How Dutch archives turned into a Lakker AV show about water

Wade in the water, indeed. Set the Irish duo Lakker loose in a Dutch film archive, and what you get is a dense, heavy experimental techno album and a live show exploring the Netherlands’ ongoing battle with the sea.

It’s a 2016 album, but even if you caught it before, now we get some insight into its evolution into a live audiovisual show.

Even before you get the sense of the historical narrative behind it, the music itself is evocative, dark, and rich. I actually like that we’re calling all this music “techno” now – this isn’t in the four-in-the-floor sense, yet the influence of that music on futuristic sounds and bass-heavy spectrum is clear. And now, with adventurous clubs and festivals having cultivated the audience for it, it is something you could hear booked overnight on a dance floor. Crowds have an appetite for dark and even nightmarish ear spelunking. And woven in there are the rhythms and movement that club experience can provide. With Struggle & Emerge (R&S Records), you get a wonderful sound world – and the basis of a perfect live soundtrack to an exploration of the deeper meaning of Dutch water. You can give the album a listen on Spotify for a taste:

But there is a narrative behind that.

Whereas for so long tech had been about an endless, sometimes superficial pursuit of the new and novel, now media archaeology is an increasingly present aspect of artistic practice. That is, you can mine the old to produce something new, folding together past, present, and future.

Collaborations with institutions are essential to making that a success. In this case, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision offers its RE:VIVE Initiative, which opens up archives to electronic music. They’ve done releases, performances, and even sound packs you can download:

http://revivethis.org/

Lakker (Dara Smith and Ian McDonnell a.k.a. Eomac) have a long-standing practice of deep commitment to creative sound design, and in the case of Dara Smith, to visual work. So, with RE:VIVE, they dug deep into the archives to construct a new album and performance. And they found in their theme the history of a country that has managed to survive for centuries below sea level.

There’s a fifteen minute documentary on the project:

The duo tell us that led them to talk even with top engineers and academics to understand what it means for a society to contend with water levels. (The relevance to those of us outside of the Netherlands in the age of climate change needs no explanation, of course.)

And they hope the result, in their words, will “capture humanity’s ongoing struggle with nature’s devastating power, our militaristic counterforce and the serenity found somewhere in between as we move towards an uncertain future.”

But how do you get from archives to new work?

From a text from the duo:

During the album writing process, one analogy that kept surfacing was that of the “Sonic magnifying glass” and how Lakker could use various audio processes to dig deeper into the archival material and reveal hidden sounds.

You’ll hear those murky sounds all over the record, producing landscapes of howling seas and powerful weather. There’s a detailed deconstruction at this minisite, track by track:

https://beeldengeluid.atavist.com/lakker

But there is a visual aspect, too — one that scans through the archives and algorithmically processes into the visual show — and triggering music and sonic performance in the process. They’re working with Derivative’s TouchDesigner, a graphical development environment for Windows designed for patching together visuals. Watch the results:

To exploit this with the films, Smith created a real-time video editing system using Ableton Live and TouchDesigner that allowed him to search through the video footage and create synced loops that emphasize the underlying music. As with sounds, in films, the real interesting material is sometimes obfuscated which can only be revealed by isolating and accentuating. For the films, Smith conceived a way of focusing on small loops of time and also zooming in on specific areas of each frame, drawing attention to minutiae that the eye misses.

A scanning system is reading pixel information from the archive video footage and this data through Touch Designer and then Ableton is creating and triggering samples, sounds and notes that are then integrated into the musical live set.

This data that is being transferred between the two programs via OSC [Open Sound Control] can be used to manipulate the music in any number of ways. The System is also set up that either preset video clips are used or else the video from the archive can be scanned through live and edited on the fly into loops and clips that sync with the music. Therefore, we have added a musical entity to the soundscape that is directly linked to the archival video footage.

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Now, a lot of people tend to think in terms of “generative” works and VJing or “video mixing” broadly. This demonstrates that video can be generative — not only in the sense of living inside an interactive, graphical development environment like TouchDesigner, but also in the way in which video is manipulated live as a dynamic medium. That contrasts with the conventional approach to VJing with videos via two-channel mixing and timeline slicing.

I know Dara and Ian have been working on this in their live shows for some time, building a language by which visual and sound can relate. (Both work on the music, then Dara programs the visuals, and the two play both elements live onstage together — meaning it’s necessary to ensure the two relate during that performance.) I got some peek at this, even, when we played a show together – it’s not so much about automation as it is strengthening an aesthetic connection.

Now, in this piece, that’s bound up with the content itself in what seems a beautiful way.

I really hope to get to see the full show live.

Thanks to Dara for providing CDM with this text and images, including an exclusive look inside their TouchDesigner patch!

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https://soundcloud.com/lakker

http://lakker.com

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Demian Licht on transmitting knowledge, being a demon of the light

Demian Licht is building a portal – one connecting us to a new future, one scrapping the parts of society holding people back, one linking the world. She’s not just making techno – she’s making a statement about the future with her music and practice, one that resonates with Detroit’s pioneers and the bleeding-edge aspirations of a new generation today.

Oh, and there’s some strange physical portal involved, too, one purportedly located at the geographic center of Mexico – uh, maybe. But you might want to watch that spot.

So, not only did we want to hear more about Demian Licht’s approach to music after being wowed by her Female Criminals series (now up to two volumes plus one excellent remix album), we wanted to hear about her thoughts on society, too. Demian is one of the top Ableton trainers you’ll find worldwide, and her knowledge and skills go well beyond just using that one tool into deep explorations of sound and meaning.

We take a look inside her studio, and get some of this knowledge transmitted directly our way, too – and have a glimpse at some of the emerging scene in Mexico and her own next audiovisual opus. And lately you were probably thinking the future was looking dim.

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Peter: Let’s start with the theme “Female Criminals.” I know you had these personas in mind in the first volume. How has that evolved in volume 2? What’s your connection to the theme, or what are we hearing in this release?

Demian: Female Criminals is my script to explore sonically the deepest side of the female mind: the dark side, the savage, the intuitive, the mystical — skills of women by nature, but that have been suppressed by society for centuries.

Vol. 1 has been my first approach to exploring the ‘criminal’ side of the female mind. I am using this term not as an obscure way to think about it; it’s more in the sense of the ‘forbidden’ which has been imposed by society by blocking the real nature and power of the female mind. With this mindset, Vol. 2 narrates the history of a crime made by a woman from the desire to the act.

There’s to me a really cinematic quality to the music. Can you tell us a bit about the different vocal sample sources in these tracks? What about instrumentation, too, also connecting to the theme?

Definitely, and that was my main intention. I’ve always been interested in the cinema field; I want it to translate the cinematic language into a sonic experience. For this volume, I’ve re-sampled a piece of a wonderful Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, that has touched me really deeply. I’ve used a ‘secret weapon’ inside Native Instruments Reaktor to completely change the structure and sound of the piece. I’ve used some of the edited results of this experiment to construct the history of Vol. 2. 3.

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I can imagine these tracks both in a listening sense but also for the dance floor – do you DJ with these, as well? Or how do you see the role of the DJ in your work?

I’ve always presented my work as live. I am interested in exploring the challenges and possibilities of performing live electronic music. All mixes and podcasts I’ve done have used Ableton. However, I’m starting to receive some interesting proposals for DJ sets, such as BBC Radio, for instance.

Probably now is the time to start challenge me further as a DJ.

You’re a certified trainer, and of course came out and participated in their conference Loop here in Berlin with us in the fall. Is there a relationship between being an educator and a producer for you? Has that technical development been something you apply in your music production? Does it inform your creativity?

Totally. My knowledge in this field started when I decided to study sound engineering. But when I felt I really mastered the concepts and techniques related to music production was when I learned to transmit this knowledge to other people.

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Of course, working as a trainer, you’ve got people on a different level. Where do you start with them? How far in do you get, or what have you found is most useful to people working with you?

Yes, I’ve worked with people of all kind of backgrounds, musical preferences, and ages. To give you a broader perspective about what I teach, it starts from electronic music history (extremely important) — Theremin, Musique concrète, Krautrock, etc. — to essential audio digital/analog theory, Ableton workflow, signal processing, synthesis, into designing a granular sampler in [Native Instruments] Reaktor.

I think my main teaching skill is that I try to make technical concepts easier to digest.

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You’ve talked in other interviews and even in the label statement about your relationship to Mexico. I know both feelings about sexism and the change in the country are things I’ve spoken at length with my Mexican friends and colleagues about … and, for that matter, with other Americans about the state of these issues in our own country.

Given everyone is describing this as some kind of change, what’s your sense of the current moment in your city and nation?

Through history, particularly within Mexican and Latin American culture which I come from, the female figure has had a passive role inside society. The Female Criminals trilogy is my statement to shunt this misconception.

We are living in a moment of worldwide changes. I believe it’s time to break down old paradigms, to be able to arrive into the next level as a society, as humanity. Besides, I’ve received comments from people that don’t know me very well including the label boss of a well-respected label (which I won’t mention) referring to me as ‘bro’ or [saying “well done, ‘man’,” as my name is asexual and in some press pictures you can’t see my face. But mainly I think because my music aesthetic is not ‘effeminate’. Therefore, this is a well proof of it. No labels, no paradigms anymore.

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Is music something that can play a role in this societal change? What does that mean for you individually versus as part of a larger scene or community?

It’s a process. With the Female Criminals releases, I’ve had feedback from all over the world, which to be honest I’m very impressed by, as I’ve been doing everything in a very independent way as I’m not on a big label. On the road, I’ve had help from friends, producers that I appreciate a lot, such as Ian McDonnell aka Eomac, who has given me advice and contacts to be able to understand how the music industry works. But in general, I’ve made everything by myself, like producing my videos, tours, etc., with my label Motus Records.

I remember a particular message from an Asian girl who wrote me through my Facebook page saying ‘You are the future’. It was really stunning to me. From the early beginning, the electronic music field has been the way to challenge myself,evolve as a human, and provoke movement ‘motus’. (“Movement” in Latin)

I truly believe music and specifically electronic music as technology could be the path to take humanity to the next level, as music is probably the only link that connects all cultures of the world. So, by sharing the vision exposed earlier by Jeff Mills and techno producers from Detroit, I’m on this field as I visualize advancement, progress, and future ‘Zukunft’ by using electronic music and technology as a vehicle to make it happen.

I think my brief impression of Mexico City was, like so many of my Berlin-based friends, really of a rich sonic environment (the city itself) and then a terrific array of musical talent in the scene. What impact has it had on you working there? What influence has Mexico had?

I’m not living in Mexico City anymore. I recently moved to a city close by, and I’m planning to move to a town which probably is the most beautiful and mystical in Mexico, located at the country’s center, called San Miguel de Allende. It’s near Tequisquiapan, where there’s a strange monument that marks the center of the country — a kind of portal.

I have projects in the near future in this place intending to connect Mexico with the world (and other worlds) by using technology and avant-garde music as a link.

But by being born, growing up, making sound engineering studies, and living in Mexico City, I realize that even with the chaos, pollution, criminality, social and politics problems, Mexico City is a colorful place, full of life and future. This city has given me the strength to survive in any place in the world, as you must be very bold and fearless to survive in it.

Any artists or other elements of the scene in Mexico City we should check out? (Anywhere to go when we’re hopefully back?)

In terms of artists based in Mexico City, I advice to check out Dig-it, AAAA and A_rp. In terms of places to explore, definitely the main one is the Museum of Anthropology which personally is my favorite in the world. You will find the powerful heritage and wisdom of all the ancient cultures that built the beginning of Mexican history.

Can you tell us a bit about the artists on the remix album? These aren’t necessarily names I know, and there’s some great stuff there, as well.

The artists that I have invited to remix Female Criminals vol. 1 are the ones who I feel are more related with my music aesthetics. I find them to be honest artists taking risks with their work in the current Mexican music scene.

For instance, Dig-it is releasing amazing techno music with his label Vector Functions; AAAA is touring in South America with international artists, and Ar_p is pushing boundaries with his live act.

Lastly, I want to ask about this theme of violence in music, and particularly techno. We talk a lot about adding darkness or demons to the music somehow. And yet somehow the experience can be the reverse – the darker or more violent the music can get, sometimes, the more grounding it can be to listen and dance to, at least for me.

What’s the experience of violence as an emotion in this music? Is it catharsis? Is it related to real violence, or has it become emotionally something else for you? I don’t mean to take the title too literally – but as it’s satisfying for me to listen to, I’m curious what your emotional connection is?

‘Dark’ or ‘obscure’ is the easiest way to describe powerful, driven, wild, forward-thinking music. Personally. this is the only kind of music that can provoke me.

I need to feel a kind of visceral-ism within music to be able to feel attracted to it, or touched by it. I’m not interested in music for ‘entertainment’ or recreation, maybe because I feel I am a kind of demon — a demon of the light.

Upcoming visuals

Demian also tells us she’s got an AV project ready to go:

On this March 25th I will premiere my new A/V show alongside Olaf Bender aka Byetone co-founder of German label Raster-Noton. The premiere will be hosted by an event called Ciclo in a particular place which possess an occult power called Convento Ex-Teresa located exactly in the center of Mexico City, where Mexican history has begun.

And to give you a taste of her cinema work, here’s her original video for “Domina” – material that will be incorporated into that show:

https://motusrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/demianlichtmusic/

Previously:
Don’t miss Demian Licht’s wonderfully terrifying new release

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Don’t miss Demian Licht’s wonderfully terrifying new release

Demian Licht’s music is frenetic and frightening, but precise, cinematic sonic thriller with an insistent pulse. And the Mexico City-based artist has done it again, following up in less than a year the first installment of her Female Criminals with Female Criminals, Vol. 2.

CDM is talking to Demian this week, but I wanted to give you extra time with the music first, in case you’d missed it.

At a moment in techno when so much music falls back on the same tropes, Female Criminals is film noir and not just dark. Club drum sounds act as a reference against dense, relentless cut-up samples, thickly-layered forward lead synths and vocals. This is music that’s unrestrained, maximalist stuff.

But then, Demian is also one of the world’s leading Ableton Live clinicians, having spoken at Ableton Loop and a key voice in mastering the software as instrument. I think that matters: while I wouldn’t question the place of punk aesthetics in electronic music, it seems you need some counterbalance of people who master the technology and can push their sound accordingly.

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With Nina Sonk, Demian Licht has also started the label she’s releasing on – meaning she’s not subject to the whims and tastes of the big techno outlets at the moment. And there’s a political message, too, underlined by the label’s claim to be the first two be founded by women:

Motus from the Latin (motion, advance, progress) is created with the primary intention of spread and support the work of emerging artists in the electronic music field and to promote the use of technology for music creation and movement within a country that is in a transition process and which has been stuck by sexist ideas, but that nevertheless in which faithfully believe that possees a wide creative potential that needs to be diffused to the world.

A country stuck in its sexist ideas, in a period of transition? Well, as an American, I’ll just have to, um… use my… imagination. Eep.

But you know, I will say, I’ve been forwarding around this record to all my friends who lately were complaining (understandably) about being bored by promos and needing something new. Like the first volume of Female Criminals, the new music, true to the name “Motus,” is advancing the state of the art.

Oh, and by the way, that’s $120 MXD, not USD!

Have at the releases:

https://motusrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Come on an entrancing ambient techno journey with Milena Kriegs

Somewhere in the shadowy forest between ambient and techno sounds, you’ll find the inventive world of Warsaw’s Milena Kriegs. It’s the sort of music you can get lost in, but it manages to be teeming with life rather than bleakly gloomy. And I think there’s a strong analog between Milena’s live PA sets and her recorded music – somehow, she’s working out a sense of free flow in each, a feeling that you can float along with the music.

Live PA sets can turn into press-play playlists on one hand or hyperactive twitch-fests on the other. So, I think it’s worth watching this latest video of Milena playing because the live element is simultaneously economical and necessary. She is actually creating some shape and flow; there’s a reason for her to play this live.

Last month in Barka, Kraków, ArsTechne added to their very fine series of live stuff.

For more live evidence, here’s her set from Tresor’s New Faces series in Berlin. (Recorded in April; photo above courtesy the artist.)

And still another from the Container Podcast (downloadable, this one):

And these really work in person – that place where you can dance and dream at the same time. But they’re also good fun here on a weekday in headphones.

Don’t miss her release from June, either. It’s restrained but inviting, gorgeous stuff.

Also, this publicity photo is perfect. (No, there’s nothing wrong with your screen. It’s like… how more black could it be? I’m missing the photo credit to add, so I hope I’m not infringing on copyright here.)

milenapressphoto

https://www.facebook.com/MilenaKriegs/

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Listen to Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ and the Emotional Content of the Laptop

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I’m remiss in not posting this last week when it debuted, and I suspect many CDM readers have heard already, but if not – drop everything, and have a listen to ‘Platform,’ the new LP from composer/producer Holly Herndon.

There’s a lot to discuss here. “Platform,” as the name implies, is intended as a first step toward other interactions. There’s the process and technique behind the music itself. A fearless champion of the laptop’s instrumental and compositional potential, Holly has made the album itself and the discourse around it into a means of demonstrating and discussing the kinds of processes that can realize the possibilities of the computer. There’s a conceptual conversation to have, investigations into the worlds of technology, utopia, and electronic surveillance – more than just music, the album is a project about our digital lives. And then there’s even plenty to say about Holly’s own career trajectory. More than anyone I know, she has been able to successfully bridge the academic electronic musical realm, the world of festival and club stages, and the popular media view of electronic music. (And yes, I count three largely separated cultural islands there. I’ve now and then personally drowned in the seas that separate them, so this is no small feat.)

But because those are all wonderfully deep rabbit holes into which to climb, I think it’s best to start with the music. Hearing them for me had an odd sense of familiarity. I’d heard some of these track in some form in a couple of live shows, but to me, that sensation with music is a flag that I should pay close attention to what I’m hearing. Pop or “hooks” or not, there’s something that happens when a composition works, a way it finds its way into your brain. It sounds like you’ve heard it before the first time you’ve heard it, and stays with you and makes you want to hear it again. Because this record is in the mainstream press, you’ll see some writers stumble around odd descriptions like “techno.” But it seems to me timeless, genre-less. Part of its genetic code is modern: this dense forest of repeated samples and slices, a self-awareness and comfort with the means of production. Another part feels like a modern answer to much earlier work of Eno, Laurie Anderson, retold by a generation that grew up with those sounds. But from that soup comes tracks that feel like songs, feel fully formed, get into your head.

In between, there are also great moments of theater and wit, so I’ll be curious to see where the “platform” leads.

But more than that, blending her voice digitally through the whole spectrum, Holly makes her music really sing. To be a platform for technique and higher concepts, I think that’s essential: the machine has to have a voice, and more than ever, you have the feeling Holly has found her voice.

I’m writing I know largely to producers (hello, CDM nation). And I know many of you, like Holly, have brains crammed with technical knowledge; many of you have tried to mediate between cultures like dance floors and academic music labs. My sense on “Platform” is of an artist who found a way to speak and sing with that voice, literally and broadly. I don’t think your voice will necessarily sound like Holly’s. But I hope this is the sign of more music to come.

For that larger audience, Holly has something to say – about collaboration and the implications for the wider tribe of people making music with computers. Posted to her Facebook page yesterday, on the occasion of the release:

Ever since I released my first album a couple of years ago, I have been humbled to see just how far my alien songs can travel. Thanks to a tireless community, it has been an incredible few years for experimental music. Abstract sounds are being embraced far beyond their traditional niche, and it made me wonder, what can be done with this new opportunity? Holding hands with a wider audience, can we channel abstraction towards greater action?
For this reason, Platform demanded to be a collaborative project, and I feel so grateful to have worked with some of my favorite artists to pull this together. Metahaven, Mat Dryhurst and Matt Werth have been a pivotal inspiration from the beginning, and Colin Self, Amnesia Scanner, Claire Tolan, Spencer Longo, Amanda DeBoer, Akihiko Taniguchi, Cuahtemoc Peranda, Stef Caers and Mark Pistel have all played crucial roles in this release. Thank you!
Many great minds have inspired pieces on this record. The ideas and spirit of Suhail Malik, Benedict Singleton, Jacob Applebaum, Keller Easterling, Guy Standing, Reza Negarestani, Amber Case, Benjamin Bratton, Hannes Grassegger, Jacob Applebaum, Laura Poitras, Nick Srnicek, Brian Rogers, Amber Halford, Nathan Jurgenson and Barry Threw regularly appeared in our discussions and continue to influence our aspirations for Platform going forward. Thank you!
We have received generous support from many several organizations for which I am really grateful – Lighthouse, CCRMA, Wallris. Thank you!
This album is just the beginning of a greater project, and I’m ecstatic to have partnered with 4AD and RVNG Intl on this journey. We need new fantasies, new archetypes, new strategies and new ways to love. All of the power we need to make something special happen may well be found in the rooms we dance in.
Optimistically, Holly xx.

I hope we get into these other conversations and hop on this ‘platform’ with the artist in coming weeks. In the meantime, some reading to get you started, and hopefully inspire some other conversations to have.

More reading, as we work on that:

“I’M INTERESTED IN INTRODUCING ALIEN SOUNDS.” [Kaput magazine]

Holly Herndon: the queen of tech-topia [The Guardian]

Shape Shifter: Underground star. Experimental musician. Stanford Ph.D. candidate. [The California Sunday Magazine]

Musician Holly Herndon taps into politics, the NSA and your Facebook photos [Wired UK]

Holly Herndon’s Trying to Find New Ways to Play the World’s Oldest Instrument

Serial Experiments for a Better Future: Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ [Rhizone]

One issue we’ll have to discuss is this quote, from the Guardian story:

“A lot of people complain about it being less engaging, less natural, less emotional, but my laptop mediates so much of my life: my Skype, my bank account, my emails, my relationships,” she says. “It’s actually a hyper-emotional instrument; it has more emotional content than a violin could ever dream of.”

Robert Henke last month at NODE Festival used a panel I was moderating to argue that the laptop needed to go away, as I understood it primarily because he wanted to make music away from the machine that brought all these rivers of information and communication. (Sincere apologies to Robert; I think I practically shouted at him when he told me that’s what he wanted to talk about, as I was afraid it’d derail the entire panel in a whirlpool of unsolvable and oft-repeated design critiques of the machine and I decided, selfishly, I mostly wanted to talk about something else.) But Holly reframes the whole question in an interesting way – if a challenging one, since it makes us consider the machine as an object, as an instrument, and as the emotional-social context for the music itself.

Remember when I talked about rabbit holes? Yes, see you in Wonderland in our next installment.

Out now on digital, CD, vinyl.

http://www.hollyherndon.com

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You Haven’t Heard of 30drop, But You Should Hear This New LP [Techno]

30drop

30drop has mysteriously arrived from Detroit Underground (aka “detund”), those purveyors of strange and wonderful techno and experimental music.

You may think you’ve heard of 30drop, but apart from the release last week, you almost certainly haven’t. Oh, sure, there have been releases — a second EP showed up in December — but for the most part, this act has flown under the radar. As per usual, detund are digging up precisely what isn’t on trend or rising in popularity, an unknown artist making cooly-weird noises.

But the pace is picking up – and this looks to be one of a couple of releases early this year.

And that unknown artist might well have arrived from another planet. Just read the record notes for the release, titled “Tools For The Dimensional Step LP”:

This album is the conclusion of research conducted on theories arguing for us living in a holographic universe. The songs included are parts of a whole that moves the listener towards the idea of understanding music as a universal language that hides within a dimensional leap leading to other universes.

Each beat is a part of a primary equation and each song a piece of a second-level puzzle. The complete set is the key that defines the geometry applied to music as the binary expression of geometric mathematics that shapes the vacuum in a space confined by the laws of physics. Taking Detroit Techno as the primary basis for 30drop; this LP intends to develop this type of sound where repetition generates undefined mental structures and pads are the large dimensional containers for vacuum and space.

A trip from Detroit’s minimalist, hard, and concise techno that cuts into predefined patterns and creates new boundaries to warm musical spaces in order to accommodate this new way of thinking; those are tools brought here from a future that’s already past to define a LP that’s a place halfway between Detroit and Berlin and has been influenced by masters like Mills, Dixon, Surgeon and German minimalism of the 90s.

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Okay, that last paragraph finally gives away the game. This is music that’s old-fashioned in that it is so boldly futuristic: this is what the future used to sound like. Synthesizers hum away raw, instead of drenched in bleak gothic distortion and reverb. Drum machines cheerily tick away, unironic extreme panning bouncing across your earphones. This is the future of Omni magazine and Star Trek: The Next Generation and AMIGA Video Toaster special effects.

Keep listening, too, as for me, at least, some of my favorite tracks are the spacier ones further through the list – this is a sprawling LP that was pieced together properly, rather than sorting all the good stuff at the beginning and filling out the rest.

It’s abstract but feel-good techno. It’s hard not to smile listening to it. And yet every synthesized timbre sits gladly in its place, a perfectly-balanced chamber ensemble of electrified sound. Patterns aren’t trying to be too clever, or clever at all: this is just happy dance music to open your new space station to.

So, of course it’s on cassette, because this music is made so it sounds like you probably still own your cassette Walkman and that cassette player in your car, and you’ll want the tape so you can listen to this. It’s not ironic or retro: it’s just happy to bring that vision of tomorrow back to you, today.

You can get this from Bandcamp, which has quickly become My Favorite Record Store. (And sorry, stores with Actual Records, but that’s partly because you can acquire the sort of stuff that often doesn’t have the money behind it for vinyl pressings.)

https://detund.bandcamp.com/album/tools-for-the-dimensional-step-lp

You can also keep track of Detroit Underground with their Drip – a subscription service that dumps lots of lovely stuff in your inbox (and, which together with Bandcamp, is my other favorite way to get music these days, if any Drip labels want to make sure I get a subscription – cough).
https://drip.fm/detund

(Heh, I actually fully expect some people to really hate this, but … hey, that’s exactly the sort of music coverage the world needs. I still don’t know who 30drop actually is, so thank you, Detroit!)

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A Pounding Free Download, A New Label, and Lots of Other Reasons to Love Paula Temple

Paula Temple. Photo: Julia Gunther.

Paula Temple. Photo: Julia Gunther.

For me, one of the best things about 2014 was, simply, Paula Temple.

The artist, on R&S Records, consistently demonstrates that you can combine a dedication to heavy, left-field but traditional techno with an expansive appetite for experimentation. And then there are her signature, over-the-top-in-a-good way bass detonations. Her DJ sets were each highlights – check out the Goûte Mes Mix below, heavily featuring her regular collaborations Dadub, Eomac, and Lakker (the latter whom I got to join Friday in Amsterdam, lovely lads).

And then there was her audiovisual show with Jem the Misfit, a shining beacon at this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event (from the aptly-named venue across the water, EYE). We’ll cover more in detail shortly as we talk to the artists but suffice to say I was impressed that Paula struck just the right balance between her shadowy, pounding techno world and more reflective moments of calm, perfectly matching the wondrous worlds of Jem the Misfit’s vibrant optical candy. Just as Paula Temple finds transcendence in tried-and-true techno vocabulary, Jemma Woolmore’s visual performance picked up familiar tropes – “let’s film stuff melting,” for instance – and makes them new, colorful abstract etudes and geometrically-tuned compositions.

Next up for Paula Temple’s ambitions is a new record label called Noise Manifesto. We’d heard word this was coming, but the free download “Gegen” gives us the first clue where this is going – before more releases come to Bandcamp and the like.

“Gegen” returns to Paula Temple’s roots. It is relentless, unforgiving techno with a synthesizer riff on top that sounds angry. It is also, for those of us who take pleasure in such things, a fine Advent gift. Grab it for free – unfortunately, MP3 only, but worth downloading. And then play it at some holiday party, ideally for your family get-together. Or, okay, maybe not.

pt_amsterdam_creditTaniaGualeni

What’s most important is, Paula Temple is effectively giving away a “secret weapon” – and, yes, I believe it.

‘Gegen’ is a very powerful word here in Berlin. It is a word of Tension. It is the word you see on all the protest posters on the streets, and when I first moved here, this instantly made me feel I have come to the right place. Residents standing up and AGAINST what is hurting people, and residents are active every week to be against (gegen) oppression. At the time I was making this track, I was invited to a club night called ‘Gegen’ and the atmosphere was something that left a mark on me. It’s a party environment that smashes up the idea of ‘normal’ and you are against yourself, your own fears and pleasures. This is why I’ve heard people either say it is the best night of my life or the worst night of my life. So I had to dedicate the track title to this night and to Berlin. In the same month I tested my new track when I played at Berghain for a benefit party – the reaction was over the edge! So for the past year this has been my ‘secret weapon’ in all my festival sets. I apologise to many people asking for the track for not releasing it sooner, it is a rave track and it really stands out on its own. So now I have decided to release it on its own. As a way to say thank you for giving me the most amazing year I’ve decided to make this a free download in the last two weeks of 2014.

Download via SoundCloud:
Gegen

PaulaTemple_Gegen

Credit to the Gegen party, too, which to me is notable in that it combines Berlin’s open-mindedness about identity and sexuality and expands it to a broad lineup of music – including some nicely experimental additions on the “drone” stage.

But somewhere between rave and concert, protest and meditation, I look forward to what comes next from this artist.

For more, watch her talk about technology and process – and technology as a platform for making it easier to be expressive – in her insightful piece with Slices:

Last year, she also walked through her technique of designing percussion with Ableton Push in a push. And that’s doubly interesting, as according to her resume she’s co-developer of the MXF8 from Grex Ultra Dynamics. That unique if unsung controller may have been a bit ahead of its time in 2004, but its combination of crossfader and knobs and buttons heralded various ideas that would follow.

Here’s that mix, complete with track listings – read more about it if you can read French.

Goûte Mes Mix #44 : Paula Temple by Goûte Mes Disques on Mixcloud

Let’s not be contented with ‘Gegen’ as the only free download. Her remix of Perera Elsewhere’s “Ebora,” featuring Aremu, is spooky, tribal-futuristic grooves with drops that require you to find a safe sitting position before listening. I’m effusive only because this has to be one of my favorite tracks of the year, even if I’m not partial to making lists.

While they’re streaming-only, you can also have a taste of her work remixing vocal artists in outings with the duo KNOX and (needing no introduction) The Knife:

Yes, “ridiculously massive” are the two words that come to mind.

Here’s the AV show:

Paula Temple HYBRID AV Show Teaser from Paula Temple on Vimeo.

HYBRID_NONAGON was a highlight of Amsterdam Dance Event.

HYBRID_NONAGON was a highlight of Amsterdam Dance Event.

“Deathvox,” the track, is actually frightening. I prefer to imagine scary imagery in my mind, though, rather than the wander-about-in-the-woods music video – nothing wrong with it, but sometimes internal visuals can be more fantastic. Definitely don’t miss the track, though. (And Paula’s performance in the video is a highlight.)

For more:

http://paulatemple.com

https://www.facebook.com/paulatempleofficial

The post A Pounding Free Download, A New Label, and Lots of Other Reasons to Love Paula Temple appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos]

It was inspired by Nikolas Tesla’s radical ideas about energy in air – and site-specific opera. It breaks every notion you have of how to mix, how to set volume, and what “panning” or “stereo” means. It’s, specifically, the forest of metal columns filled with omni-directional speakers we’ve come to know as 4DSOUND. And it’s all coming to Amsterdam Dance Event in October in a big way.

But what’s most important about 4DSOUND isn’t just this particular, not-inexpensive and specific installation. It’s the fact that once you start imagining sound as virtually projected into three-dimensional space, you probably won’t really think about sound in the same way.

Taking something like a site-specific spatial audio system and putting it into an online video is a recipe for failure. But the team at Ableton have done a pretty bang-on job of doing just that in two films, one focused more on the system in general and its significance, and one on specifically how the technique works.

Various composers have worked on 4DSOUND; this film focuses on Stimming. That makes an interesting choice, because his set is so live. In his work, Ableton Live is mostly a control interface for the spatialization; its audio duties are limited to mixing in the system and adding some clips. Everything else is outboard, like the MFB Tanzbär drum machine, a Teenage Engineering OP-1, and an acoustic piano.

Just as important, 4DSOUND’s Paul Oomen, a classical composer, talks about the connections to Tesla and theater. See the deeper meaning introduced at top, then the technical – and thoughts for the future – below.

With that conceptual background, it’s likewise important to understand that this system is neither a surround setup like those in cinemas (most recently Dolby’s Atmos), nor Wave Field Synthesis.

Cinema sound is generally a different animal. Those systems, or crude systems like quad (or even stereo), are capable of spatializing sounds, but they’re dependent on listener position. Wave field synthesis is closer, in that it does produce virtual sonic locations, as if sounds are in specific places beyond the speakers, even as you move around. Wave field is also interesting in that it has been adopted by MPEG. But wave field synthesis, while very precise, works on a horizontal plane, and requires very specific settings and speakers.

4DSOUND takes a different approach, using something called vertical phantom imaging. By taking advantage of omni-directional speakers, they get the advantages of virtual projection – that illusion that sounds fill specific locations or volumes – without requiring so many speakers or particular environments. That makes a unique sound space in which artists can play, and while this isn’t cheap or yet ready for club environments, it is able to make it to festivals. 4DSOUND came to Berlin’s Atonal Festival last month, for instance, and in a series of events (including a lab co-hosted by CDM), will next head back to Amsterdam Dance Event.

I’ve been working with 4DSOUND now in my own music, in a collaboration with Robert Lippok, and it’s been a unique learning experience. I couldn’t agree more with Stimming that it can change how you listen to music and sonic environments. Stereo is artificial enough that it’s easy to lose sight of sounds in terms of how they exist in space. It’s simply too distant from how we hear. But when you can manipulate sounds in a virtual environment, you really begin to appreciate the spatial as a compositional element.

In our project, we’re working to use those elements to create our own virtual architectures. It’s a first opportunity to see how you might perceive architecture purely as sonic, non-physical form. We’re working with Berlin’s Arno Brandlhuber, who constructed a form in a proposal for housing that perfectly fits the grid of the 4DSOUND – real and virtual.

lippokkirn

lippokkirn2

lippokkirn3

Above: Translating architecture into sound, in process on 4DSOUND. Photos by Robert Lippok.

As seen in the video, you’re not only positioning sounds: you can produce volumes, paths with motion, and create effects that are calculated around the space (for reflections, delays, and more). You can add Doppler effect and other filtering to enhance the illusion that sound sources are moving around you. You can create sonic perceptions that seem real, and others that would normally be impossible.

To implement this system, you’re granted per-voice controls of each sonic object. Ableton Live is a bit ill-equipped to work in this way; music software in general is built around mixers that assume stereo recordings are the end result. But those voices are represented by graphical controls added to an Ableton session, built in Max for Live. It in turn is a front-end, alongside a Lemur remote control communicating over OSC, for a back-end system that does the processing necessary to pipe 57 channels of audio out the RME audio interfaces to the amps. (The back end is built in Max/MSP, with apparently heavy use of gen~ DSP objects for performance.)

So many of our sonic habits have been constructed by the stereo mixdown and its crude virtual space that we may be unaware how much it impacts our composition and sound design. So it’s interesting to listen to a binaural recording of Stimming. You’ll want to not only listen to headphones, but be patient as the work builds up. Obviously, even binaural recordings don’t really capture the impact. But you will begin to hear panning that’s vertical, with a great deal of distance in the mix rather than the packed recordings common in dance music. This will be less evident if you haven’t heard the 4D in person, but a lot of the timbres you hear, the sense of these sonic objects in some real space and the way they reverberate, is also a feature of working in this way. It will no doubt transform habits producing and mixing even in stereo – once you’ve done this, you can’t ever go back to even mono and stereo in the same way.

Stimming explains:

Equipment used: MFB Tanzbär, Clavia Nordrack2, TeenageEngineering OP-1, Arturia Microbrute and AbletonLive as master clock, sampler and midi sequencer.

Everything on the 4D sound was tweaked by hand in real-time, as well as the whole arrangement. I preprogrammed some chords and grooves on my machines though.

The 4D System is an advanced spatial sound system and the set is binaural (also called dummy head) recorded – in order to get an idea of how it sounded you need to use your headphones.

For the full binaural experience, I made the lossless AIFF file available for download. Please note that the download is over 1 GB in size.

Imagine being INSIDE the music, and the sounds move around you in all three dimensions.

It really is thinking in four dimensions – the three spatial dimensions, plus time (and adding that fourth element truly feels like a fourth dimension).

And the 4DSOUND setup is complex enough to feel like an instrument, the combination of its spatial capabilities and various effects and live controls.

So, it’s significant that in Amsterdam, we’ll have a full program of new music for the 4DSOUND (including Stimming, a Raster Noton showcase including Robert and myself along Grischa Lichtenberger, Frank Bretschneider, and Senking), Max Cooper, and Vladislav Delay.

It’s just as important that we’ll have developers from Ableton joining a select lineup of artists and researchers of lots of backgrounds on Spatial Audio Hack Lab we’re co-hosting. We have everyone from doctoral experts in spatialization to singers.

This isn’t a gimmick or a fad or some cool new toy. There is a lot of work remaining to be done, on 4DSOUND and spatial audio in general. The 4DSOUND itself is a canvas for all kinds of work; it’s not obvious how to work with it or what it should do. Imagining how interfaces should look is a wide-open question. And on 4D and spatial audio in general, there’s a huge opening for people to suggest new ideas for sound, composition, performance, and control. That can relate to architecture, to data sonification, to simulation. In Paul’s case, sensors on singers can produce a new way of enhancing theatre with amplified and electronic sound, as audio follows performers.

And the whole field is about to blow wide open. New microphone and headphone technology could make 4DSOUND’s specific system still more relevant – a playground for challenging ideas that will become increasingly commonplace.

So, if you’re in Amsterdam, I hope you’ll join us. If not, we’ll keep piping these spatial possibilities to you.

thinkingin3d_1

thinkingin3d_2

thinkingin3d_3

Thinking in 3D – or 4D – will be a new challenge. Above, photos from our recent working sessions.

Amsterdam events:
http://www.facebook.com/4dsoundonline

More of the latest from 4DSOUND:
http://4dsound.net/news/

The post Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos]

It was inspired by Nikolas Tesla’s radical ideas about energy in air – and site-specific opera. It breaks every notion you have of how to mix, how to set volume, and what “panning” or “stereo” means. It’s, specifically, the forest of metal columns filled with omni-directional speakers we’ve come to know as 4DSOUND. And it’s all coming to Amsterdam Dance Event in October in a big way.

But what’s most important about 4DSOUND isn’t just this particular, not-inexpensive and specific installation. It’s the fact that once you start imagining sound as virtually projected into three-dimensional space, you probably won’t really think about sound in the same way.

Taking something like a site-specific spatial audio system and putting it into an online video is a recipe for failure. But the team at Ableton have done a pretty bang-on job of doing just that in two films, one focused more on the system in general and its significance, and one on specifically how the technique works.

Various composers have worked on 4DSOUND; this film focuses on Stimming. That makes an interesting choice, because his set is so live. In his work, Ableton Live is mostly a control interface for the spatialization; its audio duties are limited to mixing in the system and adding some clips. Everything else is outboard, like the MFB Tanzbär drum machine, a Teenage Engineering OP-1, and an acoustic piano.

Just as important, 4DSOUND’s Paul Oomen, a classical composer, talks about the connections to Tesla and theater. See the deeper meaning introduced at top, then the technical – and thoughts for the future – below.

With that conceptual background, it’s likewise important to understand that this system is neither a surround setup like those in cinemas (most recently Dolby’s Atmos), nor Wave Field Synthesis.

Cinema sound is generally a different animal. Those systems, or crude systems like quad (or even stereo), are capable of spatializing sounds, but they’re dependent on listener position. Wave field synthesis is closer, in that it does produce virtual sonic locations, as if sounds are in specific places beyond the speakers, even as you move around. Wave field is also interesting in that it has been adopted by MPEG. But wave field synthesis, while very precise, works on a horizontal plane, and requires very specific settings and speakers.

4DSOUND takes a different approach, using something called vertical phantom imaging. By taking advantage of omni-directional speakers, they get the advantages of virtual projection – that illusion that sounds fill specific locations or volumes – without requiring so many speakers or particular environments. That makes a unique sound space in which artists can play, and while this isn’t cheap or yet ready for club environments, it is able to make it to festivals. 4DSOUND came to Berlin’s Atonal Festival last month, for instance, and in a series of events (including a lab co-hosted by CDM), will next head back to Amsterdam Dance Event.

I’ve been working with 4DSOUND now in my own music, in a collaboration with Robert Lippok, and it’s been a unique learning experience. I couldn’t agree more with Stimming that it can change how you listen to music and sonic environments. Stereo is artificial enough that it’s easy to lose sight of sounds in terms of how they exist in space. It’s simply too distant from how we hear. But when you can manipulate sounds in a virtual environment, you really begin to appreciate the spatial as a compositional element.

In our project, we’re working to use those elements to create our own virtual architectures. It’s a first opportunity to see how you might perceive architecture purely as sonic, non-physical form. We’re working with Berlin’s Arno Brandlhuber, who constructed a form in a proposal for housing that perfectly fits the grid of the 4DSOUND – real and virtual.

lippokkirn

lippokkirn2

lippokkirn3

Above: Translating architecture into sound, in process on 4DSOUND. Photos by Robert Lippok.

As seen in the video, you’re not only positioning sounds: you can produce volumes, paths with motion, and create effects that are calculated around the space (for reflections, delays, and more). You can add Doppler effect and other filtering to enhance the illusion that sound sources are moving around you. You can create sonic perceptions that seem real, and others that would normally be impossible.

To implement this system, you’re granted per-voice controls of each sonic object. Ableton Live is a bit ill-equipped to work in this way; music software in general is built around mixers that assume stereo recordings are the end result. But those voices are represented by graphical controls added to an Ableton session, built in Max for Live. It in turn is a front-end, alongside a Lemur remote control communicating over OSC, for a back-end system that does the processing necessary to pipe 57 channels of audio out the RME audio interfaces to the amps. (The back end is built in Max/MSP, with apparently heavy use of gen~ DSP objects for performance.)

So many of our sonic habits have been constructed by the stereo mixdown and its crude virtual space that we may be unaware how much it impacts our composition and sound design. So it’s interesting to listen to a binaural recording of Stimming. You’ll want to not only listen to headphones, but be patient as the work builds up. Obviously, even binaural recordings don’t really capture the impact. But you will begin to hear panning that’s vertical, with a great deal of distance in the mix rather than the packed recordings common in dance music. This will be less evident if you haven’t heard the 4D in person, but a lot of the timbres you hear, the sense of these sonic objects in some real space and the way they reverberate, is also a feature of working in this way. It will no doubt transform habits producing and mixing even in stereo – once you’ve done this, you can’t ever go back to even mono and stereo in the same way.

Stimming explains:

Equipment used: MFB Tanzbär, Clavia Nordrack2, TeenageEngineering OP-1, Arturia Microbrute and AbletonLive as master clock, sampler and midi sequencer.

Everything on the 4D sound was tweaked by hand in real-time, as well as the whole arrangement. I preprogrammed some chords and grooves on my machines though.

The 4D System is an advanced spatial sound system and the set is binaural (also called dummy head) recorded – in order to get an idea of how it sounded you need to use your headphones.

For the full binaural experience, I made the lossless AIFF file available for download. Please note that the download is over 1 GB in size.

Imagine being INSIDE the music, and the sounds move around you in all three dimensions.

It really is thinking in four dimensions – the three spatial dimensions, plus time (and adding that fourth element truly feels like a fourth dimension).

And the 4DSOUND setup is complex enough to feel like an instrument, the combination of its spatial capabilities and various effects and live controls.

So, it’s significant that in Amsterdam, we’ll have a full program of new music for the 4DSOUND (including Stimming, a Raster Noton showcase including Robert and myself along Grischa Lichtenberger, Frank Bretschneider, and Senking), Max Cooper, and Vladislav Delay.

It’s just as important that we’ll have developers from Ableton joining a select lineup of artists and researchers of lots of backgrounds on Spatial Audio Hack Lab we’re co-hosting. We have everyone from doctoral experts in spatialization to singers.

This isn’t a gimmick or a fad or some cool new toy. There is a lot of work remaining to be done, on 4DSOUND and spatial audio in general. The 4DSOUND itself is a canvas for all kinds of work; it’s not obvious how to work with it or what it should do. Imagining how interfaces should look is a wide-open question. And on 4D and spatial audio in general, there’s a huge opening for people to suggest new ideas for sound, composition, performance, and control. That can relate to architecture, to data sonification, to simulation. In Paul’s case, sensors on singers can produce a new way of enhancing theatre with amplified and electronic sound, as audio follows performers.

And the whole field is about to blow wide open. New microphone and headphone technology could make 4DSOUND’s specific system still more relevant – a playground for challenging ideas that will become increasingly commonplace.

So, if you’re in Amsterdam, I hope you’ll join us. If not, we’ll keep piping these spatial possibilities to you.

thinkingin3d_1

thinkingin3d_2

thinkingin3d_3

Thinking in 3D – or 4D – will be a new challenge. Above, photos from our recent working sessions.

Amsterdam events:
http://www.facebook.com/4dsoundonline

More of the latest from 4DSOUND:
http://4dsound.net/news/

The post Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

You Should Listen to Fuzzy Cut-up Goodness, Heavy Techno from Annie Hall [Detroit Underground]

Annie Hall – Random Paraphilia EP PROMO from annie hall on Vimeo.

Spanish-born, Windsor-based producer/DJ Annie Hall is always something special, a gift to techno and experimental music.

Pushing her digital sound to the edge, she can sharpen her sound to glitch, fuzz, but always with a sense of warmth and intimacy. It’s cut tightly, but manages to tread techno-electro paths in its asymmetrical grooves. There’s never an absence of forward motion: like one of those crazy new robotic insects, all the complex kinetic action somehow makes it sprint.

And then, as she does this summer, she can head straight into the best possible, dubby, dark techno, spinning, swinging basslines grinding hypnotically in the shadows.

She’s on … too many labels to remember. She’s working with Kero on Riverside Manufacturing (RVSD), making limited vinyl. And she’s all over the planet, one of those rare relentlessly evergreen artists.

Somehow today I found myself revisiting the promo for the 2013 EP at top, Random Paraphilia, which reveals some of her IDM-ish side. It’s just splendid, with remixes by Richard Devine, Gerard Hanson aka E.R.P, and Valance Drakes. See the video at top, with perfect hyper-future-broken-glitch motion graphics by dmas3.

And then there’s what she’s cooking up this summer, the “Overlook” EP on Torque, with remixes by Truncate (U.S.A.) and Aiken (Spain):

Find them on Facebook – www.facebook.com/torquemusic – and grab the record on Beatport.

So, let’s just get through the middle of the week by queuing up more, shall we?

Think Stormtroopers more than Diane Keaton when you hear her name. And don't expect her to give up any rebel secrets, really. Photo of the artist, courtesy the artist.

Think Stormtroopers more than Diane Keaton when you hear her name. And don’t expect her to give up any rebel secrets, really. Photo of the artist, courtesy the artist.

From 2012 – though to me, her sound holds up any old time – she coupled a gorgeous remix of Scan7′s “Mental Reaction” with an eerie, hyperreal iPhone film of the Detroit People Mover.

Scan7 – Mental Reaction – Annie Hall remix from annie hall on Vimeo.

That impromptu film became the basis of another motion graphics masterpiece by Dmas3, for the remix Valance Drakes “DSM-5″ on the same Random Paraphilia EP.

Annie Hall / DSM-5 Valance Drakes rmx. DU™ from dmas3 on Vimeo.

All of this tends to glitch, hard-edged intersections of digital surfaces colliding, images deteriorating into flurries of pixels, rhythms fashioned from hyperactive electronic transformations. If it seems to lend itself to real-time exploration, that’s just what Johannes Poell of Austria did, working in the gaming environment Unity 3D.