Roland hasn’t made any announcement about new modular – but it seems a handful of SYSTEM-500 analog modules have just made an appearance in the wild, rounding out an existing range. We’ve got some “spy” shots.
Yes, it seems unannounced Eurorack products from the Japanese maker found their way into a shoe event. These modules will extend Roland’s existing range of SYSTEM-500 modules, made in collaboration with boutique Eurorack manufacturer Malekko Heavy Industry Corporation. Like the other AIRA offerings, Roland is looking to their own past: the SYSTEM-500 line is inspired by the SYSTEM-100M made in the early 80s.
But what’s significant about the SYSTEM-500 is that Roland are working with a smaller maker. And lest you confuse these with the 303, 808, 909 remakes and the like, these are analog, as was the original source material.
All of that’s interesting, even in the crowded Eurorack landscape, because it isn’t just following the mold of the Moog or Buchla modulars. So you might add SYSTEM-500 to your rack to get a distinctive Roland modular sound.
Okay, so how do we know these are new? Well, first, here’s the range of Roland SYSTEM-500 that was available previously:
That mixer looks really useful, alone – mute switches, actual faders, actual panning. Not everything there can be CV-automated, but to me that misses the point: it’s useful to have hands-on mixing when you’re playing.
And then the LAG/S&H gives you a whole bunch in one module – and the Synth looks like it could be a starting point for an entry-level modular rig.
A quick play says these can sound really nice. I expect we’ll know more at Superbooth in Berlin next month. (Roland aren’t showing this at Musikmesse.)
Some poor pictures from me to give you a taste – let us know questions and I suspect we can get answers when these launch:
Following entries from Eventide to Soundhack, plug-in maker U-HE seems to be next to be bitten by the modular bug. A teaser image reveals new gear is coming at Berlin’s Superbooth.
No clue what it is, other than… it’ll have jacks. But U-HE (the shop run by lead developer Urs Heckmann) is known for lush, feature-laden synths, melding vintage soul with lots of new bells and whistles and modern functionality. They’re also not known for being terribly merciful to older CPUs (though newer machines should be fine) – but that means dedicated hardware has some appeal.
And of course we’re going full circle. Software emulates analog hardware, then software maker starts making new hardware, and even analog hardware. (See also: Arturia, for one.)
We’ll be sure to catch up with Urs and team at Superbooth.
Die Superbooth 2018 findet vom 3.-5.Mai statt – dieses Mal nach der Musikmesse, die in 2 Wochen startet. Wir können vermuten, dass die Messe durch hohe Preise für kleine Hersteller und etwas schwierigen Zugang mit Autos eigentlich die sich unter dem alten und neuen Superbooth-Dach versammelte Modular und Synthesizer-Szene etwas abgeschreckt hat.
Das Interesse zur jetzt dritten Superbooth, die zum zweiten Mal im FEZ in Berlin stattfindet, zeigen die allein 210 Aussteller, und es gibt mehrere Bühnen. Eine davon ist sogar jedem (nicht zahlenden) Gast zugänglich, wo ab 14:30 explizite Gigs statt finden. Wer allein nur Musik auf der Superbooth 2018 hören und sehen will, könnte auf den 3 Bühnen sicher etwas finden.
Dieses Mal sind die bisher veröffentlichten Darbietung etwas „insideriger“, aber auch Leute wie Schneider und vor allem GusGus kann man gegen Ende als Highlight sehen. Aber es treten sogar Aktive aus dem Sequencer-Forum wie Jan-Hinnerk Helms und den Buchla 200e-Kapitän Kai Niggemann auf. Beide sind für spezielle Performance bekannt und auch nur exemplarisch genannt. Die schon letztes Jahr sehr gern gesehenen Ströme werden ihre Modular-Techno-Show ebenfalls zeigen, dieses Mal auch draußen auf der Seebühne. Und so ziemlich jeder Act lohnt sich. Gerade jene, die man sonst nicht so kennt oder die eher in speziellen Kreisen zu hören sind, gibt’s im 30-Minuten-Wechsel. Langweilig wird das nur, wenn man selbst langweilig ist.
Bei den Ausstellern sind faktisch alle nennenswerten aus der Eurorack-Ecke dabei, bis hin zu Behringer und Roland. Aber nicht nur die nerdigen, sondern auch Firmen wie Kurzweil, Clavia, Zoom oder Yamaha findet man im Plan. Die Lage ist in Teilen anders, so ist das SynMag nun oben im 2.Stock, Modor oder Twisted Elektrons unten und auch Cwejman ist da. Es fällt auch auf, dass auch die, die nicht unbedingt Neues erwarten lassen, dort sein werden.
Neulinge wie Synthstrom mit ihrem Deluge Groovebox-Sequencer werden da und ansprechbar sein. Ankömmlinge werden ebenfalls andere Hersteller vorfinden und die sind bunt gemischt. Das Ganze wird vermutlich voller werden und ab frühem Nachmittag noch voller sein. Hungern muss man auch nicht, denn es gab extrem moderate Preise bei den kleinen internen Ständen und leckere Sachen. Und einen guten Chai/Kaffee gibt’s an der Seebühne.
Die Weltraum-Labore sind fast so besetzt wie letztes Mal, sie sind allein schon einen Besuch wert. Dort findet man die 5HE-Systeme (Synthwerk, Moon und COTK). Genauer schauen kann man auch bei Black Corporation, die dann sicher ihren Polykobol-Clone bereit halten. Sogar die Kanadier Madrona Labs sind dieses Mal da. Nach dem dem Überflug über die Hersteller findet man sogar Klangbau Köln und andere Hersteller, die bisher noch nicht auf der Superbooth waren. Es wird also gerade reichen 3 Tage ohne große Pausen überall langzurasen, um alles kurz gesehen zu haben. Da fehlt niemand und man sollte sich einen Plan machen, wo man unbedingt hin will und wen man wirklich treffen will.
Schriebe ich noch Tipps hin, wo es was gibt, würde das schon wie ein Bericht aussehen, wir sehen uns da. Gearnews wird auch mit mehreren Leuten da sein, ich sowieso. Vermutlich werden aber alle immer viel zu tun haben. Dennoch: Sprechen ist die ultimative Chance und Heiserkeit am Sonntag mit Glücksgefühl und platten Füßen würde ich jetzt schon garantieren. Wie so oft wird es auch später abends Events geben. Mir bekannt ist auf jeden Fall der 5.Mai im Maze Club, direkt anschließend mit LSB TV Anschluss. Hier wird man von einigen Gruppen wohl auch weitere Abendevents finden. Kein Nerd muss irgendwann mal nach Hause. Sicher wird es Events von Koma und weiteren geben, leider auch schonmal mit Überschneidungen.
“Hexadome,” a new platform for audiovisual performance and installation began a world-hopping tour with its debut today – with Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers the opening act.
I got the chance to go behind the scenes in discussion with the team organizing, as well as some of the artists, to try to understand both how the system works technically and what the artistic intention of launching a new delivery platform.
Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers present the debut work on the system – from earlier today. Photo courtesy ISM.
It’s not that immersive projection and sound is anything new in itself. Even limiting ourselves to the mechanical/electronic age, there’s of course been a long succession of ideas in panoramic projection, spatialized audio, and temporary and permanent architectural constructions. You’ve got your local cineplex, too. But as enhanced 3D sound and image is more accessible from virtual and augmented reality on personal devices, the same enhanced computational horsepower is also scaling to larger contexts. And that means if you fancy a nice date night instead of strapping some ugly helmet on your head, there’s hope.
But if 3D media tech is as ubiquitous and your phone, cultural venues haven’t kept up. Here in Germany, there are a number of big multichannel arrays. But they’ve tended to be limited to institutions – planetariums, academies, and a couple of media centers. So art has remained somewhat frozen in time, to single cinematic projections and stereo sound. The projection can get brighter, the sound can get louder, but very often those parameters stay the same. And that keeps artists from using space in their compositions.
A handful of spaces are beginning to change that around the world. An exhaustive survey I’ll leave for another time, but here in Germany, we’ve already got the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, and the 4DSOUND installation Monom in Berlin, each running public programs. (In 2014, I got to organize an open lab on the 4DSOUND while it was in Amsterdam at ADE, while also making a live performance on the system.)
The Hexadome is the new entry, launching this week. What makes it unique is that it couples visuals and sound in a single installation that will tour. Then it will make a round trip back to Berlin where the long-term plan is to establish a permanent home for this kind of work. It’s the first project of an organization dubbing itself the Institute for Sound and Music, Berlin – with the hope that name will someday grace a permanent museum dedicated to “sound, immersive arts, and electronic music culture.”
For now, ISM just has the Hexadome, so it’s parked in the large atrium of the Martin Gropius Bau, a respected museum in the heart of town.
And it’s launching with a packed program – a selection of installation-style pieces, plus a series of live audiovisual performances. On the live program:
Michael Tan’s design for CAO.
Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst
Lara Sarkissian & Jemma Woolmore
Frank Bretschneider & Pierce Warnecke
Ben Frost & MFO
Peter van Hoesen & Heleen Blanken
CAO & Michael Tan
René Löwe & Pfadfinderei
Brian Eno’s installation launches a series of works that simply play back on the system, though the experience is still similar – you wander in and soak in projected images and spatial sound. The other artists all contributed installation versions of their work, plus a collaboration between Tarik Barri and Thom Yorke.
But before we get to the content, let’s consider the system and how it works.
The two halves of the Hexadome describe what this is – it’s a hexagonal projection arrangement, plus a dome-shaped sound array.
I spoke to Holger Stenschke, Lead Support Technician, from ZKM Karlsruhe, as well as Toby Götz, director of the Pfadfinderei collective. (Toby doubles up here, as the designer of the visual installation, and as one of the visual artists.) So they filled me in both on technical details and the intention of the whole thing.
Projection. The visuals are the simpler part to describe. You get six square projection screens, arranged in a hexagon, with large gaps in between. These are driven by two new iMacs Pro – that’s the current top-of-range from Apple as we launch – supplemented by still more external GPUs connected via Thunderbolt. MadMapper runs on the iMacs, and then the artists are free to fill all those pixels as needed. (Each screen is a little less than 4K resolution – so multiply that by six. Some shows will actually require both iMacs Pro.)
Jemma Woolmore shares this in-progress image of her visuals, as mapped to those six screens.
Sound. In the hemispherical sound array, there are 52 Meyer Sound speakers, arranged on a frame that looks a bit like a playground jungle gym. Why 52? Well, they’re arranged into a triangular tesselation around the dome. That’s not just to make this look impressive – that means that the sound dispersal from the speakers line up in such a way that you cover the space with sound.
The speakers also vary in size. There are three subwoofers, spaced around the hexagonal periphery, bigger speakers with more bass toward the bottom, and smaller, lighter speakers overhead. In Karlsruhe, where ZKM has a permanent installation, more of the individual speakers are bigger. But the Hexadome is meant to be portable, so weight counts. I can also attest from long hours experimenting on 4DSOUND that for whatever reason, lower frequency sounds seem to make more sense to the ears closer to the ground, and higher frequency sounds overhead. There’s actually no obvious reason for this – researchers I’ve heard who investigated how we localize sound find there’s no significant difference in how well we can localize across frequency range. (Ever heard people claim it doesn’t matter where you put a subwoofer? They’re flat out wrong.) So it’s more an expectation of experience than anything else, presumably. (Any psychoacoustics researchers wanting to chime in on comments, feel free.)
Audio interfaces. MOTU are all over this rig, because of AVB. AVB is the standard (IEEE, no less) for pro audio networking, letting you run sound over Ethernet connections. AVB audio interfaces from MOTU are there to connect to an AVB network that drives all those individual speakers.
Sound spatialization software. Visualists here are pretty much on their own – your job is to fill up those screens. But on the auditory side, there’s actually some powerful and reasonably easy to understand software to guide the process of positioning sound in space.
It’s actually significant that the Hexadome isn’t proprietary. Whereas the 4DSOUND system uses its own bespoke software and various Max patches, the Hexadome is built on some standard tools.
ZKM ZIrkonium – here, a screenshot of the work of Lara Sarkissian (in collaboration with Jemma Woolmore). Thanks, Lara, for the picture in progress! (The artists have been in residence at ZKM working away on this.)
On the IRCAM side, there’s not so much one toolchain as a bunch of smaller tools that work in concert. Panoramix is the standalone mixing tool an artist is likely to use, and it works with, for example, JACK (so you can pipe in sound from your software of choice). Then Spat comprises Max/MSP implementation of IRCAM spatialization, perception, and reverb tools. Panoramix is deep software – you can choose per sound source to use various spatialization techniques, and the reverb and other effects are capable of some terrific sonic effects.
Zirkonium is what the artists on the Hexadome seemed to gravitate toward. (Residencies at ZKM offered mentorship on both tools.) It’s got a friendly, single UI, and it’s free and open source. (Its sound engine is actually built in Pure Data.)
Then it’s a matter of whether the works are made for an installation, in which case they’re typically rendered (“freezing” the spatialization information) and played back in Reaper, or if they’re played live. For live performance, artists might choose to control the spatialization engine by sending OSC data, and using some kind of tool as a remote control (an iPad, for example).
I’ve so far only heard Brian Eno’s piece (both the sound check the other day and the installation), but the spatialization is already convincing. Spatialization will always work best when there are limited reflections from the physical space. The more reflected sound reaches your ear, the harder it is to localize the sound source. (The inverse is true, as well: the reason adding reverberation to a part of a mix seems to make it distance in the stereo field is, you already recognize that you hear more direct sound from sources that are close and more reflected sound from sources that are far away.)
Holger tells CDM that the team worked to mediate this effect by precisely positioning speakers in such a way that, once you’re inside the “dome” area, you hear mainly direct sound. In addition, a multichannel reverb like the IRCAM plug-in can be used to tune virtualized early reflections, making reverberation seem to emanate from beyond the dome.
In Eno’s work, at least, you have a sense of being enveloped in gong-like tones that emerge from all directions, across distances. You hear the big reverb tail of the building mixed in with that sound, but there’s a blend of virtual and real space – and there’s still a sense of precise distance between sounds in that hemispherical field.
That’s hard to describe in words, but think about the leap from mono to stereo. While mono music can be satisfying to hear, stereo creates a sense of space and makes individual elements more distinct. There’s a similar leap when you go to these larger immersive systems, and more so than the cartoonish effects you tend to get from cinematic multichannel – or even the wrap-around effects of four-channel.
What does it all mean?
Okay, so that’s all well and good. But everything I’ve described – multi-4K projection, spatial audio across lots of speakers – is readily available, with or without the Hexadome per se. You can actually go download Zirkonium and Panoramix right now. (You’ll need a few hundred euros if you want plug-in versions of all the fancy IRCAM stuff, but the rest is a free downloads, and ZKM’s software is even open source.) You don’t even necessarily need 50 speakers to try it out – Panoramix, for instance, lets you choose a binaural simulation for trying stuff out in headphones, even if it’ll sound a bit primitive by comparison.
The Hexadome for now has two advantages: one, this program, and two, the fact that it’s going mobile. Plus, it is a particular configuration.
The six square screens may at first seem unimpressive, at least in theory. You don’t get the full visual effect that you do from even conventional 180-degree panoramic projection, let alone the ability to fill your visual field as full domes or a big IMAX screen can do. Speaking to the team, though, I understood that part of the vision of the Hexadome was to project what Toby calls “windows.” And because of the brightness and contrast of each, they’re still stunning when you’re there with them in person.
This fits Eno’s work nicely, in that his collaboration with Peter Chilvers projects gallery-style images into the space, like slowly transforming paintings in light.
The gaps between the screens and above mean that you’re also aware of the space you’re in. So this is immersive in a different sense, which fits ISM’s goal of inserting these works in museum environments.
How that’s used in the other works, we’ll get to see. Projection it seems is a game of tradeoffs – domes give you greater coverage and real immersion, but distort images and also create reflections in both sound and light. (On the other hand, domes have also been in architectural use for centuries, as have rectangles, so don’t expect either to go away!)
The question “why” is actually harder to answer. There wasn’t a clear statement of mission from ISM and the Hexadome and its backers – this thing is what it is because they wanted it to be what it is, essentially. There’s no particular curatorial theme to the works. They touted some diversity of established and emerging artists. Though just about anyone may seem like they’re emerging next to Eno, that includes both local Berlin and international artists from Peru and the USA, among others, and a mix of ages and backgrounds.
The overall statement launching the Hexadome was therefore of a blank canvas, which will be approached by a range of people. And Eno/Chilvers made it literally seem a canvas, with brilliantly colored, color field-style images, filling the rectangles with oversized circles and strips of shifting color. Chilvers uses a slightly esoteric C++ raytracing engine, generating those images in realtime, in a digital, generative, modern take on the kind of effects found in Georges Seurat. Eno’s sounds were precisely what you’d expect – neutral chimes and occasional glitchy tune fragments, floating on their own or atop gentle waves of noise that arrive and recede like a tide. Organic if abstract tones resonated across the harmonic series, in groupings of fifths. Both image and sound are, in keeping with Eno’s adherence to stochastic ideas, produced in real-time according to a set of parameters, so that nothing ever exactly repeats. These are not ideas originated by Eno – stochastic processes and chance operations obviously have a long history – but as always, his rendition is tranquil and distinctively his own.
In a press conference this morning, Eno said he’d adjusted that piece until the one we heard was the fifth iteration – presumably an advantage of a system that’s controlled by a set of parameters. (Eno works with a set of software that allows this. You can try similar software, and read up on the history of the developers’ collaboration with the artist, at the Intermorphic site.)
What strikes me about beginning with Eno is that it sets a controlled tone for the installation. Eno/Chilvers’ aesthetic was at home on this system; the arrangement of screens fit the set of pictures, and Eno’s music is organic enough that when it’s projected into space, it seems almost naturally occurring.
And Eno in a press conference found a nice metaphor for justifying the connection of the Hexadome’s “windows” to the gallery experience. He noted that Chilvers’ subtly-shifting, ephemeral color compositions exploded the notion of painting or still image as something that could be consumed as a snapshot. Effectively, their work suggests the raison d’etre that the ISM curators seemed unable to articulate. The Hexadome is a canvas that incorporates time.
But that also raises a question. If spatial audio and immersive visuals have often been confined to institutions, this doesn’t so much liberate them as make a statement as to how museums can capitalize on deploying them. An inward-looking set of square images also seems firmly rooted in the museum frame (literally).
And the very fact that Eno’s work is so comfortable sets the stage for some interesting weeks.
Now we’ll see whether the coming lineup can find any subversive threads with the same setup, and in the longer run, what comes of this latest batch of installations. Will these sorts of setups incubate new ideas – especially as there’s a mix of artists and engineers engaged in the underlying tech? Or will spend-y installations like the Hexadome simply be a showy way to exhibit the tastes of big institutional partners? With some new names on that lineup for the coming weeks, I think we’ll at least get some different answers to where this could go. And looking beyond the Hexadome, the power of today’s devices to drive spatialization and visuals more easily means there’s more to come. Stay tuned.
From a crowded stand in Frankfurt to a sprawling show in East Berlin, Superbooth has become a modular mecca and the premiere synthesizer summit on the world calendar.
And if you think about it, that’s pretty astonishing. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in California remains the destination for the musical instrument industry at large, and it and a number of other events draw big crowds of synth lovers. But Superbooth has become a kind of extension of synthesizer inventor history, of modular subculture, and of the best parts of the Internet today – the bits that just nerd out about cool toys. One- and two-person shops stand literally shoulder to shoulder with major manufacturers.
In short, it’s the triumph of the weird.
“Normal” trade shows these days are what can seem anachronistic. The “trade-only” moniker at NAMM (or Germany’s Musikmesse) has always been confusing, with tire kickers tangled with industry, and a collision of instrumental segments that seem increasingly distant from one another.
Like the quiet, sprawling metropolis of Berlin itself, Superbooth never feels crowded. People amble and linger and chat and chill – all the verbs you never associate with trade shows. But it doesn’t feel like a local synth meet, either. There are 250 exhibitors this year, with stands from names like Ableton, Akai, Avid, Bitwig, Elektron, Eventide, IK Multimedia, KORG, Mackie, Magix, Moog, MOTU, Native Instruments, Nord, Novation, Propellerhead, RME, Roland, ROLI, Softube, Steinberg, Studio Electronics, Waldorf, and … yes, even mighty Yamaha.
Those join a who’s who of modular makers, with an increasing number of American brands alongside what appear to be all the major European names (including Russia).
So, it’s significant that the morning hours are dedicated to trade and professionals, while the afternoons open to the public. “Will you be at Superbooth?” has become the stock question for the synth and electronic end of the waters. And since this is not just a corner of a show with drums and guitars and trombones, you do actually talk to one another and connect.
Novation hit it out of the park with both Peak and Circuit Mono Station. Bastl Instruments fed us THYME, DUDE, Kong … and their own line of custom-brewed coffee. Behringer had their infamous Minimooog Model D clone to try. Elektron revealed the Digitakt, as Jomox and MFB unveiled boutique drum machines. And of course there were loads of new modules and other toys … not to mention Yamaha with a robot that plays keys.
Last year, this happened – two new Novation synths.
(Compare the inaugural 2016, when Superbooth was more limited to niche modular and analog creations, and many brands still made waves at Frankfurt Messe. By last year, Messe was mostly silence.)
This year, I think you can expect even more big announcements. Given the attention Novation got, I wouldn’t be surprised if a big manufacturer made a splash – even from Japan’s big three, all of whom are in attendance.
Of course, the charm of Superbooth is, those big manufacturers won’t really have any particular advantage over tiny shops. (Well, apart from if you have deeper pockets, you get the cool room with the Soyuz module …)
And I think you can expect … oh, wait, I can’t tell you. I don’t know anything. Expect nothing.
(Oh, one note – I think we’ll continue to see a cottage industry in 5U modules – that’s the larger format – especially as Moog’s own recreation of its vintage modulars is out of reach of most budgets.)
As Superbooth gets deeper in the gear territory – not just for modular geeks, but synths fans in general – it’s also building out its roster of musicians. Those reflect some of the Berlin in-crowd’s refined tastes, but this year they also suggest another line.
Superbooth wants you to think of synths and modular as an instrument, in the classic sense of the word.
So you get Caterina Barbieri, a classical guitarist-turned-modular artist, and Leon Michener on a prepared grand piano. There’s Berlin electronic legend Bernd Kistenmacher on synths, and composer Udo Hanten on 5U modulars.
Stephan Schmitt, founder of Native Instruments and father of Generator/Reaktor, will play on his own unique C 15 keyboard, made by his new hardware venture Nonlinear Labs. Carolina Eyck will play Theremin; famed producer Tobi Neumann will play ambient with Fadi.
The night program is also packed with some big names: think #instantboner, T.Raumschmiere & FucketYbUcKetY, Ströme and Tikiman, Boys Noiz with 2244, ATEQ, and GusGus.
It’s not entirely “underground” in character – these are established, premiere artists, and perhaps associated then with established, premiere modular gear, which while increasingly affordable isn’t exactly cheap. But then I think you can also expect lots of unofficial off events and afterparties to spring up, postcards to spread around – and it’s still Berlin. So be sure manufacturers will organize spontaneous jam sessions, visiting nerds will promote gigs, and lots of sound geekery will be had in the days during and immediately around the event. You might want to clear your calendar, plus some, like, recovery time.
On the workshop/talk side, there are various DIY offerings, as well as a female/non-binary program meant to counter-balance an event that has tended to skew fairly heavily male. Daniel Miller, Uwe Schmidt, and Mark Ernestus are in discussion, plus you can catch Lady Starlight, Andrew Huang, Lady Blacktronika, and Mylar Melodies.
The biggest rival to Superbooth I imagine will be Moogfest back in the U.S. of A. – unlikely to have, say, boutique Russian makers at it, but likely to attract some modular purveyors who won’t make the Transatlantic flight. And Moog of course will figure big at their own event. Moogfest also dwarfs Superbooth as far as festival lineup and talks. I’d also keep an eye on SONAR Festival, whose extended tech program often focuses on the European tech scene, plus Music Tech Fest in September.
But as far as synth makers in one place and synth news, Superbooth is the big bet for new tech. I’ll see you there.
How are the Harmony of the Spheres, Isaac Newton, and polyhythms connected? Strap in for a journey with musician Adam Neely.
A bass player – educator – composer, Adam has a series of his own called New Horizons in Music. For Ableton Loop in Berlin last November, he got to present one session of those ideas live to an enraptured crowd. Now, Ableton gives you a guest seat to that show.
If you’re a fan of polyrthms, you’ll like where this is going. But it takes an unexpected path, starting with Alexander Scriabin, the Russian composer who experienced a perceptual connection of color to sound, and Isaac Newton’s color science. That basic notion about spectrum links color, perception, and rhythm.
It’s a wild, Wikipedia click-hole saga through music history, psychoacoustics, proportions, and theory. Since proportion can apply to rhythm and pitch alike – and since rhythms eventually are themselves connected to pitch – you eventually get a kind of grand unifying theory of music and polyrhythm. Watch:
(Quite a few of you likely have seen this already, as it seems it’s already a hit!)
This is just the sort of adventurous thinking that filled the best talks at Ableton’s Loop event. In that way, Loop served not just as a gathering around a tool, but that explored the entire ecosystem of ideas around the Live user community. And that seems a great model for what music tech can be.
Of course, all of this required getting to Berlin, and even there attendance was limited. So, fortunately, Ableton have set up a minisite where they’re sharing content you can take in at your leisure. (I was actually in Berlin, and I missed this one, so it’s great having video available for me, too, before you get jealous!)
You can find a collection of resources from Loop at the Loop minisite, with more content added regularly:
With all that sound out there, you’d better make your musical statement a strong one. And why not add the kinds of visuals we see when we shut our eyes and listen?
This winter, visualist future error went into the archives of Resident Advisor and pulled out an evocative, dreamy ambient mix by Dasha Rush. Known best for her pounding techno, Dasha is also a producer and purveyor of more experimental music, too. And the combination of trippy monochromatic geometries and textures with this mix is reason enough to kick back on the couch with your iPad or TV or projector or whatever and … chill. (You deserve it!)
And don’t miss Grzegorz Bojanek, whose music I got to know through Dasha – he’s an electroacoustic musician, a Polish netlabel hero, and a staple of how the ambient/experimental scene is evolving in that country (including producing the Warsaw Electronic Festival – yes, it’s not just Unsound Festival in Poland, folks):
What do you do when faced with a sound system associated with a very particular techno sound? One answer: push the speakers until they scream, in a good way.
That’s what Hugo Esquinca did last month at CTM Festival – okay, under the watchful eyes of one of the club’s technicians. (That tech seemed happy with the results; I saw him leap over to Hugo after the show, grinning.)
It’s just another creative sound art experiment from Hugo and fits perfectly with the ethos of the collective he’s part of, oqko.
As part of our new series Cues, I’ll be talking to artists about musical creativity and live performance. And so for this one, we get an exclusive live performance – recorded in front of us at Maze, a club underground Kreuzberg – and chatted with Hugo about his work. Listen (I’ll have podcast subscription information for you next week, too):
If you’re tired of commercial boilerplate for electronics, feast your brain on this text Hugo shared on his creation:
Study on (in)operable rigour at this years edition of CTM @ Berghain was a site-specific composition in which the extensive differences and categories assigned as dimension to space and duration to time were but variables among variables in various algorithmic operations which precisely exposed those values to intensive micro temporal variations, where indeterminate modulations produced a multiplicity of events ranging from aleatory amplification of certain room mode resonances, errors in the sound card deriving from random oversampling which produced unexpected sonorous incidents to emerge, and where regarding a recursive mode in the programming where no halt was assigned, the composition could have potentially runned for an indefinite amount of time, as it was precisely by means of my intervention in ‘stopping’ the events that they were prevented and/or terminally halted.
Here’s a closer look at some of the Pd and Max mayhem:
Loopmasters has released Berlin Dub Techno 2, a brand new collection of bass driven Techno exported direct from the German capital and immersed in deep dark sonic explorations. Following up on Berlin Dub Techno, this second volume takes you deep underground for late night business, with loops, hits and sampler patches all contained to give […]
Ein Verzerrer, dessen Platine die Form Berlins zur Zeit der Mauer hat. Das ist die Idee hinter diesem Verzerrer: Berlin Wall Distortion
Diese extrem krasse Metall-Box ist ein Verzerrer. Das beginnt schon bei der Optik des Gehäuses und zeigt, dass sie Kunst ist und sein möchte. Ein Stück Mauer, einige Knöpfe und Schalter und wie Berlin selbst – es wirkt unfertig und scheint in einer Art Beta-Zustand zu sein.
In der Mitte findet man die Schaltung des Gerätes als Platine wieder. Diese Leiterbahnen wurden in den Formen Berlins zur Mauer-Zeit geätzt und die Bauteile sind dementsprechend kein Zufall, sondern so gesetzt, dass sie wichtige Stellen markieren. In diesem Falle Checkpoint Charlie und andere historisch bedeutende „Plätze“.
Berlin Wall Distortion
Auf der Website von Ore.E Refineries kann man sich genauer ansehen, welche Elemente was genau bedeuten. Allerdings dürfte das Berlinern (gemeint sind natürlich Berliner, nicht Schwaben) bekannt vorkommen, so sie denn zu der Zeit bereits in Berlin waren. Genau genommen handelt es sich um das Berlin von 1990, zur Zeit des Umbruchs und Endes und der neu aufkommenden neuen Pulse des Neuen.
Übrigens ist das zwar künstlerisch und wirkt wie der Plan, so etwas auf keinen Fall durch andere Leute machen zu lassen. Das ist aber ein Trugschluss, denn man kann Plan und Möglichkeit zur Herstellung auf der Website herunterladen. Alles ist „Open Source“, denn die Grenzen sind ja nun offen und alle dürfen frei reisen.
Da alles authentisch ist, kann man den Hersteller ausschließlich per Telefon erreichen: 00 358 50 57 29743. 00358 ist die Kennung von Finnland, du musst das nicht extra recherchieren.
Die Website hat den Look von frühen Websites. Auch das ist nicht dem Zufall geschuldet. Tja, dieeese Finnen. Die sind schon schräg.
Hier ein Video mit Demos, damit man auch den Klang beurteilen kann: