Splice Sounds has launched Sounds of Mayday, a sample pack featuring over 200 sounds recorded by Berlin DJ, producer and label owner Alex Ridha aka Boys Noize. “MAYDAY SOUNDS include all the sounds I recorded for my latest album ‘Mayday.’ These are 100% analog recorded sounds, using diverse drum machines, synthesizer & modules, and processed […]
SoundCloud’s do-or-die moment came Friday – and it seems it’s do, not die. The company now takes on new executives, and a new direction.
First, it’s important to understand just what happened yesterday. Despite some unhinged and misleading blog reports, the situation didn’t involve the site suddenly switching off – following the layoffs, the company said it had enough cash to survive through the end of the fourth quarter. That said, the concern was, without reassurances the company could last past that, SoundCloud could easily have slipped into a death spiral, with its value dropping and top talent fleeing a sinking ship.
What happened: New investment stepped in, with a whopping US$169.5 million, for SoundCloud’s biggest round ever (series F). That follows big past investments from Twitter, early venture funding, and debt financing last year.
This gives the company a new direction, some new leadership and leadership experience, and the stability to keep current talent in the building.
Under new management
What changes: Plenty. When you invest that much money, you can get some changes from the company to ensure you’re more likely to get your investment back.
- New CEO: Kerry Trainor (formerly CEO of Vimeo)
- New COO: Mike Weissman (formerly COO of Vimeo)
- New board members: Trainor joins the board, alongside Fred Davis (a star investor and music attorney), and Joe Puthenveetil (also music-focused), each coming from Raine (the firm that did the deal).
- A much lower valuation: In order to secure funding, SoundCloud adjusted what had been at one point a $700 million valuation to a pre-investment $150 million. That’s not much above its annual run rate, and it indicates how far they’ve fallen.
- …but maybe we don’t do this runway thing any more. The good news – TechCrunch reports the company says it has a $100 million annual run-rate. This investment means they’re not in urgent need of cash. They’ve bought themselves time to genuinely become a money making business, instead of constantly needing to go back to investors for money. (“Dad??? Can I borrow $70 million?”)
What stays the same:
- SoundCloud as you know it keeps running. (Meaning, if you aren’t terribly interested in the business story here, carry on uploading and forget about it!)
- Eric Wahlforss stays on. The co-founder’s title is adjusted to “Chief Product Officer” instead of CTO, but it appears he’ll retain a hands-on role. That’s important, too, because no one knows the product – or how it’s used by musicians – than Eric does. It’s easy to criticize the executive team, but if you’re a current user, this is good news. (Just bringing in some Vimeo people and dumping the people running the product would have almost been very bad for the service you use.)
Now, most headlines are focusing on the cash lifeline, and that’s absolutely vital. But this is a major talent injection, too. Fred Davis is one of the key figures in New York around music and tech, from his role as an attorney to as an investor. (He was known to float around hackdays, too.) Oh, yeah – he’s also the son of Clive Davis, who started NYU’s music business school. Puthenveetil also represents some significant expertise in the area.
Kerry Trainor is about the single most experienced person you could find to lead SoundCloud – more so, in fact, than the executives who have steered the company before. His streaming experience, as SoundCloud points out in their press release, spans back 20 years. (They leave out the names, because kids don’t like AOL, Yahoo Music, or Launch Media any more, but experience matters.) And he is largely credited with making Vimeo a profitable company.
What’s the future of SoundCloud now?
For all the skepticism, Alex seems to have delivered on exactly the promises he’s been making in past weeks, vague as they may have seemed. SoundCloud does appear ready to re-focus on creators, and the financing means ongoing independence is a real possibility.
Whether it works or not, it’s tough to overstate what a significant shift in direction this represents. For years, people have casually referred to SoundCloud as the “YouTube of audio.” (Oddly, the phrase I first wrote when they started was a “Flickr or audio,” which, uh, dates that story. But it does also indicate creators, not consumers, were initially the focus, so I at least go that bit right.)
It seems SoundCloud aren’t just bringing on former Vimeo executives. They seem poised to follow Vimeo’s example.
We already know that endlessly expanding scale and more streaming is a disastrous business model. The issue is, if listeners aren’t paying, and any royalties are accruing, the more people listen, the more money you lose. Spotify is facing that now and may need a similar change in direction, and the entire music industry is caught up in this black hole. Companies like Google and Apple can absorb the losses if they choose; an independent company can’t.
So scale alone isn’t the answer. And just having more listeners doesn’t necessarily mean the kind of attention that gets you caring fans or lands you gigs.
Vimeo faced a similar challenge, in the face of challenges from YouTube and Facebook’s own video push – each backed by big companies and revenue streams that the creator-focused, smaller company lacked.
What’s unique about Vimeo, under Kerry Trainor in particular, is that they found a way to compete by focusing on the creators uploading to the service rather than just the viewers watching it. While YouTube always tried to encourage uploads, its focus was on scale – and ultimately, the toolset was geared more for advertisers and watchers, and casual content creators, than for serious content makers.
Vimeo offers an alternative that serious uploaders like. Actual streaming quality is higher. The presentation is more focused on your content. There are powerful tools for controlling that presentation and collecting stats – if you’re willing to pay. And there’s not only greater intangible value to those serious uploaders, but greater tangible returns, too. It’s easier to sell your content – and, because there’s a collected community of pro users, easier to get audiences that support paying gigs.
Now, to do that in the face of YouTube’s scale, Vimeo had to make money. And that’s where Trainor did, by encouraging more of its creators to pay.
We already know SoundCloud’s plans to make listeners pay have fallen flat. So, as users have been clamoring for years, now is a chance to refocus on the creators.
I think anyone who knew Vimeo figured this was the best guess as the company’s new strategy the moment they saw Trainor and Weissman rumored to take over executive roles. And sure enough, in an exclusive talk with Billboard, Trainor says point blank that’s his strategy:
SoundCloud’s Pro and Pro Unlimited subscription services provide insights into which tracks are most popular and where. The Pro service, which costs $7 a month, provides basic stats such as play counts and likes, see plays by country, turn on or off public comments and upload up to six hours of audio. The Unlimited offering, for a $15 monthly fee, lifts the cap on the amount of music that can be uploaded and provides more specific analytics.
Trainor hopes to increase the number of creators who pay to use SoundCloud Unlimited’s service by adding an even more robust creative toolkit.
Emphasis mine. And reaction from users I’ve seen is, even a lot of die-hard SoundCloud enthusiasts in my early adopter social feed suggest people found reason to pay for Pro, but not Unlimited. Poor differentiation and stagnant offerings just gave little motivation.
That’s not to knock even SoundCloud’s rocket growth. On the contrary, it’s pretty tough to argue against sharing your sound on a site that’s one of the Internet’s biggest, with one of the world’s most popular mobile apps alongside. But now having grown to a huge audience, SoundCloud needs to fresh its tools for creators.
Translating from video to audio isn’t going to be easy. Part of the reason SoundCloud presumably didn’t push as hard on creator subscriptions is, there’s no clear indication what would make musicians pay for them. Audio is simpler than video – easier to encode, easier to share. Serving video on your own server is a nightmare, but serving audio isn’t. And, sorry to be blunt, but then there’s the issue of whether music producers really earn enough to want to blow cash on expensive subscriptions. Compare a motion graphics firm or design agency using Vimeo, who could make back a couple hundred bucks in subscription fees in, literally, an hour of work.
Even beyond that, I’m not clear what SoundCloud creators want from the service that they aren’t already getting. (Okay, Groups – but those probably aren’t coming back, and I don’t know that people would pay a subscription for them.) The toolchain out of the browser is already powerful and sophisticated, which has always made Web tools a bit less appealing – why use a browser-based mastering tool like Landr when you already have powerful mastering tools in your DAW, for instance? If you’ve invested enough money in gear and software to want to share a track to begin with, what will make you spend a few dollars a month for more?
That said, there’s clearly a passionate and motivated community of people making music. And note that the new talent at SoundCloud has music experience and interest as well as video. Trainor is evidently an avid guitarist (what, you’re not a fan of “Etro Anime,” his band?). He cut his teeth in tech in the area of music. (LAUNCH Media went from CD-ROM-taped-to-a-print-magazine to Internet radio offerings that look a lot like how we listen to music now.) And he’s currently on the board of Fender guitar.
Vimeo also had a long-standing interest in music and the music community in the company’s native New York City.
These are tough problems to solve. But I can think of few better people to tackle them. Basically, Alex and Eric not only saved their company for now, but seem to have gotten what they wanted in the process.
Also, it’s worth pointing out – the music business wants SoundCloud to live, not die. I think it would be unequivocally bad for musicians and labels, in fact, with independent and international artists feeling the worst impact. But it’s also worth noting Fred Davis tells Billboard: “If I could show to you the number of people who have been calling us, expressing fear about it going away, you would be shocked.”
It’s still possible investors will look to sell, but I suspect with the valuation at its low point and the tech world in general losing interest in music’s money-losing propositions and legal mess, independence is probably the safe bet.
If SoundCloud can turn this around, it’ll be a great example of a tech company humbling itself and successfully changing course.
We’ll be watching, and when this team settles in, hopefully will get to talk to the new team.
SoundCloud saved by emergency funding as CEO steps aside [TechCrunch]
SoundCloud Secures Significant Investment Led by The Raine Group and Temasek [SoundCloud press release]
Exciting news and the future of SoundCloud [Alex on the SoundCloud blog]
The post SoundCloud, now Vimeo of Sound, instead of YouTube of Sound? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Berlin’s idea of a summer holiday is a bit different: shroud yourself in black, retreat into a giant concrete bunker, and prepare for an onslaught of experimental sound and light.
But that’s Berlin Atonal Festival in a nutshell. It’s what Tresor entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann calls “a platform for radical ways in electronic music … in an industrial cathedral,” a packed-solid schedule of music and media art in the hulking abandoned shell of the power plant above the techno club.
This film affords probably the best insight into that
And now, Atonal is at an interesting inflection point. While the festival had its roots in the former West Berlin, 1982-90, it got a fairly significant reboot after a 13-year hiatus. So, sure, Hegemann himself carried over from the festival he first started. But a new curatorial team, a new context, this whole, uh, computer thing that happened, the reunification of Germany, the transformation of Berlin into international capital, the explosion of techno – these are non-trivial changes. That’s to say nothing of the move from a fairly conventional club (SO36) to a DDR-constructed behemoth that is literally used to record reverb impulse responses.
And the festival that once hosted the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten now treats listeners to a brand of experimental music that, while still adventurous, is starting to become commonplace in the festival circuit.
But maybe that’s the state of “radical” electronic music in general, certainly in Europe and the islands of media art chic around the globe. A fifth year festival isn’t going to be a shock that the first-year one is. But more than that, there’s a brand of violently sensory, retina- and eardrum-blasting but intelligent and high-concept experimental festival fare. And it’s grown popular. That popularity also transforms at least a circle of people making it. Their sound may be distorted and aggressive, but now it’s out of the tiny basements and blown-out crap PAs, and onto expensive speaker arrays, surround sound. There are sound technicians, even.
I’m of the opinion this doesn’t make experimental sound less experimental – on the contrary, it ups the acoustic and optical firepower and precision available to artists, which gives them a wider spectrum to exploit. It inarguably makes it less underground, but it also need not destroy underground aesthetics – and I think artists being able to eat is a good thing.
Of course, the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed yet. So I’ve watched curators cherry-pick their favorite acts from past Atonal, then import them to their own festival the following year. But that’s in something of a bubble, centering around Berlin (and London, and Amsterdam, and other capitals) in Europe, and festivals like MUTEK in the Americas (now a kind of pan-American festival franchise, in fact). It’s to the point where I can’t recall which festival discovered whom.
That consistency is easy to criticize, particularly for anyone jealous of Atonal’s grand spectacle (as a curator), cool crowds (as an audience member), or artist opportunities (for music and media art makers). But on the other hand, for this circle, it can begin to allow refinement. Audiovisual works in particular benefit from repetition and iteration, as you rely on multiple media to mature in parallel, collaborations to deepen. And a certain oneupmanship among lineups can drive artists to hone their craft.
This leaves us the question, what makes Atonal special?
Well, the obvious edge is its space. The artists interviewed aren’t kidding: you can’t imagine how big Kraftwerk is until you enter. It’s bigger than cameras can capture, vaster than words can convey. The Atonal organizers have found a way to tune the experience for listeners center stage, amazingly stopping it from turning into mud. And artists are adjusting their sets, too. But I agree with Sam Kerridge – it’s a unique pleasure to wander the space. Festivals are so often a pre-packaged, linear experience, a proscenium blasting a pre-determined significance to a packed crowd. In Kraftwerk, you can explore a set the way you would an art museum after closing. You can stand under the stage. You can find a sweet spot by a wall where reflections transform your perspective. You can find yourself gazing in complete stillness at some installation. And Atonal combines this with Ohm (the former battery room of the power plant, an intimate tile-walled affair) and Tresor (the basement, with its famous metal-bar booth).
That says something about Berlin as it is now, citywide, year-round. It’s too much music, and it’s dark and industrial and sometimes monotonous. But you’re free in that overabundance to chart your own way, to come and go in a music culture that seems to have no beginning, middle, or end.
And this year, Atonal seems poised to build on what the festival has constructed after four editions. In short:
Back to experimental music’s roots. I always have a historical bias, so this is what I’m excited about. For both Atonal and The Long Now (two Kraftwerk-based festivals sharing some of the same curators), attendees are treated to a mix of historical concert music / new music / historical works and new commissions. In this year’s Atonal, it’s Stockhausen‘s turn. His 8-channel spatial OKTOPHONIE is inspired by the sounds of warfare (a tradition itself with threads back to Italian futurists). Stockhausen collaborator and director of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kathinka Pasveer, leads that recreation, and younger composers will try out the system, too.
Rashad Becker + Ena on those eight channels should be especially good. But it’s nice to be treated to Karlheinz, too – having heard Cage and Reich recalled in this space, I can’t wait.
New stuff. There’s too much here to mention, but it’s fair to say this year’s Atonal promises more emerging artists and premieres, and might be one of the breakthrough festivals in 2017 generally. I’m curious about the “composed live act” of Chinese performance artist and composer Pan Daijing, the collaboration of Renick Bell (live coder) and Fis (sound designer). Sophie Schnell (PYUR) I’ve followed since her first AV show, and she has a unique and sensitive approach to her solo audiovisual work – this seems one to watch. Turkish-born Nene Hatun has a Rumi-inspired work.
I’m keen to see LCC (Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda) plus Pedro Maia; these Editions Mego-recorded artists are at the top of their synth game, and it’ll be spectacular to see them on this grander scale.
One sure-to-be-poingnant moment is Argentine-born installation artist, instrument builder and clarinetist Lucio Capace, who will have a trio doing a remembrance of the late experimental legend Mika Vainio.
There are also just a lot of new live shows. There’s a reason curators scout out Atonal for talent; there are few chances to see this many new AV works anywhere. (Another chance this fall will be Prague’s Lunch Meat; I’ll be there, too.)
Another easy bet: go see anyone Japanese. Thanks to collaborating with the New Assembly festival in Tokyo, Atonal is fresh with a bunch of legendary Japanese talent not normally seen in Europe. (I’d like CDM in general to get a little closer to the Japanese scene, and since I can’t always jet over to Japan, this will be a nice shortcut.)
All stars. Okay, and there’s more Puce Mary, more Roly Porter, more Shackleton, more Emptyset, etc. etc.. But with new premieres and such from these artists, there’s a reason to bring the all-star quasi-residents back. Some possible highlights – the combination of Shackleton’s music, Anika‘s voice over, Berlin artist Strawalde, and live visualist Pedro Maia is on my must-see list – partly because that combination sounds like it’ll either be transcendent or a cluttered mess, and that uncertainty ought to be why we go see stuff. Emptyset is doing something with architecture – and architecture is what Kraftwerk is about.
We’re Northern Electronics fans around these parts, so a program by the label’s Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg is a must on Sunday.
I’m skipping the DJ lineup, but it’s also really robust.
Some free sounds
Can’t fly to Berlin? (or, uh, walk across the river as you don’t work for Ableton or Native Instruments?) Fret not.
The Wire has a special, free download of a number of wonderful live recordings from 2014, 2015, and 2016.
And, okay, basically these are all favorites here – note Peder Mannerfelt, PYUR, Ena, and so on returning in 2017.
It’s their Below The Radar Special Edition
Alessandro Cortini “Perdonare” 0:04:56
A Vision Of Love “Rose Transept” 0:06:49
Marshstepper “When Misfortune Confounds Us” 0:10:23
Felix K + Ena “Live At Berlin Atonal 2016” 0:03:55
Pan Daijing + JASSS “April” 0:05:23
Abdulla Rashim “Live At Berlin Atonal 2014” 0:04:49
SUMS “Budapest” 0:04:52
Peder Mannerfelt “The Theory” 0:04:41
Orphx + JK Flesh “Light Bringer” 0:04:42
Caterina Barbieri “Human Developers” 0:12:41
PYUR + Fis “The Pact”
The post Radical electronics on a grand scale: Berlin Atonal in its fifth reboot year appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Our friends Skinnerbox get their hands on Roland’s SE-02 – the Boutique series collaboration with Studio Electronics. Just don’t call it a Minimoog clone.
So, while we wait for Roland’s SH-010, here’s a different take on the Boutique range. That is, really the only thing the two devices have in common is the cute little Boutique form factor.
Everything else represents two different angles on what Roland is doing with synth hardware today.
The SH-010, TB-03, and TR-09 are all digital models, like the AIRA range. They incorporate Roland’s own proprietary circuit modeling technology, and a bunch of corresponding digital features.
The SE-02 is about analog, and about collaboration – Studio Electronics are a small American maker working with the Japanese giant, whereas the AIRA and other Boutiques come out of Roland’s in-house design and engineering teams (if a hipper, small group of them).
But it’s also worth noting something else the SE-02 isn’t. It isn’t a Minimoog clone. And as such, you get something that’s inexpensive, like the Behringer Model D, but without trying to be a copy of the original Moog.
The SE-02 wouldn’t exist without the Minimoog, and it does copy the panel layout and look and feel of the 70s classic. But it’s better understood as a Minimoog-class synthesizer rather than a direct clone. A Yamaha grand, by comparison, is closely related to a Steinway Model D piano, but they aren’t the same instrument. And indeed, the Minimoog is so influential as to warrant a class of similar instruments that represent a variation on the theme.
That means the SE-02 has its own sound. And adding something like a dedicated LFO and delay are pretty major additions to how you’d play the synth (if not uncommon ones).
Skinnerbox are some of the musicians I most admire for their knowledge of instruments and their uniquely musical chops in live performance of dance music, so they’re the perfect people to do a hands-on review. A Minimoog is also part of their regular gig. Here we go:
And speaking of Skinnerbox’s live work, let’s enjoy their new live version of their single “Gender” – proof that you can do elaborate arrangements live (but you knew that):
And here we are playing together earlier this year:
Images courtesy Skinnerbox. Keep up with them on Facebook:
The post Skinnerbox get their hands on Roland’s SE-02, which isn’t a Minimoog appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
In Mexican artist Lvis Mejía’s imagination, the ritual of sound blinks from Peruvian shamans to the Berlin zoo. We talked to him about his new work. It’s an experience of shared culture, collective unconscious – and a tale of assembling a career and collective between Mexico and Europe.
Born in Mexico but with his career emerging in the European art scene, Mejía is now a known name from appearances at Centre Pompidou, MIT, Transmediale Berlin, MUTEK (Montréal & Mexico City), CTM Siberia, ICA London, Secret Solstice Festival, and Visiones Sonoras Festival.
But while Lvis’ answers are complex, layered, and abstract, his music is anything but dry. Instead of a clinical collage of sound recordings, his project Anthropology of AmnesiA is full of acrobatic, cacophonous collisions – a musicircus for the headphones. It’s part meditation, part anarchy – sometimes unexpectedly moving from one to the other. Some sounds are found, some synthesized, some spontaneously orchestral. It’s music for a century of dirt-cheap international airfare and dislodged post-colonial hierarchies, a celebratory ceremony of chaos. And that seems a wonderful antidote to the designer-chic, on-brand conservatism of so much music today.
It’s all a perfect fit for his own collective, oqko, on which this record appears.
There’s also quite a lot of thought behind this, as his expansive discussion with us reveals.
CDM: I want to speak first to this act of remembering. Field recordings are a big part of your process, I understand. Is that connected to your own process of collecting and returning to memories? Does it transport you back to where a recording was made, or are these raw materials in your work?
Lvis: Each take brings me back to its source if needed, nevertheless – within the bigger picture – it is more about every element serving the common cause, a place where each single factor succumbs to the sum of all. The singular beauty behind them as raw materials resides in their essential immateriality and the uniqueness of exploiting time as a bridge between the recording process as an esoteric happening and the dry moment of rationalized sound treatment at the studio in order to articulate the final shape of it.
It has been a while since the circumstance of remembering; “be mindful of” (from the Latin re, ‘again’, and memorari) has surpassed some barriers of my own comprehension and became a recurrent topic of analysis in my work. Regardless, approaching it through different angles and disciplines, the events in Anthropology of AmnesiA address rather the symptoms of what I understand as sound essay.
Given this is such a multi-layered collage of sound, what is your process for gathering materials? Do you have an approach to collecting field recordings?
This album is a mysteriously unexpected hybrid. Its compositional process was directly affected by two other parallel endeavors. In other words, it is the offspring of a major ongoing project called Memory in Amnesia and one of my previous albums, AformA, which was released in 2012 on CMMAS.
Memory in Amnesia is a project based on the premise of a common origin. I believe that there is, at large, a single culture of humanity with a shared set of themes. The focus lies on following the trace of our ancestors and capturing the audio recordings of rituals, which I see as purest form of collective memory and as typical examples for different manifestations of a universal culture. Thanks to the Oral Tradition (viva voce) involved, these living ceremonies mark the influence of the past on the present. The route is not defined by myself, but the aim is to closely follow the footsteps of humanity, “out of Africa” (cf. Salopek), through Laurasia (cf. Witzel). This is the anthropological theory of a common origin. Most of the ethnological recordings derive from this project, notwithstanding the compositional and arrangement aspect in Anthropology of AmnesiA stems directly from the time I was writing AformA, an album allowing a contemporary classic and religious sound recordings symbiosis. It is actually since then that Anthropology of AmnesiA was designed to be some sort of sequel of AformA.
What about other sounds on the record – it seems there is a mix of field recordings and synthetic sounds; what are the sources for some of the more purely electronic timbres we here (or were they also derived from the recordings?)
The synthetic components were tailored with the intention of generating an organic dialogue between them and their counterparts.
Being completely frank about this, I have to say that strangely, this particular task was the most pleasant to do. I feel quite bad making such a statement, though. The thing is, recording a ritual is extremely exciting and it always helps me to put myself in perspective — it is an indescribable sensation. Nevertheless, one has to acquire a lot of sensitivity to the situation and its surroundings, both technically and as an “external” entity that potentially can interfere the sacral procedure, so it makes it difficult to “enjoy.” Whereas in the studio work, one is in control of the situation itself. I somehow felt that producing the electronic material was more like doing the sound design for a piece. I know this could open some redundancy, but I really saw myself assuming the work of a sound designer/engineer because of the huge respect I have towards the rituals and the rest of the field recordings.
The structure seems really fluid, through-composed. But is there a narrative, an evolution?
I was very interested in generating a dissolution of perceived time using sound as an architectonic instance and an abstract non-suggestive dramaturgy.
Due to the fact that there is a decent amount of information being delivered in a relatively short timespan, I opted for some pauses and fixed calm scenes. Through the implementation of pauses, one can draw a very different storyline. Silence is eloquent and majestic. Silence, when used effectively, secures meaning and opens layers of interpretation <-> comprehension. Silence is sacred, so I tried to set it as a cue actor.
The main structure itself was composed, pretty much, in a literary way.
That is one reason why I also like to understand the whole as more of a sound essay.
At some point there are some hard left turns into the realm of percussion, more conventional instrumentation – maybe even a Varèse reference. What’s the inspiration for these moments? (Were these all samples, or did you add some additional live recordings?)
I felt there was a necessity to have a longer presence of some concrete events, and rhythm embodies this purpose very well. This necessity existed for two main reasons. One in order to have a more recognizable component standing out from the composition through its repetitive character, and the second one is utterly linked to repetition itself. Repetition provides a sense of time loss, and as I mentioned previously, it was an important aim to try to influence time perception.
It is interesting that you quote Varèse at this point, because without his work being a direct reference for the album, I consider the realm of percussion on Anthropology of AmnesiA to be very clearly similar to one of his concepts, “organized sound.”
Most of the rhythmic parts are a combination of field recordings and some subtle dubbing or studio-recorded arrangements. It was important to me to keep the idiosyncrasy of the field recordings, so I was focused more on the detailed operations supporting them.
There are a lot of layers here. Can you talk about some of the sources? This is a collective unconscious; is it somehow international? What are some of the geographies that are sourced here; are you ever concerned that you’re appropriating something that’s foreign?
While the major project, Memory in Amnesia, takes on a more self-research-bounded historic ontology, this album procures to avoid secular neutrality. It is a piece evoking, as you properly mention, the collective unconscious. Most of the audio content could sound, until a certain extent, familiar to us. Even without knowing the exact source of it, there is a thread depicting this collective unconscious.
In point of fact, I decide to use a subheading for the title:
“Culture is essentially more than the reflection of human desire.”
(To me, this signifies more an insult to human species and an ode to human culture).
I am more concerned about scoping humankind as a one-culture phenomenon – more than one-race-act – and that is the very reason why the album examines a number of interpretations of rituals, orchestrations, chants, synthesis and field recordings – in the piece you’ll hear recordings of animals, fire, water and also the human heart – leaving appropriation aside. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and I am not adopting elements of another culture, it being a minority or not and myself being part of a dominant one or not, for the sake of my own aesthetics and/or benefits.
I highly respect all these expressions and traditions; they represent a big column of the project itself.
Just to mention some of the recordings’ precedences, here is a short list:
a Parisian Mosque, a Peruvian shamanic ceremony, some nice specimens from the Berlin Zoo, the chants of Japanese nuns and a Mexica (Aztec) ritual near Mexico City.
I know you come from Mexico; where did you grow up? My limited experience of Latin America versus the USA gave me the sense that the pre-Colombian, indigenous history is more present in urban life, that you’re always aware of these layers – maybe a bit like this soundscape. Is there a kind of pre-Colombian ritual sensibility here, or does your background play into this?
I grew up in one of Mexico City’s suburbs and left one year after finishing high school. I have always been aware of the richness of indigenous influence in Latin American, but I cannot claim this being a recurrent topic in my general practice. I belong to a mixed ethnicity, just one more under the veil of demographics embodying the result of a long species incest. Nevertheless I decided to finish the record with one fragment of the “Ritual del Sol,” a former Mexica ceremony. It is a humble homage to a geography that permeated my early years through its charisma, among others.
Of course, now we meet in Berlin – and now I’ve had some other Mexican colleagues move here as I have, not to mention meeting more who are thinking of the move. Is this just an international capital for people making sound, or is there some sense that this is the refuge for people making more experimental stuff; are your opportunities more limited if you remain in Mexico?
I cannot say my opportunities would be more limited if I remain in Mexico because I started my artistic career abroad, thus I do not have an objective thought on that. I could start making some comparisons about the scenes, the modus operandi, the socio-political and whatsoever, but those are extremely complex contexts and historic circumstances. Forgive me for having to pass on that this time.
Fortunately, there are some other interesting environments to work and develop worldwide. It is not an exclusivity of this city.
Berlin, Bärlin, BLN….
About the German capital being or turning into the hotspot of “#you-name-it-phenomenon”, sincerely I am already very bothered by the hype many people have over this city. It is true that it is a refuge – without any political connotation– some artistic communities, and that is good like that, but this place is already in the process of converting into a bubble based on relativity for the sake of serving the desire of international contemporary hedonism and ignorance. The “objectivation” of a city. YouknowwhatImean.
I truly believe that places live from a natural dynamic of exchange, but what has been happening through the past years, is in many ways a one-way-rolling-sphere and therefore, this could represent a one-way-ticket to the metropolis and its inhabitants.
Contrary to this, and in a more individual scale, when coming here persuaded of concrete projects, the city embraces you, and that is very comfortable. That is what in my opinion provides many with a home as an actor in the cultural landscape.
But yes, all in all, the positive ph(f)ases that Berlin provides within and throughout its web, are difficult to comprehend, it is not that simple to host so many like-minded individuals.
And speaking of the culture here, can you tell us a bit about oqko? What are its goals; how did it come together? Any other artists we should know?
oqko was formed back in 2015 by the other 3 members (Paolo Combes, Hugo Esquinca and Ástvaldur Thorisson) with the vision of running a gallery. I arrived a bit later, with the release of Shortcuts. Right within that process I felt I could start contributing to the journey. Ever since it has become a second home and a breeding-ground for ideas and inquisitiveness.
oqko tries to act in a more global way (in many senses). We are actually turning now into broader fields within investigative and editorial work, some sort of actual design studio questioning the formats when releasing music and hosting events, attended by 5 to 200 people.
Our commitment is focus now into the exploration of intersections between disciplines, sciences and (what I call) dysutopias.
Personally I see oqko, in the long term, as an “alternative institute exploring the phenomena of the now.” It is a long and intricate way to go, but we are trying to get there.
This month we are releasing ‘Nocturne Works’ by Swiss graphic designer and melancholic sound twiddler Romain Ioannone. A proto-botanical approach pairing his short compositions on cassette and the seeds of the Ipomoe Alba aka Moonflower.
Later on in September, within the frame of oqko’s second anniversary, we are starting to develop a sound installation in one of the former Soviet astronomical facilities in Armenia. More information is coming soon.
Another interesting project coming out at the end of the year is one of HMOT’s linguistic studies accompanied by a soundtrack of 5 pieces. I can see the Siberian artist delivering syncretic knowledge about the modern Russian and blasting modular synthesis.
And just before Anthropology of AmnesiA we have the remix album of astvaldur’s first album. Siete Catorce and Oly from NAAFI are involved as is Dis Fig from Purple Tape Pedigree and some of our other close friends from oqko and beyond.
So, be welcome to catch us at one of our events in order to discover the work of our own and of other artists affiliated to http://www.oqko.org
Shortcuts was also visual; are there visual aspirations or connections to be made here? How will the acousmatic listening sessions work?
Shortcuts was as an album, for which artists were commissioned to articulate the visual language to (mostly short) compositions of mine. In the case of Anthropology of AmnesiA, I sincerely hope not to evoke a single image at all. It inherited the tradition of “deep listening”, an exercise difficult to achieve. This piece is committed to actively focus one’s attention to the sound and the storytelling while being (physically) passive. So, the acousmatic listening sessions you mention, are planned to take place in different settings under diverse circumstances in order to explore the relation between the content of the album and the provided surrounding conditions.
A situation in which the vinyl, the record player and the sound system will be the main characters on stage, and the stage itself resides in the environment.
The release event, and therefore the first listening session, is going to be hosted on September 15th in Yerevan as part of the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia. The exact dates for the following sessions in other cities are going to be announced soon.
Can you tell us a bit about your production setup? What do you use to compose soundscapes? What do you use when you play live? (It strikes me the material here could be composed and recomposed in a lot of permutations live.)
I have a studio with a variety of acoustic and electronic instruments, nothing out of this world though; I was never obsessed with a specific gear or instrument. I rather give every single object able to produce sound a chance to express itself and explore its possibilities. I am more amazed by the fact of the endless options one has to generate sonic output with pretty much whatever. Nevertheless, I am seeking the utopic wish of one day having a Museum of World Instruments with the option for everyone to play and record them. That is why I always try to bring, from the places I visit, an autochthonous instrument back home and use it at least once. I also ask friends to do that for me, so please understand this as an invitation to send one over, haha. When it comes to the live shows, it always depends on what and where I am going to play, but most of the times it starts with a laptop, the Nord Modular G2 and a MIDI controller as basic setup.
I am looking forward to exploring a form of re-composition or arrangement for strings, percussions and choir for an Anthropology of AmnesiA ‘s live version. After having worked with a full orchestra a few years ago, a jazz ensemble and two choirs for a symphony, the idea of expanding the performance modus has been prosecuting me.
While writing the music for that project a fellow composer told me: “My friend, do you know what is the problem of symphonic music? …. It is that you get addicted to (writing) it”. Unfortunately, he is right. Ever since almost everything I have been committed too in terms of music, involves at least one classical instrument.
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When you take the New York duo Blondes, and then remix them with Berlin duo Barker & Baumecker, that’s a lot of synth love in the single “KDM.”
It’s just gorgeous stuff – the striking dry percussion giving way to some romantic, beautiful synths.
We don’t do so many full-track plays on their own on CDM, but this one is so simple and strong, I think it’s worth just stopping and listening to the end:
It’s two duos who stand for live performance, up for club sound systems and tours, but with real, intimate craft and musicianship to how they play. Blondes is New York’s Sam Haar and Zach Steinman, out previously on RVNG and now on R&S (so, that makes two esteemed labels beginning with the letter ‘R,’ for anyone counting). The Berlin duo is Sam Barker and nd_baumecker (aka Andi), stalwarts of Berghain / Panorama Bar and its related Ostgut label. (Their own outing last year was exceptional.) Both are also DJs of deep tastes – maybe across a wider variety than you might associate with Berghain – and I’ve had the pleasure this summer both of catching extended sets by Andi out in the garden and Sam in the big room, so I can attest to their stamina.
Here, you get a sense of the ability to use minimal means to greatest effect, with a particular focus on percussive forward elements and timbre.
We know the formula – hit remix first, full stream to the press, release in so many weeks, blah blah … but yeah, it’s nice when the remix actually immediately leaps out of your headphones and sounds like one you’ll want to hear repeatedly.
The post Barker & Baumecker remixing Blondes is gorgeous and powerful appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Paula Temple and Jem the Misfit are working on the latest iteration of a project about transformation. It melts and fragments, crystallizes and forms, from its rich palette of hybridized techno and ambient textures, sonic and visual alike.
And now, it’s set to be involved in some way in transformation beyond just the confines of a single performance – as a statement about what society might do differently and how artists can contribute. With NODE Forum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany coming this weekend, the duo will premiere Nonagon II, a sequel to their stunning 2014 AV show in Amsterdam’s retina-popping EYE cinema (as one of the real highlights of that year’s Amsterdam Dance Event). They’re looking to extend a profound but sadly, rarely-seen collaboration into updated structures while engaging NODE’s activist theme, “Designing Hope.”
That makes for a perfect time for CDM to join the two together – Paul Temple, the techno legend (R&S Records) known for her brutal produtions, and Jem the Misfit, one of the top practitioners of live visual performance.
For reference, here’s a look at the previous iteration, though we’re keen to see the new evolution:
CDM: First, I think from an AV standpoint, it’s really significant that you’re together on stage. Obviously that sends a message to the audience, but what does it mean for playing together? Are you communicating there – even if just by your presence?
Jem: Paula and I work closely together before and during the show. Being on stage physical is really important for timing and connection in the performance; we give each other verbal cues, but also react with our body language. We also work closely together before the show, practicing and discussing the ideas and flow of the performance. It is also important that we are both onstage to highlight that this is a collaboration between two artist working together to build the show.
Jemma, it feels like what you’re doing is really cinematic, but it also breaks up that rectangle (with geometries, etc.). What’s your approach to the screen here? Of course, in the first version, you were in an actual cinema – where might this go in future?
Jem: Breaking the regular rectangle of the screen is something I try to achieve in all my performances. With the Nonagon show, I have a clear geometric language built around the nine-sided nonagon form and I construct abstract forms using MadMapper to translate the visuals through these geometries. As you say, the Nonagon show is highly cinematic and was originally designed for a cinema context for our show at The Eye in Amsterdam. For Nonagon II at NODE, I am using a little less of the Nonagon geometries and instead moving from these fixed, tight geometries, eventually breaking their borders and allowing the visuals to flow across the screen as the show develops. I am also interested in putting emphasis on light intensity and color to influence mood in this version of the show. In future iterations I could envisage this leading to more development in using lighting as well as video and bringing the geometries off the main screen and out into 3D space.
Paula, this is a different sound world than a lot of people know from you. Is there a connection to the techno productions they may know better? Does that impact the approach to timbre, to rhythm?
Paula: I think it is the same sound world, just not as strictly dance floor-aimed. But I know what you mean, it even surprises me how people who follow my music easily recognizes my style in my more experimental live sets. It is one reason why I prefer to perform the experimental sets at festivals such as UNSOUND or INTONAL or the NONAGON II AV at NODE; the crowd knows my music more like an emotional expression and can therefore connect to the music beyond a released piece of music. There’s still recognizable elements, like from my track called Deathvox. When I’m producing I never consciously think about timbre or rhythm — that way of thinking is too detached. I’m feeling emotionally, I’m opening my sensory gating channels, connecting feelings into electronic sound without thinking too technically, and therefore being deeply immersed in that state to give a translation of those emotions through sound. People who really like my music seem to be tuned into that state too.
https://soundcloud.com/paulatemple/deathvox-deathvox-ep [embedding not allowed here]
Can you tell us a bit about the sound world here? What are its sources; how was it produced?
Paula: The sources to me are the thoughts and feeling that develop into these pieces. Lately, they have come from reflecting on social injustices happening and dystopian dreams, or even falling asleep to movies and waking up at a scary moment!
For example, one track has a working title called “Earth,” where I would have a recurring dream where everything green — plants, trees, vegetables — turns black and dies within seconds, and Earth is so hurt, so angry at what we humans have done, that Earth asks the Sun for help and asks the Sun to eat Earth. I remember at the time of making “Earth,” I was trying to watch the movie Melancholia and as always, I fall asleep and then I’m waking up as the movie ends, still half asleep, wondering what’s happening!
When producing, I am working in Ableton Live, with customized drum devices I’ve developed in the last 3 years and jamming on my [Dave Smith Instruments] Oberheim OB-6 or a virtual instrument like Tension [in Ableton Suite].
You’ve changed the music here for this edition, I know. What’s new in this version?
Paula: We’ve decided to keep the remix I made for Fink in the show as the lyrics literally relate to hope, not giving up. Plus there are new pieces relating to what Jem has also been inspired by lately, such as corporate made environmental or socioeconomic regressions and aggression, Entanglement or the Angela Davies book Freedom is Constant Struggle.
Jemma, how did you work on the visual material; how was it influenced by that music? I know there was some shooting of stuff melting, but … how did that come about; where was the design intention on your side and how did you collaborate together on that?
Jem: For the original Nonagon show, Paula and I developed the music and visuals in tandem, based around a common structure that included working in 9 parts and using 9 specific actions (such as distort, reverse, stretch etc) to apply visually or musically. This lead me to find ways of manipulating form both in virtual space but also using real forms, as you say, building and melting geometric objects and capturing this in time-lapse. So visually, Nonagon was about applying these specific actions to geometries and moving through a exploration of form, in connection with Paula also manipulating her sound in similar ways.
In Nonagon II, the focus has shifted from purely formal aims to more specific thematic ideas. When NODE approached me about performing at the festival, their theme ‘Designing Hope’ really caught me as a challenge, and I knew Paula would also be interested in tackling this theme. When I contacted Paula about NODE, we both agreed that we should shift the focus in Nonagon to try and address this idea of designing or generating hope through our performance – hence creating Nonagon II.
Our approach to the theme is that there can be no hope without action. So as well as Paula’s action to donate her fee to the charity Women in Exile, the new trajectory for Nonagon II is to move from a place of fear through to an empowering place of action. Through the show we transition from simplification to complexity, individuality to multiplicity, fear to action.
Visually, I am signifying this (again) through geometries that develop from simple shapes into complex systems, falling, melting and merging along the way, using color and light intensity to transform the emotional impact throughout the show.
Interestingly, in the time since we last worked together – which is over a year – Paula and I have found that our ideas and development in our work have followed similar processes and align in many areas. We have both independently decided to use the term ‘entanglement,’ this idea that everything is linked and that over-simplification of systems, ignoring their relationship to one another is incredibly dangerous – for instance, the supposed self-maintaining economic system championed by neo-liberalism, ignoring its entangled relationship with climate and natural resource systems. We also have both read Angela Davis book ‘Freedom is a constant struggle,’ which also talks about building connections across political movements and the importance of moving outside narrowly-defined communities and working together.
Also, the idea of acknowledging fragility in the balance of all our systems and having some humility in regard to our place in this universe has been important for both our practices.
Can you each describe a bit your live rig onstage? Now, presumably we’re meant to be watching the screen, not you two, but is it important for you to be able to make this a live improvisation?
For the visual set up, I am running Resolume [VJ/visual performance tool/media server] and MadMapper software, and using the Xone:K2 MIDI controller from Allen & Heath. There is no pre-programmed timeline in any of this setup, so it is all improvised. Paula and I like to practice the performance several times so that we have worked through the flow and impact of specific points in the show, but we are able to improvise fully making each performance unique.
Paula: My set up is simple — Ableton Live, Push 2 controller and Allen & Heath K2 controller. I care more about the music working succinctly with Jem’s visuals to encourage the audience to feel, to reflect within or get a sense taking some kind of positive action, than about making it a live improvisation.
“Designing Hope” is the theme of this year’s NODE. Paula, I understand you donated your fee – what’s your intention as far as doing something socially active, with this project, or with other projects?
Paula: Considering the theme ‘Designing Hope’ came the simple question to reflect on, who needs hope the most right now? Then looking at who locally is giving hope and I learned about Women in Exile, a non profit organization founded in 2002 by refugee women who work closely with refugee women in and around Brandenburg and Berlin.
In their activities, Women in Exile visit the refugee camps in Brandenburg to offer proactive support to refugee women from the perspective of those affected, to exchange information on what is going on and to gather information on the needs of women living in the camps. They organize seminars and workshops for refugee women in different topics on how to improve their difficult living situation and develop perspectives to fight for their rights in the asylum procedure and to defend themselves against sexualized/physical violence, discrimination and exclusion. They present the current issues, such as the hopelessness of deportation, to different organization nationwide in order to bring awareness to refugee women issues to the society. They give an incredible amount of energy and support to women whose world have turned upside down. Donating a fee is the least we could do. We hope, with our best intentions, is to invite others at the event to think about who are we designing hope for.
[Ed.: I’m familiar with this organization, too – you can find more or contact them directly:]
What does it mean to be involved with NODE here, and with this community? (Realizing neither of us is a VVVV user, Jemma, but of course there’s more than that! Curious if that’s meaningful to you to be able to soak up some of that side of this, too.)
Jem: I think we are both excited about being involved at NODE this year and interacting with a community that is working at the intersection of technology and art as well as pushing ideas around how art/tech crossover can be used to inspire communities outside of art+tech. This is where I see our performance fitting even if we are not specifically using VVVV. Personally, I am looking forward to a few extra days at the festival and exploring the possibilities of VVVV, as well as meeting at the VVVV community and exploring possible crossovers in our work.
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Soundbox has launched the Berlin Tech Uberpack, a 2GB sample pack featuring a collection of loops and samples from four previously released
Sample Magic has launched Atmospheric Techno, a new White Label series pack featuring rinsed out synths and chugging techno beats. Inspired in
Okay, let’s try to put aside any hipster jokes for a moment. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that cassette tapes are becoming a scene for beautiful ambient and experimental music. It’s gotten to the point that you might find yourself paying to have a tape shipped to you, even if only to thank an artist for a download code.
Here are a couple of mixes that might just hook you on the medium all over again.
First , there’s Hainbach, whose YouTube channel full of live experiments and mixes is one of my favorite video subscriptions at the moment.
This mix unapologetically employs the aesthetics of lo-fi tape, and then mangles a bit more – with loops, with a delay, and with Koma Elektronik’s Field Kit instrument.
And that says something about what tape is – it’s not just a physical delivery mechanism, but a statement of aesthetics. The truth is, when tapes were new we had the opposite, glass-is-half-full approach. We were constantly worrying about degradation of sound and stressing over dirt and wear. It’s not just nostalgia that motivates the lo-fi approach; it’s hindsight. Now we can hear those sounds as independent from the medium, because we’ve heard the content (in digital) independently, too. And we also have easy access to techniques via the Internet that used to be the domain of a few specialists.
Anyway, you can also ignore the previous paragraph’s rambling and just listen to this great music:
A grungy, half-speed lofi mix I made in one take with two cassette recorders, the Koma Electronics Fieldkit and a delay. Among tape loops from me I mangle tapes by these fantastic artists:
Bus Gas – Live on Leave Us
r beny – Full Blossom of the Evening
Interlaken – Versaux
Benjamin Flesser – Funktionen
Me, Claudius – Reasons for Balloons
Billy Gomberg – Transitions
Item Caligo – Rest in Oblivion
Hainbach – Cello Pattern
Hainbach – The Evening Hopefuls
Cassettes are becoming a magnet for dark aesthetics and underground sounds, a new experiment in rarity and a rebellion against music’s recent disposable tendencies.
The Abyssal podcast takes this on with a deep dive into Night Gaunt Recordings out of Los Angeles. The medium’s aesthetic matches the sounds.
It’s not just obscure sounds here, either, with the likes of Helena Hauff and Silent Servant.
We proudly present you L.A.’s finest Do It Yourself cassette label called Night Gaunt Recordings. Night Gaunt Recordings is run by Ori and Chloe, both based in L.A.
Together they try to push a specific sound which is focused on experimental electronics. They had several releases with artists such as, Lower Tar, Worker/Parasite, J. de Sosa and many more. Their latest winter batch release with Adios Mundo Cruel (Pablo Dodero Carrillo’s moniker) with the title “Sombra de Cadenas, Cadena de Sombras” and Luiso Ponce with the title “Ultimo” has more EBM influences compared with some other releases. Those two releases contains strong, low and distorted synths. The first track on the tape by Adios Mundo Cruel called “Amensalismo” brings a trippy vibe with it which will make u move, a strong ebm loop strictly for the dancefloors!
Please enjoy this perfect compilation with tracks from their own releases including the Amensalismo track from their latest winter batch. and of course their most favourite records.
Visit their Bandcamp and make sure you cop one of their tapes.
Scott Walker- See You Don’t Bump His Head (4AD)
Adios Mundo Cruel- Amensalismo (Night Gaunt Recordings)
Silent Servant- Speed and Violence (Cititrax)
Vapauteen- Weld (L.I.E.S.)
The Chicago Shags- Streetgang
Sean Pierce- Battery (Clan Destine Records)
Worker/Parasite- Vermin (Night Gaunt Recordings)
Helena Hauff- Rupture (Solar One Music)
Oil Thief – Acquiesce (Chondritic Sound)
ADMX-71 – Disentangle Me (L.I.E.S.)
J. De Sosa- Lined, Separated and Marked (Night Gaunt Recordings)
A Thunder Orchestra – Shall I Do It? [Mick Wills Reconstruction #2] (Bio Rhythm)
Speaking Parts – Uninvinted Guest (No-Tech)
TV.OUT – Untitled (Parallax)
Vainio / Väisänen / Vega – Incredible Criminals (Blast First)
Pod Blotz – Flesh and Knives (Nostilevo)
LA’s darkness often has to be imagined; Berlin has the weather for it much of the year. AMOK Tapes, the cassette imprint from aforementioned Koma Elektronik, fits in perfectly with that manufacturer’s new Field Kit hardware – and has some terrific releases, to boot. Their newest compilation is a who’s who of the Berlin-centered electronic underground at the moment, a reasonable field guide to that scene.
Out today physically and digitally: over one hour’s worth of mutant industrial and techno by friends, allies and strangers to AMOK Tapes. C71 cassettes are professionally duplicated and vacuum-sealed with download code included.
A1. Cryptic Mantra – Less Is For Losers
A2. Alexey Volkov – Sadist GmbH
A3. Drvg Cvltvre – Devils With Dead Eyes And Shark Smiles
A4. Vittorio Di Mango – Dream
A5. 3.14 – Stomach
A6. tot – Smile And Distrust
B1. Human Performance Lab – Realms
B2. BLUSH_RESPONSE vs. Bakunin Commando – Neon Blood Goddess
B3. Unhuman – Nezilla
B4. Ontal – Expanding Symmetry
B5. Verset Zero – Baal
There are many ways in which it matters that these are on tapes. There’s also some part of me that says it doesn’t matter. If we have to put tape on a Zip drive, then gaffer tape that Zip drive and a USB adapter to a brick, then write a set of riddles for finding the brick – for great music, at this point, it may be worth it.
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