The Undercult : VST Organ Freeware Plugin for Indie, Mod, Soul & Ska

Bob Leggitt | Tuesday, 5 May 2020 |

The Undercult Freeware Organ VSTi

The Undercult is a VST organ model inspired by the Vox Continental Super II. It’s the first in a series of FREE public releases from a formerly private and exclusive collection of all-synthesized VSTis with exceptional sound quality and special features...

The Undercult has two independent, virtual 49-note manuals, splittable at any point across a 61-note keyboard span. Everything runs on the same MIDI channel - you just define your split point on the console and play everything from a single keyboard.

The Undercult additionally incorporates bass pedal sounds on the lower virtual manual. When engaged, the bass will always track and replicate the lowest note in any chord you play below the key split point, adding great substance and depth to a solo performance.

The Vox Continental Super II could produce different sounds from the regular Vox Continentals, due to its five drawbar system on the upper manual. Regular Continentals grouped all footages above the 4’ onto one bar. But the Continental II split the 5 1/3’ and 1 3/5’ footages from the 2’, 2 2/3’ and 1’, giving access to some more subtle tones.

This model differs from regular Vox Continental clones in that it simulates two amp types, including a realistic, hard-driven rotary speaker. There’s also a nifty ‘Soulback’ feature, which sets the drawbar foldback to the classic Hammond B3 cutoff points, for a subtle but vital tweak to the solo sound in the upper registers when the rotary is engaged. Enhancing the solo capability further, the output volume is re-scaled to produce a lift on higher notes, and the new ‘volume feel’ algorithm creates the sense of loud playing at any level.

In addition to the two amp models, there’s a raw sound output. The raw (Direct) output is there for those who want to use their own amp modelling and/or effects. But be warned – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better VST rotary than the one built in. The amp model used when the rotary is not active, is based on the tone of my 1960s Vox AC30. It gives a fuller, rounder and more balanced tone than the raw (Direct) sound output. You can select from two vibrato speeds.

STYLES OF MUSIC


The Undercult will suit any kind of music originally played on a Vox Continental, but it offers a lot more versatility – particularly due to its excellent rotary speaker simulator. Courtesy of the Soulback feature, it’s very effective for soul, ska and mod styles. The rotary speaker changes the personality of the organ, and broadens its compatibility. The Undercult can comfortably stand in for a Hammond, and is more suitable than the Hammond in some genres.

The quirky yet full sound of this VSTi suits a wide range of indie styles, whether funk, rock or world influenced. Setting the rotary at slow speed and using the vibrato can also generate some good trad gospel sounds. It’s not the best fit for jazz, but the forthcoming Clonewheel VXH, VXK and Vintage Rock models will cover those archetypal jazz sounds admirably, so watch this space.

TONE ENGINE


The Undercult is all synthesized, and does not use any samples. This has been the most fundamental shift in design between Planet Botch’s old organs and this series. Switching to synthesis allowed a much greater level of control over the sounds, markedly increased the quality, and eliminated some technical issues inherent in earlier instruments.

I use this range of organs in preference to premium commercial VSTis, and have done for a long time. Now it’s your turn to enjoy them.

THE ROTARY SIMULATOR


The Undercult incorporates the latest version of Planet Botch’s rotary speaker sim – a new algorithm, and a major upgrade on the previous one, which was developed back in the 2000s. As deployed in the Undercult, it’s intended to be close-miked, but you can adjust the mic proximity via a knob on the console. The rotary sounds best with the drive set quite high, although the drive never runs into heavy distortion. It’s just a rough edge. If you want more drive, keep an eye out for the forthcoming Seductress VSTi.

The spin of the Undercult’s rotary comprises two independent speaker components – bass and horns, which rise and fall at staggered rates. If you always mix down in real time, use either your keyboard’s mod wheel or the S/F switch on the VSTi console to record your rotary transitions and you should be fine. However, if you mix down at high speed, ONLY use the S/F switch on the VSTi console to control the rotary speed – don’t use the mod wheel. When you use the S/F switch, the rise and fall transitions hard record to the host, so the correct rise and fall rates should always be maintained when you do rapid mixdowns.

I’d highly recommend keeping the Soulback switch active when using the rotary simulator. It drops the drawbar foldback for a more mellow top end, which really suits a rotary-treated sound.

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER


The instrument has 32-bit architecture and was designed to operate at a sampling rate of 44.1K. It may not function correctly when used outside of its native environment.

The VSTi was created with care, but it is home made, it has not been tested across a wide array of systems, it comes with no guarantee whatsoever, and it is used entirely at your own risk. In downloading and/or using this VSTi, you agree that you, and only you, will be responsible for any negative issues the VSTi should cause.

To use the Undercult VSTi, simply download the DLL file and place it into your VST plugins folder. Your host should then recognise it and add it automatically.

Please note that this is a DIRECT download link, and that hitting the link will actually start the download.

The Undercult - Direct Download Link

And if you like The Undercult, don't miss the Vintage Ultima organ/synth VSTi, which has been released as the second instrument in this series...

PlanetBotch Vintage Ultima freeware organ VTSi

Keep an eye on the VST organs page or the VST feed for more recent freeware releases.