Micah Frank releases Tape Pieces Vol. 2 + Strata particle tape loop device (FREE)

Puremagnetik StrataShot

Micah Frank has announced the release of Tape Pieces Vol. 2, a new installment in the series of collaborations between Micah Frank and Chris Child (Kodomo). The EP contains four compositions that Chris and Micah built from field recordings, cassette tapes and synthesizers. While Tape Pieces Volume One focused on the layering and cascading of […]

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Puremagnetik releases Grainstation-C free ambisonic, granular performance workstation

Puremagnetik Grainstation C

Puremagnetik has announced the release of Grainstation-C, an open-source, granular performance workstation designed to build real-time, evolving sound sculptures with optional ambisonics. It seamlessly integrates with a Novation LaunchControl XL Mark 2 (easily modifiable for any other controller) and can processes 4 disk tracks and 3 live input streams. You can save any state as […]

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Two free plug-ins and a music label take you into ambient worlds

What’s to say a music idea can’t be both a tool and a tape, an instrument someone could play or an album they can get lost in? Puremagnetik are launching their new experimental label with two free tools that let you keep the drones and grains and ambient soundscapes flowing.

There’s a bunch of hype this week because Warner Music signed an algorithm. And in turn with everyone abusing the term “AI,” you might well think that a computer has automated a composer’s job. Except that’s not what happened – in the long tradition of algorithmic music, a group of composers applied their ideas to the development of software. One of the first apps launched for the iPhone, in fact, was the Brian Eno – Peter Chilvers “Bloom.” Endel has more in common with Bloom, I’d argue, than it does some dystopia where unseen, disembodied AI come to rob you of your lucrative ambient music recording contract. (At least, we’re not there yet. Endel is here in Berlin; I hope to talk to them soon – what they’ve done sounds very interesting, and maybe not quite what the press have reported.) Bloom in turn was a follow-up to Eno’s software-based generative music releases. Ableton co-founders Gerhard and Robert released software in the 90s, too.

So let’s talk about the role of musician as blurred with the role of instrument builder. Soundware and software shop Puremagnetik is made by musicians; founder Micah Frank was moonlighting in sound design for others as he worked on his own music. While this may come as shocking news to some, it turns out for many people, selling music tools is often a better day job than selling music or music performances. (I hope you were sitting down for that bombshell. Don’t tell my/your/anyone’s parents.)

But there are many ways to express something musically. Many of us who love tools as we do love playing live and recording and listening do so because all of these things embody sound and feeling.

It’s fitting, then, that Puremagnetik are launching their own record label to house some of the recorded experiments – Puremagnetik Tapes, which already has some beautiful music on cassette and as digital downloads.

And the perfect companion to those albums is these two free plug-ins. Like the label, they promise a trip for the mind.

The two first tapes (also available as digital)… gorgeous sound worlds to lose yourself in on loop.

The label announces it will focus on “experimental, ambient and acousmatic music.” That already yields two enchanting ambient forays. “Into a Bright Land” is in turns crystalline and delicate, warm and lush as a thick blanket. It’s Micah Frank himself, releasing under his Larum moniker. The musical craft is a digital-analog hybrid, part synths and tape machines – the kind the company has been known for sampling in its sound work – and partly Micah’s intricate custom coding work in the free environment Csound.

https://puremagnetik.com/collections/tapes/products/larum-into-a-bright-land

To accompany Into a Bright Land, there’s the plug-in “Expanse,” a “texture generator,” with a combination of “texture tone” filter, spectral blurring, adjustable pitch shift, and a healthy supply of noise generation and space.

Its drones and sonic landscapes draw from that same world.

Tyler Gilmore aka BlankFor.ms has crafted “Works for Tape and Piano,” pushing each instrument to its most vulnerable place, the tape itself becoming instrument, sounding almost as if at the point of a beautiful breakdown.

https://puremagnetik.com/collections/tapes/products/blankfor-ms-works-for-tape-and-piano

Since you can’t just borrow Tyler’s tape machines and such, Driftmaker is a digital equivalent – a “delay disintegration” device. Add your own audio, and the plug-in will model analog deterioration. The artist himself supplies the presets. Again, you have plenty of control – “parse” which sets the record buffer, “chop” which determines how much to recall, and then controls for delay, modulation, filtering, and wet/dry.

Both plug-ins are free with an email address or Gumroad login.

…and the plug-ins, each created to aesthetically accompany the albums.

There’s a pattern here, though. Far from a world where artists remove themselves from craft or automate the hard work, here, artists relish in getting close to everything that makes sound. They make music the hard way because each element of DIY is fun. And then they share that same fun. It might well be the opposite of the narrative we’re given about AI and automation (and I suspect that may also mean artists don’t approach machine learning for music in the way some people currently predict).

Or, well, even if you don’t believe that, I think you’ll easily lose whole evenings with these albums and plug-ins alike.

Details:

https://puremagnetik.com/blogs/news/two-free-plugins-expanse-driftmaker

Requirements: macOS X 10.8 (AU, VST) or Windows 10 (VST) 64-bit plug-ins

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Puremagnetik releases free Ableton Live Packs inspired by John Cage

Puremagnetik has announced the release of Hotel Prepared Piano and Amplified Cactus, two free Ableton Live Packs inspired by the experimental, avant-garde composer John Cage. Amplified Cactus a la John Cage Puremagnetik’s free Amplified Cactus Pack includes a drum rack of “plucked”, percussive articulations and a multisampled rack of “scraped” sounds. Rocks, grass, paper and […]

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Making Art Out Of Tragedy – Micah Frank’s ‘Sonifications’ Of The Great Japanese Earthquake

Micah Frank is an electronic musician and sound designer, based out of New York, whose recent work is generating a lot of controversy because it involves the sonification of earthquakes.

Above, Frank’s Sonification of the great Japan earthquake.

Frank’s Tectonic is integrated system between Max/MSP, Google Earth and Ableton Live processes a stream of real-time data that is translated into synthesis and sample playback parameters. When an earthquake occurs, seismic data is relayed to the system, sound is produced and Google Earth immediately flies to the coordinates of the latest earthquake.

We’ve mentioned Frank’s Tectonic, a free album of music created using this approach, previously. Many readers took issue with the post and its subject matter.

One reader asked, “Does the music include the sound of people screaming, pinned inside crumblings buildings, sirens, explosions?”

Others, though, heard something besides tragedy. “It’s an effort to bring something interesting and wonderful out of chaos. There is no changing the fact that earthquakes happen.”

Making Art Out Of Tragedy

When I initially posted on Micah Frank’s Tectonic project, I was focused on the technology and the concept of translating the earth’s processes into music. Readers pointed out that there’s more to Frank’s project than Max/MSP and synthesis, though.

There’s also a sensationalistic element and an opportunistic aspect to it. And, with the latest sonification, there’s the question of whether it’s appropriate to be making music when there are bodies to be recovered.

I think that art does have a very important role in helping us understand tragedy and that it’s important for musicians to deal with difficult issues.

But, while I’m comfortable with Frank releasing a free album of music made from earthquake data, I’m less comfortable with the idea of him making music out of tragedy and publishing it as the events are still happening.

Here are Frank’s comments on his Sonification of the great Japan earthquake. I’d be interested in your thoughts on it and on the larger question of how musicians should approach dealing with tragic situations:

Sonification of seismic activity off the coast of Honshu, Japan – Friday March 11th.

This is only a selection of 20 or so individual readings. At the time of this recording, earthquakes are ongoing and there have been almost 40 in the past 8 hours.

Tectonic is a realtime seismic analysis and sound synthesis system. Sound is created in realtime by earthquakes as they occur across the globe. A tightly integrated system between Max/MSP, Google Earth and Symbolic Sound’s Kyma processes earthquake data that is translated into sound synthesis parameters. A USGS XML feed is parsed into numerous fields including magnitude, elevation, time of day and geographical coordinates. These data are mapped to synthetic spectrums and processed by granular, aggregate and subtractive synthesis.

Micah Frank Tectonic, free sonification compilation & Ableton Live instrument

Micah Frank Tectonic

Micah Frank has announced the release of Tectonic, a free sound library.

The Tectonic compilation includes almost an hour of earthquake sonifications that can be listened to as a full length album, or played as an instrument in Ableton Live. The Live instrument includes over 30 high quality samples arranged as a menu of soundscapes.

The compilation’s source material originated from US Geological Survey data, parsed by Cycling 74’s Max/MSP and synthesized in Symbolic Sound’s Kyma X.

More information: Micah Frank / Tectonic

Tectonic – A Free Album Of Music Generated By Earthquakes

Click here to view the embedded video.

Sound artist Micah Frank has released Tectonic – a free album of music generated by earthquakes.

The video, above, documents the Tectonic sound sculpture, which creates sound in real time, triggered by earthquakes as they occur across the globe.

A integrated system between Max/MSP, Google Earth and Ableton Live processes a stream of real-time data that is translated into synthesis and sample playback parameters. When an earthquake occurs, seismic data is relayed to the system, sound is produced and Google Earth immediately flies to the coordinates of the latest earthquake.

For the album Tektonic, embedded above, Frank compiled and mastered 57 minutes of earthquake sonifications that can be listened to as a full length album.

You can also download the sonifications as a free Live Pack.

Details on the sound sculpture are available at Frank’s site.