"Insane beat-machine from the future": This nuts beatmaking software has one of the most complex interfaces we've ever seen

2020 is a new standalone sampler, sequencer and synthesizer from developer and electronic musician Yotaro Shuto, who performs under the alias DUB-Russell. Conceived in 2016 and funded through a Kickstarter campaign, 2020 is now ready for release and available for pre-order. 

First things first, just look at that GUI: this thing packs more knobs, sliders and controls into a single screen than pretty much any software we've ever seen. Though it might seem overwhelmingly complex, the idea behind the interface seems to be to place every single parameter within reach of the user to avoid laborious menu-diving. Whether or not that works in practice remains to be seen, but it's certainly a unique approach. 

2020's website mentions "German DAW software, Swedish hardware beat machine, and a cable-tangled modular synthesizer system" as reference points for the software: we assume this means they've taken inspiration from Ableton Live (or Bitwig) and Elektron hardware such as the Octatrack and Digitakt, integrating this with a modular approach inspired by Eurorack. There's no timeline for song arrangement, as 2020 is designed for real-time beatmaking and performance. 

2020's interface contains twelve interconnected modules, including multiple samplers, synths, sequencers, and loopers. The samplers in particular look interesting: the SLC module is a sample slicer with a step sequencer that chops up and replays audio according to time divisions specified by the user. As for synthesis capabilities, the GRP3 module contains two FM synths, while the GRP1 module houses a dedicated kick drum synthesizer. 

Onboard effects include a filter, flanger, phaser, ring modulator, bitcrusher, granulator and repeater, while delay and reverb can be found on the sends. The mixer is equipped with six buses that are routed to two master channels: in the mastering module, you'll find EQ, performance effects and dynamics processors such as a compressor, maximizer and limiter. There's also a dedicated FX Patcher section for patching effects into one another and experimenting with different configurations of signal flow. 

2020's three sequencer modules look pretty powerful: patterns of between 1 and 32 beats can be entered with individual controls for the resolution of each segment of the sequence, and there's controls for Elektron-style probabilistic sequencing. Note values can be entered in the sequencer or furnished by a transposer module that can randomly modulate pitch based on scales chosen by the user.

Randomization is a big feature of 2020's appeal: every module that works with trigger events can be randomized, with controls available for the range and probability of randomization, so you can dial in your preferred amount of chaos. This combined with the three onboard LFOs should make 2020 capable of producing some pretty complex generative sounds and sequences.

2020's feature list also boasts something called a Higurashi Generator. We weren't entirely sure what this was, so we asked the developer, who kindly informed us that it's a sound module aimed at producing beeping sounds "inspired by the sound of evening cicadas heard in the woods at the end of summer". That's definitely a first. 

2020 is a standalone application and there are currently no plans to release the software as a plugin to run inside your DAW. However, users are able to map MIDI controllers to 2020 and even sync with Ableton Live over Ableton Link. The software is currently Mac-only. 

All in all, 2020 looks rather nuts, and we can't wait to try it. 2020 will set you back $119.99 and is available now to pre-order: it'll be out July 20. 

Find out more on DUB-Russell's website. 

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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