Buy local: the world of gear for musicians is opening up to independent makers in more places. That includes Tbilisi-based Ambient audio, who are making everything from glowing and recycled patch cables to modular kits.
I first got to meet up with Ambient in September. The young co-founders represent a new generation of Georgian creatives. They’ve built their own slick, neon-green branding — everything from the product to the marketing is the work of enterprising new Eurorack creators ready to make an aesthetic impression.
They’re passing on those ideas, too. My particular meet-up with Ambient was at a workshop they were presenting to students at Creative Education Studio (CES) Tbilisi – see the pics here. In place of a soldering workshop, this was an all pencil-and-paper design session. They walked through their own creations, then handed out blank panel templates and let people draw in the designs and labels they wanted. The results were something special, and yes, a couple of folks used Georgian script in place of English.
Electronic music students at CES are learning on a Doepfer modular system. (Thanks to my friend Tornike Margvelashvili, aka Mess Montage, who built the system and modular synthesis program at the school.) But it’s tough for Georgian musicians to build modular systems of their own. Apart from inequalities in global economies and currencies, Georgia isn’t a big enough market to have any distribution, which means tacking on additional duty and shipping costs and waiting on packages. Ambient are tailoring their product to the Georgian market in every way – keeping costs low, watching their supply chain, and manufacturing and assembling inside the country wherever possible.
The products are simple but distinctive and elegantly designed – and the prices are low. The range is just over the equivalent of roughly $30-55 USD. (There’s even a passive multiplexer for around $10, and blanks for under $2.) But that makes them far more accessible to Georgian consumers; there’s even free delivery in Tbilisi. And the straightforward analog circuit designs also make for nice teaching tools, as seen in the workshop below.
So far, the Tarragon.Series module line includes:
- LFOs (in fixed triangle and saw wave variants)
- Passive multiplexer
- Active mixer
They’ve also done a lot with patch cables, with glowing transparent patch cords and some made from recycled plastic. That builds on other accessories, cassettes, and a reverb pedal with Mess Montage.
You have to love their marketing, too. (A design consultancy/agency is in the works according to their site.) Check this video for their new analog low-pass filter:
It’ll be great to see what they’re up to next.
By the way, while most western electronic musicians and music media may be more mindful of statements from the techno clubs, institutions like CES also took part in demonstrations this month.
Here’s a look at how that workshop went: