In gorgeous ETHER, a handmade micro lens brings cymatics closer

Sound is physical, but we don’t often get to see that physicality. In this gorgeous video for Thomas Vaquié, directed by Nico Neefs, those worlds of vibrations explode across your screen. It’s the latest release from ANTIVJ, and it’s spellbinding.

The sounds really do generate the visuals here, from generating terrain from an analysis from the waveform to revealing footage of metal powder animated by sonic vibrations. A self-made micro lens provides the optics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK0BXH7zu-M

Everything in this video was made using the sound waves of the track Ether.
Equipped with a home-made micro lens, a camera travels inside physical representations of the musical composition, from a concrete mountain built from the spectrogram of the music, to eruptions of metal powder caused by rhythmic impulsions.

(Impulsion is a word; look it up! I had to do so.)

Still from the video.

Nico Neefs is the director, working with images he created with Corentin Kopp. It’s set to music from Belgian producer Thomas Vaquié’s new album Ecume, on Antivj Recordings. That imprint has for over a decade been a label for audiovisual creations across media – release, installation, performance. Simon Geilfus developed the tool for visualization.

They’ve employed the same techniques to make a very attractive physical release. The image you see in the artwork is cast from a concrete mold. For a limited edition box set, they’re producing 33cm x 33cm plates cast from that mold in dark resin. And it’s ready to mount to a wall if you choose; hardware included. Or if you feel instead like you own enough things, there’s a digital edition.

Ultra-limited handmade physical release.

Concrete mold.

Concrete mold; detail.

The whole album is beautiful; I’m especially fond of the bell-like resonances in the opening piece. It’s a sumptuous, sonic environment, full of evocative sound designs that rustle and ring in easy, organic assemblies, part synthetic, part string. Those then break into broken, warped grooves that push forward. (Hey, more impulsion – like a horse.)

The music was repurposed from installations and art contexts:

These are all derivations of compositions for site-specific and installation projects, the original pieces having been created as a response to place and space, to light and architecture, to code and motion. Now separated and transformed from their original context, the music takes on an independent existence in these new realisations.

That does lend the whole release an environmental quality – spaces you can step in and out of – but is nonetheless present emotionally. There’s impact, listening top to bottom, enough so that you might not immediately assume the earlier context. And the release is fully consistent and coherent as a whole. (It is very possible you heard an installation here or there. Vaquié has produced compositions for Centre Pompidou Metz the Old Port of Montreal’s metallic conveyor tower, in Songdo South Korea, at Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical gardens, and at Hala Stulecia, Poland’s huge concrete dome.)

And there’s thoroughly fine string writing throughout – with a sense that strings and electronic media are always attuned to one another.

Cover artwork.

Thomas Vaquié.

Poetic explanation accompanies the album:

Ether embodies the world that exists above the skies.
It is the air that the gods breathe.
It is that feeling of dizziness,
that asphyxiation that we feel when faced with immensity.

Full video credits:

Music by Thomas Vaquié
Video directed by Nico Neefs
Images by Nico Neefs & Corentin Kopp
Edit & Post-production by Nico Neefs
Video produced by Charles Kinoo for Less Is More Studio and Thomas Vaquié
Filmed at BFC Studio, Brussels 2018.

More, including downloads / physical purchases:

https://thomasvaquie.bandcamp.com/

Plus:
www.thomasvaquie.com
www.antivj.com

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Jam to this: the 90s Sundanese house anthem “Maju Maju Maju”

Behold, the alternative 90s house history you don’t know – unless you’re connected to Indonesia. “Maju Maju Maju” is an impossibly catchy “xta-C” indo tech banger from Java’s Barakatak. And the music video is an easy, all-natural YouTube high:

I bring it up now as this was the jam that helped me shake my jetlag on arrival for the first time in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in central Java, meeting with our team from Nusasonic Festival and working together with Berlin’s CTM Festival on the MusicMakers Hacklab and festival performances. That’s central Java; Barakatak are Sundanese, from the west side of Java.

Our world (at least for English-language sites like this one) is so tilted hard to the West that we often don’t know what we’re missing. This week, of course, you can marvel as ABC breathlessly shares the story of how David Guetta “helped bring house music to the US.” (See a terrific takedown by Terry Matthew of 5 magazine in – significantly – Chicago, Illinois.) But while they work out the fact that house music “is a feeling” but also “a genre from Chicago,” you should also take in how American dance styles got remixed elsewhere on planet Earth.

That story is more memorialized in cassette tapes and oral history than it is written down. But “Maju Maju Maju” is one poppy example. This was evidently the lead cut on Barakatak’s not-terribly-creatively-titled tape “HOUSE MUSIC VOL. 2.” The “ecstasy” reference may be literal; I heard a band – I think Barakatak – once got paid in an enormous stash of pills and doubled as dealers.

It’s all in Indonesian, but one blogger has at least taken the time to catalog the band’s tape releases:

http://aerbening.blogspot.com/2013/02/barakatak-group.html

Here’s the very special cover for this one:

And with only minor changes in personnel, the band over the years looked more or less like this:

And this cover pretty much sums up the, uh, genre concept:

What’s to say, really? I can only share the fabulousness, complete with creative use of low budget video production and … enough jump cuts to induce a seizure.

And hey, now CDM readers from outside southeast Asia can be infected with the same earworm.

“Maju” my Indonesian colleagues tell me translates roughly to “forward,” so the song’s hook is “forward forward forward.” (“Let’s go?” Maybe hard to translate colloquially. Just, like, maju. See, now we’re all doing it. Word – learned!)

Okay, one point: here’s some relative thinking for you. A major pop hit from Western Java, even while well known by one of the world’s most populous countries, barely registers in even a quick Internet search. They’re practically invisible. It’d be like if you’d never heard of C&C Music Factory – what would that mean for really underground stuff? Interpolate that down Indonesia’s long tail, and you get some clue to how privileged culture from specific places has become – even London versus rural England, let alone New York versus remote parts of the global South.

This should also blow holes in the idea that there’s “too much music.” There’s too much of the same music, over and over again, leaving little room for most of the people who live on the planet.

To deal with that will take perseverance. Relentless perseverance by all involved.

You know —

Maju maju maju.

The post Jam to this: the 90s Sundanese house anthem “Maju Maju Maju” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The World’s Largest Step Sequencer

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This light sculpture plays like an instrument, escaped from Tron

Espills is a “solid light dynamic sculpture,” made of laser beams, laser scanners, and robotic mirrors. And it makes a real-life effect that would make Tron proud.

The work, made public this month but part of ongoing research, is the creation of multidisciplinary Barcelona-based AV team Playmodes. And while large-scale laser projects are becoming more frequent in audiovisual performance and installation, this one is unique both in that it’s especially expressive and a heavily DIY project. So while dedicated vendors make sophisticated, expensive off-the-shelf solutions, the Playmodes crew went a bit more punk and designed and built many of their own components. That includes robotic mirrors, light drawing tools, synths, scenery, and even the laser modules. They hacked into existing DMX light fixtures, swapping mirrors for lamps. They constructed their own microcontroller solutions for controlling the laser diodes via Artnet and DMX.

And, oh yeah, they have their own visual programming framework, OceaNode, a kind of home-brewed solution for imagining banks of modulation as oscillators, a visual motion synth of sorts.

It’s in-progress, so this is not a Touch Designer rival so much as an interesting homebrew project, but you can toy around with the open source software. (Looks like you might need to do some work to get it to build on your OS of choice.)

https://github.com/playmodesStudio/ofxoceanode

Typically, too, visual teams work separately from music artists. But adding to the synesthesia you feel as a result, they coupled laser motion directly to sound, modding their own synth engine with Reaktor. (OceaNode sends control signal to Reaktor via the now-superior OSC implementation in the latter.)

They hacked that synth engine together from Santiago Vilanova’s PolyComb – a beautiful-sounding set of resonating tuned oscillators (didn’t know this one, now playing!):

https://www.native-instruments.com/es/reaktor-community/reaktor-user-library/entry/show/9717/

Oh yeah, and they made a VST plug-in to send OSC from Reaper, so they can automate OSC envelopes using the Reaper timeline.

OceaNode, visual programming software, also a DIY effort by the team.

… and the DIY OSC VST plug-in, to allow easy automation from a DAW (Reaper, in this case).

It’s really beautiful work. You have to notice that the artists making best use of laser tech – see also Robert Henke and Christopher Bauder here in Berlin – are writing some of their own code, in order to gain full control over how the laser behaves.

I think we’ll definitely want to follow this work as it evolves. And if you’re working in similar directions, let us know.

The post This light sculpture plays like an instrument, escaped from Tron appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Sampling Utrecht With Digitakt

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Accordion vs Synth Jam Session (Accordiontronica)

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Moog System 55 Improvisation In The Moog Sound Lab

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A flood of user-submitted faces make a poignant new Max Cooper video

It’s a kind of love letter to humanity – and strikingly personal, both in the music and imagery, finding some hopeful part of the current zeitgeist. Don’t miss the new “Lovesong” video, made by music producer Max Cooper in collaboration with artist Kevin McGloughlin.

There’s a lot of bombast both in mainstage electronic music and in music videos – shouting being one way of attempting to get above the din of media in our world. But what’s engaging about “Lovesong” is that it does feel so intimate. There’s the unaffected, simple chord line, wandering around thirds like a curious child, slow fuzzy beats ambling in and out with just enough bits of sonic icing and flourish. And the video, composed of a stream of user-submitted faces, manages to make those faces seem to gaze back through the screen. It’s where we’ve come at last: the visual effects aren’t so gimmicky any more, but seem more natural first language. (Compare the fanfare with which Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” arrived – see below.)

That is, while this video is surely fodder for design blogs and … well, this one … I suspect it’ll spread passed by one person to another, more on the human level suggested by the video.

The visual work, by the way, comes from fellow Irishman and animator/filmmaker Kevin McGloughlin, a self-taught artist and director. Here’s what Max and Kevin have to say for themselves:

From the album ‘One Hundred Billion Sparks’ [Mesh]
Stream / buy: MaxCooper.lnk.to/OHBS
For more information visit onehundredbillionsparks.net and sign up for first news exclusive content at maxcooper.net/#join

“My new album, one hundred billion sparks, is out today, so it seemed a good day to also launch the music video which you created. The whole thing is built from photos which were submitted by those of you who listen to my work, so many thanks for that, and I hope you can spot your face in there!

The topic itself was a difficult one to approach, as so much popular music is written about love that it seems to have become more of an exercise in sales than anything authentic. So it’s a topic I’ve always avoided, but one that came naturally during the process of creating this album about the mind and what creates us, especially with the arrival of a new tiny person at the end of the writing period.

I chatted to Kevin McGloughlin about how we could visualise the idea in a general sense, and we decided that imagery of the human face would be the way to do it. Kevin had the great idea of setting up a platform for the viewers of the video project to submit their own photos to build it from, so as to make the video a personalised, and more meaningful rendering of the love song. Then Kevin worked his magic with the photos creating a beautiful complex blending and processing of stills. Many thanks again to all of you who submitted your photos, and I recommend scanning through to find yourself in there and getting screenshot. It’s amazing how much is going on when you slow down the video to look at the individual frames too, hats off to the awesome Kevin McGloughlin once again!”

– Max Cooper

– – –

“I am completely honoured to have worked directly with so many people for this global portrait.
It was a great experience of collaboration and though some of the images are less prominent than others, each and every image was as instrumental and important as the next in creating the final piece.

When Max told me about his vision for ‘Love Song’, “love of the species”
I immediately had the idea to include real people and real moments in the video.
We asked for submissions and images flooded in from people all over the world, and work got under way.

This video is like a postcard for me. Something for all the people involved.

Big thanks to all the collaborators and to Memfies who aided us in the compilation of all the initial images.”

– Kevin McGloughlin

That idea of “love of the species” recalls for me one of my favorite texts, associated with a street corner in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. It comes from Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, but it’s universal enough that the Dalai Lama took it as a title when visiting the city. (And it’s partly about getting away from superficial religiosity.)

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

“Spurious self-isolation” is certainly an idea that music producers will find familiar, not only monks. But even though it’s not always easy, it’s great when we can find our way to wake from the dream of separateness and find love again – and we’re lucky to have music for those love songs.

maxcooper.net
kevinmcgloughlin.com/

By way of history, this piece on “Black or White” and early morphing is a must-read for lovers of animation and computer graphics:

An Oral History of Morphing in Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ [Cartoon Brew]

I had forgotten about the Plymouth Voyager, but I suppose you could argue the minivan is also a love letter to humanity. (The “pooling kids to soccer practice” one, maybe?)

The post A flood of user-submitted faces make a poignant new Max Cooper video appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Discover the surrealist charm of Kate NV’s music and films

It’s Moscow’s quirkier, playful side that’s probably easiest for us foreigners to miss. But Kate Shilonosova (Kate NV) is earning an international audience for her introspective, surrealist whimsy, and one that’s well-deserved.

Kate NV’s music is beautifully minimal and reflective. The Japan tour makes perfect sense – there’s a distinctively Japanese-compatible electronic aesthetic here. (The poppier nods to minimalism and extensive use of percussion remind me a bit of Cornelius, as do the hand-drawn graphics everywhere.) But her approach to found sound and sampling is equally enjoyable when taken in live. Kate was another highlight for me of Synthposium, and emblematic of Moscow’s experimental, open-minded, live performance-oriented electronic scene. Her own background is in punk and guitars, and she brings that musicianship and improvisational spirit even to this very different sonic idiom.

Live, she works with mics and small percussion and sampling (on various Novation gear and Ableton Live), pulling in elements in a way that’s accessible and fluid. And yeah, she’s the kind of producer who keeps a glockenspiel by her computer in her home studio.

She’s been picked up by RVNG Intl, the Brooklyn-based label with a particularly sharp nose for musical inventiveness. And her LP is terrifically charming. It’s also accompanied by cheery, trippy films from Moscow director Sasha Kulak. Watch “дуб OAK” (each is titled in a combination of the Russian and English equivalent of a word):

— or the extended film “для FOR”:

These films are also available in a generative form, which you can watch on her website – click, and you get different variations:

This project is based on works of Moscow conceptualist Victor Pivovarov,
more specifically on his series called “project for the lonely man”, 1975.
This movie is telling a story about one lonely man’s day.
Every time the button is pressed, the new, slightly different day is generated from the common routine actions.
Thus, creating the sense that all regular days are the same, but in its own way very different.

http://katenv.com/

To get a sense of the live set, here’s a representative set from last year: (Though I wish we had the video of this month at Synthposium! Will share if we get that….)

Her songwriting and singing are also exceptional, though; check, for instance:

Why is this woman smiling? She’s hanging out in Red Bull’s massive Cologne studios.

To get a sense of her tastes and DJ skills, here’s a mix created for DJ Mag – featuring Prokofiev, no less. (You know, I charted the guy and it’s like he almost didn’t notice.)

Lastly, of course, everything is better with a Japanese documentary:

I also love her series of illustrations on manuscript paper and glimpses she makes of her studio, which you can find on her Facebook and VK pages:

Postlude:

Mean YouTube trolls are mean. From the video I posted above, there are some angry comments blah blah guys mansplaining minimalist composers. What gives?

Oh, cool, you know who Steve Reich is. Some kind of expert then.

I think you can do better, trolls. You don’t look like you know what you’re talking about. You need to up your game. Let me help:

“I just talked to your mom and she wants your ‘Minimalist Classics for Babies Naptime Compilation’ album back.”

“You know so little about the early roots of minimalism you probably think La Monte Young is a cheap French perfume store!”

“What’s the sound of one hand trying to perform ‘Clapping Music’?”

See? Amateurs.

Anyway, I think she’s great, and I have, like, a really serious music education or whatever. If someone wants to argue with me they’ll have to get past these fightin’ mallets and my marimba.

The post Discover the surrealist charm of Kate NV’s music and films appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Tangerine Dreamm, Live A, Øya Festival 2018

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