Sangre de Nieve

So once upon a time this one cartoon show stated that the word for “crisis” in Chinese is the same word as “opportunity.” According to the internet, this may not actually be the case, however the same episode is also the etymological source of the word “crisistunity,” which has probably been by and large the theme of our recent collective existence. Well that and simply surviving the perpetual cyclones of news cycles, disasters, ineptitude and everything else you’ve probably picked up on during your latest doom scroll. 

I’m assuming at the mere mention of scrolling, you’ve probably just switched apps over to the toxic bird place and after a nice dip n the crystal clear waters of wtf, welcome back – we missed you. Back to that crisistunity rant. In our case, extended time in lockdown was a bit of a blessing to a slight degree. We were fortunate to keep our day jobs, work from home for a second, spend time between meetings working on house projects, and most importantly to this post, put a bunch of old projects to bed and concentrate on new designs, projects and endeavors – with this module being the first of potentially several Eurorack modules from the house of Vaux. 

So what is it? Other than some wacky graphics, some knobs and a relatively cool name, the Sangre de Nieve is a Eurorack distortion module which I believe in synth-speak is a waveshaper or VCA or something along those lines. Not being totally lock-step into the world of wires, I really couldn’t tell you. At the same time, to call it just a distortion really doesn’t do it justice either. Usually when you think of distortion, the whole premise is to make it loud and kazoo-ey – you know, like that Rebirth software from days of old that emulated those two even older techno machines, but with an emulation of a buzz box to make the squelching bass filter more… acidy. Yeah, this doesn’t do that. Not to say that it isn’t heavy. 

If you pardon my techno jargon for a second, here’s what it does do: In stage 1, it hits your average, run of the mill, kinda-sounds-tube-ampy boost stage. If we were to simply output the sound here, yeah, you’d have that hard-hitting acid squelch. I think. Maybe. To be honest, I really don’t know or care. Not my thing – because after stage 1, it hits stage 2 – which takes the resultant clipped signal and drops it either one or two octaves before it feeds it into stage 3, which is 4 linear amplifiers in series. Meaning the loud, poorly tracked, albeit significantly fattened signal gets even louder to the point that the poor components responsible for said amplification just can’t keep up… and in their efforts, magic occurs. And by magic, I mean errors, stutters, arpeggiations, squeaks, random feedback, chirps, hiccups and other seemingly broken sounding things that make the world go round. All said, it’s quite fun. 

Rounding out the controls on this unit, seeing as the working theory for modular synth folk is that these instruments may potentially be construed as some sort of analogy for the control in their personal lives that they either lack or desire are the following knobs: Gain controls the input trim – meaning that you can use this for things other than oscillators. For instance, guitars, drum machines, hacked toys and other accoutrements that would make the average synth purist cringe. As a bonus, with the trim all the way down, the module will make all sorts of sounds on its own recognizance. I wouldn’t dare say that it oscillates, but it does indeed do things. The drive knob controls the gain stage further down the chain, because why not. Likewise, the octave control shapes the blend between the first gain stage and the octave drop. The voltage knob drops the voltage to the first gain stage ever so slightly to let extra magic seep through and the switch toggles between your respective octaves. Finally, the volume control does exactly what you think it would do as in it controls the volume. Always a good thing when you’re banking on chaos being a mixable element of your nu-tek club anthem or whatever style of music you’re making on your suitcase. 

Oh – right, the controversial part: there’s absolutely no voltage control at all on this thing. This is quite intentional and by design. It’s entirely OK for things just to do things and not have to control other things. In people, we call this at one extreme, being an individual and at the other, simply not being a jerk. True, we may be in some sort of interconnected web of existence, but its also ok to just go off and do your own thing and be a part of the universal choir on your own terms without the electrical prods of several other entities. Take that as you will, spiritually, electrically, musically, etc. Besides, this thing is pretty crazy – try just setting it, forgetting it and letting it do its thing – treat it well and it may just take care of you. 

Ordering

Price for this guy is $139, not including shipping and handling – or approximately 1/10th the cost of this record I’m trying to have pressed.  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. End of commercial.

If you decide to take the plunge, we ship priority mail from Ithaca, New York. Unfortunately, we can’t offer our usual international shipping at the moment owing mostly to a global pandemic and a postal service being gutted for political gain. Hopefully at least one of these will rectify itself sooner than later, but in the meantime, it looks like we’re forced to only play in our own back yard. 

Media

A quick-ish example of the VF Sangre de Nieve module being run through its paces by way of a VF EyeTron optical synth. Kind of a strange place to start, but the whole idea of this module was to allow for a wide range of inputs, paving the way for a generally holistic approach to the whole Euro-thing without having to duplicate myself with a tabletop and pedal version of the same circuit. Or something like that. I’m sure some random podcast weirdo can explain it better than I can, but this is what we’ve got for now. Listen, enjoy, support, who knows, maybe pick up one (or both) of these things for yourself.

Another example of the Sangre de Nieve module, this time with a PauTron, which is a semi-sequences, mostly chaotic tabletop synth that I’ve occasionally made in carious incarnations over the past decade or so. Unlike the last example, which was pure chaos, this one exemplifies what happen when you start feeding this thing things that are semi-repetitive and the various iterations that the SdN can spit out from it. Case in point – most of this vid is just me sitting back and letting it do it’s thing.

Example 3 of the VF Sangre de Nieve, this time using a sequenced Doepfer Dark Energy as its input – you know, for those who live and die by the triangle-core. The sequence is provided by a Turning Machine and all the fun LFO’s are off – meaning the sequence is relatively static and all the fun little bubble and interruptions come from the Sangre. As a heads up, the video starts with the Doepfer unprocessed to give you an idea of the unprocessed sound and is then fed into the Sangre by way of a Mutable Shades.

Additional Information

  • 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, and only on the positive side or the cable. 
  • 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 is minimal – like maybe 16 mm or so. In other words, “skiff friendly.” 
  • 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!