When Ableton and Cycling ''74 delivered on their promise to integrate the Max/MSP programming environment into Live 8 as Max for Live (MFL), a lot of Live users jumped on the bandwagon and then began scratching their heads wondering what to do with it. The included Pluggo plug-ins from Cycling ''74, along with the newly minted Step Sequencer, Buffer Shuffler, and Loop Shifter, tantalizingly reveal the possibilities, and there are some tools to get you started, but there is hard work ahead if you want to do more than create basic utilities. Puremagnetik (puremagnetik.com) released a teaser of things to come with the MFL freebie Spectral Mixer. Max Fuel, the First ($38) by David Linnenbank is the real deal.
Max Fuel is a suite of 10 MFL plug-ins: two instruments, five audio effects, and three control devices. The instruments, Stick and Bump, are, respectively, an FM- and noise-based drum synth and a monophonic lead synth with a powerful multimode-filter/feedback-delay section, which is replicated as the audio effect Jumble. Other audio effects include Marx (Spectral Mixer rebranded), Yell and Drop (multiband distortion and selection), and Veer (pitch shifter). The control devices el Effo, Side Chainer, and Multiplex (an LFO, envelope-detector, and one-knob splitter, respectively) let you route control data to any parameter of any device inserted on any Live track.
Aside from their versatility, the nice thing about the Max Fuel devices is that their interfaces are consistent, clearly labeled, and easy to grasp. Each device comes with a complement of presets and some clips to illustrate its use (see Web Clip 1). If you own MFL, buying Max Fuel, the First is a no-brainer—I''m looking forward to the Second, the Third, and beyond. If you haven''t added MFL, Max Fuel might be a reason to take a second look.