Free download: A 400-page guide to experimental Eastern Europe sounds

If experimental music and Europe make you think only of cities like Paris and London, you’re missing a big part of the story. Now you can grab a huge reference on fringe and weird electronic music from the east – and it’s free. (At least that would please Marx.)

Berlin, and Europe in general, have exploded as hubs for experimental sounds. And if you want an answer to why that’s happened lately, look in no small part to the ingenuity, technical and artistic, of central and eastern Europe. These artistic cultures flourished during the Cold War, sometimes with support from Communist states, sometimes very much in the face of adversity and resistance from those same nations. And then in a more connected Europe, brought together by newly open borders and cheap road and air transit, a younger generation continues to advance the state of the art – and the state of the weird.

Old biases die hard, though. Cold War (or simply racist) attitudes often rob central and eastern Europe of deserved credit. And then there’s the simple problem of writing a history that’s fragmented by language and divisions that arose between East and West.

So it’s worth checking out this guide. It’s an amazing atlas covering history and new scenes, and the PDF edition is now available to download for free (if you can’t locate the print version).

SOUND EXCHANGE was a project from 2012-2012, connected to events in seven cities – Kraków, Bratislava, Tallinn, Vilnius, Budapest, Riga and, Prague. That’s Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, and Czech, respectively. It’s also relevant that we’re seeing these countries produce music tech alongside music – Bastl Instruments in Czech, Polyend in Poland, and Erica Synths in Latvia, just to name three that have lately gotten a lot of attention (and there are others).

There’s 400 pages – in both German and English – with a huge range of stuff. There’s fringe rock music in Germany, radio art from Czech, intermedia and multimedia art from across the region, what Latvia has been up to in experimental music since independence … and the list goes on. Technology and music practice go hand in hand, too, as workshops and music concerts intertwine to spread new ideas – both before and after the fall of communism, via different conduits.

It’s a fitting moment to rediscover this exhibition; CTM Festival here in Berlin has been a showcase for some of the east-meets-west projects including Sound Exchange’s outcomes. And CTM itself is arguably a recipient of a lot of that energy, in the one capital that sits astride east and west – even today, in some ways, minus the wall. The festival is turning 20 this year, and not incidentally, East Berlin-founded label Raster is showcasing its own artists in an exhibition and DJ sets.

Maybe it’s not bedtime reading, but even a skim is a good guide:

http://www.soundexchange.eu/

Download (uh, happy to re-host this if the bandwidth doesn’t hold up – I know how the kids love their Latvian experimental music book research):
http://www.soundexchange.eu/seiffarth_stabenow_foellmer%E2%80%93sound_exchange_2012.pdf

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The words most used to describe releases at Hard Wax

“Now that’s one fine and classy, atmospheric, big room tool, son.” Here’s the data when you crawl Berlin electronic music shop Hard Wax for descriptive keywords.

Friend of the site (and one-time CDM Web developer) musician-and-hacker Olle Holmberg has crawled Hard Wax’s website. That’ll be the legendary record purveyor opened by Mark Ernestus back in 1989 in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and still a leading destination for vinyl lovers today.

hardwax.com has accordingly accumulated a lot of words about music on their Internet portal, since each time a release like this Drexciya side project comes out, you get a whole bunch of language, too.

Olle collected the most important words, and he’s shared his data set.

I wrote some Processing code to visualize all of this as a word cloud, and here’s what you get (details on how to do this yourself below):

Since the data is available as a CSV, you could probably refine it more. For instance, one flaw is that singular and plural versions of words aren’t combined, so the rankings are slightly off. “Banger” and “bangers” he’s manually combined so that one gets a solid ranking.

The top 25, with number of appearances in a description:

1. tool (1848)
2. atmospheric (974)
3. fine (941)
4. big room (928)
5. classy (904)
6. deep (872)
7. effective (858)
8. killer (858)
9. heavy (851)
10. leftfield (798)
11. minimalist (744)
12. original (734)
13. excellent (720)
14. crafty (647)
15. trips (598)
16. recommended (594)
17. raw (590)
18. spaced (585)
19. rooted (574)
20. hard (567)
21. dark (526)
22. banger/bangers (520)
23. excursions (516)
24. tripping (508)
25. leaning (506)

“It’s atmospheric, yet also a banging big room tool.”

Next challenges: build a random keyword generator, train some machine learning on this, or … try to make music that fits the most popular words?

Oh, and if you’re interested in the code, I’ve got that, too. I worked with free and open source, multiplatform artist-friendly coding tool Processing. (Other Web-based tools exist, too, but then you miss out on the fun and flexibility of coding things yourself.)

Ah, word clouds – remember when we thought those were the bee’s knees? (To misquote Douglas Adams, it harkens to a headier, more innocent time when we were “so amazingly primitive that we still thought word clouds were a pretty neat data visualization.”

Dan Bernier’s free library gives you some tools for free:
http://wordcram.org/

Here’s a simple code template to get you started, loosely inspired by Dan Shiffman and Dan Bernier examples:


import wordcram.*;
import wordcram.text.*;

Table table;
Word[] wordArray;
WordCram wordcram;

void setup () {
size(1280, 1020);
background(255);
table = loadTable("data.csv", "header");
int numRows = table.getRowCount();
wordArray = new Word[numRows];
int rowCount = 0;
for (TableRow row : table.rows()) {
float weight = row.getFloat("count");
String mWord = row.getString("phrase");
wordArray[rowCount] = new Word(mWord, weight);
rowCount++;
}
wordcram = new WordCram(this)
.fromWords(wordArray);
}

void draw() {
wordcram.drawAll();
}

It’s quite slow to run by comparison, but here’s the code that makes the record-shaped visualization:

// image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disque_Vinyl.svg
// author: Muel, CC-BY-SA
// https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

import wordcram.*;
import wordcram.text.*;
import java.awt.*;

Table table;
Word[] wordArray;
WordCram wordcram;

PFont georgia;

void setup () {
size(1000, 1000);
background(255);
PImage image = loadImage("vinylicon.png");
image.resize(width, height);

Shape imageShape = new ImageShaper().shape(image, #000000);
ShapeBasedPlacer placer = new ShapeBasedPlacer(imageShape);

table = loadTable("data.csv", "header");
georgia = createFont("Georgia", 1);
int numRows = table.getRowCount();
wordArray = new Word[numRows];
int rowCount = 0;
for (TableRow row : table.rows()) {
float weight = row.getFloat("count");
String mWord = row.getString("phrase");
wordArray[rowCount] = new Word(mWord, weight);
rowCount++;
}
wordcram = new WordCram(this)
.fromWords(wordArray)
.withFont(georgia)
.withPlacer(placer)
.withNudger(placer)
.angledAt(0)
.sizedByWeight(10, 90)
;
}

void draw() {
wordcram.drawAll();
save("wordcloud.png");
println("Finished.");
stop();
}

With both code examples, you’ll need to slightly modify the csv file. Open the file in a text editor and add this line to the top:

sep=;

And remember to add the data file, and the image file (if you use the shape variation), to your Processing sketch (Sketch > Add File).

If you want to check out Berlin’s record shops and you happen to make it to town, here’s a good guide. It’s impressively only a little bit dated in terms of locations – Berlin is a weird haven where record shops mostly survive. Hard Wax is a must. Space Hall has become a huge music venue. And digger heaven The Record Loft has recently reopened next to the Sonnenalle S-Bahn stop.

The definitive guide to Berlin’s best record shops [The Vinyl Factory]

If Olle’s name is familiar, it’s because he also crawled Berghain’s site, though we were later informed both by resident DJs and the booking office that the data crawled there wasn’t really representative. (Still, it was a fun project – and we did wind up learning more about Berghain booking data in the end. Science!)

Berghain, by the numbers: data on the relentless Berlin techno club

If you have any time left after tinkering with Processing, of course, go buy up some records!

https://hardwax.com/

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Download a free two-hour Panorama Bar mix from nd_baumecker

Nothing brightens midwinter like music. So the warm glow of nd_baumecker’s mixing is something special. The delayed download is out now from Ostgut Ton, the label associated with Berghain and Panorama Bar.

The musical climate in which we live can too easily be afflicted with conformity, with genres and trends regimented by algorithms and anxious aspirations of bookers, media, artists … the lot. And with Berghain as the elephant in the middle of Berlin’s scene, that conformity can often be associated with the club, with Berlin, with Germany and Europe, even.

So maybe the first important thing to say about Andi’s mix is that it’s a mix. Run down the track listing, and you get all kinds of corners of Andi’s taste. I know he sweated putting this together, but as it is with experienced DJs, that stress comes off as effortless.

nd_baumecker has statistically played more times in the various floors of the Berghain environs than any other human. I know this, partly because we get informed that the fascinating numbers scraped from Berghain’s website weren’t right. Oops. Andi so dominates the list, that you almost don’t need other statistics. (Panorama Bar is the lighter, generally house-ier upstairs floor, but it’s actually not that important to know that; Andi has been found at various points more or less everywhere in the building and garden outside.)

Despite all those times on the lineup, in the old party mode, Andi’s not really a star. There’s just that feeling of being at home when you walk into a room (or garden) with him playing. And he can mix in and out of anything. So while a lot of beginning DJs try to show off with obscure tracks but paint obsessively within the lines, like they’re afraid of each transition, you can count on Andi to take you different places.

He’s a DJ’s DJ, but he’s also a great producer – his ongoing collaboration with fellower Berghain resident Sam Barker has been imaginative and exceptional.

Anyway, I think for any of us involved in production – let alone those of us pouring over music tech – getting to actually listen again and set a mood is vital. And Andi’s latest mix puts me at least in a fantastically nice mood. I’m hugely biased myself not just about Andi but about music in general; I think whether it’s a track or a mix, you can’t separate people from music. I still stubbornly cling to the idea that music says something about who you are. Hell, I think it’s why it matters who’s in the DJ booth. And it’s certainly why I think that mood should come from people and not algorithms. I not only like humans; I think you can hear when humans touch the music.

You can stream the mix, or be as obsessive as Andi is about quality and grab that 24-bit lossless download – all two GB worth. As with all in this series, the mix is free. (Last minute publishing clearance issues had delayed the download since the planned release date this fall.)

Track IDs? Yes:

1 Mystical Institute Sea Believer [00:00]
2 Keith Worthy Guilty Pleasures ($ Of N.C. Mix) [04:10]
3 Greenspan and Taraval Follow The Moonlight [07:01]
4 Duplex Isolator [10:08]
5 Cabaret Voltaire Easy Life (Jive Turkey Mix) [14:51]
6 Dolo Percussion Dolo 9 [18:45]
7 Anthony Naples The Vision (Mix NY) [20:15]
8 QY American [24:13]
9 Jinjé Big Skies [28:02]
10 Saint Etienne Stoned To Say The Least (Beta) [33:05]
11 Barker & Baumecker Nie Wieder [37:18]
12 FaltyDL Paradox Garage Part 1 (With Your Love) [39:40]
13 Röyksopp Sombre Detune [42:29]
14 Œil Cube Lost Flute [46:06]
15 Ajukaja Stranger [50:40]
16 Pulsinger & Irl State 606 [56:12]
17 Duke Slammer Coastal Decay (Pan Solo Remix) [1:00:33]
18 Route 8 From The Valley [1:04:25]
19 Dave Aju Wayahed [1:09:33]
20 Chaos In The CBD Educate The Heart [1:13:09]
21 Ross From Friends High Energy [1:18:55]
22 D. Tiffany Something About You [1:21:04]
23 Zombie Zombie Hyperespace (I:Cube Vampire Tango 87 Remix) [1:26:11]
24 Peverelist Under Clearing Skies [1:28:47]
25 Barker & Baumecker Strung [1:31:33]
26 School Of Seven Bells Low Times (Lafaye’s Brain Mix) [1:38:55]
27 Gen Ludd Bloods Avalanche [1:44:30]
28 Pépe Motorforce [1:49:11]
29 E Myers Hate [1:54:17]

This isn’t just about the DJ. Again, Ostgut is using this series to premiere new works. And this coupling – two EPs (Part I, Part II) – is especially fresh, with immaculate, densely rhythmic productions from . FaltyDL, Jinjé, Big Skies, Ross From Friends, Dave Aju, and Duplex. They’ve got some of that same magical mood of the mix, naturally. It’s house-flavored stuff, aware of its roots, but thoroughly futuristic and optimistic, too. Listen:

That Duplex track is especially timeless, somehow, and Dave Aju is always like a burst of sunlight.

Enjoy!

Photo: Lee Wagstaff, courtesy Ostgut Ton.

http://ostgut.de/label/record/227

Previously:

Boiling-Hot Summer: nd_baumecker in 3 Hours of Boiler Room Music

In the Studio: Barker “Like an Animal” EP, Sam Barker + nd_baumecker [Stream + Gallery]

The post Download a free two-hour Panorama Bar mix from nd_baumecker appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Loopersound launches Berlin Techno sample pack

Loopersound Berlin Techno

Loopersound has announced the release of its new Dub Techno sample pack called Berlin Techno. The Pack includes 200 loops, labelled with the root key to 126 bpm that follow the Best Techno Songs of the moment. With Techno Drums, Synth Loops, Techno Bass and with many others Free Sound Effects, you are sure to […]

The post Loopersound launches Berlin Techno sample pack appeared first on rekkerd.org.

Techno: The Gathering, scene satire fantasy game, keeps getting better

Curse if you must the fact that modern DJing requires managing social media accounts, navigating scenes, understanding the dimensions of cool. But some DJs will mix all those things as adeptly as they do records – and hold up a mirror to the rest of us.

Well – or at least Leipzig’s Vincent Neumann has made a killer Magic: The Gathering parody with techno.

First things first: let’s here acknowledge that Vincent is a brilliant musical selector, as well as social media satirist. Closing sets at Berghain can turn into ponderous marathons of endurance, but whether there or in (briefer) outings mixing and DJing, Neumann is a deep digger, consummate nerd of eclectic selections. Listen to the mix at bottom. This is to say, while he can keep the fashionistas dancing, the guy is not simply a flavor of the month.

But hey, if you do need some Instagram fame, Maestro Neumann has found a clever and amusing way of doing so. Techno: The Gathering has become a bit of an ongoing commentary on the techno scene. As Europe’s industry of nightlife churns onward, here’s at least one person not taking things too seriously. The in-the-bubble in-joke here is at least, you know, a joke.

My favorites:

He’s nerd enough that you can see via Instagram stories how he has reflected on color choice and deeper meanings.

Let’s actually print the things out and start playing the game. (Has anyone started doing that, or is everyone too hungover from the weekend to bother?)

But seriously, go behold one of the best things on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/technothegathering/

And Vincent’s normal DJ account, which is, naturally, the best Instagram account name ever:

https://www.instagram.com/instagramsucks/

And yes, you can listen to his mixes and enjoy those, as well:

The post Techno: The Gathering, scene satire fantasy game, keeps getting better appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Detroit techno, the 90s comic book – and epic new DJ T-1000 techno

In 1992, Alan Oldham aka DJ T-1000 imagined the epic saga of techno and Detroit as a trippy futuristic comic – and it’s prescient today. Plus, Alan’s got a banging new EP that you shouldn’t miss.

I’ve been meaning to share this since I first spotted it in a German-language article, so there’s no time like the present.

Alan was “Minister of Information” for Underground Resistance, as well as making his name as one of the all-time album cover greats with sexy, futuristic work for the likes of legendary imprint Transmat, Derrick May’s imprint. Now, everything in Detroit is in vogue again, but this push and pull between Europe (aka, where the actual techno market is) and Detroit (where it started) is so clear in 1992 that this comic could almost have been posted now.

The setting was a release by pre-minimal Richie Hawtin as F.U.S.E., on Richie’s own Plus 8 Records. Bonus: that demo came with a FlexiDisc and a comic. The comic stands out either way, not least for the presence of a futuristic supercomputer sequencer, a bit of a cross between a mass step sequencer, Deep Thought, and the Borg. Plus it’s great fun imagining UR’s LFO, Daniel Bell (aka DBX of “I’m losing control” fame), and Jochem Paap (Speedy J) as comic superheroes. Yeah, I’d see that Marvel movie.

At the very least, someone needs to make this sequencer.

Nerdcore did the honors and scanned the whole thing, if you need some techno comic reading:

https://nerdcore.de/2017/01/10/f-u-s-e-overdrive-flexidisc-comic/

But Alan deserves credit for his music as well as his graphic art, running those careers as he does in parallel. And his latest, “Message Discipline” EP as DJ T-1000 is a welcome shot of adrenaline in the electronic releases of the fall. It’s clear, focused, aggressive but perpetually bouncy – a blast of fresh sound at a time when so many releases are overthought, over-effected, and muddled in an attempt to shroud the dancing in layers of gloom.

Direct and concise, this is the sound of someone with real confidence in the genre. It’s four perfect cuts.

That’s interesting to me in that we did get a chance to get some insight into Alan’s process, and it was very much about getting straight to that groove. So I’m not just here to shower words on this release, but partly because I imagine it might assist people trying to get to their own voice in dance music.

Grab it on Bandcamp:

https://djt1000.bandcamp.com/album/message-discipline-ep

Previously:

Cues: Detroit innovator Alan Oldham talks to us about techno, creation

More on his site:

http://www.alanoldham.com/

The post Detroit techno, the 90s comic book – and epic new DJ T-1000 techno appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

4ms SMR DIY Workshop Saturday November 3rd 2018 at Patch Point Berlin

This one is in via Todd Barton.

via Patch Point:

“4ms SMR DIY Workshop. Saturday November 3rd 2018
from 100.42
€119.50 incl. 19% VAT
We are happy to host a special DIY workshop with our portland buddies 4MS.

THIS WORKSHOP IS FOR ALL SKILL LEVELS, and shouldn’t take more than 1.5 hours to finish!

Allissa from 4MS and founder of the Synth Library Portland will guide the workshop.

Limited to

Soundbox releases Berlin Deep Techno collection of loops & samples

Soundbox Berlin Deep Techno

Soundbox has launched a new release called Berlin Deep Techno, a 448 MB royalty free collection of the latest loops and samples to create your next killer techno track. Subbed-out kicks, pumping bass-lines, hypnotic synth-leads, speaker-shaking drums and section-defining FX are just part of what makes this collection a must have for your studio arsenal […]

The post Soundbox releases Berlin Deep Techno collection of loops & samples appeared first on rekkerd.org.

Run your audio gear off of USB power banks: KOMA’s Strom Mobile

You’re on the go. And those wonderful USB power banks will charge your phone – so why not audio gear, too? KOMA Elektronik’s new Strom Mobile makes it possible.

Here’s the problem: USB power banks (mobile batteries and whatnot), while plentiful, only output 5V power for phones and USB, and they’re anything but “low noise” (meaning you’ll hear garbled interference when you plug a lot of them in).

A lot of your compact audio gear is probably running on 9V or 12V power, and it’ll make you happier if it’s low noise. (Some gear is 5V, of course, but that’s another story.)

Enter Strom Mobile, a small accessory from KOMA that adapts power banks for your gear. Specs:

  • 9V/12V DC power compatibility (clean, low noise)
  • Two power channels – plug in to one or both, and set each channel to either 9V or 12V
  • Indicators to show you which power is connected, and how much current you’re using
  • Four outputs for gear – or connect more via daisy chaining (until you run out of current, anyway)
  • Cables and manual in the box: 1x USB B, 2x DC-DC, printed guide

The USB B cable is especially designed for this application.

There’s also a Strom Mobile Cable Pack you can buy as an add on, which includes another of those special USB B cables, a 1-5to-5 daisychain DC cable, 2 more DC cables, and 1 polarity changing DC cable.

And of course, this is intended for use with the Field Kit and Field Kit FX from KOMA, but the list of 9V/12V drum machines, recorders, samplers, effects pedals, mobile synths, and the like is very long.

Pricing: 175EUR suggested retail, or 35EUR for the Cable Pack.

Check the intro video:

Artists Hainbach (known for his lovely cassette tape videos and ambient creations) and Wouter (KOMA founder, here with his ODD NARRATIVE project) play and record using the gear en plein air at Berlin’s former airport-turned-park Tempelhofer Feld.

Product page:

https://koma-elektronik.com/?product=strom-mobile-portable-power-solution

The post Run your audio gear off of USB power banks: KOMA’s Strom Mobile appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Sounds Of Berlin (Documentary)

Sounds Of Berlin is a new documentary about ‘the capital of electronic music’.… Read More Sounds Of Berlin (Documentary)