Erica Synths is no stranger to large, niche instruments. Just look at the SYNTRX — it's one of the most amazing and also impractical synths I've ever played. And the company's latest, Pērkons, continues that tradition. It chassis actually appears to be very similar to the SYNTRX, a metal rectangle with slightly rounded edges at the top and bottom, and wooden cheeks on the side. Of course the interface is completely different, which isn't surprising since Pērkons isn't an homage to the Synthi AKS, but a drum machine.
The core of Pērkons is a hybrid of four digital sound sources with an analog multimode filter and overdrive. The goal is big, thunderous percussion (hence being named after a Baltic god of thunder) — if you're going in thinking about a simple kick, snare, hat combo, you might be disappointed. Unfortunately Erica Synths is being really cagey about the drum machine right now, so I don't have a ton of impressions to share. Though, the company says that it "tears down the borders between drum machine, synthesizer and drone instrument."
What I can say though is that is has a rather interesting collection of features. There are only four voices / sequencer tracks, but each voice has extensive controls and can be saved as "kits" for easy recall later. You can also record automation to a pattern (there's room for 64 on the Pērkons but you can expand the storage with an SD card), or modulate parameters with the LFO.
Patterns can be up to 64 steps, with chance and ratchet controls for each step and there are four separate shuffle algorithms to keep things interesting. Plus an analog delay for getting your dub on and an optical compressor for punch.
Pērkons is obviously meant for the serious musician, though, not the casual knob twiddler. The size and €1,650 / $1,999 price make that pretty clear. But it's even more obvious when you look around back. There are separate outputs for each of the four voices, plus send and returns for each voice, so you could (if you wanted) add a distortion pedal to your bass drum and some flanger to the hats and... ring modulation to the snare, why not?
There's no firm release date yet, but Erica Synths says Pērkons will be out by the end of the year.