Producers Choice is offering a 60% discount on all its sample packs and bundles featuring sounds for Hip Hop, Trap, OVO and more. The sale includes the popular 808 Warfare sample pack, Advanced Producer Bundle (7 best selling packs), Trapped In The 80s: The Drum Collection, Sounds From The 6 Producer Bundle, Cassette Samples Vol […]
THEPHONOLOOP has announced the launch of its 2019 Spring Sale, offering a 20% discount on all its sample packs and Kontakt instrument libraries for a limited time only. The sale includes the Cassette series (Mallets, Piano, Vibraphone, Keys, Plucks & Toy Piano) and Texture Mozaik multi-sampled instruments for Kontakt, Influential Kit, and Break Geek DNB […]
Well, congratulations – you’ve survived another April Fools’ holiday. At worst, it can be unfunny and confusing. At best, though, it raises a different question – should we actually start dreaming up and making more ridiculous ideas?
Okay, I don’t necessarily want to be the grinch of April Fools’. And maybe now is not the right time to raise this – like, someone might say that it could have something to do with the fact that I attempted a product launch on the holiday, uh, yesterday. (What? That was me? Oh, yeah – it was. MeeBlip geode is not a joke. We are really making it. And um… yeah, that did wind up hitting some confusion, even though there’s nothing particularly April Fools-y about geode.)
While it’s had some glimmers of clever parody, the collision of April Fools’ with an attention-starved Internet has led to a noisy confusion of a bunch of people deciding to write parody press releases and videos, and the ideas can get repetitive. And it can confuse everyone about real news – not just ours. This year, the date came between two of the bigger synth and electronic music events of the year – sandwiched not more than 24 hours apart from Synthplex in the USA and Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany. (Yes, Messe is again a thing; even with Superbooth in Berlin stealing away modular makers, there’s a lot of musical instruments business outside modular, a lot of distributors in Germany, an entire industry around lighting tech, the music education business in Germany, and a competitive Messe organization slashing rates on booths, so expect it to stick around.)
But about the fake products we wish were real products … sigh, again.
Biggest culprit: KORG.
Yeah, okay, it’s probably not terribly practical for KORG to make a cassette volca. On the other hand, it’s not just the Rickroll video that’s tonedeaf to 2019 – lots of us have repurposed our cassette decks. I have a Yamaha multitrack sitting next to me in the studio wired up. People are making tape loops with Walkmans. There are tape labels. Bastl Instruments and Teenage Engineering, among others, have made digital decks that reimagine tape loops and tape playback. And having seen weird tape players show up on Amazon, I expect it’s not impossible to make new hardware that includes mechanical tape playback in it.
So the joke’s really on KORG here. Instead of getting pranked or sharing this because it was funny, literally thousands of people jumped on the idea of a KORG volcasette. (Obviously the biggest clue in – using KORG’s volca series nomenclature, it should have been KORG cassette or KORG tape. Just sayin’.)
The proposed features of this thing already exist on multitrack tape recorders, but the mind reels with other possibilities – looping, sampling, strange custom tape echoes…
And yes, of course there was the Ableton’s ReChorder – maybe the one amusing part of the parody there was, the awful music at the end does kind of remind me of some terrible demos of unusual instruments over the years. This one we can at least leave out of the instances of products people would want.
But even silly April Fools’ products can go viral – perhaps because we live in a world where brands are doing such strange things already, it’s not clear how you could make a joke that was any more absurd.
So, a HYPERX CUP MIX-IN pair of headphones shaped like two Cup Noodles containers and a fork had some of us … wanting instant ramen … and others actually wanting to try to buy the product. (Various blogs even picked this up assuming it was real.) I have a pair of Beats by Dre headphones in white that I suddenly want to mod to actually do this.
Useful? No. Possible to DIY? Yes. Tempting? Oh, indeed. (I’m sure some sort of ramen container housing could work.)
Then there was this USB-C hub covered in legacy ports. Except… yeah, I definitely would buy something like that. (SCSI for old drives? Actual analog video? Tons of extra ports, or card readers?)
Sure, this is … not totally possible. But parts of it are and … you know you want it. Their ridiculous specs, though take any subset of these and you might be happy.
Thick, heavy, substantial styling.
Built-in 100Wh / 27000mAh airline-safe battery pack
2-in-1 speaker and space heater using the same front air vent holes (temperature depending on the number of active connections)
USB-C hub with a total of 40 ports
9 x USB-C
9 x USB-A
2 x microSD
2 x SD
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
1 x HDMI
2 x DisplayPort
1 x Mini DVI
1 x VGA
1 x Ethernet
1 x Modem RJ-11
1 x Optical Audio “Toslink”
1 x Firewire 400
1 x Firewire 800
2 x RCA
1 x Parallel Port
1 x Serial Port
1 x PS/2
1 x AT Port
1 x 3.5” Floppy Disk Drive
Hey, there is a lot of bandwidth on Thunderbolt 3. I think this particular device might catch fire. But it is possible to have more ports.
Part of the reason this isn’t a joke: a friend urgently needed to pull files off a SCSI drive. I wound up looking back at Apple machines from just around the turn of the century, which in fact had every port you could imagine. The bronze keyboard PowerBook G3 Series, for instance, includes both USB and SCSI – and since it runs used for $200, you can actually buy that entire laptop to transfer data from legacy drives more easily than you can buy a modern SCSI adapter. (The adapters appear to be both more expensive and more scarce than the entire computers.)
Or for a more extreme example, consider the PowerMac G3 Series. This machine was everything Steve Jobs stamped out at Apple – boxy, with a beige slightly curved-out ID design language that mostly evolved under CEO John Sculley. But it sure had ports. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Miguel Durán.
Maybe you’ll rescue the legacy devices, but I do miss analog video – badly. And the notion of professional machines where you might actually connect various hardware, that bit still seems relevant. I love compact and friendly devices, but I also love choice.
And of course the only real joke is trying to figure out how to buy a USB-C device or cable … ahem … (to say nothing of those Apple cable prices).
Maybe the bottom line here, though, is that one person’s joke is another person’s dream. Some of the best, most creative ideas start as jokes. April Fools’ as far as I’m concerned in tech just needs to go away – it’s a day that adds noise and confusion to media that don’t need more of that, ever. But here’s another approach: maybe we should be willing to dream up absurd ideas the other 364 days of the year.
See any April Fools’ jokes you wish were real – and anybody up for actually making it happen?
Time to pick up a Walkman at the next flea market and start hacking; that’s for sure.
What’s to say a music idea can’t be both a tool and a tape, an instrument someone could play or an album they can get lost in? Puremagnetik are launching their new experimental label with two free tools that let you keep the drones and grains and ambient soundscapes flowing.
There’s a bunch of hype this week because Warner Music signed an algorithm. And in turn with everyone abusing the term “AI,” you might well think that a computer has automated a composer’s job. Except that’s not what happened – in the long tradition of algorithmic music, a group of composers applied their ideas to the development of software. One of the first apps launched for the iPhone, in fact, was the Brian Eno – Peter Chilvers “Bloom.” Endel has more in common with Bloom, I’d argue, than it does some dystopia where unseen, disembodied AI come to rob you of your lucrative ambient music recording contract. (At least, we’re not there yet. Endel is here in Berlin; I hope to talk to them soon – what they’ve done sounds very interesting, and maybe not quite what the press have reported.) Bloom in turn was a follow-up to Eno’s software-based generative music releases. Ableton co-founders Gerhard and Robert released software in the 90s, too.
So let’s talk about the role of musician as blurred with the role of instrument builder. Soundware and software shop Puremagnetik is made by musicians; founder Micah Frank was moonlighting in sound design for others as he worked on his own music. While this may come as shocking news to some, it turns out for many people, selling music tools is often a better day job than selling music or music performances. (I hope you were sitting down for that bombshell. Don’t tell my/your/anyone’s parents.)
But there are many ways to express something musically. Many of us who love tools as we do love playing live and recording and listening do so because all of these things embody sound and feeling.
It’s fitting, then, that Puremagnetik are launching their own record label to house some of the recorded experiments – Puremagnetik Tapes, which already has some beautiful music on cassette and as digital downloads.
And the perfect companion to those albums is these two free plug-ins. Like the label, they promise a trip for the mind.
The two first tapes (also available as digital)… gorgeous sound worlds to lose yourself in on loop.
The label announces it will focus on “experimental, ambient and acousmatic music.” That already yields two enchanting ambient forays. “Into a Bright Land” is in turns crystalline and delicate, warm and lush as a thick blanket. It’s Micah Frank himself, releasing under his Larum moniker. The musical craft is a digital-analog hybrid, part synths and tape machines – the kind the company has been known for sampling in its sound work – and partly Micah’s intricate custom coding work in the free environment Csound.
To accompany Into a Bright Land, there’s the plug-in “Expanse,” a “texture generator,” with a combination of “texture tone” filter, spectral blurring, adjustable pitch shift, and a healthy supply of noise generation and space.
Its drones and sonic landscapes draw from that same world.
Tyler Gilmore aka BlankFor.ms has crafted “Works for Tape and Piano,” pushing each instrument to its most vulnerable place, the tape itself becoming instrument, sounding almost as if at the point of a beautiful breakdown.
Since you can’t just borrow Tyler’s tape machines and such, Driftmaker is a digital equivalent – a “delay disintegration” device. Add your own audio, and the plug-in will model analog deterioration. The artist himself supplies the presets. Again, you have plenty of control – “parse” which sets the record buffer, “chop” which determines how much to recall, and then controls for delay, modulation, filtering, and wet/dry.
Both plug-ins are free with an email address or Gumroad login.
…and the plug-ins, each created to aesthetically accompany the albums.
There’s a pattern here, though. Far from a world where artists remove themselves from craft or automate the hard work, here, artists relish in getting close to everything that makes sound. They make music the hard way because each element of DIY is fun. And then they share that same fun. It might well be the opposite of the narrative we’re given about AI and automation (and I suspect that may also mean artists don’t approach machine learning for music in the way some people currently predict).
Or, well, even if you don’t believe that, I think you’ll easily lose whole evenings with these albums and plug-ins alike.
Fuse Audio Labs has launched a limited time sale, offering a 50% discount on two of its audio effect plugins. The Bucket-500 is an authentic emulation of a bucket brigade (BBD) based analog delay circuit. Additional features include a tilt filter in the feedback path, a stereo cross-feed option and an optional delay clock LFO […]
THEPHONOLOOP has announced the release of its new Cassette Mallets.02, the successor of Cassette Mallets.01 which explores the sound of experimental mallet instruments with different sounds, more decks to choose from and the .02 interface. Cassette Mallets.02 contains three instruments, each one covering a different sound territory. Sound 01 is a mix of old glockenspiel […]
Ein Tapedeck im Eurorack? Wieso nicht mal total analog, wirklich analog und mechanisch? Ein Kassettenspieler von „heute“.
Xavier Gazon hat in einer Selbstbauaktion ein Kassetten-Abspiel-Deck oder besser den Player in ein Eurorack-Format gebracht und das per Knopf und Steuerpannung steuerbar gemacht. Also kleine Demonstration, wird in einem Demovideo bei Facebook ein LFO angelegt, der die Geschwindigkeit des Bandes aus einem Walkman steuert.
Die Frontplatte ist per Laserbeschriftung und Laserschneidesystem passend gemacht worden. Damit trifft die Technik von heute auf die von gestern mit der die eher älteren Lesern hier noch aufgewachsen sind. Stilvoll ist die Steuerung durch ein Serge – Modul in Eurorack-Baugröße. Lustig ist, dass es mal ein Fake-Rendering eines Waldorf Samplers namens Kassettenspieler gab. Aber die Idee mit Bandgeräten etwas zu machen ist nicht ganz neu, so hatten wir schon diverse Geräte, die per Bandschleife oder Kassetten funktionieren, eines davon wurde sogar per Tastatur gespielt. Einige funktionieren mit dieser Technik als Bandecho auf Cassetten-Basis, andere sind Sampler. Es gab sogar schon den Versuch, den Player selbst neu zu erfinden.
Die wohl drolligste und ähnlichste Idee, was vermutlich diese her
Das Gerät gibt es nicht zu kaufen, nicht mal als Bausatz, denn es ist eine einmalige Aktion eines Bastlers.
Klevgränd has announced a limited time sale on selected audio effect plugins and iOS apps. An amazing year is soon ending. We’ve had a lot of fun, releasing a lot of really nice stuff that we’re very proud of. So we thought we’d wrap it up with a nice little sale for you all. For […]
THEPHONOLOOP has announced its 2018 Holiday Sale, offering a 20% discount on everything from its store for a limited time. The Cassette Toy Piano library is included for free with any purchase during the promotion. Cassette Toy Piano is a collection of 5 instruments based on a children toy piano. First of the five included […]
Klevgränd has announced the release of its latest plugin REAMP, an audio gear modeler effect that can emulate hardware such as cassette tape, tape reel and tube preamps. The simulation uses a unique and efficient spectral saturation algorithm. REAMP is a complex spectral saturation processor simulating a set of different analog gear in a new […]