Music made with “kind and gentle ears”, Suffolk-based modular synthesist and Oram Award Winner Loula Yorke has described her luminous second solo album ‘Volta’ as being like “Laurie Speigel meets AUTECHRE”.

Inspired by pioneering ‘Sisters With Transistors’ such as Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Spiegel and Caterina Barbieri, Loula Yorke has altered her approach to music making for her new long player. While her debut album ‘Florescence’ emerged from patching and routing experiments coupled with melodic content reliant on improvised pseudo-random quantised pitches, ‘Volta’ is born out of composed sequences.

Setting herself hard rules of no granular synthesis – no vocals – no drums, each track however had to be reproducible live with the minimum of repatching in-between. The end result is a wonderfully cohesive body of work with an appealing aesthetic.

For those who may be put off by the perceived self-indulgent nature of the modular synthesizer world, the beauty of ‘Volta’ is its melodic accessibility while still maintaining an experimental ethos. Born out of composed sequences, Loula Yorke keeps her set-up basic, using two Arturia Rackbrute 84hp 6U cases with the main sounds coming from a Verbos Harmonic Oscillator, controlled by a Erica Synths Black Sequencer.

A bittersweet meditation on overwhelm, the wonderful opener ‘It’s been decided that if you lay down no-one will die’ exudes a deep hypnotism with subtle entries into higher spectrums. Inspired by nature ‘The grounds are changing as they promise to do’ provides subtle cyclic changes before building into pulsating bliss to evoke the feeling of autumn leaves underfoot. ‘Staying with the trouble’ is shaped by a cascading array of engaging electronics while ‘The hidden messages in water’ comes at a slower pace with mystical zaps.

The longest track ‘An example of periodic time’ is a magical experiment, varying in tempo and bursting with bleepfests but the cerebral ‘Anecdoche’ offers a dreamy Terry Riley ‘A Rainbow In Curved Air’ feel. ‘Falling apart together’ closes ‘Volta with minimal structures and a very slow-moving sequence with glide applied for pause and effect.

With its carefully woven patterns of colourful sound, ‘Volta’ is wonderfully immediate. If you have never tried instrumental modular synth music before, then this is a very good place to start.

‘Volta’ is released on 23 January 2024 via Truxalis as a CD, cassette and download, available from

Loula Yorke 2024 live dates include Norwich Arts Centre (27 January)*, London Cafe Oto (30 January)**, Leeds Howard Assembly Room (23 February)***

*opening for Mary Ocher
**opening for Vito Ricci + Lise Vachon
***‘Sister With Transistors’ screening plus live sets including NikNak + Gracie T

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22 January 2023