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Based on the rare RSF Polykobol, Black Corporation's Kijimi provides access to a sonic realm uncommonly rich for analog polyphonic synths: a world with evolving waveshapes, rich modulation opportunity, polyphonic aftertouch, and full MPE support. Following bravely and deservedly in the footsteps of Black Corp's Deckard's Dream, Kijimi is one of the most powerful analog synthesizers currently available.
Kijimi is eight-voice polyphonic, with two oscillators, lowpass filter, amplifier, two envelopes, and two LFOs per voice. The modulation sources themselves are polyphonic, so with the right controller, it is easily possible to create modulation that behaves differently within each voice.
Each voice offers two oscillators and one suboscillator. The primary oscillators each offer continuously variable waveshape (from triangle to pulse, passing through many novel shapes along the way), as well as semitone-by-semitone tuning controls for easy stacking of intervals. Oscillator two may optionally be detuned positively or negatively, and each oscillator can act as master or slave in sync configurations.
The filter offers only lowpass response—and while that might at first seem like a limitation, its extensive feature set easily overcomes any initial misgivings we initially may have had. Like one might expect, the filter section offers direct cutoff frequency and resonance control, as well as traditional envelope control and continuously variable keyboard tracking—but where it shines is in its direct parameterization of all of the relevant MPE control sources. Both the cutoff and resonance parameters offer direct inverting attenuators for aftertouch and velocity control, making it easy to dial in any combination of influence from these sources in addition to the key tracking and envelope modulation amount controls. Whoa.
And that leads us more deeply into a discussion about the Kijimi's modulation sources. While many synths shine based on their sonic characteristics alone, Kijimi takes an extra step and provides a series of extremely well-thought-out modulation sources and immediately accessible modulation routing, making for not only a superb sonic experience, but a superb playing experience as well.
Kijimi's envelopes are both ADSRs—but unlike the typical keyboard envelope, they offer cycling behavior, in which each envelope can begin to act like a unipolar LFO. The "Mult" parameter switches between multiple frequency ranges, making it easier to dial in envelope response and looping speed. The ADSRs are directly linked to the filter and amplifier, and ADSR2 in particular can be made to modulate the oscillators' pitches and waveshapes as well...but more on that in a moment.
First, we need to address the other two modulation sources internal to Kijimi: two independent LFOs per voice. Each offers continuous control of speed, independent selection of one of six LFO shapes, and optional envelope control—meaning that each LFO has a dedicated envelope for gradually increasing or decreasing its intensity across the duration of the keypress. This can lead to sounds with long, evolving modulation—vibratos and waveshape modulation that fade in over time, filter randomization that gradually becomes more dramatic as time progresses...and much more. This turns the LFOs into uncommonly dynamic modulation effects, capable of dynamically unfolding in relation to the playing style.
And then, what might be the most interesting section of Kijimi's overall architecture: the Modulations section. This section is a modulation matrix, allowing for an enormous array of modulation routing options. Each modulation source can be routed to multiple parameters. The LFOs and ADSR2 offer master attenuators and tactile switch activation of modulation destinations. Each destination can be modulated negatively or positively post-attenuator, making it possible for an LFO to increase an oscillator's pitch while lowering the filter cutoff, for instance...and a number of other complex modulation behaviors. Additionally, this matrix allows the selection of even all parameters simultaneously, making possible a range of behaviors from subtle animations to chaotic, pseudo-generative behavior.
While the LFOs and ADSR2 each offer switch activation of mod destinations, the remaining sources offer direct attenuators for each of their destinations, allowing for any combination of influence into different parts of the voice. This is where some of the most interesting MPE-related behaviors are dialed in: one can use velocity and aftertouch to modulate LFO rates, waveshape, suboscillator amount, pitch bend, cutoff, resonance, and VCA level in any combination with full polyphonic response—making for one of the most expressive and immediate playing experiences of any synth available. Unlike the majority of currently-available MPE-capable synths, Kijimi makes MPE programming direct and easy.
And of course, Kijimi offers extensive storage for factory and user presets, making it simple to get started and to recall your sure-to-be-otherworldly sonic creations. One of the most advanced analog polysynths we've ever seen, Black Corporation's Kijimi would be a welcome addition to any setup—a perfect synth for stage performers, studio musicians, sound designers, and noise makers alike.