player can simply touch and hold to make a solid connection, tap out a beat, slide across the surface or alter finger pressure to change the sound. As each player will move their hands differently, and skin conductivity differs between individuals, AllFlesh also offers the chance to create something unique and personal.
You can see some performance examples via the source link below, but these only skim the surface of what's thought possible. "One of the most exciting aspects of AllFlesh for me is that for each musician I have talked with they have introduced patch ideas I haven't yet thought about myself," said Pitra.
The AllFlesh patch jack will be sold in packs of 10 or 20 shortly for an as yet undisclosed price.