Sometimes, the best ideas come from raw imagination.
The Knuckle Visualizer is the work of a Korean animation house. It doesn’t actually produce sound. The only functioning part of the hardware you see here is a USB cable that powers an LED lamp. But there are fascinating ideas here. And, actually, you could build this. We can often get stuck in our repetitive music world and forget what’s possible. So let’s watch the animators run wild with our sounds.
Rubber ducks and toy nesting dolls and and jelly beans make up the controls. Buchla-styled colored patch cords are actually organized according to sound.
And not only is this made-up synthesizer/sequencer itself animated, but whimsical dances of shapes and geometry add still more visual accompaniment to the sound.
This would I imagine not only inspire you to build a new candy controller, but possibly rethink how you do a music video. As the creators write:
We used a different approach on audio visualizing based on a completely different medium and art work.
The idea was initially inspired from the Analogue Synthesizers design.
During the making of ‘Knuckle Visualizer’ we thought it might be more interesting to visualize
retro sound from Analogue Synthesizer into the artwork using different styles of artwork and design.
We collaborated unilaterally with a music company called ‘musicaroma’.
This music company focuses on promoting internationally unknown foreign musicians and enabling them to get a copyright in Korea.
The music playing in the background is from the artist “Stereo Cool, Title: Let There Be Funk ”
One of the musician under ‘musicaroma’
Creative & Art Direction: Marco
Motion Design: Marco, STeeLO
Sound Design: Marco
Ilustration, Drawing: Shine
Installation, Film: Marco, STeeLO, Shine
There’s a making of video, though a lot of it is behind-the-scenes footage of the planning of the ideas and stop-motion photography:
Somewhere apart from the general purpose computer, the standalone electronic instrument, the racks of modulars, there is Kyma. For nearly a quarter century, this boutique digital instrument has opened up sonic realms to a scattered illuminati of artists. And this week, it hit a new milestone, with functionality and resources intended to make sound exploration still broader and more accessible.
Three years in development, Kyma 7 is here.
The buzz around modular often comes back to the same refrain: modular is cool because it’s open ended. That rat’s nest of cables, modular advocates say, represent freedom. No argument from me, but Kyma can fairly make a similar claim, backed by a somewhat obscenely deep set of sound tools you can patch together. Kyma’s not cheap by computer standards, and not expensive by analog modular standards. A mid-range system runs about four grand US$, with a “lab” system still just shy of three. That’s nothing to sneeze at, given that you can download Pure Data for nothing and load it onto a $300 laptop, and still get a deep graphical digital environment. But for its followers, Kyma represents an investment in possibility – and sound quality.
Kyma, like the mountain in the image for Kyma 7, is something I largely admire from afar. But admire, I do – and Kyma 7 has some nice things in it.
Look closely, and you see an environment that has no direct comparison. Whether or not you want to live there, getting a look at Kyma is like glimpsing a far-off tropical island: it’s a world unto itself.
Find splices, generate antialiased wavetables (for a new dedicated oscillator), or use the Gallery to spawn a set of parameters and signal flow graphs you can control or tweak. The Wave Editor is a perfect example of how a familiar feature becomes new in the context of Kyma. The workflow here is immediately about both depth and control: yes, you have loads of parameters, but they can be instantly mapped to an external controller so that experimentation is live.
This is another Kymaism. The idea is, a sample can be used to produce modular parameters automatically. The Multigrid arranges them on a display to be used as you see fit – sources, signal processors. Each sound is not just a noisemaker, but a bundle of characteristics and flows that you can play and tweak.
These are designed for live onstage use, too – sources, effects, and combinations are switchable without interrupting sound.
Every tool these days has a refreshed browser it seems, with instant search capabilities and the like. On the surface, Kyma’s browser looks like one of those. But you can search by individual parameter – not even modules alone. And Kyma randomizes some daily inspiration for you, too, with something it calls Sons du jour – cute.
Seeing Sound, Time
“Picturing Sound” is a theme for Kyma this year, including at its conference, and that’s reflected in the software. The new release lets you visualize time and sound in some ways new to this tool.
The Timeline is perhaps the most significant feature in Kyma – something lacking in some other modular environments. That Timeline is also unique in that you can change the flow of time to keep together with other players – a bit like a conductor would with a score. And it now also works with video.
You can also see the sounds – if in a conventional way – more easily, both by hovering over names and by switching on live Oscilloscope and Spectrum Analyzer views.
Learning and Exploring
All of this power is, naturally, useless if you haven’t worked out how to use it. Some of these resources are worth looking at if you’re considering the platform:
New context-sensitive help abounds through the updated tool. And there’s an ever-growing community library of sounds always at the ready.
Perhaps the most compelling coming resource is the set of Artist Packs for Kyma by electronic music legend Cristian Vogel. He’s sharing building block-style collections of Sounds and Elements – materials that can be uniquely shared in Kyma’s particular idiom. They’re due soon; you can sign up for a notification:
So, the thing about Amsterdam’s Paradiso is, there are balconies. And the thing about being in a balcony above Kraftwerk is, their once-secret live rig for their 3D show is now fully exposed.
The next question: what’s happening?
I have been squinting at this live video for some time, and I’m not sure. Some things are obvious: definitely MK I Maschine drum machine controllers from Native Instruments, definitely a MIDI keyboard for the odd solo, fairly certain I also spot a Novation ReMOTE ZeRO SL controller (encoders and faders and red lights) and the display for Steinberg’s Cubase which appears to hold backing tracks.
Someone is reading … well, something. It appears to be an iPad UI, maybe, pre-iOS 7. It involves text. Is it an email?
What’s happening musically and extra-musically here? I could say more, but I think it’s time to crowd-source CDM Nation’s incredible eagle eyes and superior technical knowledge. Let us know what you think (I’m also getting some feedback via social media), and perhaps we can arrive at a final conclusion.
See the images below. To me, the most interesting thing is that there’s an iOS-style app launch screen inside the display that previously had the text. That suggests maybe there’s some solution for seeing the iPad screen larger – possibly an AirPlay display or something like that. Or, that’s an iOS Simulator, and Kraftwerk are showing up all of us not by checking email during a live set, but by doing app development during a live set.
I hate to burst anyone’s Kraftwerk-hating bubble here, but I personally think it’s a set list or lyrics. Wait – scratch that. It might be more embarrassing to learn Kraftwerk can’t remember their own lyrics than it would be that they’re checking email while they play. (Seriously, guys, the words are “Tour de France, Tour de France.” You made it really easy on yourselves.)
Via FAZE in Germany, who complain about the ticket prices, etc. (Come on, what did you expect, a wailing drum solo? They’re Kraftwerk. I would assume I might pay 50€ to watch them check their email while standing up and dazzling me with a 3D show with a Volkswagen.)
Thank you, Настенька Иванова, for sending this my way.
Update: I’m poking some fun at Kraftwerk, of course – I mean, it’s a bit hard not to, with a band this legendary.
But closer examination reveals in fact a lot of what’s going on. Part of the value of this to me is that the band has been secretive about their live performance and tech. That’s their prerogative – but part of our job is to inquire into what’s really happening. And unlike a magic trick, I don’t think that technical knowledge of a performance has any impact on your enjoyment. (Music isn’t a trick.)
Sequencer.de ran a story on this back when it surfaced at the end of January – while CDM was too busy digging out from the NAMM show (and CTM Festival and the events we were running there).
Numark Orbit controller
Novation Remote SL Mk2 Zero (I could see it was a ZeRO, but not the mk2 – this is clearer)
Doepfer ribbon controller
Lemur on iPad
I am really fairly certain that software is Cubase. TouchOSC is in there, too, though the Sequencer.de article doesn’t mention it.
Also, I think it’s interesting that lay people immediately fixated on the “email checking” when you have four pedestals crammed with controllers. This is actually a complex rig with a lot of live elements, which you might actually not know watching the show – because of the aloof stage presence of the band.
Others have confirmed that each member divides responsibilities, and in this case, you’re looking at Falk who runs visuals. It’s not clear why he’s typing text into a text window on an iPad; it may be some communication window as some have speculated. Or maybe he’s working on his novel. It’s probably the least important detail in this video, though – mostly what you see in his machine is the preview of the video system.
Overall, I’m impressed with their rig. In a sense, it’s a shame they haven’t talked about it – not that they need to brag about gear, but there’s a misunderstanding that Kraftwerk are playing live. And conversely, a lot of “live” acts are often doing nothing.
It costs just a hundred bucks. It’s tiny, in a metal case with ultra-compact knobs and light-up buttons for hands-on control. And with MIDI, USB, CV, and even dedicated littleBits ins and outs, there’s a reason I described the announcement of KORG’s new SQ-1 sequencer as a sequencer that does everything.
But doing everything in such a little box is a tall order. And the SQ-1 packs in so much, it’s not obvious what its capabilities can be. One one hand, there are some powerful features that you might completely miss (like MIDI-to-CV capabilities). On the other, it has some limitations you should know about, as well. In trying to be all things to all gear in the smallest package possible, it has to make some sacrifices – so it’s better at some jobs than others.
I’ve gotten my hands on one and begun to use it (thanks to a studio neighbor who brought one back from Japan). And I’ve been in touch with KORG’s engineers in Japan to clarify its capabilities. So, let’s take a detailed look.
The SQ-1 is available both on its own and in a bundle with the new MS-20 module – though I’m guessing it’s mainly of interest as a compact, affordable standalone sequencer. Its name is a nod to the vintage SQ-10, but it’s only loosely based on that.
What you get:
A small, metal box with little plastic knobs (as found on the volca series), red light-up buttons
93 x 84 x 63 mm/7.60″ x 3.31″ × 2.48″
641 g/1.41 lbs.
Runs on AA batteries or USB power (USB power adapter will work, that is, if you’ve got one)
CV out: pitch (Linear, Minor, Major, Chromatic)
CV out: voltage (1V, 2V, 5V (Oct) 8V (Hz/V))
Gate out (positive or negative polarity – that is, rise and fall)
littleBits OUT jack
MIDI out (via an included Mini plug – DIN cable for MIDI)
USB jack (for USB MIDI)
Sync in and out jacks (just like on the volca, monoTribe, etc.)
How it operates:
Sequencer modes: alternate, order, parallel turn, parallel order, CV/DUTY, CV/SLIDE, CV/DUTY RANDOM, random
Steps can be gate on/off, active step, slide, or step jump
Resolution of step can be quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes
Spoilers! Let’s go ahead and look at what MIDI the SQ-1 can receive and transmit, because – well, it’s otherwise kind of a guessing game. (CV is more straightforward.)
As per usual, KORG have uploaded the MIDI Implementation Chart, in English, on the Japanese site … but you won’t find it on the international sites.
I went through and verified this with my own testing, and Korg engineering in Japan. So, I’ll repeat a bit what was said before, but with some commentary and doubly-sure what I’m saying is correct.
1. There’s no hardware MIDI input. MIDI input and output is available via USB, but there’s only the single MIDI output minijack (which you can attach to gear with MIDI DIN input ports via the included cable). So input can only come from a computer. That means, in effect, that the SQ-1 has to be a clock source when you’re using it standalone.
2. You can receive MIDI clock over USB, but it’s limited. If the SQ-1 has an external MIDI clock source, it will slave to that source. The only way to do that is over USB (since there’s no other input). However, and this is where things get a bit weird, you can’t then transmit that same clock signal to the SQ-1′s MIDI out.
At least if you make the SQ-1 a clock source – or use its analog sync input – it’s more useful, as it then transmits MIDI clock to its output normally.
3. You can chain SQ-1s. If you chain SQ-1s via the SYNC in and out ports, you can get two or more running in sync. But that SYNC connection in general is limited: it uses clock, but not start/stop.
4. There’s no “linear” mode in scale selection when using MIDI. MIDI can adjust scales, though you’re limited to chromatic, major, and minor. Here, analog gear has an advantage: it’s only via the CV output that Linear behaves as described. Now, KORG could have gotten fancy and implemented linear operation with pitch bend messages, but they described that was overly complicated – and transmitted too much data.
The same is true of “slide” functions – they work via CV, but not MIDI (by design). For slide between notes on outboard MIDI gear, you just need gear with a portamento/glide function.
5. Scales are limited to C Major and C minor; you can’t change root or transpose. Chris correctly points out that this is fairly limiting. You can’t change the root note. The KORG engineer who designed the SQ-1′s functionality here told us somewhat apologetically that he had only two buttons for selection, though, so he didn’t have much choice. This sounds like a deal killer, maybe, but it isn’t – provided your outboard gear has a transposition function. If it does, you can transpose on the synth rather than the SQ-1. And if you want more scales, you may want to consider a more advanced sequencer – or software.
6. Pitch range is the same on CV and MIDI. Pitch begins with C and covers a range of 1, 2, 3, or 5 octaves.
7. You only get pitch and gate length – nothing else / no CC’s. You can’t transmit Control Change messages on the SQ-1. The SQ-1 recognizes just one Control Change message – CC 120, for all notes off. (Yeah, you want that one!)
8. You can’t define the MIDI channel of row B. It’s always just one channel higher than the main channel.
The above writer Chris helped explain sequence modes that the SQ-1 manual does not.
Looking at the modes clockwise from left on the SEQUENCER MODE selector knob, where the top row of steps is row A and the bottom row B:
Modes 1 and 2 (alternating A/B, A->B): 16-step sequencer (by linking A and B). Step knobs change pitch. Gate length (duty cycle) is controlled by the duty knob.
Modes 3 and 4 (parallel reversing direction, parallel): 2 x 8-step sequencer. The top row step knobs work as pitch, the second-row step knobs work as pitch on a MIDI channel one channel number higher. Gate length is controlled by the duty knob.
Modes 5 and 7 (CV DUTY and CV DUTY RANDOM): 1 x 8-step sequencer. The top row is pitch, the bottom row is gate length. The duty knob is inactive.
Mode 6 (CV SLIDE): 1 x 8-step sequencer. The top row is pitch. The bottom row is unassigned (confirmed by KORG, wasn’t in the post above). The buttons below those unassigned knobs function for activating slide – just as the buttons do on the top row. So, the knobs are unassigned; the buttons are assigned but redundant.
The above tester also looked at how the sequencer step resolution behaves when you change the global parameter settings.
A/B, A->B, parallel reversing direction (1-3). The SQ-1 responds to external clock. But its sync out will change as you change modes – 4x, 2x, 1x – so it acts as a clock divider.
Parallel, CV DUTY, CV DUTY RANDOM, CV DUTY RANDOM, CV SLIDE (4-8). In these modes, the SQ-1 clocks at half tempo to an external source. Here again, sync out from the SQ-1 changes at 4x, 2x, 1x.
In modes 7 or 8, there’s another twist. As KORG tells us: “When you save the Global parameter, SEQUENCER MODE should be set to Mode 7 or 8 If you don’t want to change the STEP resolution.” (Chris had assumed modes 7 or 8 didn’t work.)
What’s it Like in Use?
I quickly got the SQ-1 running with KORG’s volca sample – and our own MeeBlip anode hardware synth. The result is an impossibly small, all-in-one, live hardware rig. The trick is to send MIDI to the MeeBlip and send sync signal to the volca sample. You can then use the volca’s perfectly capable internal sequencer.
The SQ-1′s selection as a pack-in with the MS-20 makes a lot of sense. As a little monophonic analog sequencer, it’s just about perfect.
I think the trick is, at first glance it also seems like a do-everything MIDI sequencer. It’s just too limited to cover all your sequencing needs. I’m a bit disappointed with Korg for some missed opportunities to make it more flexible.
1. MIDI in: If it only had MIDI DIN input, it would be easy to stick this at the end of a chain with other gear.
2. Send and receive clock: Two, if it could transmit and receive MIDI clock at the same time, obviously, it’d be hugely easier to put in a bigger rig.
3. Use CCs to add depth: while I understand that they ran out of room on the front panel for features and didn’t want to overcomplicate things, I wish it could use MIDI CCs to receive additional controls – like transpose, for instance.
In the end, cute as this thing is, you have to decide whether you really need a box with tiny knobs to sequence in C – at least if MIDI is your main (or only) target).
The other frustration for me is, the moment you turn the SEQUENCE MODE dial, the sequence retriggers instantly. It’d be great to change sequence order as you play to make variations, but since there’s no why to turn the dial precisely on a beat. Some step sequencers are able to operate this way: they simply quantize the next step to the active beat grid, so that when you make a global parameter change, it doesn’t throw off all of your timing.
With that big knob and the different sequence directions being one of the most compelling features of the sequencer, this winds up being a significant deal in coming up with creative sequence applications.
As with Arturia’s BeatStep (see my previous review), which did eventually spawn the BeatStep Pro, I guess using the SQ-1 I sort of immediately want, well, an SQ-1 Pro. (SQ-10 mini?) Of course, the BeatStep Pro is still coming, so it may turn out that that’s exactly what we get.
In the meantime, for a hundred bucks the SQ-1 still makes a whole mess of sense in many instances. If you’ve got some analog gear around to control and want a little gadget to make some sequences, it’s an obvious purchase. And because I like twisting dials, it’s still fun with MIDI – I’m just not sure I’d get it if MIDI were all I was using.
This does mean that you might tuck away that hundred bucks toward the purchase of advanced sequenced hardware – or software. Given that some of the SQ-1′s MIDI functionality requires it to be tethered via USB anyway, you should consider tools like the amazing modular Numerology Pro – or just mapping an onboard sequencer to a controller. It’s also why I’m looking forward to ModStep – the iPad mini is equally compact, too, and then you have layers, MIDI CCs, any scale you want, none of these quantization problems, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong: I like the SQ-1. Once you’re aware of what it can and can’t do, it may well find a nice place in your rig for analog and digital gear. But you can’t blame us for dreaming of something that, in hardware, does a little more, without turning to enormous or expensive hardware sequencers. Stay tuned – we’ll see if that dream gets fulfilled.
In the meantime, I think the SQ-1 is a winner if you want something extra that’s portable to make sequences, if you have some analog gear to drive in combination with digital, or both.
SQ-1 in videos
Let’s watch some of the best demonstrations of the SQ-1 in use – partly because, at the end of the day, it’s what you do with this hardware that matters.
It’s great to see the new SQ-1 unite with vintage MS-20 and MS-10 synths. And it’s clearly well-matched to monosynths, generally.
For more vintage loveliness, there’s my favorite retro KORG, the Mono/Poly, plus a Prophecy:
It’s nice to see paraphonic use, with transposing, as here. And again, your best bet is to transpose on the outboard gear since you can’t on the SQ-1:
The French-language La Boite Noire du Musicien has shot some gorgeous films of the SQ-1 as part of the MS-20 kit. They’re nice to just watch:
But my favorite SQ-1 jam so far, musically speaking, is this transporting journey, which adds not only the volca sample, as I did, but an Elektron Analog Four and the Czech-built microGranny granular sampler. The microGranny is really a perfect addition to these rigs. Don’t forget to support independent hardware.
And finally, for a novelty, here’s a project that uses a physical metronome as a clock source. No, really. The trick is to apply a mic to the metronome. The actual sound of that metronome drives the clock – it’s the magic of analog. Nice one, karenevil, whoever you are:
And, let’s take a moment to have a laugh at the expense of EDM DJs – and, around that moment where you get some bloodied laptop fingers, ourselves.
YouTube Comedy purveyors Nacho Punch take on Oscar-winning Whiplash – a film about a jazz drummer – with a DJ rendition set in a made-up “Skrillex Academy.”
You’ll want to have the original fresh in mind first, so see the original above, then the parody below.
And then… well, here I was going to make some snarky comment or some sort of clever insight, or perhaps broaden the comedy to some deeper reflection on the meaning of…
Who am I kidding? Now I’m probably just going to spend the rest of tonight watching the rest of these YouTube videos, instead of the usual wundergroundmusic.com stories. Yeah, thanks for that. I should really be getting on a new mix in Traktor. Why don’t you see glow sticks any more, anyway? I … lost my train of thought. Crossfade.
I was going to write something, but – well, it’s a tuner. Watch the film, from Ableton Liveschool. And I have to say, Ableton has found a way to make this Device more interesting than previous Max for Live efforts. It even has a histogram.
Perhaps the most newsworthy element here – a sign of the times – is that the resurgence of analog synthesizers has meant that tuning outboard hardware is now again an application for tuners. You’ll see in the video here an example with the classic MOOG Minimoog, but see the Ableton-shot photo below for an Arturia MicroBrute. Keyboardists, not just guitarists, are now using tuners, too.
If only we had some digital means of keeping things in tu– jeez, what the heck is going on, anyway? Strange, cyclical days.
It’s nice to get what you ask for. More than any recent release I can recall, Ableton Live 9.2 feels like it’s ticking off a task list of user requests. The software enters (a very stable, in my experience) public beta this week. There’s nothing earth-shaking, but I know CDM has enough Ableton users that this will matter.
See if these complaints sound familiar to you – as now they get addressed:
You want to warp techno and house without headaches. This one was especially maddening: you drop a completely regular, four on the floor, 125 bpm track into Live, and get … a whole bunch of complicated warp markers and tempo changes? Uh, that’s note right. Ableton says they’ve improved Auto-Warp and downbeat detection to better recognize fixed tempos. No more “four scattered on the walls, ceiling, and your face.” Back on the floor. Good.
You wish warped tracks sounded better. Ableton promises improved Complex and Complex Pro warp modes with “punchier transients, even at extreme settings.” So far, the difference is subtle, but sounds good.
You want better latency compensation. The big development here, and one we’ve waited for, is that automation is fully latency-compensated. Previously, adding automation could through off latency compensation for devices. Also, Ableton says they’ve improved latency performance with Max for Live and third-party plug-ins.
You play an instrument, and forgot a tuner. There’s now a Tuner built-in. Yep, I think we had a whole article about this, so thanks!
You want to play pads on your whole Push, not a little corner of it. Here’s the thing: Ableton’s Push hardware isn’t an MPC. So a 16-pad grid is a small corner of the controller. In Push’s Drum Rack mode, that allows the use of a step sequencer with the extra pads. But maybe you’d prefer to wail away on all 64 pads. Now, you can switch between these two modes. (Novation has actually made the lack of a step sequencer on their Launchpad Pro a selling point for this very reason. If you want to have your cake and eat it, too, though, Push’s ability to choose may be ideal.)
They’ve also released a new video showing that off – below.
In preferences, you can now toggle “Start Transport with Tap Tempo” to tap tempo your way into playback. (Sing along: “Uno! Dos! Tres! Catorce!”)
You can right-click clips and choose “Warp Selection as x-Bar Loop” — I really like this one.
Thank you for this one, too. (I think if you can understand what this combination of words means, you were annoyed by this just like me!) “Modifying the Arrangement loop brace with mouse or keys will not affect the current track selection, while previously all tracks were selected as soon as the braces where adjusted with the mouse.”
But it also breaks backwards compatibility. Live 9.1x brought a lot of bug fixes. It’s a stable release. And if you’re running Windows XP, Windows Vista, OS X 10.5, or OS X 10.6, you’ll need to stick with it, because 9.2 drops those operating systems. I think this is mainly an issue on the Mac side; Windows users, the recent Windows updates have been really solid and appear to run everything. I know there are some Mac users, though, who can’t upgrade their OS on their hardware. My advice: consider that system one that you maintain with the current combination of OSes, drivers, and applications. If you want the new stuff, do that on a new system.
Plus a bunch of hardware controller fixes. One thing I think people don’t realize about Ableton is that they actually take responsibility for modifying a lot of the remote scripts supplied to third-party hardware controllers; there isn’t a major controller on the market that isn’t in some sense a collaboration between the maker and Ableton. It’s worth looking through the changelog here to see if there’s anything for the hardware you use.
Push is vastly improved in a lot of little ways. Speaking of controller support, Ableton has lavished attention on their flagship controller.
Finally: better aftertouch, the ability to use the ribbon as a mod wheel, and more control over parameters with the encoders.
I’m going to paste this stuff here, as it’s all pretty significant:
Added 64 Pad Drum Rack mode for Push. The Note button now toggles between the Drum Rack three section layout and the 64 Pad Mode.
Improved Aftertouch response and added an Aftertouch Threshold setting in the Push User Preferences
Added Modwheel functionality for the Push Ribbon Controller. Tapping the Ribbon Controller while holding “Select” toggles between Pitch Bend and Modwheel function.
Holding “Delete” and tapping an encoder on Push resets the respective parameter to the default setting.
Holding “Shift” while turning an encoder on Push changes the respective parameter with finer resolution.
Improved buttons readability on Push. The Repeat and Metronome buttons now blink if active.
When recording using Repeat on Push, the MIDI notes would be recorded with a negative offset with respect to the grid if the option “Reduced Latency when Monitoring” was on. This caused the very first note in the Clip not to be played back at all.
Using “Shift” + “Add Effect” or “Add Track” while in Scales mode would cause the display to show the Note Layout options even after releasing the Shift button.
When selecting a Drum Rack Pad set to Multisample mode with Push, pressing “Device In” with Push would automatically select the first device in the Chain list, and it would not be possible to go back to the enclosing Instrument Rack device.
– on top of a lot of stuff for Mac users with newer toys. If you hadn’t upgraded to 9.1.7, you should definitely grab the latest stable version, too if you a) run OS X 10.10 Yosemite or b) use a Retina Display. There are loads of improvements for those two groups.
Here’s noted controllerist Mad Zach in a performance produced by Ableton with Push. And yes, you’ll notice he’s using all 64 pads even with a Drum Rack.
Having spent years covering the monome phenomenon, I think it’s also worth noting how different this sounds from a monome performance, because of the addition of velocity and continuous pressure. Players of the monome (starting, notably, with Daedelus) developed styles built around the sort of flatness of the controller grid. Sometimes, that led to edgy, in-your-face beats, and sometimes it simply allowed subtlety to come from varying volume levels in a chopped up samples.
But here, Zach is able to play fairly aggressively, but with swells that come from his actual playing. You can close your eyes and listen to this and somehow know it’s not a monome – at least in my opinion. (No double-blind test to try that out.) As such, it also sounds a lot more like an MPC performance.
He’s — really good with the technical facility in his fingers. I still have some personal resistance to playing Push myself, I think because I grew up playing the piano, but it can work.
Speaking of Zach, here’s his new music video, as premiered on VICE. “Haunting, grimy bass” with “twisted beats” – yep, VICE nails it. And Zach flies in the face of the belief that Americans in Berlin just make sound-alike dark techno.
Sonic history in electronic music may be made with technology, but it’s also the output of someone’s brain. As such, it’s natural that liberated creativity can produce all kinds of possibilities. And it should be no surprise that history sometimes comes in cycles.
Or… make that rectangles.
Speaking of Poland, this short animation, crafted in 1971, features spooky sounds that would be at home on any modern dark techno floor. Entitled “Prostokąt dynamiczny” – literally, “dynamic rectangle” – the animation is by experimental filmmaker Józef Robakowski, with music by the incredible Eugeniusz Rudnik. We saw Rudnik yesterday in our piece on Polish electronic music pioneers (and their connection to modern partiers), and featured in the Boiler Room film.
It’s worth considering the visualist here alongside the sonic artist. The Poznań-born Robakowski was an early pioneer in video art and experimental film – on the standards of the international stage, not just as a curiosity from Poland. His work ranged from conceptual pieces (photographing coriander, for instance) to meditations on Poland’s still-recent, dark history (piecing together collage from the Holocaust).
And this film, apart from sounding a heck of a lot like something you could play at Boiler Room Berlin now, is a poetic essay on the relationship between sound and image, form and rhythm. Even when he’s working with image, he can be inspiring to musicians – and if your medium is audiovisual, doubly so.
For more, see this extensive piece and accompanying video documentary (Polish with English subtitles): JÓZEF ROBAKOWSKI [culture.pl]
It’s in Polish, but you’ll find plenty of pictures … and videos, and sounds, and links to English-language articles. Expect to spend some time wandering the timeline archives.
It wasn’t just Poland that was creating wild new inventions despite Soviet domination. Meanwhile, in Bratislava (former Czechoslovakia, modern Slovakia), this was happening. (If you despise rectangles and techno-like rhythmic grids, I present – circles. Lots of circles. And no clearly perceptible rhythmic grid. Happier? We cater to all sorts here. No discrimination.)
Jozef Malovec (1933-1998): Orthogenesis (1966-1967). Realized in the Experimental Studio of the Czechoslovak Radio, Bratislava.
In the composition only electronic sound sources are used. Resulting sounds were modified and filtered before as well as after the detailed decoupage, small sound structures being prepared from a random selection of high frequencies. With an “infinite” tape they were reproduced by an effect tape recorder with four magnetic heads, where the audio signal of every head was modified by a special adjustment of band pass filters or by various types of feedback. This elementary microstructural material underwent a further transformation through various degrees of reverberation, or by a continually changing reverberation. The composition has no definitive score; there exist only sketches of some of its parts, serving as an orientation at the process of montage and mixing. There exists also some schematic figures of the connecting of instruments for the producing of some of the microstructural material. The expanding and compressing of the time process in microstructures is incorporated in the whole. At some places it was produced by the effect tape recorder. By this device the musical form received dynamic pulsation and inner evolution.
While working on Orthogenesis I tried mainly to form a musically continuous process, whereby the means of new sound elements results in a counterpoint of various microstructures as well as various kinds of space. The stereophonic mixing gives the definitive form of the composition in the space of the audition.
By Jozef Malovec (fonte web).
Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget about the time Delia Derbyshire accidentally invented techno. (I’m going to introduce all my music from now on with “forget about this – it’s for interest only.” Oh, Delia, if you only knew how interested people would eventually be in this sound.)
When audio software maker Camel Audio announced they were ceasing operations and making their product line unavailable, we considered two possibilities: either they had simply closed shop, or they were bought.
Well, they were bought. That is, we can’t confirm the plug-in vendor has been purchased by Apple. Here, let’s line up two scenarios again. Either:
1. Camel Audio spontaneously moved their UK business registration to Apple’s London address and named Apple lawyer Heather Joy Morrison as their sole Director. (Upside: awesome prank. Downside: um, maybe you get thrown in the Tower of London, or whatever England does these days.) OR –
2. Apple bought them.
MacRumors breaks the story, but this is no “rumor.” Because the UK corporate registry records are public, they have the PDF of the filing. (See below.) And Heather Morrison is listed on LinkedIn as Apple’s iTunes Senior Counsel, Europe. (My guess is this has nothing to do with the App Store or iTunes, but just that Ms. Morrison is the most convenient senior legal representative for Apple in the UK.)
Okay, so now we know Apple bought Camel. What does it mean for Camel’s products, like CamelSpace or CamelPhat?
I’m surprised to see wide speculation on social media that this means Camel Audio’s product line is “saved,” and will be reissued as Apple products. I suppose I could encourage this notion. Sure, you’ll see Apple Alchemy 2 soon, available as AU, AAX, and VST for OS X and Windows. Oh, yes, and we took Bruiser the dog to a farm upstate. He’s loving all that free space to run around.*
No, the most apt comparison would seem to be Redmatica. That vendor of automatic sample import products was bought way back in 2012, and only at the beginning of this year did the acquisition bear any fruits – in the form of a far more limited implementation of the same functionality inside MainStage. The rest of the Redmatica acquisition fits the pattern, too: the developer simply closed up shop with no explanation and ceased making the products.
Apple’s smaller developer acquisition targets seem to be more about adding talent, presumably both on OS X and iOS. It certainly indicates the company’s ongoing commitment to its music creation line, GarageBand and Logic Pro. Camel has competencies in signal processing and software instruments, on both desktop and mobile. Now, it’s possible that Alchemy 2, at least, which commenters have already observed was well underway, would surface as a new instrument from Apple. It’s even possible that Camel was already doing contract development work for Apple – note the appearance of new compressor models in Logic Pro X 10.1. (I think that more likely that was done by engineers already in-house, but it’s within the realm of possibility.)
But I suspect Camel Audio fans will mostly have to comfort themselves by knowing the talent, experience, and assets of Camel will become part of Apple’s existing software efforts over time. That will lead to something, but more likely a form fitting Apple’s product lineup and plans. Anyone with any hope of seeing Camel’s current product lineup on the Mac in anything resembling its present form is more optimistic than I am. (And anyone ever expecting anything for Windows again has actually left our reality.)
Apple might want more talent, too. They’ve got both OS X and iOS to cover, and development has been handled in no small part by veterans of former Emagic. If there has been any attrition of those Emagic veterans (either in Hamburg or relocated to California), Apple would need to pick up the slack, and hiring music developers is a specialized field. Talent is actually hard to find, at least from what I’ve heard in (off-the-record, informal) chats with human resources at every music developer I’ve ever spoken to.
One other wrinkle: we don’t know what’s on Apple’s future product road map. Remember those mobile competencies? Rumor sites have been predicting new, more pro-focused tablet hardware. The joy of not knowing is, you’re free to speculate.
But yes, bottom line, as MacRumors writes:
It is not known what Apple plans to do with Camel Audio, but it’s possible the company’s technology could be incorporated into a future version of Logic Pro X, Apple’s software designed for professional musicians, or GarageBand.
Well, yes, those, simply substituting the word “possible” with the words “incredibly likely.”
In the meantime, I will send good wishes to the Camel Audio team on the acquisition. There was an outpouring of support from readers for the work you did. It was clearly widely appreciated. I hope the Apple acquisition does lead to good things personally and professionally, and I look forward to using the tools you make with them – whatever form it may take.
And yes, while commenters went on a long tirade about piracy, it’s possible that Alchemy’s free-to-buy, in-app-purchasing for everything else model didn’t pan out, either.
Addendum: I also want to congratulate Chris Breen on his move to Apple. The former Macworld editor was my start in this business, connecting me both with my first assignment for that magazine and (indirectly) with Keyboard, as well. I literally wouldn’t be here in Berlin writing CDM if not for him. The timing here could also be relevant: Chris’ music knowledge might be applied to added documentation of some kind there. (Chris and I were, over the years, alternatively reviewing Apple Logic.)
We speculate on all of these things, but at the end of the day, what matters the most to me personally is that the talented people working in this industry have fulfilling careers. And so I do hope Apple means good things for them. I’m only sorry not to get to continue to read Chris’ work at Macworld.
The setting looks futuristic — like Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Syd Mead to make a theme park. But it’s actually Warsaw and environs. And the path the future is via the past, and a history largely unknown outside of the country. Boiler Room, best known for webcasting parties, shifts gears from what’s new-and-hip to where it all began, and the result is inspiring.
The film was directed by Marcin Filipek for Boiler Room with the input of Gosia Herman of Boiler Room Poland, and is the result of half a year spent gathering artists. The stunning imagery is the work of cinematographer Michal Dabal.
The strongest part of the film is unquestionably its glimpse of early Polish pioneers, and the challenges they faced as they carved a path through new electronic musical frontiers. So, you get:
Eugeniusz Rudnik: the experimental composer and founder of Experimental Studio of Polish Radio
Władysław Komendarek: the experimental (prog rock gone beautifully haywire) musician who “highlights the importance of mutiny.”
The film also makes a connection to today’s musical generation in Poland, with younger artists:
Mikołaj “Noon” Bugajak
Bartosz “The Phantom” Kruczyński
Synth-pop duo Rebeka (Iwona Skwarek and Bartosz Szczęsny)
Here, the filmmakers have a tougher job, simply because they’re narrowing down a now-enormous scene to a matter of a few minutes. (Imagine profiling Canadian electronic music in that time, for instance.) Poland is now one of the world’s major hubs for electronic music, home of course to Unsound Festival but with countless artists making a name for themselves in various genres. (Boiler Room Poland alone should keep you plenty busy.) Anyway, hopefully this piques some interest and those not already following the vibrant Polish scene (at home and abroad) start to pay it more mind.
It’s a definitely must-watch film, and a great starting point:
I’ve talked to various Polish friends (living in Poland and ex-pats), and heard all positive reviews for the film – particularly for the take on experimental legends who inspired them. And even Polish folks found something new in the film. Yes, there’s an alcohol sponsor; I’m glad when brands sponsor something meaningful like this.
Of course, there’s plenty more to say.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s let Marek Biliński take us on a whimsical trip through outer space, in an animation by Justyna Stefańczyk entitled “Kosmiczna wyprawa.” (“Space trip.” Uh… actually, you probably guessed that.)
And for a deeper, stranger trip, Eugeniusz Rudnik’s music is out there – sounds from decades ago sound somehow even more relevant today, with our attuned-to-weirdness, ready-to-open-the-airlock ears:
If the Boiler Room film seemed too short, here’s a 56-minute Polish documentary subject film (don’t worry, there are English subtitles) with Rudnik as source. The film by director/writer Zuzanna Solakiewicz reimagines his life as a form of sonic archeology, finding “love and passion” in French pronunciation. Actually, I give up, just watch:
– plus an article on “spatial design” and sound that includes works you’ve probably never heard of that exchanges ideas with Iannis Xenakis’ polytopes. Even more stunning (to me, anyway) is a glove-based wearable, the “Personal Instrument (Instrument Osobisty)” by Krzysztof Wodiczko, that predicts the (significantly later) work on “The Hands” by Michel Waisvisz.
Finally, as part of this series, Władysław Komendarek did a full live set. Hey, this is Boiler Room, after all. Fortunately, what you get is a massive stack of keyboards, and then things get very wild – like what would happen if an alien species had invented prog rock. You know, in a good way. F***, yes, Poland. The audience seems pleasantly stunned, like they got lost in some looped pad at some point. Keep listening, because it keeps going in radically different directions.
Western knowledge of history from the former Cold War nations of the Warsaw Pact has been, until fairly recently, sadly limited. The Iron Curtain went both ways: the work of these creators had to contend with both Soviet policy and a Western world that had little interest in promoting innovations of their Eastern counterparts. But that situation has changed, as both history – and young artists – flood the newly-international, newly-connected electronic music scene worldwide.
But that’s perhaps the point of the Internet age, the divided Europe of years ago turned precisely inside out. Borders have been blurred not just by geopolitics, European Union, and easyJet. Instantaneous data has made more people than begin to, say, dig through weird old electro-acoustic tapes – and party with one another, together and even in their browser. With deepening economic divides, the news is hardly all sunny. But connectedness and curiosity then becomes all the more important. In fact, if cities like Berlin have continued to grow as hubs, surely the unleashed creativity of eastern, central, and southeastern Europe is partly to credit.
Let’s finish out with some modern-day Boiler Room from Poland, with that in mind, to add more younger faces from Poland to those you see in the film.
For instance, there’s Jacek Sienkiewicz, label head of Recognition Records, playing live:
Kuba Sojka has a hugely virtuosic live set (hope we talk to Kuba more soon, in fact) which has me moving my feet around even late on a Monday night:
And for a DJ set, one of my all-time favorite Polish artists has to be Eltron John, aka Krakow’s own Marek Stuczyński (who I first saw in Krakow at while playing patchlab). Oh, sure. Laugh. You’d be dancing around embarrassingly if cameras were pointed at you and Eltron was in the room.
But that’s just Boiler Room. Poland’s men and women of electronic music are far too numerous to put in a single post. You’ll … just spot them around here. Oh yeah, and Poland, I’ll see you on 20 March (along with Andrzej Koper, Dot Dot with vj emiko, Weiss – Olech, and odaibe … speaking of “There Are Too Many Polish Artists To Cover In a Small Space.”) Czekamy na ciebie, Wrocław!