Although the Frostwave Fat Controller is one of the simplest among a small scene of traditionally-styled analog sequencers, it offers essential analog sequencing functionality along with some modern extras at a reasonable price. The Fat Controller consists of two rows of eight faders that can be configured as one channel of up to sixteen steps, or two channels of up to eight steps of quantized or unquantized voltages and MIDI data. Eight small multifunctional step buttons under the second row of faders provide standard analog sequencer functionality, including per-step rest and octave functions, and a hold function for longer note values. The Fat Controller also implements a TB-303-like per-step slide function, but missing are the per-step gate-time and accent controls that are common among more TB- 303-styled sequencers. However, the gate time can be controlled globally, and the CV from one 8-step sequence could modulate a VCA to provide the other sequence with fine dynamic control that exceeds simple accents.

The Fat Controller also offers some contemporary functionality that adds to its usefulness. A modest MIDI spec includes the ability to sync to MIDI clock and output sequence data on any MIDI channel. Notably, when set to Parallel mode the second channel's fader values determine the velocities of the first channel's sequence steps. The Fat Controller also syncs to DIN and can send S-Trig, but it can't scale its quantized voltages to V/Hz or send MIDI clock. And although the Fat Controller can save global sequence settings, it can't save sequence data, so sequences are lost when the faders are moved. This will certainly disappoint users new to analog sequencing, but in all fairness it comes with the territory; few analog sequencers new or old can save sequence data.

In practice, I found the Fat Controller to be easy to use and instantly gratifying in its ability to generate and alter sequences in real-time. Most of the Fat Controller's functions were a button-push or two away, and they were intuitively easy to locate. Frostwave propitiously chose faders instead of potentiometers to provide the visual feedback absent on so many knob-laden analog sequencers. I was also happy to see Bounce (pendulum) and Groove (shuffle) run modes (although conventional nomenclature would have been clearer), but disappointed by the absence of the randomize function common among analog sequencers.

The Fat Controller has something to offer to someone who has a mix of MIDI and CV gear and wants to experience real analog sequencing. It could also find a home among other sequencers, adding extra channels of complex envelope CVs or modulating LFOs in a more advanced setup. The Fat Controller offers enough interfacing options for easy integration into most synthesis setups, although its simple two-channel design and its inability to save sequence data will certainly render it too limited for some. But the fact remains that it is instantly gratifying, easy to use, and a good value. ($360 street;

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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