Moving AV architectures of sine waves: Zeno van den Broek

Dutch-born, Danish-based audiovisual artist Zeno van den Broek continues to enchant with his immersive, minimalistic constructions. We talk to him about how his work clicks.

Zeno had a richly entrancing audiovisual release with our Establishment label in late 2016, Shift Symm. But he’s been prolific in his work for AV sound, with structures made of vector lines in sight and raw, chest rattling sine waves. It’s abstract an intellectual in the sense of there’s always a clear sense of form and intent – but it’s also visceral, both for the eyes and ears, as these mechanisms are set into motion, overlapping and interacting. They tug you into another world.

Zeno is joining a lineup of artists around our Establishment label tonight in Berlin – come round if you see this in time and happen to be in town with us.

But wherever you are, we want to share his work and the way he thinks about it.

CDM: So you’ve relocated from the Netherlands to Copenhagen – what’s that location like for you now, as an artist or individually?

Zeno: Yes, I’ve been living there for little over two years now; it’s been a very interesting shift both personally and workwise. Copenhagen is a very pleasant city to live in – it’s so spacious, green and calm. For my work, it took some more time to feel at home, since it’s structured quite differently from Holland, and interdisciplinary work isn’t as common as in Amsterdam or Berlin. I’ve recently joined a composers’ society, which is a totally new thing to me, so I’m very curious to see where this will lead in the future. Living in such a tranquil environment has enabled me to focus my work and to dive deeper into the concepts behind my work, it feels like a good and healthy base to explore the world from, like being in Berlin these days!

Working with these raw elements, I wonder how you go about conceiving the composition. Is there some experimentation process, adjustment? Do you stand back from it and work on it at all?

Well, it all starts from the concepts. I’ve been adapting the ‘conceptual art’ practise more and more, by using the ideas as the ‘engine’ that creates the work.

For Paranon, this concept came to life out of the desire to deepen my knowledge of sine waves and interference, which always play a role in my art but often more in an instinctive way. Before I created a single tone of Paranon I did more research on this subject and discovered the need for a structural element in time: the canon, which turned out to a very interesting method for structuring sine wave developments and to create patterns of interference that emerge from the shifting repetitions.

Based on this research, I composed canon structures for various parameters of my sine wave generators, such as frequency deviation and phase shifting, and movements of visual elements, such as lines and grids. After reworking the composition into Ableton, I pressed play and experienced the outcome. It doesn’t make sense to me to do adjustments or experiment with the outcome of the piece because all decisions have a reason, related to the concept. To me, those reasons are more important than if something sounds pleasant.

If I want to make changes, I have to go back to the concept, and see where my translation from concept to sound or image can be interpreted differently.

There’s such a strong synesthetic element to how you merge audio and visual in all your works. Do you imagine visuals as you’re working with the sound? What do they look like?

I try to avoid creating an image based on the sound. To me, both senses and media are equally important, so I treat them equally in my methods, going from concept to creation. Because I work with fundamental elements in both the visuals and the sound — such as sine waves, lines, grids, and pulses — they create strong relationships and new, often unexpected, results appear from the merging of the elements.

Can you tell us a bit about your process – and I think this has changed – in terms of how you’re constructing your sonic and visual materials?

Yes, that’s true; I’ve been changing my tools to better match my methods. Because of my background in architecture, drawing was always the foundation of my work — to form structures and concepts, but also to create the visual elements. My audiovisual work Shift Symm was still mainly built up out of animated vector drawings in combination with generative elements.

But I’ve been working on moving to more algorithmic methods, because the connection to the concepts feels more natural and it gives more freedom, not being limited by my drawing ability and going almost directly from concept to algorithm to result. So I’ve been incorporating more and more Max in my Ableton sets, and I started using [Derivative] TouchDesigner for the visuals. So Paranon was completely generated in TouchDesigner.

You’ve also been playing out live a lot more. What’s evolving as you perform these works?

Live performances are really important to me, because I love the feeling of having to perform a piece on exactly that time and place, with all the tension of being able to f*** it up — the uncompromising and unforgiving nature of a performance. This tension, in combination with being able to shape the work to the acoustics of the venue, make a performance into something much bigger than I can rationally explain. It means that in order to achieve this I have to really perform it live: I always give myself the freedom to shape the path a performance takes, to time various phrases and transitions and to be able to adjust many parameters of the piece. This does give a certain friction with the more rational algorithmic foundation of the work but I believe this friction is exactly what makes a live performance worthwhile.

So on our release of yours Shift Symm, we got to play a little bit with distribution methods – which, while I don’t know if that was a huge business breakthrough, was interesting at least in changing the relationship to the listener. Where are you currently deploying your artwork; what’s the significance of these different gallery / performance / club contexts for you?

Yes our Shift Symm release was my first ‘digital only’ audiovisual release; this new form has given me many opportunities in the realm of film festivals, where it has been screened and performed worldwide. I enjoy showing my work at these film festivals because of the more equal approach to the sound and image and the more focused attention of the audience. But I also enjoy performing in a club context a lot, because of the energy and the possibilities to work outside the ‘black box’, to explore and incorporate the architecture of the venues in my work.

It strikes me that minimalism in art or sound isn’t what it once was. Obviously, minimal art has its own history. And I got to talk to Carsten Nicolai and Olaf Bender at SONAR a couple years back about the genesis of their work in the DDR – why it was a way of escaping images containing propaganda. What does it mean to you to focus on raw and abstract materials now, as an artist working in this moment? Is there something different about that sensibility – aesthetically, historically, technologically – because of what you’ve been through?

I think my love for the minimal aesthetics come from when I worked as an architect in programs like Autocad — the beautiful minimalistic world of the black screen, with the thin monochromatic lines representing spaces and physical structures. And, of course, there is a strong historic relation between conceptual art and minimalism with artists like Sol LeWitt.

But to me, it most strongly relates to what I want to evoke in the person experiencing my work: I’m not looking to offer a way to escape reality or to give an immersive blanket of atmosphere with a certain ambiance. I’m aiming to ‘activate’ by creating a very abstract but coherent world. It’s one in which expectations are being created, but also distorted the next moment — perspectives shift and the audience only has these fundamental elements to relate to which don’t have a predefined connotation but evoke questions, moments of surprise, and some insights into the conceptual foundation of the work. The reviews and responses I’m getting on a quite ‘rational’ and ‘objective’ piece like Paranon are surprisingly emotional and subjective, the abstract and minimalistic world of sound and images seemingly opens up and activates while keeping enough space for personal interpretation.

What will be your technical setup in Berlin tonight; how will you work?

For my Paranon performance in Berlin, I’ll work with custom-programmed sine wave generators in [Cycling ’74] Max, of which the canon structures are composed in Ableton Live. These structures are receive messages via OSC and audio signal is sent to TouchDesigner for the visuals. On stage, I’m working with various parameters of the sound and image that control fundamental elements of which the slightest alteration have a big impact in the whole process.

Any works upcoming next?

Besides performing and screening my audiovisual pieces such as Paranon and Hysteresis, I’m working on two big projects.

One is an ongoing concert series in the Old Church of Amsterdam, where the installation Anastasis by Giorgio Andreotta Calò filters all the natural light in the church into a deep red. In June, I’ve performed a first piece in the church, where I composed a short piece for organ and church bells and re-amplified this in the church with the process made famous by Alvin Lucier’s “I’m sitting in a room” — slowly forming the organ and bells to the resonant frequencies of the church. In August, this will get a continuation in a collaboration with B.J. Nilsen, expanding on the resonant frequencies and getting deeper into the surface of the bells.

The other project is a collaboration with Robin Koek named Raumklang: with this project, we aim to create immaterial sound sculptures that are based on the acoustic characteristics of the location they will be presented in. Currently, we are developing the technical system to realize this, based on spatial tracking and choreographies of recording. In the last months, we’ve done residencies at V2 in Rotterdam and STEIM in Amsterdam and we’re aiming to present a first prototype in September.

Thanks, Zeno! Really looking forward to tonight!

If you missed Shift Symm on Establishment, here’s your chance:

And tonight in Berlin, at ACUD:

Debashis Sinha / Jemma Woolmore / Zeno van den Broek / Marsch

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Maracaibo to Berlin, Hyperaktivist on MESS, love, and music community

From Venezuela to Europe, DJ/producer Hyperaktivist’s passion for music has been about connecting people as it has about connecting music. She talks to us about that process of community building, even in the face of resistance – and shares hours of music mixed with Mohajer at her side.

MESS is “Mindful Electronic Sonic Selections.” It’s advertised as techno, as house, as “adventurous sounds.” The party itself is once every third month at Ohm, the intimate club built in the former battery room of the power plant that now houses Tresor and Atonal Festival. But follow the connections of this party, and you get a decent map to a range of inspiring DIY, collective efforts of artists around Europe and Latin America. For any of us struggling to put together our own musical lives, our own parties, our own collectives and communities, it’s a terrific instructive effort – not least because of the personality and will of Hyperaktivist, aka Maracaibo, Venezuela-born, Berlin-based Ana Laura Rincon.

I’m personally indebted to Ana Laura in the time I’ve known her, in that in a sometimes mercurial, transient Berlin scene, she has consistently been someone whose vision and friendship I’ve known I could always trust. Of course, maybe it’s better though to first listen to how she communicates musically. She shares with us a mix she made B2B with Mohajer (aka Melinda Mohajer), her Iranian-born partner.

The magical thing about music and perhaps specifically techno is, when someone makes a confident sonic statement, it makes that feeling of strength infectious:

Hyperaktivist went B2B with Mohajer for MESS in February – a perfect Valentine’s Day pairing. Listen to their full mix. Photo courtesy Ana Laura Rincon.

The Hyperaktivist B2B Mohajer set comes to us from the last edition, in February. MESS is never advertised as female-only lineups; it’s a completely mixed crowd, and it never uses artists’ gender as a selling point. For her part, Ana Laura just refers to “chemistry and style.” But the fact remains: some of the most significant forces on the musical scene are female, transgender, and non-binary. And a lot of those figures are still often very underground. So let’s let Ana Laura guide us.

For the edition coming up on Berlin Saturday May 26, we get to meet two special artists:

Nastya Muravyova (Celestial, Kyiv)

“She’s a rising, yet brightly shining star of Kyiv’s underground scene,” Ana Laura says. “She’s balancing on the edge of pumpy 4×4 techno and sharp breakbeat, slightly aggressive — and all the way sexy.”

Jessie Granqvist (Esperanto, Stockholm)

Ana Laura: “She’s a product of the vibrant underground-scene that’s currently growing rapidly in Stockholm. With roots grounded in illegal raves and open airs, she has gained notoriety for her style of dark and meditative sounds merged together into a very danceable mix. With both technicality and an eclectic selection of records, she has the talent to truly build and build a long lasting vibe on every floor that she appears on.”

PK: I find it interesting that you’re pulling people connected to collectives, parties, scenes in other cities. What’s important to you about doing that?

Hyperaktivist: For me, at the moment, I’m really not finding my inspiration so much from the scene in Berlin. So I always try to invite and collaborate with people from other places – so we can experience something fresh and different for us here in Berlin. With bookings, I take my time to know that everyone is going to have a chemistry that will work through the night and that it will add something new.

I mean, it seems like that’s been a big part of what defined the scene in Berlin – bringing in influence from elsewhere, whether it’s Detroit or Latin America or another part of Germany. So that’s a problem if it becomes just an export culture, if it’s all the same, right?

Hype has taken over Berlin; that’s a fact. People come here to live that “Berlin experience.” What scares me is the effect this might have on some of the artists that reside in Berlin. I worry some DJs feel pressured to play what’s expected from them more than what they feel at the time. And I worry about the consequences of that for the people who actually live in Berlin – whether they’re feeling that they’re going to the same party over and over, or that there are actually new things happening.

At this point I’m trying to go back to the roots a bit, thinking about why I started DJing and organizing parties in the first place. For me it all started in Venezuela, a country with few electronic music affiliations.

I discovered the electronic music scene when I was about 16 or 17. That happened to be around the first time I saw a DJ playing – there were maybe three or four people in my whole city who owned turntables.

It might sound funny, but for me it was a revelation. I knew right there, this is something I wanted to do. I was collecting music already; my mom had a great music collection and she was among other things a radio host. I was already completely fascinated about music and how we needed it to express ourselves and how we naturally feel like sharing it with others. So for me, seeing a DJ – “the master of ceremony” – was a turning point.

I started to get into it, but the scene was small and many people wouldn’t really have access to it. I first started organizing parties and eventually I even opened the first club in my city dedicated to electronic music only. I did it with my three best friends; we ran it for four years. During this time, we would also throw free parties in the streets. We had the intention of making electronic music more accessible to anyone and somehow contributing to the development of this scene that had already become a very important, determinant part of my life

That’s why I try to work with collectives that I feel are working to develop the scene in their own countries. When you start to do this in a place that’s not like Berlin, that’s not well developed, where the industry is not like here, you know that people are doing this because they love it. And they love it so much that they need it and if it doesn’t exist, then they do it. They need it to be part of their lives, so they make it happen.

So I like to work with people I feel are involved in music for these reasons, and doing something with heart and that is honest. Not only because of hype or because they want to be famous. It’s more because we fucking love it.

How do you describe what MESS is about? I know you aren’t explicitly talking about this being female + non-binary only, as far as lineups – so how would you express that dimension?

First of all, I feel the concept of MESS is ever-evolving. We need to pay attention to the necessities of the electronic music scene, what needs work and what’s overlooked.

Berlin is such a masculine city in many ways, music scene included. I’ve met some of the most amazing women and the most strong personalities in Berlin. So I have a hard time accepting why women still need to fight very hard and prove themselves over and over in order to be accepted and sometimes even welcomed.

I think about MESS as a space where I don’t want to make a political statement. I have come to understand the best points are made when you don’t have to explain too much but instead you let things speak by themselves. Actions speak louder than words, right?

So I put together bookings based on chemistry and style. I invite super talented artists and I let them do their thing. And slowly but surely, people are realizing that there’s something different. And I get feedback on it – sometimes at the party, people come to me and say, like, ‘this is really cool, what you’re doing, there’s something different about the party.’ So it’s great to let people see by themselves.

I also always try to put together bookings where people are from diverse cultural backgrounds, so you see different approaches.

In my utopian world, we shouldn’t even be having these discussions between each other. At the end of the day, more than anything else, it should be about the music, about friendship, acceptance, respect — about the feeling you are part of something special.

And this is what MESS is at the moment.

Ana Laura aka Hyperaktivist. Photo by Melinda Mohajer.

So when you go to find these artists, these collectives and other scenes – how are you connecting with them?

Research. [laughs] I spend time – a lot of time, listening to the music. Not only once. You know how it is with music – this day you hear this and you think, oh wow, I love this … next day you hear the same and it’s like, this is actually fatal. I give myself time to hear it, in different moods, see how I feel about it. I hear it with friends. There are different things that catch me. Usually, the things that catch me are related to attitude — when I see that this person wants to say something, there’s something there.

It takes time. That’s why I do MESS every three months, because I need time to prepare and I also want to have a good reason to make the party. For example, the last edition happened on February 17th, the weekend after Valentine’s Day. We decided to make a “Club Affair” and have only couples playing, as in back to back. So we invited Isabella from Colombia B2B Bella Sarris from Australia, Johanna Schneider with Philippa Pacho from Sweden with their B2B project Sthlm Murder Girls, and I played with Melinda Mohajer from Iran. I saved our recording specially for you at CDM.

Схема. Via Facebook.

Hyperaktivist vs. Maricas Maricas, Barcelona.

I’ve been collaborating with various collectives / parties. For a few examples:

Maricas, a queer party collective from Barcelona, run by Isabella, a Colombian DJ who played at our last edition, along with Uruguayan friends

Fast Forward from Copenhagen — these guys are making exciting new techno and crazy illegal parties, and you feel their collective really has these family vibe, which I love.

Esperanto music from Sweden – they’re pushing up-and-coming Swedish artists.

Cxema from Ukraine, where they are taking abandoned locations and throwing badass raves and putting the Ukraine scene on the international radar.

How does that experience compare to when you were running a club in Venezuela?

It was the same – collaborating with the development of the scene and the culture of electronic music. It’s what I’ve been working for, always.

I had this friend, and he had this house downtown in my city Maracaibo, the second largest city in Venezuela. And he was like, ”I want to do something here, what should I do?” I didn’t even think for one second — I turned around and told him, we’re gonna do a club.

And then we started the club, and it was amazing. It became a meeting point for all the scene in the city and across the country. So we started to do the same – invited collectives from Caracas and all the other cities from Venezuela to come to play, and then we would go to play their parties in their cities. And then it grew, and it started to happen between Colombia, Brazil, Argentina. Then we started to bring artists from Europe, but at this point the political situation of the country started to critically worsen. We had an exchange control that started to happen and wouldn’t allow us to access any foreign currency anymore, so buying records, equipment, or making international bookings became impossible. The whole country started to go down down and boom – it was gone. And that’s when we stopped.

But now one of the best clubs in Bogota, Video Club, is run by a good friend of mine Enrique Leon with I used to have the club with in Venezuela. And he’s putting together great bookings, making showcases with everyone. Dekmental Sound System, Aurora Halal, etc….

If you’re in Berlin, don’t miss MESS tomorrow at Ohm, Saturday 26 May. Or see you in the scene in your neck of the woods.

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Resident Advisor

More from Hyperaktivist / Mess

At top: Hyperaktivist – Pic by Honza Kolář.

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Real underground: watch a live set in the Copenhagen metro

You’ve seen buskers in your subway, maybe, but odds are a full-on rave is a rarity. That’s what Strøm Festival and Anastasia Kristensen gave Copenhagen’s metro.

The basic notion: step onto your metro, get a live party. Watch:

Strøm, for their part, have established themselves as a cornerstone of the Danish electronic scene. And Russian-born, Copenhagen-based Anastasia Kristensen is maybe just the person you’d expect for this gig, in that lately it seems like she’s been everywhere.

I was curious, so asked her about the experience. She tells CDM:

“I compiled a live set with elements of Detroit techno, UK jungle, and all kinds of obscura that I could map to a MIDI controller and launch whenever. There was even an airhorn. 🙂

The experience was massive. As soon as people danced and jumped, the entire train was shaking. It felt like it could derail. I think it was a great way to rethink the way we can imagine a party and get around the city. Big up to Strøm for this!”

It’s also nice to hear some different vibes, beyond just what you’d catch in Tresor or Berghain from her.

I, uh, guess I can say I was following Anastasia before she blew up? (Resident Advisor says that was apparently earlier this year?) On the other hand, I think being everywhere, playing everything has long been her strong suit – someone with the resolve and raw discipline to relentlessly pursue music. I have to point that out just because I think it’s easy from the outside to assume this business is just luck – and that Kristensen, like many other of the most prolific and reliable members of the scene, has accomplished all of this atop a full-time day job.

And yes, follow those people, and you tend to catch those “rising stars” as RA puts it! (It’s a relief to know that’s the case!)

Best to let her and her music speak for themselves, though. Check out both her latest RA mix and her detailed follow-up on what’s driving her currently:

RA.598 Anastasia Kristensen

Her tool of choice, incidentally, is the now-discontinued Pioneer XDJ Aero. What’s nifty about this is, it’s small and it’s cheaper than buying new CDJs and components separately, but it still lets you practice CDJs somewhere other than sound check at a club or in front of a crowd. And it maintains rekordbox compatibility, so you can plug in those USB sticks, and works standalone if you choose. It could be something to look for used and … hey, Pioneer, maybe think about following up in this direction?

I’ve gotten to a few of her recent gigs, but Boiler Room was the one with cameras rolling, for some straight-ahead techno:

Just don’t miss her dark, evocative productions, which remain among my favorites:

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Going deep in techno technique and technology with Denmark’s CTRLS

Keep techno nerdy? We go in the studio to find out how Copenhagen’s CTRLS [Token] has developed his own sound, and how it relates to the tech he uses.

Away from the whims of techno fashion and its potential for cookie-cutter aesthetic chasing, there are cats like CTRLS, aka Troels Knudsen of Copenhagen. With some nine EPs to his name, he’s been steadily honing a craft – one with roots back in 90s trackers. In other words, he’s just the person to ask about process, because his sound is built from inside out instead of outside in.

And Routing is a song of experience – never overcomplicated, always clear, always groovy. You know, smart. And from that foundation, it gets to be weird and original. This is Troels who loves sounds making sounds you’ll love.

It’s also label Token Records (led by artist Kr!z) at its best. I thought Danish rush hours involved bicycles or something, so I suspect Troels secretly lives in the future. “Rush Hour” has a timeless groove going:

“Crash” is also heavy and grimy, with an off-kilter gesture that makes it keep falling forward, like some more industrial take on those Drinking Bird toys:

“Highway”‘s glitchy, weird noise percussion takes on this 90s IDM feel, but perfectly mixed I think and with a sense of both space and friendly shuffle:

“The Shortest Path” comes closer to what you might associate with the Token sound, but places it in Troels’ sense of wit and charm – at just a moment when the “serious” European techno scene threatens to get incurably gloomy:

(Also welcome: when you buy the album, you get “locked grooves” to use as DJ tools – leaving the tracks themselves to be more headphone-listening friendly.)

An older release, but I really love the concept, sound, and video (a reactive visual installation by Rune Abro & Yonathan Sonntag) – check out “Incoming Data” from 2015, also on Token:

So with that in mind, I got a chance to give us a look inside his studio and tools. And I was curious how that path led from machine to musical voice, from esoteric tracker knowledge to Internet-enabled music culture, because it speaks I think to other musicians, too.

Of course, for all that Internet power, I’m indebted to another obsessively hard-working Copenhagen techno talent, Anastasia Kristensen, for connecting me with Troels. I’ll say this about both Anastasia and Troels: these are people who are disciplined, and whose discipline then enables them to really play.

First off, your work is full of detailed rhythms and a wide sonic palette. What are you working with, in terms of vocabulary? How does your technology impact that vocabulary?

I spent a couple of years taking keyboard and piano lessons and I’ve got a bit of academic audio engineering under my belt, as well as the experience I’ve got from my part-time mix work. In general, I guess I’ve become the guy people ask for technical solutions, locally, so there’s rarely a mix issue I can’t work my way around these days. Everything else has been uncovered on the Web and by generally making sure I have some skilled people in my circle. Learning synths and sound design has been a very personal journey — as it should be, if you ask me — and I came out the other side as a bit of a synth nerd. I generally like to be a bit effective about it all, as well as understanding what I’m working with. So that combined with me being naturally curious tends to lead me towards more modern techniques and gear.

I also had some great mentors that showed me a lot of interesting things like polymeters, but other then fun tricks like that, I don’t tend to get too deep into music theory with Ctrls tracks. For example, scales feel a bit restrictive in that context.

Take us back a little bit. I know a lot of our most avid audience are deeply rooted tracker and demoscene and the sort of IDM niche communities of the Internet … some of them back to the early BBS days. At what point did you get your feet wet in that Internet world?

A friend introduced me to the tracker scene in the mid 90s. The BBS scene was still alive at the time, and I don’t think many artists in Denmark realized that trackers were, as such, fully fledged samplers. Also, the modules were wide open: sounds and techniques were right there to learn from. Today, people would kill to look into their heroes’ projects, but that was normal for us. Ed.: That was certainly the response recently to Aphex Twin showing off tracker secrets.

And it’s information that wasn’t really available in any books. When I made my way onto the actual Web, it was even easier to access. For a while, that was my main inspiration and I’d look to new tracker releases more then I would commercial releases. I also remember my music teacher being shocked when I showed him Fast Tracker 2 compared to the thousands of euros he had recommended me to spend on hardware samplers and synths.

I still sometimes try to think back to how I’d solve problems or how the tracker artists had their workarounds. For example, you didn’t have any swing/groove control in Fast Tracker 2; instead, you had to manually delay every second 16th with a command, throughout the entire track. It felt very empowering and inspiring, but that being said, I don’t want to go back to hex note editing and automation ever again.

Did it make a difference, having that more international, Internet-driven culture at your fingertips, coming from Denmark?

The internet made a huge difference for me when I started. We were into bass music at the time and were finding the UK scene ridiculously hard to break into. Granted, the vibe is more open and international in Europe, but the UK labels at the time had no faith in producers not from there. But through the net, I had access to a much deeper network then you were likely to find just by partying and traveling to London, and so I got one of the first (maybe the very first) proper Danish drum’n’bass releases off the back of that. Other then that, it is of course extremely convenient to be close to some of the most significant scenes, but it took a long time for it to properly rub off on traditional and conservative little Denmark.

What was your first encounter then with making music with machines?

A couple years of piano and keyboard lessons and I headed straight for computer sequencers. I was lucky to have a music teacher that really encouraged my curiosity for technology and production. My first tunes were done with an old Roland arranger keyboard, [Creative Labs] SoundBlaster 16 and a Windows 3.11 sequencer called Musicator, that used staff notes instead of piano roll. [These tunes] were recorded (mixed down is too generous) onto cassette. Then trackers and samplers came into my life, and things got a lot easier.

Now, there are some pretty quirky vibes on this latest Token outing. What’s the spirit of this record; where did you draw that inspiration from?

I just don’t want to sound like everybody else, and I guess my palette has evolved around that ethos. I definitely have a thing for very mechanical and futuristic (to my mind) grooves, but I spend a whole bunch of time trying to make sure that the sounds have a realistic quality to them, even though they’re likely to never occur in nature –
particularly sounds that resemble the human voice is something I seem to steer towards.

How did you set up the album conceptually – particularly the flow, as far as lengths, grooves, and so on?

It was actually set up to be a fairly straight club record with variety spread out across the tracks, especially as far as intensity and rhythms go.

In general, I tend to focus more on what I don’t want a record to do and how I avoid those things while still making high quality dance music. Things come together much easier for me that way. There’s a traffic theme to the whole thing simply because I’m looking to make things move, within my self-defined futurism framework.

What will we find in your studio now; what machines are currently meaningful to your music?

Right now, the centerpieces are a [Mutable Instruments] Ambika [synth] and my LXR drum machine going into Rostec preamps and converters. They’re very versatile instruments and most of the new Ctrls tracks are sourced just from those two with all sequencing, effects and processing running off the computer. I’m really into Unfiltered Audio plug-ins for processing lately. They seem to be some of the ones that gets the closest to nice digital hardware boxes, in terms of anti aliasing and overall definition. There’s nothing like a processor that can turn a sound completely on its head and still sound good. I do still use a few VST synths, mostly u-he zebra2 and bazille.

[Ed.: The Ambika is now no longer made by Mutable Instruments, but as it’s open source hardware, it lives on as a DIY project maintained elsewhere.]

The most esoteric piece is an old Kurzweil K2000 [sampler], which sounds absolutely phenomenal. It’s got this magic ratio of grit and definition and depth that you just don’t find in most modern instruments straight out of the box. Being an early 90s digital workstation it is a nightmare to program, so it’s not made it on to a lot of Ctrls tracks because of that, but I’m still keeping it until it breaks and I can’t get it fixed anymore. I’ve not heard any plug-in that gets even close for strings, textures, and atmospherics. If your voicing is good, it just blends straight into the track without any processing. It’s one of those pieces that can make you think the developers’ industry aren’t being half as ambitious as they should be. Ed.: This is an interesting point here – apart from making me feel a little old now that the K2000 and 1990s are vintage or esoteric. I suspect details of Kurzweil’s architecture as well as good sound design and preset voicing, so readers, feel free to discuss in comments.

The most important kit is probably the monitors. I’m working with a customized set of small speakers that, to my ears, outperform other brands in the same price range I spent on them. Most important being that they’re not fatiguing, so I can work on them all day. If you’re mostly in the box, I think a good monitoring situation makes things a lot easier, and customizing can make that much more affordable as you’re not dealing with mass production issues but can just focus on pure quality and omit a lot of the compromises. Also, should they break I can have ‘em up and running again the same day. In general, most things in my studio can be fixed without having to be shipped off.

I really like that your live approach feels really improvisational. And it’s very digital. How do you set up your live set? How do you relate it to track ideas without, you know, getting stuck playing tracks?

I’ve been through a bunch of iterations: prototypes running everything live off VSTs, just DJing my own material, bit of hardware, just Ableton and controllers etc. Right now, I’ve basically set Ableton up to be an extended version of Traktor [DJ] to play loops and use effects along with jamming on the LXR [drum machine]. I also drag my nice converters out to make absolutely sure that if the system is great, I’ll be able to take full advantage. Going through a preset playlist was never that attractive to me; it gets old so quickly. And Ableton being Ableton, it does require some engineering work to get it to sound like a DJ set with mastered material. But with that out of the way, I can really relax on stage and just vibe.

Inside the CTRLS live set – simple, but with stuff to control.

As for being stuck playing tracks — it’s pretty important to realize that your recorded music is what most people go to see you for, or at least that seems to be the case with me. And to a point you can have a more profound impact if there’s that connection of elements that the crowd can recognize.

I learned this after my laptop almost died right before a Berghain live set. I had to dj my own tunes off my iPad, and somehow got a bit of LXR going on top. It felt a bit underwhelming to execute after all the preparation I’d done but nobody noticed anything, the set got a great reaction and I got a bunch of compliments for my poker face. So, after that I started to tweak the setup to capture that feeling but still provide something people wouldn’t have heard before.

I STRONGLY advise all live performers to have a simple plan b, and not just give up if something goes wrong. It takes away a monumental amount of stress and disappointment if your setup is very complex.

Okay, interesting. And yes, I love redundancy. Actually, maybe the fact that I got the improv bit wrong says something – I thought it was improvised, but in fact preparing the tracks in this case allowed more play on top, which can also be useful. I see you’re making use of the Livid BASE controller, too; how do you have that mapped?

It’s basically set up to be an audio mixer: four track/loop channels with three effects sends and a looper with adjustable length, and the rest to level the LXR voices as well as a few custom parameters controlling plug-ins that are processing the drum machine.

What’s exciting you now as far as what you listen to? It seems techno is fairly focused in the moment on a small circle of people as far as innovation in elements like timbre, within some particular constraints. Without getting too far into name dropping, what do you feel is important to you? Is this a genre that’s moving forward, in regards to those artists?

Yes, it’s definitely moving forward, although it is a pretty narrow field of producers actually pushing the envelope. But I don’t think it needs to stop within the constraints you mention. It’s such a wide-open field right now as there’s a bunch of cross-pollination going into electro, noise, bass music. and lately oldschool trance. That openness is one of the main things that attracted me to techno in the first place. Especially as an artist myself it’s very inviting that you can take that attitude and latch it onto pretty much any sound palette.

In general, I just really appreciate creative and expressive sound design married with great music. It’s one of the main characteristics that keep the genre very fresh for me, personally. Historically and as far as innovation goes, there’s so much more to techno then the Roland TR boxes [808, 909, etc.] and their inherent workflows. I really appreciate artists (new and old) that have the imagination to step out of that “loop,” or bend it to their will.

I’m trying to be very aware of not conditioning myself into a total music geek with no sense for naivety. But by now I don’t think it’s disputable that technology, and how involved people get with it, plays a massive role in how the genre’s evolving, so I equally try to maintain my curiosity about new sounds, performance types and contexts. The music obviously comes first, but no one’s been able to offer me a good explanation of where that ends and the noise starts. So I think there’s plenty of reasons to keep exploring and to stay curious.

From the always-excellent Deep Space Helsinki, here you get a mix with his inspirations in mind:

And the release:

Follow him here:

Studio photos: Rune Abro.

The post Going deep in techno technique and technology with Denmark’s CTRLS appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside Zeno van den Broek’s raw immersive AV architectures

Strap on headphones, and the sixteen minutes of Shift Symm is a brain-tickling assault. Even just within the stereo field, raw textures rumble and dance until you feel the sound’s structures inside your head.

I was attracted to Zeno van den Broek’s work partly because that sense of patterning in sound and visual formed a work I thought deserved special integrity as a release. This is to me an encouraging sign that there are new frontiers for archaic, exposed AV minimalism in the post raster-noton age.

Shift Symm therefore saw a digital release alongside a limited edition audiovisual art release on Sedition. (More on that process soon.) In addition to Zeno’s own videos, you can catch this beautiful creation by artist Daan Kars, first premiered by data transmission:

In Los Angeles, we were a digital partner of The Billboard Creative (TBC), a project that found new homes for digital art both on the Web and (true to California culture) on roadside billboards. That was featured on The Creators Project:

A Drive-Thru Art Show Appears on Billboards in LA

And in bringing Zeno’s work out on Establishment, I hoped here on CDM we’d also get a bit closer to the artist and process, as a microcosm of what’s happening in a larger scene. So here, the Dutch-born, Copenhagen-based artist talks to us about how he works. I think in the same way the sound makes my ears buzz and the visuals my pupils vibrate, you may find some resonance in his approach to process and material.


Let’s start with sound. There’s a genuine rawness and purity of tone to this record. How did you assemble that? Was there some thought to sort of make this extremely immersive for headphones, for larger sound systems?

All sounds of Shift Symm are based on sine waves and white noise. During the development of my previous album Divergence, I created a method of physical manipulation of those two ingredients. I recorded the pure sound sources onto cassette tapes, after which I manipulated and destroyed the tape in various ways — like using sanding paper, heating the cassettes. or letting them soak in Coke for a few weeks.

I managed to record some sound of the abused tapes and create instruments out of those recordings in Ableton. The results had such a nice balance between distortion and roughness, while maintaining the character of the sines and noise sources, that I decided to use them again for Shift Symm, but this time in combination with direct pure sine waves and noise from the oscillators.

One of the principles which I worked with on Shift Symm is shifting the wavelengths of sine waves relative to each other to create interference. This interference happens in the space in which you listen to the album, which gives the immersive listening experience and creates a strong relation to your surroundings.

Did the formal conception for the visuals relate to how you imagined the sound?

Yes, for both the visuals and the sound, I used one single concept, which gave me a coherent set of compositional tools for the whole work and creates a strong relationship between the two. The concept is based on creation by shifting. By displacing very simple elements like lines and grids in the visuals, and pulses and wavelengths of sine waves in the music, I looked for unexpected and in a way uncontrollable events and results.

This was inspired by the idea of Slavoj Zizek on the ‘breach of symmetry’ which he describes in his book Event. It’s the notion that a system which is in an equilibrium, in which all energy and movement is in symmetry, can be brought into a trajectory of unpredictable events by shifting elements within the system until the symmetry is breached. This breach leads to a process of change, which eventually results in a new entropy. By working with a strong concept like this, I try to on one hand connect the different aspects of the work, and on the other hand, to pull myself out of my comfort zone to explore new fields of work. In this way I make sure that all visuals and all sounds on all levels are connected – both on the large scale of the three movements of the triptych, as well as on the micro-scale of a certain phrase of sounds or movement of lines within those parts.


How did the relationship with the visuals come about in the creative process? At what stage did you work on each?

For Shift Symm, I tried to take the relation between the sound and visual aspects to the next level by creating a purely digital audiovisual and media-specific work and to take a step away from a physical release, which always focuses on either the visual or the auditive. By releasing it on the platform of Sedition, I hope to have found a more equal realization of the intermedia.

By applying the concepts and movements to the different senses at the same time, I tried to find the strongest interrelation between them. It was fascinating to discover the different results of the same methodology in image and sound and to express this tension. After creating this audiovisual foundation, I fed the images into a system I designed which manipulates them in relation to the music, looking for a feedback loop between the senses. This manipulation ranges from x/y shifting of layers to distortion of the image.

For me, this synergy between the senses is the deepest and most realistic way of expressing various concepts and notions, because in our sensory system the senses are very strongly linked, and they give us the possibility to fully experience the space we inhabit. By working with multi- or inter- media, I hope to come closer to this core of sensory involvement.

I really like that, as you talked about your tools, you do have a really direct and visual approach to how your produce. It’s not code; it’s not abstraction – there’s some immediacy to it. Is there some sense of drawing visuals directly?

I think this relates to my background in architecture, in which naturally drawing plays a big role, and in a way drawings are still the foundation of my work. Only now they are not a medium to realize something else or a representation, but the drawings are the work itself.

In Shift Symm, the drawing started out with creating basic elements in vector-based CAD programs, after which they were animated in dialogue with the music composition. The next step was to layer this foundation of drawings with generated visuals, which have a more cause-effect kind of relationship with the sound. I believe there is a lot of tension in this combination of visuals which have been composed and have a longer span of movement with visuals that are triggered by events in the music: the friction between the visual layers gives unexpected results and beauty, something which often lacks in a one-to-one mapping of sound and image.

What’s your background; how did you enter this field?

In the summer of 2008, I graduated as an architect from the Technical University of Delft [The Netherlands], followed by a period in which I worked in an architecture firm. During my studies and work, I always played guitar in bands and founded my solo-project “Machinist.” This project gave me the freedom to develop a more abstract musical language and to discover the relationship between architecture and music.

After a while, I found out this way of approaching spatiality through art and music suited me much better than working with bricks, steel, and glass. The temporal aspect of working with sound and the ability to create work founded on philosophy like I studied at the university fascinated me immensely. It led to the decision to fully focus on my art and music and to continue my work with spatiality through the means I’m currently working with.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have had various opportunities and commissions to create work in amazing places and to work with inspiring people who push me beyond my boundaries. Last year, for example, I received a commission from Gaudeamus to compose a piece for organ, vocal ensemble, and electronics in collaboration with Gagi Petrovic. This project, named Ob-literate, was somewhat similar in approach as Shift Symm; it investigated the different intermedia in relation to and based on strong concepts. While I work in various forms of expression, I think this recurring method of working combined with my love for minimalistic esthetics results in a coherency in my work.

I do really hope with Establishment that over time, we find a way to help people build a deeper relationship to certain records, as that’s something that matters in the records I love. What do you think our role could be in making that happen? What’s the responsibility of a label in helping that connection happen?

The key element of Establishment in my opinion is the focus on digital and streaming releases, which raises interesting questions on the relationship between your audience and non-physical art. In this field of intermedia releases and digital art, the old carriers of media (such as CDs and DVDs) are not sufficient anymore. Whereas some of these releases are meant for and could be displayed in museums or galleries, there are very little platforms that release this kind of art for ‘home display’. I’m very happy with the collaboration between Sedition and Establishment on my release, which takes a step in this direction and which is crucial to create a platform that can support the further development of this kind of art.

Speaking of giving records quality listens, what is an album or two lately that made you really stop everything else you were doing and get lost?

Two albums I’ve been fascinated by lately are Lunch Music by Yannis Kyriakides and The Neurobiology Of Moral Decision Making by Mark Fell & Gábor Lázár. Both albums are uncompromising and do not always pleasure the listener but they continue to trigger and activate my mind. The album (and live performance) by Kyriakides is based on the book by William S. Burroughs from 1959 and revolves around a polyphony of voices which can be found in Burroughs his work. Kyriakides composed a beautiful synergy between live electronics, percussion and voices performed by the excellent Dutch ensembles Silbersee and Slagwerk Den Haag.

The Neurobiology Of Moral Decision Making triggers me in its bare bones and intensely minimalistic approach in which the two distinct worlds of Lázár and Fell touch and complement each other. I’ve been following Mark Fell for a longer time while Lázár caught me by surprise during a performance at the Berghain during the CTM Festival in 2015. The collaboration between these two is a beautiful example of how working together can maintain a strong character without resulting in compromises.

You’re doing a lot of live performance. How will you adapt the work to a live set?

For me, it’s vital to perform live, because that enables me to fully explore and manipulate the relation between sound, image, and architecture. I work with white noise and sine waves, which are opposites in the way we experience them in a space. Pulses of white noise can be easily located and can relate strongly to reflections of the space while sine waves are very hard to locate and can achieve a strong connection to the architecture by use of standing waves and interference.

When I perform live, I manipulate various parameters of these elements, such as the intervals between the pulses or the frequency of waves, thereby responding to the reaction I get from the space. I see the architecture of the venue as a collaborator with whom I have to create a dialogue to reach the highest levels of intensity.

During these performances, I use my visuals as a graphic score — responding to the movements and events that occur while at the same time these visuals are being manipulated by the sounds I create, which are being influenced by the space I am performing in. With this process, I aim to diffuse the boundaries between the senses, for myself as well as for the audience. For the live execution of Shift Symm I’ve created a performance which merges the three tracks with new material that is based on the same building blocks as the three compositions. Since this foundation is quite minimalistic, it’s possible to create big gestures with minimal interventions: a small alteration of an interval for example has huge results in the system of shifting.

Sedition has given people a different way of connecting to the visuals. But will you also bring this to a gallery context? What would that look like?

There’s a lot of talk lately in getting away from screen culture and so on. But I wonder, in the case of music listening, could the privacy of VR and screens actually help people to focus — to have a personal experience away from the social world?

Personally, I’m not that attracted to VR, partly because I have a problem with experiencing 3D movies and VR content: I get extremely car sick within no time! Perhaps this is due to my heightened sensitivity towards spatiality; I don’t know. But to answer your question: I think there’s a huge chance for galleries and museums to move into the area of offering a high-quality experience of digital art in a social context without losing a focused experience of the art. I think people are moving away from the digitalized social connections and are focusing more on real-life connections. This also plays a big role in the growth of festivals which are often more about the social gathering than about the music and art that are presented.

Perhaps there’s a division going on between a hub-like function of museums and galleries that can combine the presentation of digital art with a social aspect and the VR experience which offers a capsulated private viewing without any social connection. I do think it’s important to be aware of the situation your work is being presented in and that media-specific work will become more and more relevant.

Still from Daan Kars' official video.

Still from Daan Kars’ official video.

What sorts of connections as far as other artists are important to you at the moment? What’s inspiring you?

Since my work is strongly based on concepts, I try to find inspiration in a broad context of the concept I’m focusing on, such as various related art and philosophy. I do have a habit to look for inspiration in places that are not directly in the same method of expression which I’m working in to keep a fresh and personal path from concept to creation. So if I work on a piece of music composition I tend to research visual arts and philosophy, not music itself.

This can reach from a novel by Don Delillo to the architecture of Peter Zumthor or paintings by Callum Innes. Creating Shift Symm, for example, I looked into the work of Carl Andre, how he arranges his beautiful basic building blocks of wooden, copper and graphite blocks. His poems were a big inspiration in the fascinating displacement and grouping of words on paper via the means of a typewriter.

Thanks, Zeno. Check out the music on all major streaming and download services, or get it from our Bandcamp store.

If you’re in Europe, you’ve some chances of catching Zeno live. He plays Rotterdam’s sound//vision 2017, as part of the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). He’s at Rewire in Den Haag next month.

Follow Establishment on Facebook for more music and art.

The post Inside Zeno van den Broek’s raw immersive AV architectures appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside, Limbo game follow-up, music by SØS Gunver Ryberg

For lovers of shadows, dark dimensions spent wandering other states of being, and unrelenting rhythms, Danish composer/musician SØS Gunver Ryberg produces wonderlands. And that makes her music a perfect match for the game weavers of Playdead. Their follow-up to spine-chillingly creepy-good Limbo is this summer’s Inside. It does what’s so hard to do for this kind of title: it loses none of the elegance of the minimal original, while expanding in scope and maturity. And then there’s that score / sound design, made in collaboration with game maker Martin Stig Andersen.

You wouldn’t want to spoil the game, but you’ll get a taste of that in the trailers.

Working with Andersen, the composer of the equally brilliant score for Limbo (worth re-listening on its own, I found), she produced something really unique for the follow-up. As she tells Stray Landings:

You work in a team, it’s a non-linear composition, with many technical limitations. I worked together with composer and sound designer Martin Stig Andersen who created audio for their previous game ‘LIMBO’. He knows my work and I got more and more involved with ‘INSIDE’. He functioned as the audio director and throughout the three years I was working on the project, I had freedom to experiment and create. The expression of the game is very minimalistic and detailed as you can hear from the trailer.

Well worth reading that full interview:

More games are coming, too, as that article reveals – the upcoming THOTH sound design and music are credited to SGR^CAV, the collaboration between her and Cristian Vogel. I can’t wait to play through each to completion, personally. This isn’t about being a gamer; missing out would be missing out on a form of culture.


This sort of context could be the ideal vessel for this kind of music. There’s only so many festival and concert dates you can do, only so much of the planet’s population you can reach in abandoned power plants in cosmopolitan cultural capitals. But games can go anywhere there’s a computer and game system. And the immersion of a game – complete with the adrenaline rush of feeling ones own place in the nightmare – is perhaps an ideal form of self entrancement for the music.

And comparing game scoring to cinema scoring, I have to say the more primitive world of the game has really evolved. Game scores are now creating drama and tension in a way that no film ever could – because they can produce something interactive, something unpredictable.


SØS Gunver Ryberg in action. Photo: Martin Stig Andersen, at Berlin's Atonal.

SØS Gunver Ryberg in action. Photo: Martin Stig Andersen, at Berlin’s Atonal.

Don’t miss her Boiler Room, which was one of my favorites ever. (Also, as if the music hadn’t won me over – that sweater, in the hot basement of Stattbad Wedding – wow.)

SØS Gunver Ryberg Boiler Room Berlin Live Set von brtvofficial

Her EP this year out on Contort (the label run by Samuel Kerridge, originator of the event series of the same name) is one of my favorites:

Holly Dicker has written an extensive interview with her for Resident Advisor:
Breaking Through: SØS Gunver Ryberg

Hope to follow up with her – and this incredible game scene – soon.

The game is out now for Windows and Xbox; PS4 on the 22nd of August.

The post Inside, Limbo game follow-up, music by SØS Gunver Ryberg appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer Just Bought TC, TC Helicon, Tannoy

The music and sound industry is increasingly about big-league consolidation. InMusic – the company behind Akai and M-Audio – is growing. Long-standing Japanese titan Yamaha has snapped up Line6. Gibson now includes everything from Tascam to the website Harmony Central to consumer gear branded Philips. (And yes, throw out whatever you think you know about Gibson from the 90s – this has nothing to do with that.)

Now, count the giant MUSIC Group – the parent of Behringer, with Uli Behringer as its chief – among the big sharks on the acquisition market.

MUSIC Group announced today it has acquired TC Group. You probably know them as the makers of vocal effects and guitar effects and sound processing and mastering, under brands like TC Electronics and TC Helicon, or for their Tannoy label. And that’s clearly a big part of this deal, with MUSIC Group’s presence in that market with Behringer as well as Midas and Bugera tube amps (among others).

It’s more than that, though. TC Applied Technologies are in semiconductor designs, networking, and interface tech too, which gives Behringer a big boost in terms of intellectual property and the electronics market beyond musical instruments. And closer to home, MUSIC Group call out their interest in A/V and broadcast.

For their part, Danish-based TC say that they had other big suitors, but chose the Behringer folk – I wonder who those other players may have been.

Regardless, this is very big news, combining two powerful international companies. And any of us who think of Behringer as the “cheap mixer people,” we may do well to take them seriously – MUSIC Group now have their own factory complex in China and a 300-person engineering team.

The strange thing to me about musical instruments is this play with giant transnationals with their own manufacturing and engineering capabilities, and integrating marketing networks. So much of the interesting stuff, the culturally impactful designs, still somehow happens in tiny one-person and several-person boutique operations.

It was single-engineer shops that launched the modular renaissance. It was the monome that wound up in the Museum of Modern Art and re-popularized grid-based interfaces. These are products that ship a tiny handful of units and earn very little money, if they break even at all. The cultural capital is far outweighing the actual sales. At some point, it seems that will create real tension. And, on the other hand, all we do with chips and software – from DSP to microcontrollers to your laptop – rely on bigger-scale operations. Not one boutique maker of software or hardware can claim independence from the larger electronics manufacturing community.

But whatever deeper questions, keep an eye out for MUSIC and TC. A new giant is born.

The post Behringer Just Bought TC, TC Helicon, Tannoy appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Sound from Silos: Live Experimental Audiovisuals Rumble a Man-made Cave [Watch, Listen]

Lucas Gutierrez (AR), Silo Sessions.

Lucas Gutierrez (AR), Silo Sessions.

Electronic music, once the exclusive domain of secluded art laboratories, has now made the connection to clubs inseparable. The rhythms of dance music draw a line from popular to research; the software and gear marketed for dance musicians cross-pollinating with more experimental tools, as music styles, textures, and timbres mix, as well. But now, finding a way out of that club context and its restrictions may be as vital as the emergence from the lab years ago.

Making connections between Argentina and Germany, across an international collective of audiovisual artists, FxLD’s latest project invades a disused grain silo in Berlin. Literally in the shadow of Kreuzberg’s famed techno haven Watergate, the base of the silo is a narrow, concrete cave, broad-shouldered beams criss-crossing the space.

We get to listen to the fruits of the Silo Series performances, realized live and retaining their rough edges and improvised forms. And you can see some of the flickers, too, via filmmaker (and now CDM collaborator) Kevin Klein.

Danish artist Vectral, aka Søren Lyngsø, paints cinematic portraits in sound, rhythms throbbing underneath digital textures, all interwoven into a narrative of grooves and shadowy noises. Argentinian Lucas Gutierrez is an industrial designer and visual artist, but his music is a kind of dance of tribal glitches.

SILO SESSIONS from Mindpirates e.V. on Vimeo.

We have full-length music mixes here:




Resembling nothing if not Plato’s famous allegory, audiovisual shows in the silo echo on those cold post-industrial surfaces and dance on the walls. Listening to the results, you’ll hear traces of dance grooves as they’re fragmented into glitchy textures, the computers sounding a little bit as though they’re about to scream under the strain. (Having been floating around academia for about twenty years now, I remember how frequent complaints used to be about “beat-driven” music. For a time, academics were as afraid of recognizable rhythm as they were of tonality in the post-war era. I think more enlightened openness has prevailed – a good thing, too, as I wouldn’t want to have to drop Beethoven for his four-on-the-floor time signatures.)

I’m honored to get to play as part of this series tomorrow, Friday, using software I’ve built in Pd and Processing. (I hope to share those patches, once they’re cleaned up.) But I’m equally pleased to share the work that’s come before, as I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to it. And while we can’t entirely replicate the experience, I loved the feeling of being close with other listeners, in a space that wasn’t a concert but wasn’t a club, either – shoulder to shoulder with music lovers, sounds and light slightly different from each vantage point.

More of Lucas – LUCAS GUTIERREZ . Ascendente LiveAct – PANORAMICA 2012 (Buenos Aires, Argentina – actually, 2013′s installment is next weekend if you’re in that neighborhood!)

If you are in Berlin, come say hi. More on the series, and the ideas behind it:


Mindpirates open the doors of their silo, in collaboration with FxLD, to make way for experimentation with a series of concerts exploring the relationship between audio and visual concepts. This event takes its name from the location where the event will be executed, an old grain silo in the heart of Kreuzberg. The unique space is characterized by its geometric architecture ideal to create an introspective atmosphere.
Seeking to promote a state of connection that goes beyond the limits of reason, guest artists will work image and sound simultaneously using non-conventional structures to compose and execute in real time.

Mindpirates is an artist group that works on aspects and issues of contemporary culture, sociology and ecology. The group has the approach to work independently and interdisciplinary. They combine challenging aesthetics, substantial examination and experiment with new forms of distribution, exposition and cooperation.

Mindpirates e.V. is a member based network. The e.V. is building and developing a community that supports ideas and projects with the Mindpirates.

Mindpirates Vereinsheim is organized by the Mindpirates e.V. based in Berlin. The space follows the tradition of an artist run center and is used by its members as a platform for mutual exchange and public presentation.

The Mindpirates Projektraum is an independent art space and a curatorial platform for the collaborative production and presentation of artistic projects, exhibitions and critical research work. It is a meeting place for the exchange of thoughts and impulses through which to forge relationships with the guest artists and the public.


Is an artistic collective based between Berlin and Buenos Aires. Has the aim of serve as a platform for research, experimentation and promotion of Digital Art and Generative Art and to give them a place in the consolidated circle of art. FxLD believes that they are forms of Fine Arts that can respond to the most deep inquires of the spirit. And defends that the computers and informatic languages expand the barriers of creation to make way to a new aesthetical and conceptual paradigm in art.

VECTRAL (DK) ( Silo Sessions I )

Behind the pseudonym Vectral, Søren Lyngsø, producer/composer/computer-programmer and visual-artist with a master degree in electronic music-composition from the Royal Academy of Music, explores the interplay between electronic compositions and audio-reactive visuals with concerts leading the audience through his sensory labyrinth step by step. His stubborn sounds-capes and crackling sound structures consist of electronically arranged material from everyday life heard through homemade software. The visual part consists of live generated 3D graphics using 3D control points to create dynamic colors and shapes.

LUCAS GUTIERREZ (ARG) ( Silo Sessions II )

Digital Artist and Industrial Designer and native of Belen City in the province of Catamarca, Argentina. He specializes in video-art and real time video session projects pushing limits and blending influences from Motion Graphics and Graphic Design. He strives to achieve simplicity in its work while playing with blurred visuals and blending together the variations of two styles. The design studio coalesces its influences to create a variety of audio/visual projects for creative professionals in the art and media world.

Lucas has exhibited his works in well-known national and international festivals such as: Offf-Post-Digital Creation Culture, Panoramica / Tiempo Visual Panorama Real 2010 & 2012 (Bs As, Argentina), Getset Festival 2012 (Porto, Portugal), Cccartaxo 2010/12 (Portugal), Fuga Jurasica & Sincroba 2009 (Bs As – Argentina), Videofest 2008/9 (Cordoba, Argentina) among others. Lucas Gutierrez became a well-known Visual Artist and participates as resident VJ in a number of shows and events, fusing primarily electronic music with art.
He is currently a member of: fungo_project collective (Lisbo, Portugal) and undertones (Argentina). “A chaotic style that permeates his works with motion graphics. Seeks simplicity while running with the limits of the blurred image”.

Finally, from Vorspiel (which runs prior to the Transmediale and CTM festivals), here’s a murky jam of artists in the silo space — good stuff, good times (again, including recent CDM collaborators Easton West and Kevin Klein):

Mindpirates & P2P Vorspiel: Plutonic Frequencies from Mindpirates e.V. on Vimeo.

Details of what’s going on there:

On the occasion of CTM Vorspiel, Mindpirates will channel the ancient knowledge of the lost tribes of Pluto through vibrational frequencies. This cosmic learning experience will take place in the secret Silo space located at Mindpirates.
This very special event was part of P2P Vorspiel, a pre-festival weekend preceding the opening of transmediale 2013 BWPWAP – Back When Pluto Was a Planet and CTM.13 – THE GOLDEN AGE through a dissemination of projects including exhibition openings, workshops, talks, performances and parties outside the main venues of either festival.
Participating Artists:
Pauline Doutreluingne
Cy Iurinic
Kevin Klein
Emmanuel Pidré
Owen Roberts
Dylan Warn
Easton West

Philipp Wenning
Kevin Klein

More images:






Under-the-Radar Music From 2012 Starts Your 2013 Right [Round-up, Listen]

Kidsuke, the joint project of Kidkanevil And Daisuke Tanabe on PROJECT: Mooncircle, was one big highlight for us. Matt Earp walks us through other discoveries of 2012 that could be worth a permanent place in your library.

The beginning of 2013 is as good a landmark as any to begin a return to music making and creativity. But the top-ten lists that crowded the Web in the last couple of weeks may not be your best guide. Instead of working out what’s “best,” we invited CDM’s music contributor Matt Earp, aka artist Kid Kameleon, to let us know what music found a permanent home in his music library – not just streaming, not just a one-time listen, but repeat performances. That seems an ideal way to give yourself some listening inspiration to fight the darkness (in some parts of the world) and celebrate a new year. -Ed.

End-of-the-year lists are so subjective that they’re almost laughable. The enjoyment of music is the ultimate subjective human experience; often, the only thing end of year lists tell the reader is how the writer accesses/listens to/thinks about/consumes music. (For a fun rip on it, check out Flavorwire’s article Stereotyping You by Your Favorite Album of 2012.)

So the list below is not a “best of,” and it’s necessarily biased based on music listening habits. With that being said, it is a list of ten of my favorite musical discoveries, among the thousands that came my way in 2012. By “discoveries,” here I mean everything from albums to labels to tracks to even groups of labels and artists. They’re the “tangible” musical elements that found their way into my music library and brain in 2012 that I revisit again and again in 2013 and beyond. They also exemplify the intangible things that I loved about this year, be it energy and presentation (Astro Nautico), innovation (Jeri Jeri), or timeliness (Alex Under).

Please add your thoughts in the comments – and shout out artists or projects that changed your world for the better in 2012.

Astro Nautico
My favorite crew of the year. Brash, young, funny, inchoate, awesome web label / blog / events out of New York that give me serious hope for that city. If you love animated GIFs, this is the label for you. It’s run by a great trio of artists – Kuhn, Obey City, and Paul Jones – all of whom had awesome releases both on and off the label. The description Civil Music gives Kuhn’s Kings EP applies to much of the stuff on Astro Nautico: “Uptempo club tracks with an eclectic sampling palette and Footwork-inspired rhythmic complexities.” But Astro Nautico releases add in lots of head-nod-y tracks as well. Label friends include The Range, Howse, Time Wharp, Moist Ghost, Space Ghost, Dreams, Jacob 2-2, Abel, Raja and a bunch of others, and all are pushing boundaries by still making coherent stuff you want to listen to again and again. The label’s Atlantics Vol. 2 and their joint comp 7×7, produced with Tokyo’s Day Tripper, are great entry points.

Sound Healers 2 and Terrain from Raised By Records
This is my attempt to shout out about 50 artists at once, because they collectively are creating my favorite sound/movement of the year, but one that’s incredibly difficult to describe and definitely does not have a name yet. Their sound is all about extremely precise little musical noises, compiled together and then heaped on top of each other in a jumble. Its genre roots are definitely 1) instrumental hip-hop and 2) post-post-post dubstep. It’s got a healthy dose of the beautiful in it, but there’s tension as well. Some of it stretches into dance-y club domain, but most of it is listening stuff. It’s post-Fly Lo, if you took his music, froze it liquid nitrogen, shattered it with a hammer, then tried to glue only half the shards back together again into a sculpture. Lots of it is utterly brilliant, and the two comps above are the best places to start. Bambooman compiled both volumes of Sound Healers and he deserves a medal as curator of the year for his seemingly humble work gluing much of this scene, such as it is, together (he even found time to put out a full length LP in February). Three other artists in the genre deserving honorable mention – Crewdson, YoggyOne, and B-Ju. It’s worth investigating their entire catalogs. And of those not listed elsewhere below, check out Zack Christ, Kwala, Soosh, Empt, Memotone, and Manni Dee.

Borealis – Voidness
My favorite album of the year, period. Jesse Somfay is an elusive Canadian who makes incredibly emotional music of the highest caliber, and in some of the most interesting ways. I’ve joked that Voidness is the album I wished Burial had made – there’s something about the way the raw-but-muted emotion is conveyed on Voidness that seems infinitely more interesting to me than stolen wisps of RnB that make people gush about the Hyperdub star, although in many ways it covers roughly the same terrain. Borealis even manages to convey an epic-ness to his work that I don’t find annoying, like he’s created a project that’s worth being grand. A stellar pack of 16 remixes both proceeded and followed this album, all on Origami sound (see below) and all worth checking out. For an even more intense version of his stuff, check out his Flourish moniker, but definitely know you’re getting into synth-madness land.

Origami Sound
Not just a label, but a collective of labels, including Dark Clover, Farver, and Origami Sound itself, and a collection of 50+ artists stretched over the world. It’s a decentralized super group of people dedicated to emotional electronic music. Curated by a Romanian who goes by the name of Herne, and with a heavy focus on the former Eastern Bloc, the sounds that come out of this shadowy collective is unsurpassed and runs the gamut of styles – Volor Flex with his post-Burial experiments, Moa Pillar with his dark Russian footwork and hip-hop, Arapaima, who sounds like dark wave crossed with crunk, and a bunch of more techno-centric albums from Aebeloe, Liar, Averos, Fjord and Brio on the Farver label. It’s heady, emotional stuff, and diving into it is like opening a Pandora’s box of feeling and sound, but it’s well worth exploring . To me, Origami is the most exciting permutation of what an artist collective can be in 2012 and beyond. Their Chapters 1-6 series is the place to start your journey.

Ed.: Look, Origami – out of all these cats – made our job easy, by posting a year-in-review 2012 to their SoundCloud! Please copy this, ye other labels and artists.

Synth Sense remixes
This is truly great. There is a small cadre of artists who have hijacked Drum and Bass in the last several years and turned it into something truly special again – the details of who and what and how can be saved for another time, but it’s contemplative, dark, synthy, minimal, rhythmically complex stuff from people who followed dBridge and Instra:mental’s lead in ’09 and ’10. This release, on ASC’s Auxiliary label, gathers together 2012’s best producers in this tricky half-tempo style. Two of the remixes come from Synkro and Indigo, each of whom had stellar, artist-of-the-year contender releases (and lots of them) on Apollo, Exit, and other labels. And then it’s rounded out by Sam KDC and ASC, who would be my picks for 3rd and 4th most interesting artists of the year in DnB. Four quiet superstars together at once – delving into any of these producers is well worth your time, and this release transcends genre and I hope can bring new ears to the sound.

Shatterhands – Still D.R.E. (Shatterhors Sitdown Remix)
My favorite track of the year. Any fans of Sholmo will love this – it’s the classic Dre and Snoop raps dropped over this achingly ethereal piano riff and a lazy beat. I’m not even sure why it works so well, but if there was one song on repeat this year for me, it was this. It’s actually a collab between Shatter Hands and Hors, and while I don’t know much about the latter, the former is hands down one of my favorite hip-hop producers of the year – all interesting weird stuff, part body groove and part heady contemplation. Copenhagen at its finest (and there was a lot of good stuff out of Copenhagen this year!)

I, like many people, love Rhythm & Sound, and probably always will. I’ll never get enough of the ice-y German take on Dub and Roots that they do in a way that’s pretty much unique. But I’m not a slave to it, and so it’s incredibly exciting to see Mark Ernestus, half the R&S production duo, turn his attention, and mixing prowess, to a completely different word musical world. The Ndagga label, with just two singles so far, is focused on the Senegalese group Jeri-Jeri, with awesome singer Mbene Diatta Seck and a mess of drummers and instrumentalists, but flips and twists the original performances into lively dub productions that are utterly unlike anything I’ve heard before. An exuberant take on both dub and Griot music, I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for this collaboration.

Project Mooncircle had a banner year, including celebrating their 10th anniversary in March that CDM covered earlier this year. But in my opinion their best release came at the end of the year, and it’s the Kidkanevil and Daisuke Tanabe collaboration with the hybrid name Kidsuke. A pixelated toy house of an album, filed with childish playfulness, ambient sounds, moments of manic complexity and others of soft shimmering beauty. It’s the pinnacle of the type of productions showcased in Sound Healers Vol 2 – tracks that shine with raw musical talent but take full advantage of the endless worlds of rhythm that were unlocked by Flying Lotus and his disciples 5+ years ago. This is an album you can, and should, fall in love with, and also one you should listen to with all your close attention.

Fybe:one Remixes
Like the Synth Sense remixes, this another one of those monster remix projects that brings together greats of the current scene. This also sits half in the instrumental hip-hop world and half in the dance space, like Sound Healers, but it’s all a little more chunky and attention-grabbing than some of the other stuff mentioned here. It’s a riff on Fybe:one’s Harp EP, which already was solid – a set of tracks that interwove crunchy beats with various harps of the world (and wasn’t cheezy). But the remix album is just next level – each track is full of super well fleshed-out ideas, interesting derivations of the originals that all stand up in their own right. More than ½ of the remixers I hadn’t heard of before but have become new favs, like Chesslo Junior, Capes, and Duct. Then there were folks I was already getting to know and this solidified my love for them (especially Mute Speaker and Deft). The whole thing is great, and it vaulted Shades of Grey into favorite label status immediately.

Enjoying the fruits of Alex Under’s labors.

Alex Under
A great and lasting piece of work. As a man who has previously been associated with micro-house and techno, Alex Under definitely slipped well below my radar for many years. But this album of seven slow moving, inexorable 10-minute long “Bolas” is far from techno – though I can see techno’s influence, especially when looked at through the lens of Deepchord or old Chain Reaction, labels whose artists often explored tempos well below 130 or even 110 bpm. The end result reminds me both of David Last’s classic stuff as well as Mathias Delplanque’s Lena alias, which is to say darkly beautiful, slightly whimsical longform creations that have a clean, ever unfolding and beguiling aesthetic. They’re hypnotic without being sterile, overwhelming, cheezy, or boring, traits to which this kind of music can sometimes succumb. It’s magical stuff, and serves as a great reminder to me that inspirational music can come from all corners of the genre universe, and open ears often pay off.

Honorable Mention
It’s hard to pick just ten, so here’s a short list of other fantastic innovators from the year. Almost all are here because they put out (or I discovered) multiple things they did this year that were sublime or awesome or sublimely awesome. Names of releases that came out this year follow artists in parenthesis, but think of those more as guideposts for something to check out rather than a crowning achievement. If there’s nothing there, it’s because there was just too much goodness to choose from. And of course, this leaves out multiple hundreds of artists who had great releases this year – just not enough space!

Solvoid +(EPs 1, 2 and 3) (see CDM: Mystery Artist Solvoid Delights Ears, Dodges Questions [Listening, Interview]

Steve Moore +(Light Echos) / Lovelock +(Burning Feeling)

Recondite +(On Acid)

EPROM +(Metahuman)

Hot Sugar +(Moon Money)

Ametsub +(All is Silence)

Darling Farah +(Body + Body Remix)

G Jones +(Mirage)

Mute Speaker +(Post Block)

Submerse +(Tears + They Always Come Back)

Ta-Ku+(Re Twerk)

Ear Jerker







Tunes, in Drops of Color: Design Project Mixes Minimal Notes with Audible Hues

Perhaps it’s the sense of detachment that comes from long hours spent staring at screens, peering into pixels and abstraction. But whatever the reason, when experimenting with design and music, creators seem increasingly drawn to simple, physical interaction. Somewhere in the mysterious play between senses, between seen color and unseen sound, they look for intuitive relationships.

Designers Hideaki Matsui and Momo Miyazaki send in the latest adventure in induced synesthesia. Students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, they use a camera to connect color to sound.

audible color from Momo Miyazaki on Vimeo.

Full description:

Audible color is an audio-visual instrument. Sound is generated based on color detected by a web cam connected to a computer. Red, green and blue correspond with certain music notes. When the colors are mixed, the resulting secondary colors produce different notes. The size of the colors influences the volume and frequency of the notes played. Color detection and sound generation were created and are controlled using Processing code.

The system of audible color is based on a marriage between basic color and music theories. The colors of red, blue, and green are the visual foundation for color-mixing and the music notes A, D, and F are the base triad that corresponds to the colors. The secondary colors (colors made when the foundational three are mixed) of purple, teal and brown are tuned to the musical triad C, E and G. The visual of the mixing of red, blue and/or green mirrors the aural output of combined notes.

The ‘painting’ aspect is not restricted to water droplets from a pipette. Numerous experiments were performed using substances such as acrylic paint, food dye in milk with soap, and ordinary household objects. Each investigation created a new type of fun and easy gestural music-making.

Project page: