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An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board


Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board.

They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue?

The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.

You play on off-hours in Stockholm. (I assume that’s to avoid distracting residents, because by the end of November the sun sets in Stockholm at what seems like about half one in the afternoon.) But 18-06 Stockholm time is a perfect workday distraction in the USA, conveniently.

Play online through end of November:

And learn more about the project:


This isn’t the only go-big-or-go-home project from Håkan even so far this year. When I was in Stockholm in May, I witnessed his oversized MIDI controller cubes, sort of the least mobile MIDI controller imaginable. Here they are at Sweden’s wonderful Volt Festival:

3 inflatable cubes, each 2 x 2 x2 meters, with built in gyro that detects the positions in 3 axes. The gyro send data to a music computer that play 6 different loops for each cube. One play drums, one play bass, one play melodies. By tilting a cube 45°, 2 or 3 loops can be crossfaded and at the same time a high pass filter makes the mixing more musical. The visual interface is projected on the wall so that the performers know which side is up (not so easy to see if you’re less tall than 2 meters).

The design of Big Cubes comes from the Yellofier app where the colors represent different sounds and the patterns different effects. The editing in the app is similar; moving and twisting the graphic elements controls the music. Big cubes takes these small graphic elements and blow them up into gigantic proportions. If you’re used to work with the Yellofier app, playing with Big Cubes makes you feel like you’re 0,5 cm tall, playing inside the phone.


More from Maestro Lidbo:

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Traktor DJ for iOS Adds Audiobus to Connect to Other Apps – And It’s Not Alone

The tidy toolbar at the bottom shows Audiobus connectivity.

The tidy toolbar at the bottom shows Audiobus connectivity.

Here’s a case where the iPad version of a DJ app has surpassed what even the desktop version does.

On Windows and Mac, Traktor is a powerful app for DJs, to be sure. But there isn’t an obvious way of routing DJ mixes through external effects or connecting it to other production tools. On iOS, now there is. Native Instruments quietly added Audiobus support to its popular iOS DJ app, which opens up the ability to route sound from the DJ tool to other apps.

Why would you want such a feature? Recording mixes probably isn’t strictly necessary, because Traktor DJ already has an internal facility for doing that. More likely, there are two use cases:

1. You want to expand the effects available to Traktor. (Add, for instance, a convolution reverb.)

2. Use Traktor as a production tool and instrument, with other tools in your chain.

Connecting apps via Audiobus - here, a free guitar effect from IK Multimedia.

Connecting apps via Audiobus – here, a free guitar effect from IK Multimedia.

Option #2 is rather intriguing, because Traktor DJ has some nice tools for messing about with audio loops and effects of its own. You could use Traktor not so much as a DJ tool as a remix tool and a sample-based instrument, manipulating waveforms you’ve recorded in the Traktor interface and adding its internal effects to produce loops for other programs.

Unfortunately, Native Instruments implemented Traktor only as an Audiobus source – not a filter. That means you can’t use Traktor DJ’s nice effects on other apps. But there’s still a lot to be done with Traktor as a source.

Someone must want to do to this, because users were already excited about NI’s rival, Algoriddim djay. djay added Audiobus support over a year ago, and djay users have been quick to point out NI was missing the same feature in Traktor DJ. As with Traktor DJ, djay fully supports recording mixes, so it seems mobile DJs are more excited about creative applications.

But yes, now an iPad DJ can add spectral and granular effects to their DJ set. Take that, desktop DJs.

Quick review: to work with Audiobus, you need two things. First, you have to purchase the Audiobus app itself, which costs you US$4.99. Next, you'll need compatible apps, though you can look for those inside the Audiobus app and find some gems. They're organized by how they behave - as sources or "filters" processing external signal. (Some work as both.)

Quick review: to work with Audiobus, you need two things. First, you have to purchase the Audiobus app itself, which costs you US$4.99. Next, you’ll need compatible apps, though you can look for those inside the Audiobus app and find some gems. They’re organized by how they behave – as sources or “filters” processing external signal. (Some work as both.)

And as further proof djay got there last year, here’s a tutorial video someone produced with the earlier app. (The same process works with other Audiobus apps.)

Traktor DJ is US$9.99.

Traktor DJ for iOS

djay for iPad


And it’s time to unveil the (un)official Audiobus theme song.

The post Traktor DJ for iOS Adds Audiobus to Connect to Other Apps – And It’s Not Alone appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Learn to Use Komplete 10′s Real Gems – Those Great New Reaktor Instruments

Just because there’s a nice marketing angle doesn’t mean that it has to be the story for you. And that’s been true of NI’s big, splashy product launches. Sure, there’s the epic-looking Traktor Kontrol S8 hardware launched this week – but you tell us you might be just as pleased with a compact controller or an update to the iPad app. And Maschine Studio does wonderful things with its big screens – but the MK2 still has great pads, costs less, and fits in a backpack.

And then there’s Komplete 10. Yes, NI is keen to talk about its light-up series of keyboards, which integrate with the software. But whether you want them or not, what you shouldn’t miss is the superb new Reaktor instruments that come with the bundle.

Rounds is one of the best synths I’ve used recently, full stop. It takes the new analog modeling techniques NI honed elsewhere and launches into new digital domains of effects, modulation, and FM sound generation. No surprise: it comes from Stephan Schmitt, the NI founder who also gave us Reaktor itself. Polyplex is simple but good fun as a drum machine (even if it makes me long even more for a better sample loading facility in Reaktor). And Contour is yet another deep synth.

Matt Cellitti walks through the trio of new Reaktor instruments in a series of tutorial videos, so it’s a great way to get started. Let’s watch.

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Massive Traktor Kontrol S8 Controller is Here – Now Who’s it For?

The Kontrol S8 is now standards bearer for Native Instruments’ DJ line. It’s such big news, you might hear about it outside the world of DJ tech followers. You’ve likely seen it already – this may be the most-leaked, most-teased DJ product in history. But now that it’s fully revealed, the S8 is almost certain to fan the flames of an ongoing debate:

Just what is digital DJing, anyway?

First, we can at least work out what the S8 is. It’s an audio mixer with control surfaces on both sides. It’s hardware made specifically to sell software (or the other way around, if you like). As NI’s Maschine Studio has done for producers, it uses big, color screens on the hardware to keep your eyes on that controller rather than on your laptop. It has a hardware layout tailored to the functionality of Traktor – deck controls, browsing, Remix Decks. And it builds in an audio interface and 4-channel hardware audio mixer for connecting external gear – CDJs, turntables, synthesizers, whatever. You wouldn’t use the mixer without the computer, but at least it acknowledges you might get audio signal to and from the outside world.

There are two design decisions likely to generate discussion. Firstly, the S8 is big – really big. It’s 58.5 cm — that’s nearly two feet. (It joins various other popular controllers, notably Pioneer’s flagship DDJs, in the same territory.) The 5kg/11lb weight isn’t so bad, but the physical hulk means you need dedicated space in a DJ booth to play it, and transportation is a challenge. (EDM = America = trucks?) Secondly, it drops jog wheels and per-deck tempo controls in favor of touch strips and a master tempo control.


To people who aren’t armchair DJ controller critics, that last bit may not sound like the stuff of forum flame wars. Those folks, who I will dub in ethnographic terms as “normal people,” just read “Well, that’s a big heavy thing with lots of lights. And now something is something or other something else I’m bored.” Or, no, actually, they’re looking at pictures of cats, so never mind.

To the computer DJ, the new controllers are blasphemy for a simple reason: they cement the idea that you might not be manually beat-matching tracks. (Oh, the humanity!) To be fair, this isn’t just an idea espoused by random people on forums; some very famous DJs have said the same thing. The idea is, the essence of DJing, as received from the legacy of playing on two turntables, is manually adjusting the position of a record platter and its playback speed to match two tracks.

In the worst case version of this world view, automatic tempo sync is simply the work of Satan, the end of music, and the beginning of the end times. In the best case, it’s an automatic transmission in a car: sucking the fun out of driving, and not entirely effective.

There are some problems with this orthodoxy, however. Reducing turntablism to beat matching is more than a little simplistic. As early as the 70s, DJ technique, flourishing in places like the Bronx, had already expanded to breaks, remixes, beat juggling. By the 80s, it added drum machines and even more-involved turntable technique – backspins, punch phrases, stuff you actually can’t do on those hulking plastic controllers. Great turntablists play vinyl like a musical instrument, not just a mechanism for mixing tracks.

Perhaps, then, beat matching is fundamental, but it didn’t take long for pioneers to move on to new things – Kool Herc, Frankie Knuckles, Grandmaster Flash. Whether it succeeds or not, the Remix Decks in Traktor and other controllerist machinations have far more to do with DJ history than using a plastic disc to manually cue does.

And about those plastic discs. A controller simply isn’t a turntable. They’ve gotten better – not so long ago, a German manufacturer called Native Instruments was telling me how they had come up with something to do with magnets that made their Traktor controller better. (Ahem.) But they still aren’t as good as turntables: they lack the physical feedback and resistance that a full-sized turntable provides. Oh, and on a turntable, apart from digital control records, you can also play music encoded on vinyl discs, which you’ll conveniently find as a major means of distributing music online and in your local record store. There’s that.

And that brings us to the fundamental disconnect between the controversy over these large, multi-deck controllers and the real world of DJing.

Let’s not pull any punches. Right now, the single most popular DJ equipment used by pro DJs when walking into a club – the flagship of the digital DJ, if you will – is a USB stick.

Somehow, in the reality I live in (but apparently not large swaths of The Internets), clubs tend to have a mixer, a couple of CDJs, and a couple of turntables. Most people use the CDJs, because relying on them means your gig doesn’t go pear-shaped and a USB stick will get you going. Some people use vinyl. Some people plug into the mixer with their laptop, and either use the records for control vinyl (with Traktor or Serato, typically), or plug in their laptop and use a controller.

That last part is important, though. If you are using a laptop, you suddenly have extremely restricted space. The displays on the S8 look terrific, in that turning your head to the side to squint at your MacBook is a mood killer. But its girth is a problem. Even some very highly-paid DJs tend to a) need to work in small spaces in some clubs or b) like to bring their own mixer. And we’re talking men and women pulling in consistent five-figure fees.

There’s some role for the touring DJ with something like the S8 – but it makes some assumptions. That is, there is surely some intersection between the people who get gigs on big tables and people who don’t already own a mixer they want to use. It’s just that that crossover seems not huge.

Despite that, lots of these huge controllers are indeed selling, from Pioneer, Numark, and others. That raises the question of where they’re all going. Frankly, music manufacturers don’t really need to worry so much about that question, until someone calls their tech support line or returns the product to the store. (Hint: you don’t want either of those things to happen.) That’s not me being cynical: speaking as a part-time manufacturer, this is really what makes your job fun. You don’t know what people will do with what you make. It can be pleasantly surprising. If you did know, there would be no challenge. Like a combination between misguided time traveler and snake oil salesman, you’re literally selling tools for people to use in the future. (Native Instruments’ marketing slogan isn’t far off.)

And into that market comes the S8.




On the size issue, even when the S8 first leaked, people were already predicting in comments a sort of Half S8 – they want the controller without the mixer in between. That seems more a smarter choice to me for NI than a jog wheel add-on predicted in comments by the editor of The Verge. (Let go! No more damned jog wheels! Jog wheels are awesome – in video editing! And… oddly, as a pitch wheel on the Roland SYSTEM-1, but that’s another story.)

If the S8 doesn’t easily fit into a club booth, it can still have some place – and not just collecting dust on the shelf of an orthodonist who had extra cash and decided he wanted to try DJing. (Though, Dr. Talbot, I will happily come give you a lesson, and I do routinely get comments on my teeth – thanks!)

This is a very, very capable single piece of hardware. Yes, it retails for US$1,299, so if you already have a mixer, you probably aren’t buying one. On the other hand, if you are playing gigs where you can request some table space, or if you’re looking for a single piece of kit to outfit a new studio or home studio, it’s certainly worth a look – and will be worth a proper review.

It also coexists nicely with other gear, if your mixer and audio interface are wanting an upgrade. It’s got Cirrus Logic converters, high-spec audio performance, connections for line outputs and a mic and turntables and four stereo channels.



And about that controller. Sorry, please, start the flame wars, but to the jog wheels, good riddance. In their place, you get extensive controls for everything Traktor does. Traktor’s problem has been that the deep power of its decks, loop and remix capabilities, and effects are often obscured by a complex desktop UI. Here, as with Maschine, you can “play” those options like an instrument. The touch-sensitive knobs give you control over everything from the browser to decks to effects. The big display shows your music collection on the hardware so you don’t have to feel like you’re looking at a spreadsheet on your computer.

And, most interestingly, you can use Freeze and live capture to sample audio from music. The pads aren’t velocity-sensitive – that’s where you know this is Traktor and not Maschine – but finally you get the kinds of easy loop/sample capabilities of Traktor on the iPad with real tactile controls.

And that’s where I think we have a hint as to what the S8 might be. It’s a remix machine. It’s, weirdly, DJ hardware that could appeal to producers who also DJ.

The optimistic side of me hopes the S8 finds some traction doing just that. For people billed playing live gigs, someone, somewhere could play an interesting set on it. (I think it’s unrealistic to expect that and turntables and CDJs, as seen in NI’s proposed use cases on their product site, but the controller aspect remains interesting.) And it could find some happy homes in studios.

Here’s DJ TechTools with their hands-on — deservedly, as proponents of this particular brand of controllerist-centric DJing.

I’ve had only a few minutes here and there with the hardware, but I was impressed. It looks beautiful; it feels expensive. Whether or not want to take it home, you can at least respect what it is. Now, personally, if NI could just give us this in a size closer to the Maschine mk2, or even Maschine Studio, I’d be interested … more interested, indeed, than I would ever say I’ve been in a DJ controller. It might even win over some producers who haven’t gotten very deep into Traktor as producers. In the meantime, it remains something big and luggable and pricey, and tied exclusively to Traktor software, and also powerful – a flagship, and sized to match.

But while the flame wars rage, the S8 also represents something else. The vision of DJing is finally breaking apart from faking turntables on hardware. And that, I think, can only be a good thing. The reality is, syncing two tracks may not be the most important thing DJs do any more. And maybe, looking at all DJs have been over the years, it never really was.

It’s just that anyone hoping to compete as a DJ product in clubs will have to go up against the juggernaut that is — wait for it –

Sticking a USB stick into a CDJ.

But, hey. Competition is always, always good.


Traktor Kontrol S8

By the way, I think NI really nailed the production-centric workflow of the S8 in that launch film. If you liked the music, don’t miss this Bandcamp compilation – some terrific artists here who just happened to get into the NI promo, via a great Berlin-based collective called Through My Speakers.

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Learn to Jam with Just One Synth Voice: MeeBlip + Ableton Push vs. Gustavo Bravetti [Video]

Ableton Live and Ableton Push afford new ways of working, allowing you to put loads of parameters beneath your fingertips. Of course, the means of doing that may not be immediately obvious, behind the dance between grid, encoders, and automation envelopes.

Leave it to Montevideo-born, virtuoso dance music maestro Gustavo Bravetti to show us how it’s done.

Gustavo pairs the MeeBlip SE, the enhanced “digital freak” original version of our synth, with Live and Push. To connect the hardware with automation of the external synth, he uses a Max for Live patch for the MeeBlip (which you’re free to download yourself if you own the MeeBlip/MeeBlip SE).

(The MeeBlip is not the first open source synth, as the video might imply, but could be considered the first widely-produced, ready-to-play hardware synth to be under a fully open source hardware license; others were available in kit form.)

The lessons here, though, work in any hardware synth. And you could also apply them to controllers other than Push, if you prefer.

In particular, note some particular tips:

  • The Max for Live device automates sounds on a single voice by associating melodic steps with different sound presets.
  • Preset automation will overwrite live tweaking, so you can tweak variations freely.
  • Built-in morphing in his patch creates still more variations.
  • You can use this as either a live performance tool or an arrangement tool – and even get obsessive with the latter, since it writes automation envelopes into your arrangement.

Check out the MeeBlip SE Remote patch – for your MeeBlip or another synth, if you feel like learning from it.
Meeblip Se Remote 1.0

It’s funny to hear the original MeeBlip again, as I mostly spend time these days with MeeBlip anode, which is now in stock from us and various dealers in America and Europe. (A sale is on now for US$/EUR€ 129.95.) The original character is still in anode, but the unruly temper is more of the desirable variety, thanks to the new analog filter and streamlined design. (We also abandoned presets, which work better here in software.) And Gustavo promises an anode version soon.

Full description from Gustavo:

The Meeblip Se is an incredible synthesiser with a very interesting and distinctive sound. This sound is produced by (at first sight) a relative simple sound engine… but once you start playing whit its possibilities you realise that this little digital freak with an occasionally fretful temper, has a defined personality capable of a wide range of sonic possibilities.

The Meeblip Se default preset system can store up to 16 presets. To store and recall them, you have to use a combination of buttons and switches. Thinking on use it on my live performances, the Meeblip Se’s default preset’s system seems at first sight to be short-legged, unpractical, and overcomplicated, and in fact… kinda it is!

After creating dozens of very interesting and useful sounds on my Meeblip Se, and realising that most of them was lost in action, I decided to work on an alternative to store, recall and organise my Meeblip Se’s presets. Because I want to use the Meeblip Se on my live shows I also need to be able to recall those presets remotely and/or automatically in any given moment. At last but no least, I want to be able to control all the Meeblip parameters from a most informative surface controller, the Ableton-Akai Push Controller.

Lucky me that all parameters on the Meeblip Se can be controlled with MIDI CCs, the answer was pretty clear, a device in MaxForLive would be able to do all what I need an much more… and that is was bring us here.

Gustavo is an extraordinary producer – proof positive that you can mix hackery with the kind of dance prowess to move festival-sized crowds, all as one artist. (No, he’s not hiring teams of nerds. He’s entirely DIY.) Follow him on Facebook:

And I hope we hear more from him soon.


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Groovy, Moody Songs, Flea Market Sound Design Finds: Meet Sofia Kourtesis


Half Greek, half Peruvian, born in Lima but raised between Germany and New York, Sofia Kourtesis is a fresh, emerging voice. Her music interweaves shadows and introspection with smart grooves – seductive melancholy. Her mixes, too, cross similar territory, aided by her broad knowledge of music as a globe-trotting DJ and booker.

So, it’s a perfect start to our week this week, with some listening and a peek inside a studio. This is what’s so exciting about being in music now: we get to hear those new artists find original paths.

Apart from being a sci-fi movie addict and teenage veteran of a hip-hop band, Sofia is an obsessively hard-working DJ, now turning her style to a more minimal, restrained approach in her own music. And in those productions, you’ll hear the chime of toys and lo-fi flea market finds alongside more – innocence and experience. That mix of styles finds new clarity in her single, “Killa,” which to my ears is a strong indication this is an artist to watch, in advance of a release coming soon. You can check in later to see if I was right.

In the meantime, I was curious to talk to Sofia a little about how she works.

Your setup is built around Ableton Live, right? What will find in your production toolkit?

I use also an MPC that I found in a German flea market, old Casio keyboard synths [a Casio PT-1]. I sample a lot of children toys – triangles for children, mini keyboards – and sound that I record from the streets.

I love the sounds of old tapes; I just recorded some of those.

I’ve found myself talking a lot lately about how people learn. How did you go about learning production?

I learned by doing. I have a good friend of mine that is musician and help me out with some details and teaching me how to use Ableton Push.



And DJing, what’s your tool of choice?

I use vinyls and and old Casio machine and an MPC.

Your voice seems to me the most essential part of your productions. Tell us about that a bit.

My voice is the line in between my productions. I create the beats sometimes out of it, by sampling just some bits of it.

You’ve been really active as a DJ and touring. Can you tell us a bit about where we’d find you, and what you’ve been working on?

I’ve been working on my first EP, called “This is It” — the first Single is “Killa.” I had been playing in New York lately, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and New Zealand — I love doing it.

For more:


Give a listen to the darker tunes that came before Killa and the upcoming EP, spooky sounds and ephemeral drifting voice in the mist:

It’s also worth listening to Sofia’s mixes, giving you a sense of the threads of her musical influence:

Local Suicide did a great interview in their LSD Faze Time series.

German speakers, Thump DE has also done a profile.

And you can follow her here:

Sofia Kourtesis * MissSofie* [Facebook]

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Morpheme is a Microscopic Audiovisual Journey Into Sound by Electric Indigo

Morpheme excerpt [Electric Indigo & Thomas Wagensommerer] from Electric Indigo on Vimeo.

Journey into “Morpheme,” a half-hour audiovisual odyssey by Electric Indigo (aka Susanne Kirchmayr) and visualist Thomas Wagensommerer. An exercise in granular extremism, it begins as a delicately crackling mist of noise, as if atoms were dancing. Just about five and a half minutes into this excerpt, someone switches on a light, and it buzzes with pounding, angrily-vibrating rhythms.

Electric Indigo’s music is a regular feature here because I never cease to be amazed at the breadth of her musical output, ranging from darkly-grooving club-ready material to more idiosyncratic experimental voyages, over a 20-plus-year career. On top of that, her female:pressure project continues to spotlight deserving and under-appreciated women in electronic music. (For more of what you can dance to, if you need to move around a bit at the moment, read on.)

“Morpheme” with Wagensommerer is a literal, imaginative microcosm.

The visuals are evocative in the excerpt, but you can get still more of the range of sounds in a slightly longer SoundCloud excerpt, which opens up into slowly-modulating, pitched digital colors.

Susanne expands on the description of the project.

All sounds are derived from a sentence Sadie Plant said: “To let noise into the system is a kind of fine art in both cybernetic terms and in terms of making music, too.” It was recorded at the ctm panel “sound, gender, technology” this year, which was organized by Annie Goh.

The video is derived from a transcription of the sentence, too. Each character has a 3d representation, and these representations are equally deconstructed and re-assembled. We both use various FFT applications to achieve this. I mostly worked with Robert [henke]‘s granulator II [Max patch - that's free for Ableton Live / Max for Live].

The resulting auditive and visual structures correlate. When performed live, Thomas receives an audio signal of my sum.

I am going to develop a surround version of it. The stereo, pure audio version of Morpheme was premiered at Heroines of Sound Festival at Berghain Kantine in june 2014.

If we are lucky, we could present it as multichannel audio and surround HD video one day.

There you go – any presenters who want to help make some of that “luck,” ahem, here we are!

We’ll share the results of the panel, incidentally, next week – I’ve got a story on that and full audio, to share as CDM heads to Amsterdam Dance Event.

I love instruments that can prove wildly different results. For contrast, see Granulator II in the hands of Robert Henke — equally beautiful, but very different both sonically and compositionally. And that to me is the mark of a great tool, that ability to be surprised.

For her part, Electric Indigo can make you move around as well as scratch your chin. Having played the intimate Kantine next door in June, she’s playing Sunday evening at Berghain. (Pay no mind to Berghain’s “Innervisions” title – quite a lot of other labels represented in this 24+-hour span, and Indigo flying her female:pressure banner.)

And it’s nice to see artists bold enough to take one name for experimental and club projects alike. With that in mind, here’s a new podcast for Detroit’s Just Dreams, one that nicely inter-weaves techno and … well, delicious oddness. Also some music from Paula Temple, whom I look forward to catching up with next week at ADE.

Full specs, links, and track listing:

More dreams. Good music.

Episode 011 – Electric Indigo



01. Irradiation – Entropy [Temp~ 017d]
02. Electric Indigo – Morphem SN [unreleased]
03. Antonio Ruscito – Ionosfera [Resiliens 011]
04. Sejon – Dark Tunnel / Aleja Sanchez Remix [Etichetta Nera 031]
05. Bruno Sacco – Hallucinegenics [Gravite 005]
06. Electric Indigo – Cinq [Suicide Circus Dark Series 007]
07. Synus0006 – Weird [B4CK6ROUNDNO1SE Y01]
08. Mike Parker – Flying Nerves [REPITCH 04]
09. Orphx – Drowning For You [Sonic Groove D1466]
10. Aerts – Fracture / Developer Remix [Authentic Pew 010]
11. The Plant Worker – 1 [LIMITED.G 005]
12. Electric Indigo – Zero [Suicide Circus Dark Series 007]
13. Mental Resonance – 31.0 / Angel Costa Remix [Serial Number 849 031]
14. VSK – Resistance [Genesa 005]
15. Terrence Fixmer – Elka [Deeply Rooted 047]
16. Svaag – Sade [Semantica 66]
16. Yaleesa Hall – Second Leyland [Will & Ink 004]
17. Paula Temple – Monstro [R&S 1412]
18. Scalameriya – Kneel! [Newrhythmic 015 Ltd]
19. Val_Ex – Metacognition [Solar One Music 030]
20. Orphx – Tangled Paths [Sonic Groove D1466]
21. Allen – EM26 [M_Rec Ltd 22]
22. SNTS – N4 [SNTS 05]
23. Val_Ex – Atom [Solar One Music 030]

I need words other than dark. Bleak? Unsettling? Evil? Wrong in a good way? Something. It’s Friday. Dancing about architecture and whatnot. Just listen.

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South Park Mocks Music Producers – and Their Fake DAW Is Surprisingly Realistic

In an episode last week, South Park took on 17-year-old producer Lorde. The punchline: Stan’s Dad is actually Lorde. (For some reason, publications like SPIN think the writers are serious about this. In the immortal words of MST3k, guys, just repeat to yourself, “it’s just a show. I should really just relax.”)

What makes all of this interesting to us is that the show did go to some detail creating a realistic DAW UI. Eagle-eyed readers may figure out which UI elements were modelled here. It’s closest to SONAR, I would say, though with a GarageBand / Tracktion-style loop browser and a very clear Pro Tools toolbar at top.

And, yes, it does take an amusing shot at how production tools can mask … a lack of talent. (Guilty as charged.)




In case the YouTube link is removed, here’s the video on Hulu (for US audiences or people who know how to use VPNs only).

Thank you, David Abravanel.

Gluten Free Ebola [Comedy Central]

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Cool Tricks Wireless MIDI Can Do Now, on Mac, iPad, and iPhone

I love wires. You might even say I dream of them. But it’s time to stop thinking of MIDI as being a wire. MIDI has always been transport independent; that is, it’s a protocol that can run over anything.

Apple has been doing more than anyone lately to exploit that potential, building wireless MIDI capabilities into iOS and (with the upcoming Yosemite) OS X. Now, here’s where wireless starts to look appealing – when you go mobile. Bluetooth is now capable of more reliable, low-latency, easy-to-configure setup than before, which means you might want to wipe your brain of your previous impressions of what going wireless means. We’ll do a full test as this stuff comes out (I’ve just received a PUC, and need to do some proper performance testing). But here are some previews of some of the tricks this setup can pull off. And they all work today – well, in some form, though not always on released software.

“Wej,” at top (pronounced “wedge”), is the most ambitious Bluetooth MIDI-based solution. Cable lovers, it’s blasphemy. All MIDI and even all audio communication from the iPad is wireless, using bluetooth MIDI and AirPlay, respectively. Instead, you use the connector on your iPad exclusively for power. The Wej base station performs other functions, instead:

1. It powers and connects wired USB MIDI devices – acting as a hub for controllers, connecting them to iOS (or OS X) over Bluetooth MIDI.
2. It connects to external audio.
3. It acts as a sticky stand, propping up your iPad and keeping it from slipping.
4. It lights up in disco patterns, synced to your music. (An app controls the patterns.)

The packability of Wej is perhaps the coolest bit. There’s an Arduino inside, so you can reprogram its functions. Those 48 “ultra-bright” LEDs are programmable. (For instance, you could … turn them off. Sorry, imagining this being slightly blinding in some situations. Okay, you might also come up with cool effects.)

And MIDI and USB, disco lights aside, are quite functional. You can reprogram MIDI functions, for making your own arpeggiators, filters, and the like. The USB ports are proper USB host ports, so they work not only with USB MIDI devices but gadgets like joysticks and keyboards, too.

I would still prefer cables for recording or rigorous live performance work, but as a sketchpad to keep on your desk daily, or as part of a larger live rig, I think it could be appealing. (I’m also guessing a lot of people are underestimating the quality of wireless performance these days – the iPad’s sometimes-buggy WiFi notwithstanding.)

It’s US$99 on preorder, assuming they get enough preorders, via the talented iOS developer Retronyms.


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If you prefer wireless MIDI as a way of bringing together conventional hardware, your best bet is still probably PUC. Using battery power (or USB), you can add the puck-shaped, um, PUC to any existing controller – and you’re free to do with your iPad as you will. It doesn’t have the USB functions of the Wej, but then if you’re looking at MIDI gear and just want to quickly control it from iOS, its tiny form factor and MIDI DIN may look just fine. (Also, I have to say, using Apple’s own Smart Cover I haven’t had any trouble with my iPad mini slipping around.)

Stay tuned for our test.

Wireless MIDI isn’t limited to all this new-fangled hardware. The most convenient application won’t require any hardware at all. You can now route MIDI wirelessly between an iOS mobile device and OS X Yosemite. From mobile to desktop, that means multi-touch controllers, X/Y pads, alternative keyboards, step sequencers, DAW controllers, and the like can all become quick-and-dirty controllers for your computer. That seems like it’ll be ideal for quick control of a computer on the go — sitting on a bus, for instance, you could whip out an iPad mini and play without having to remember cables and controllers. Going the opposite direction, you’ll have an option for sequencing and syncing your mobile gadget from your desktop.

Yosemite isn’t out yet, so developers aren’t necessarily shipping this yet, but early reports from devs have been extremely positive – see the image from Matt Smada, below. (Thanks to Matt and Gwydion for the reports.) Developers have been enthusiastic about both performance and ease of development. And that’s good news – this doesn’t have to be a replacement for wires; if it’s easy to do, it can be complementary. There’s no reason your creativity has to die just because you don’t have the right cable or adapter.

Matt’s app can even connect to other apps that haven’t yet added support for the feature. “Think of it as a route-everything-everywhere app,” he says, in a quick-and-dirty Facebook post on his proof of concept.


For more on the feature, you can watch the sessions from WWDC (if you’re a developer). For everyone else, expect more on this soon – particularly as we test real-world performance and reliability.

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Techno Sounds Like It Could Kill You: Neil Landstrumm, Syntax Error Interview, Music

There is a mysterious and wonderful appeal to the dangerous power of music.

Music can come from the harmonious sound of the spheres, yes. It can sound like a sunny summer picnic. Or – it can sound like it’s trying to kill you. Not every genre goes there, but speaking for Germany’s label Snork Enterprises, Neil Landstrumm and Syntax Error refer to that murderous quality of techno.

Today’s words and sounds therefore come from Snork.

The interview at top I felt had to be published on CDM just for this quote from Syntax Error, aka label boss Christian Schachta. But keep watching. At two and a half minutes, you think it’s over, but stick around for one- (or three-) word answers. And it seems to want more than

When they’re talking about Tresor, they don’t mean the Tresor that’s open now. Those basement blinking lights are here, as seen with Syntax Error in 2001:

And yes, about that Under the Bridge party. It seems it included a surprise DJ appearance from the Polizei. Funny coincidence – they’ve played some of my parties, too.

But Snork isn’t in Berlin (though some of its artists are, naturally). That “Gießen” you keep seeing refers to a small town in Hessen, in the center of Germany. As in, “put your hands up for Gießen,” or “Gießen hustles harder,” or, actually, neither of those.


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