Alma de Luz


Ladies, gentlemen and all others of non-defined and/or personalized delineations, I present to you the Alma de Luz. And if we go by the usual formula, now would be the time when I dive into an explanation on some sort of personal pun and/or story of how this thing was concocted ala a modern food blog – and I’ll probably still do that but now that we’re all conscious of trends and formulas, we can approach the next following paragraph or two with caution and/or possibly just skip ahead to the recipe.

So yeah, this is the Alma de Luz, which, among other things, is VF’s first official collaboration with an outside entity – or at least as it pertains to circuit design and the like. Our collaborator, one UK-based label called Audiobulb, who I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with since they’ve been an influence and inspiration on my work for a good 14 years or so. In fact, I may have even sent them a demo many years ago, right around the time when I left California for Costa Rica and shifted my general existence from composition and sound design to art and circuit design. Possibly a little too much personal information there, but it’s contextual, I promise. Long short, trying to shop an album when you’re completely uprooting your entire existence typically isn’t the best plan of action. So it goes. It’s still pretty good if anyone wants to take a listen. But, seeing as this is about a new circuit and not past regrets, a few months ago I found myself checking in on what Audiobulb’s been up to for the duration and was pleased to discover that on top of being a record label, they also serve as a depot for audio tools – both with regard to software – and hardware… and, to sweeten the deal, are open and receptive to collaboration. So after some hesitation over what the statute of limitations could be for cold-called demo submissions, I finally threw caution to the wind and dropped a line – and, to my surprise, they replied – and were down to collab!

This is where the fun begins. In the spirit of collaboration, we decided to put or brains together and figure out something that reflects our mutual aesthetics. On my end, I was looking to expand on the modulated delay vibe first introduced in the Menu de Secreciones as part of some sort of overarching scheme to see how far I can push analog delay circuitry before I finally break down and realize that I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of time and soldering by going digital. In the case of the Alma de Luz, that equates to double the overall delay time as compared to the Menu, so approximately 2 or so seconds before everything goes to fuzz. With regard to Audiobulb’s aesthetics, their request was to have the device be able to simulate a flickering lightbulb – so kind of an irregular, sputtering unstable glitchy modulation. Thankfully, I had just the thing for them by way of a modified bit-shifting sequencer section originally featured in at least a couple of VF builds including a couple generations of Pautrons and the near-legendary point-to-point wired 48-bit Serge format bit shifter that I cobbled together shortly after my daughter was born, when most soldering was done behind closed doors between naps. Again, personal info heavy, but sure, contextual. The main takeaway is that we had the technology and we most definitely could rebuild it, which of course we did.

So this s what’s up – btw, if you’re just skimming the text looking for the metaphorical recipe, this is a good place to pick back up. The Alma de Luz is a lo-res (because you can’t spell VauxFlores without lo-res) analog-ish delay with a maximum useable delay time of about two seconds. If you really want to, you can push things a little farther giving you a palate of strange clicks and sputters, but for the sake of our current argument, let’s just go for the two seconds thing. In its native state, the delay is unmodulated and crunchy – however, a wonderful world of glitched-out modulation is only a simple flip of a switch away. This engages the 8-bit bit-shifter section that is controlled by two inputs – clock and data. Clock provides the pulse, data provides the detail. And with each clock pulse the data is shifted from one bin to another, meaning that the final reading that we get to work with is the summed output of each of the 8 bins, providing a somewhat chaotic gradients of shifting voltages. For those who still follow, good for you. For anyone beginning to slip, I’ve included a fancy status LED to give you a reading on what’s going on – which is more or less a flickering light bulb that can be controlled to some degree via arbitrary knob movement. Topping things off, I also included a switchable “rungler” circuit inspired by sections of the late Rob Hordijk’s Benjolin device in the modulation path which provides additional wackiness by way of feeding the flicker back into itself, for lack of a better description. All said, it’s pretty cool.

Rounding out everything is the whole control voltage side of things. Like the Menu de Secreciones, you can sync the modulation to just about anything – but, unlike the Menu that only has an input, the Alma also has a CV out – meaning that if you’re so inclined, you can export said flicker to other modules for extra fancy unstable external modulation.

So to recap (this is another good pickup point for the tl/dr crowd) here’s what we’ve got:

  • Lo-res-2 second delay.
  • Overclockable for fancy chirps and whatnot.
  • Switchable modulation section that mimics flickering lightbulb.
  • Switchable rungler for extra instability.
  • Modulation depth control to track from subtle to extreme with a couple surprises along the way.
  • External modulation input.
  • Control voltage output of flicker circuit that operates independent of the input -meaning you can use this as a clocked delay and a chaotic cv generator at the same time.

Heat at 350 for 18-22 minutes, season to taste and serve hot. Serves 4, stores on the fridge for three days, though with a recipe this good, there’s seldom any leftovers. Sorry, I kid – but it is a pretty cool module with a bunch of creative a musical potential co-released with a righteous label and I’m absolutely thrilled to share it with y’all.

Oh right – the name. No strange pun or anything here this time – just a riff on the whole ghost in the machine idea exploring the conceptual unknowns of electrical phenomena and whatnot as well as a nod to the whole flickering light aesthetic that the circuit revolves around, hence the whole “soul of light” thing. There may also have been a little bit of a Stranger Things influence as well, but I’ll only mention that is passing in the event that said cultural phenomena fades into obscurity, effectively saving me a good couple of hours of editing the next time I plan a website overhaul. Learned me that lesson real good with the Game of Thrones.

Business Stuff

Price for this guy is $239, which includes shipping and handling (whatever handling actually is). Sorry for the higher-than usual price point, but trying to rock this whole indie builder thing thing in our current geopolitical climate is only getting harder. I’m dedicated to keeping this venture going, but until the dust clears and those in a position to profit over human misery have been brought to knee, such is the new normal. However, please keep in mind that each one of these is lovingly built by hand and while we’ve spared no expense on quality, we have spared expenses on marketing, packaging, merchandising and other general business necessities. In other words, don’t expect a neat box with a glossy zine promoting other products or an interactive DVD where you can compare models, etc. We went this way intentionally in order to provide you, the public, with an affordable, quality module without up-selling you on the fluff. What can I say, we’re practical weirdos who stand behind an honest product and would rather not subject you to a sales pitch. Why? Because after over two decades of being firmly entrenched in the world of diy experimental music, it’s all we know. Maybe one day this will change, but until that watershed moment, we’re still here to offer you honest gear at an honest price and write about our singular endeavors in the collective third person.

If you decide to take the plunge, we ship priority mail from Ithaca, New York, typically from the mail room of a large research institution that dominates the general economy of said town, for anyone really into specifics. In the case of international orders, we’ll do whatever we can to get it to you in a reasonable amount of time with tracking attached – but kindly remember that this decade is currently defaulting to perpetual toxic weirdness, so patience is probably a good thing to muster. Either way, I’ll do what I can to get things to you in a sane and reasonable manner.

Oh right – here’s the current link to our online store on the interweb. One day it would be wonderful to be all like “here’s our ever-expansive list of distributors,” but in the meantime, we’re just a cottage industry trying to make a ripple in the waters of big synth.


Additional Info

  • Power is provided by the usual ribbon cable (included) – red stripe down into the shrouded header. Power draw is fairly minimal – probably less than 100 ma, positive and negative.
  • As with all audio electronics that have exposed circuitry, I am in no way am responsible for electrocution, injury, loss of life, etc. due to misuse of this product, act of angry deity, etc. I trust that you’ll do the right thing in the end and not do something foolish like lick this or perform in the bathtub or something, but hey, gotta cover my backside.
  • Depth on this guy is a little extreme since I’m still SMD-adverse and am using two PCB’s on this one – so at least 32 mm in the depth dept. All said, still skiff friendly, but you may have to plan accordingly when squeezing it all in.
  • Width is 10 hp. Not too big, not too small.
  • Finally, as with all our products, this one comes with our usual blanket, all-encompassing, non-expiring, totally transferrable “if we can fix it, we will” guarantee. I build solid and stand behind my wares, but in the event that something happens, I’d like to think I have your back. Just don’t do something asinine like melt it into a block of styrofoam or douse it in lucite. That might complicate things. Just frame that one and put it on your wall. Whatever you did, the story is worth more than the object.
  • Finally finally, if any questions come up, please feel free to get in touch. We’re people persons – honest!

Also, this is a limited edition run – meaning I’m only making a finite amount of these critters. When they’re gone, that’s it.

About Audiobulb

Audiobulb Records is an exploratory music label designed to promote creativity in all its forms. Audiobulb releases artist works on CD & download formats as well as multimedia works, VST (virtual instruments), audio hardware and other creative tools.

Works supported by Audiobulb often explore the interface between the electronic and natural world. Our aim is to facilitate the development of new artists working within a realm of care, quality and craft.

For more info check them out at

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