by Anthony Brisson and Lisa Schonberg
Critter & Guitari co-founders Owen Osborn and Chris Kucinski met in college in 2006, started making music together, and soon began building experimental instruments. In 2010, the current form of their popular Pocket Piano was released. Tom Tom was very excited to get a hold of their latest flagship synthesizer, the Organelle. The Organelle uses the basic structural layout of the Pocket Piano but, expands tremendously on the range of inputs and function – and dives into the world of open-source programming using Pure Data.
“The Organelle is an instrument that can continually evolve with technology and creativity.”
As drummers, we found the Organelle super easy to use and very compact and portable – it is amazing what they have fit into the lightweight module; it also fits into a drum setup easily. It is easy enough for a novice to have success with straight out of the box; yet it’s operating system and malleability offers enough options to keep the most experienced synth artist busy experimenting. And on top of that, it has a unique and pleasing aesthetic.
The Organelle has 24 rounded wood keys, 4 potentiometer knobs, 1 patch selector knob, 1 volume knob, 2 USB slots, an 1/8 inch headphone jack, two stereo L/R outputs, 1 stereo input, an 1/8 inch expression pedal input, an HDMI input, and a selector knob for an adapter. With all of these options, the Organelle can shape-shift into many roles: synthesizer, drum machine, sampler, sequencer, arpeggiator, effects unit – and it works as a phone charger (an accidental discovery we made during a desperate moment).
The Organelle comes out of the box with a USB of 49 stock patches. Many of these patches have the capacity for exciting rhythmic sequencing and arpeggiation. Some of our favorite stock patches are the Analog Style Sequencer, Arpeggio Sampler, and Wepa! – which lets you control the playback speed and delay parameters of a sampled voice. To manipulate the stock patches, simply put the provided USB drive in your laptop. In your file manager, substitute your own sounds – and build your own drum machines – by dropping .wav files into sample patches. The Organelle can be latched to an external MIDI signal or clock so that you can easily master live beat matching.
“It is easy enough for a novice to have success with straight out of the box, yet it’s operating system and malleability offers enough options to keep the most experienced synth artist busy experimenting. “
The provided stock patches alone can provide for endless hours of experimentation; each patch has a unique way of approaching your sound. In addition, Organelle users can access a continually growing collection of patches and variations – and add their own contributions. If you are knowledgeable with Pure Data, you can build your own patches, and even reassign variables for your potentiometer and selector knobs. Critter and Guitarri regularly release new patches that you can download from their website, and the growing community of Organelle users post their own patch creations on the expansive Organelle Patch forum on the Critter & Guitari website and on other independent forums.
The Organelle is an instrument that can continually evolve with technology and creativity. This summer C&G released an exciting Operating System update, which is installed by simply dragging and dropping the file onto your Organelle USB. The new OS increases the Organelle’s capacity to 1000 patches, offers the ability to build patches with multiple pages of parameters, and allows you to save the state of any patch, including knob positions, among other exciting additions and improvements.
“….the Organelle can shape-shift into many roles: synthesizer, drum machine, sampler, sequencer, arpeggiator, effects unit – and it works as a phone charger (an accidental discovery we made during a desperate moment).”
Critter & Guitari’s musical instruments and video synthesizers have become commonplace in the synthesizer community for good reason. We highly recommend adding The Organelle to your own setup as its’ durability, design, and open-source capability present endless possibilities for performance and recording.
You can learn more and purchase your own Organelle here