Datalooper lets you play Ableton Live with your feet

It’s a looper, it’s a Session View controller. It’s USB powered, and you play it with your feet. But unlike other options, Datalooper integrates directly with how you work in Ableton Live – and it doesn’t require Max for Live to operate. Here’s a first look – and an exclusive discount.

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

Ableton may have called their event “Loop,” but that doesn’t mean there’s an obvious way to control the software’s looping capability via hardware out of the box. And that’s essential – Ableton Push is great, but it doesn’t fit a lot of instrumental and vocal uses. It’s too complicated, and involves too much hand-eye coordination – stuff you want to focus elsewhere. I’m not sure what Ableton would have called their own foot hardware – Ableton Tap? Ableton Toes? But instead, users have been stepping up … sorry, unintentional pun … and giving Live the kind of immediacy you’d expect of a looper pedal.

Demand seems higher than ever – there were two projects floating around Ableton Loop in LA last week. I covered State of the Loop already:

Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller

That project focused mainly on the Looper instrument and the use of scenes, all via Max for Live. It also seems well suited to running a lot of loopers at once.

Datalooper – the work of musician/creator Vince Cimo – is a similar project, but finds its own niche. First off, Max for Live isn’t required, meaning any edition of Live will work. (It uses a standard Live Control Script to communicate with Live.)

We got hands-on with Datalooper at Ableton Loop this year.

Datalooper will use the Looper device if you want. In that mode, it’s basically a controller for the Looper instrument – and supports up to three at once by default (which will be enough for most people anyway).

But there’s not much difference between the Looper device and other plug-ins or dedicated looping tools. “Natively” looping in Live still logically involves Session View. Before Ableton had a Looper, the company would advise customers to just record into clips in the Session View. That’s all fine and well, except that users of hardware pedals were accustomed to being able to set a tempo with the length of their initial recording, so the loop kept time with them instead of having to adjust to an arbitrary metronome.

Datalooper does both. You can use Session View, taking advantage of all those clips and arrangement tools and track routing and effects chains. But you can also use the looper to set the tempo. As the developers describe it:

If you long press on the clear button, the metronome will turn off, and the tempo will re-calculate based on the next loop you record, so you can fluidly move between pieces without having to listen to a click track. Throughout this process, the transport never stops, meaning you can linearly record your whole set and capture every loop and overdub in pristine quality.

Datalooper is also a handy foot-powered control system for working with clips in general. So even if you weren’t necessarily in the market for a looper or looper pedal, you might want Datalooper in your studio just to facilitate working quickly with clips.

(And of course, this also makes it an ideal companion to Ableton Push … or Maschine with a Live template, or an APC, or a Launchpad, or whatever.)

Session Control mode lets you hop in and record quickly to wherever you wish. I imagine this will be great for improvisation not only solo but when you invite a friend to play with you.

For users that are more familiar with the clip system, the Datalooper also features a ‘session control’ mode, built to allow users to quickly record clips. In this mode, the Datalooper script will link up with a track, then ‘auto-scan’ and latch on to the first unused clip slot. You can then use the first the buttons in a row to control the recording, deletion and playback of the clip. Best of all, when you want to record another clip, you can simply press record again and the script will find you another unused clip slot. This is a game-changer if you’re trying to quickly record ideas and want your hands free.

Videos:

You get all of this in a nice, metal box – die-cast aluminum, weighing 3 lbs (1.4 kg), micro USB bus-powered standard MIDI device. The onboard LEDs light to show you status and feedback from the metronome.

By default, it uses three loopers, but all the behaviors are customizable. In fact, when you want to dive into customization, there’s drag-and-drop customization of commands.

A graphical controller editor lets you customize how the Datalooper works. This could be the future of all custom control.

US$199 is the target price, or $179 early bird (while supplies last). It’s now on Indiegogo; creator Vince Cimo needs enough supporters to be able to pull the trigger on a $10k manufacturing run or it wont’ happen.

Vince has offered CDM readers a special discount. Head here for another $20 off the already discounted price:

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

(No promotional fee paid for that – he just asked if we wanted a discount, and I said sure!)

Having gotten hands on with this thing and seen how the integration and configuration works … I want one. I didn’t even know I wanted a pedal. I think it could well make Live use far more improvisatory. And the fact that we have two projects approaching this from different angles I think is great. I hope both find enough support to get manufactured – so if you want to see them, do spread the word to other musicians who might want them.

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Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space

Fahmi Mursyid from Indonesia has been creating oceans of wondrously sculpted sounds on netlabels for the past years. Be sure to watch these magical constructions on nothing but Walkman tape loops with effects pedals and VCV Rack patches – immense sonic drones from minimal materials.

Fahmi hails from Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia. While places like Yogyakarta have hogged the attention traditionally (back even to pre-colonial gamelan kingdom heydeys), it seems like Bandung has quietly become a haven for experimentalists.

He also makes gorgeous artworks and photography, which I’ve added here to visualize his work further. Via:

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

This dude and his friends are absurdly prolific. But you can be ambitious and snap up the whole discography for about twelve bucks on Bandcamp. It’s all quality stuff, so you could load it up on a USB key and have music when you’re away from the Internet ranging from glitchy edges to gorgeous ambient chill.

Watching the YouTube videos gives you a feeling for the materiality of what you’re hearing – a kind of visual kinetic pcture to go with the sound sculpture. Here are some favorites of mine:

Via Bandcamp, he’s just shared this modded Walkman looping away. DSP, plug-in makers: here’s some serious nonlinearity to inspire you. Trippy, whalesong-in-wormhole stuff:

The quote added to YouTube from Steve Reich fits:

“the process of composition but rather pieces of music that are, literally, processes. The distinctive thing about musical processes is that they determine all the note-to-note (sound-to-sound) details and the overall form simultaneously. (Think of a round or infinite canon.)”

He’s been gradually building a technique around tapes.

But there’s an analog to this kind of process, working physically, and working virtually with unexpected, partially unstable modular creations. Working with the free and open source software modular platform VCV Rack, he’s created some wild ambient constructions:

Or the two together:

Eno and Reich pepper the cultural references, but there are aesthetic cues from Indonesia, too, I think (and no reason not to tear down those colonial divisions between the two spheres). Here’s a reinterpretation of Balinese culture of the 1940s, which gives you some texture of that background and also his own aesthetic slant on the music of his native country:

Check out the releases, too. These can get angular and percussive:

— or become expansive soundscapes, as here in collaboration with Sofia Gozali:

— or become deep, physical journeys, as with Jazlyn Melody (really love this one):

Here’s a wonderful live performance:

I got hooked on Fahmi’s music before, and … honestly, far from playing favorites, I find I keep accidentally running over it through aliases and different links and enjoying it over and over again. (While I was just in Indonesia for Nusasonic, it wasn’t the trip that made me discover the music – it was the work of musicians like Fahmi that were the reason we all found ourselves on the other side of the world in the first place, to be more accurate. They discovered new sounds, and us.) So previously:

The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

https://ideologikal.bandcamp.com/

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Yamaha just bought amp and pedal maker Ampeg

Yamaha’s guitar group is growing. Alongside products on their own brand and Line 6, they now will own one of the most legendary brands of all time: Ampeg.

That guitar group itself is nicely trans-Atlantic, with co-presidents Marcus Ryle, formerly of Line 6, and Shoji Mita.

And Ampeg is quite the acquisition. The company originates in 1940s New Jersey, and includes a heritage of products like the SVT amp. They’re best known for bass amps, but they’ve long had a portfolio of respected guitar amps and a history of instruments. Lately, that has rebooted some classic monikers for amps, alongside pedals.

The deal also means that LOUD Technologies Inc. – the company formerly known as Mackie Designs (as in the mixers) – will unload Ampeg, which it has owned since its 2005 purchase of Saint Louis Music.

Basically, you should expect to see Ampex’s amps (and presumably pedals, too) slotted in alongside Yamaha’s bass guitars and the full fleet of Line 6 modeled amp and effects products. Maybe down the road we’ll see an Ampex with built-in modeled Line 6 stuff. That’d have a nice historical precedent, as Ampex was the first company ever to add reverb to an amp internally, back in the 60s.

Now, we just have to wait to find out whatever the heck is happening over at Gibson.

https://yamahaguitargroup.com/

http://ampeg.com/

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Get lost in the mesmerizing music video, improvs of this duo

Sometimes, you just need to imagine yourself as being made of boulders, on a mental trip that has you wandering a surreal landscape.

I am a rock, I am an island. Or… I am a bunch of rocks.

So, we’re pleased to premiere “Flake,” the gorgeous single and music video. With sweetly melancholy violin and modal synth pads drifting atop a gentle groove, it perfectly fits its ambling main character through a hyperreal rendered world, in a film directed and animated by Benjamin Muzzin. (Thanks to creative director Lukasz Polowczyk for sending this our way.)

Silky-smooth as this production is, what’s wonderful about Egopusher is, they’re equally tight live. That relaxed vibe in the music comes from a duo whose playing meshes easily in spontaneous, effortless improvisation.

Egopusher is a Swiss instrumental electronica duo, with two musicians who started out doing sessions with Dieter Meier (half of YELLO). That’s Tobias Preisig (violin, synths) and Alessandro Giannelli (drums, synths).

Photo Nuel Schoch

Here’s the basic gear used for instrumentation:

Tobias:
Violin, through EQ and reverb [think that’s a Strymon Big Sky]
Moog Minitaur (little cousin of the mighty Taurus), triggered by MIDI organ foot pedal controller

Alessandro:
Acoustic drum kit
Arturia MiniBrute synthesizer (yep, one hand on kit, one on synth!)

plus for additional electronic instrumentation:
Computer running Ableton Live, triggering effects and additional MIDI
MFB Tanzbär Lite drum machine

They’ve got some terrific live performances for you to take in:

Check out the full album on Bandcamp – beautiful, hypnotic stuff:

https://egopusher.bandcamp.com/album/blood-red

It’s wonderful sometimes how much fine quality music is out there, some of it very much without lots of press hype. And nice when it shows up in the inbox, so keep it coming (even if I can’t respond to it all).

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Noise generator: a chat with Uchi, as LA celebrates electronic sound

Miami-born Uchi is a fresh face as LA collective BL_K NOISE meet up with Berlin’s Raster – and that’s a perfect time to catch up with her and reflect.

Dive in, commit. It’s that moment when the mixer fader is up and you start your live set, the let’s-screw-up-our-lives risk-taking bigger moments we make sometimes for musical passion. It’s the willingness to screw up live and screw up life, maybe.

That sums up why a lot of us are here as well as anything. And so that makes Uchi’s approach refreshing. Just as your email promo inbox is full of drab, sound-alike techno and washes of disinterested distorted ambience, Uchi kind of doesn’t follow any rules. Her DJ sets are diverse and daring, her live sets going deep and abstract and back again. And she talks to us a bit here about that abandon.

It’s also paying off. Uchi has gone from being known in Miami to becoming a regular at Berlin’s most sought-after slots – including Berghain’s upstairs Panorama Bar and its darker, weirder new ground floor Säule. But the best part is, I think we don’t know quite what she’ll do next. There’s a couple of EPs, a full-length album, and various podcasts coming and … well, the hell with predictability. The artists you want to watch are the ones that will surprise you.

January is definitely when we celebrate new music gear, thanks to Anaheim, California’s massive NAMM convention show. But then why not celebrate new noises, too? BLK_NOISE has assembled for Saturday a party made up of artists willing to push their electronic instruments until they hurt. From team USA, you’ve got Richard Devine, Surachai. From Germany, label Raster – the imprint formerly known as Raster Noton – Grischa Lichtenberger, and label co-founder Byetone. (Carsten Nicolai aka Raster Noton is going solo again, reverting his label to Noton.) And then there’s secretive BLK_NOISE anchor Belief Defect, who have feet in both Berlin and LA.

And then there’s Uchi. Let’s get a soundtrack: here’s a CDM exclusive debut, off her upcoming EP. Ingredients: KORG ElecTribe ER-1 [synth], Moog Minifooger [MF] Delay, Eventide Space reverb and “rat distortion.” (I think she means Pro Co RAT, but — this is New York, so…. it could have been, like, an actual rat.)

PK: What’s the set you’re preparing for LA? I loved this noise set that just streamed from Halcyon [in New York].

Uchi: I don’t know what happened there! It’s so weird! I have the recording of it myself; I gotta hear it and see!

I think for this show I’m going to use somewhat similar setup I’ve been using for most noise shows these days, a narrow selection of stuff, and complete improvisation — or zero preliminary sequencing. It’s the first time I’ll try an AV setup, which is exciting!

It seems like you’ve had some pretty significant shifts in your life, your musical direction … especially as some of the folks who will be hearing you in LA as well as our readers may not know you yet, what’s the trajectory been from Miami to Berlin? How did you get where you are currently?

Yeah, I guess there’s been a lot of changes the last couple of years. I lived in Miami since age 10, up until college. After I finished a degree in Computer Science, I took DJing (obtained from radio hosting at University) more seriously, as well as actually working on something I used to do for fun — (Ableton fiddling) making music.

The Boiler Room set came about from Juan Del Valle, now a friend. His influence was to convince me to make a live set. That being said, it was my first live set ever, and it was on Boiler Room – lol! BUT it was a great way to learn how to use hardware! Then Berlin came after the release on Plangent Records, which made the first gig in Panorama Bar happen. That made me decide not to get a flight home, basically.

The interesting thing is that just before I left Miami, everything had already started changing. I was pretty active in the noise scene, which was a whole different level of exploration in music, the exact opposite of composition and programming or what I used to make the Boiler Room set. Noise changed also the way I record, too. It seems I find single takes, and master out mixes more interesting than spending hours on a single detail or mixing down. I guess trying to finish ideas in one day if the case has a lot of details, otherwise just simple pressing record (mistakes included) and room recordings.

I made the album and the last couple EPs basically playing them. Since moving to Europe, which changed literally everything about what I knew, and also playing for promoters in different cities, I’ve had the chance to do something different. Nowadays, I’m combining all influences together — noise improvisation, changing patterns, speed, writing melodies or lack thereof, depending on so many different things. For instance where, when, and for whom each show is prepared for, relative to time, and where things are for me at the moment — it’s never the same. I’m still figuring it out, but if there is something to expect, it should be to expect something new.

These Saüle appearances have been great … in this age and (city!) people can cling to a somewhat narrow and clasutrophobic view of genre, so that’s a relief. Can you talk a little bit about you’ve been playing lately?

Well, I guess Säule was a bit of the turning point. It made me realize its not far-fetched to combine everything into one presentation. Funny you say claustrophobic view of genre! That puts it a bit better in perspective actually. I think the first time was probably one of the most liberating DJ sets of my life, the first time I felt like myself. The struggle of genre has been real for a really long time, but thanks to that lately, I reeeally don’t care for dance floor “rules” too much, and follow just, whatever feels right at the time. I’m curious to what you would describe those gigs as.

Mmm, eclectic? This is why I wouldn’t really call myself a music journalist, just a musician. So to that — what are you using to play for this live set? Not just to sort of get gear-focused, but instead — what does this mean as far as instrumentation, as composition?

For sure, it will be a Moog Mother [Mother-32 synthesizer] running, pitching it sporadically, plus vocal whale sounds … maybe some screaming. Also some Koma Elektronik noises generated from the Field Kit [“electro-acoustic workstation”] and BD101 [analog gate-delay pedal] as main effects, messing with any signal sent to the aux [input] of the Field Kit.

I guess as “composition,” I suppose breaking it down by frequency – the vocal stuff is a lot of mid-range melodic, of course, with a ton of reverb and delay, the Moog for low-end and the Koma stuff for texture, high-pitch screeching, and pulsating static. These have been my favorite pieces of gear to use for noise shows. I made the last album using the Moog heavily, so it’s kind of been my main instrument for almost two years, along with Koma stuff which is heaven for noise freaks — the Moog sounds on another level! And some classic reverb and distortion pedals, Boss DS-1 [distortion pedal, since 1978] and Eventide Space.

What do those instruments mean to you; how do they impact how you play spontaneously?

They are my children!!! I supposed their user interface totally affects how they are played. For example, the large knobs of the Mother and the semi-modular part for patching and combining it with it with the BD10 light sensor (which kind of acts like a theremin), and putting that in the Field Kit mixer, which has got a life of its own. The signals kind of bounce with each other. Feed-backing is waaay fun. Also, the continuity of LFO’s makes it easy to do multiple things at once. Whatever instruments I’m using at the moment play a really large role in every live set, if not the biggest role. I hope to be switching to full-on modular this year! Wish me luck.

Thanks, Uchi!

If you’re in LA, check out the event! I wrote about Belief Defect’s live rig here and for Native Instruments; now it’s America’s turn to get that live. Co-hosted with Decibel Festival:

[BL__K NOISE]: Raster Label Showcase

https://www.facebook.com/uchpuch/

Photos courtesy the artist.

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KOMA’s pedals are discontinued, but leave a mighty 7-year legacy

KOMA Elektronik are discontinuing their BD101 and FT201 pedals after a final limited run. 7 years ago, these products launched an upstart boutique brand.

The BD101 analog gate/delay and FT201 state-variable filter/10-step sequencer were released as two pedals in the now-distinctive KOMA white, way back in 2011. They launched that name in Berlin as the company’s first two products. Now, KOMA says they’ll use up their last parts in one final production run, not expected to last too far into January.

And seven years is a pretty decent lifespan for any product. But these particular pedals accomplished a lot – not only heralding the arrival of KOMA, but part of a generation of gear that marked a new age in boutique, independent devices, often emphasizing analog and underground sounds. Now much of that has been swept up in the Eurorack phenomenon, but it has surely included desktop gear, too.

KOMA for their part have gone on to a range of influential gear, a massive artist following, and even a music label, event series, and community space in their native Neukölln, Berlin. As recounted in the press release:

Over the course of their seven-year existence, the BD101 and FT201 have gone through four production runs, including a 50 unit special black edition and a special edition for Scottish post rock band Mogwai. Their sonic signature can be heard on a ton of records, and its signature white enclosures can be found in top notch recording studios as well as on stage with amongst others electronic musicians Alessandro Cortini, Pole, Addison Groove, Henning Baer, RAC, Jimmy Edgar and more rock oriented musicians like Lee Ranaldo, Vessels, Chvrches and a bunch of noise music legends!

Now, KOMA can take that know-how and make room for new machines. (The press release teases some new things to come. It’d be great to see more pedals, of course!)

CDM has managed to be there for some of this history, like the Musikmesse video I shot (really badly) in the back of a van, since KOMA couldn’t afford a booth at the time. That video makes it into the press release:

Jimmy Edgar walks through those pedals in his studio:

And we’ve had some fun Kodak moments with these things over the years:

Find the pedals back at KOMA – or go pay them a visit at their new community space for music electronics, Common Ground:

www.koma-elektronik.com

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The ControllerHub 8 Lets You Create Your Own Custom, Modular MIDI Pedal Board

At the 2016 Summer NAMM Show, startup company Amelia’s Compass introduced the ControllerHub 8 – a device that lets you connect up to 8 expression pedals and foot switches and create your own custom MIDI pedal board. Company co-founder Steven Christensen gave … Continue reading

New Stompz Module Lets You Integrate Stomp Boxes With Eurorack Modular Systems

Monde Synthesizer’s Stompz module is designed to let you easily use stomp box effects pedals with a Eurorack modular synthesizer. Stompz allows you to integrate guitar stomp boxes into your modular synthesizer. Additionally it provides active multiples and a voltage inverter as auxiliary … Continue reading

Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting

battles

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance.

On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished.

Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.”

There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are some telling moments.

Best quote: “Sometimes people ask if we use a click but we don’t. It’s just music.”

In the ensemble, both looping hardware and software feature prominently – what the band calls “computerness and pedal-land.” In “pedal-land,” bass/guitar player Dave Konopka makes heavy use of Electro-Harmonix gear from hometown NYC (see our recent story and accompanying comments on that topic), plus Line 6 and Boss units and the Gibson Echoplex. There, process is a physical chain of units – he’s capturing and “rephotographing” sound with individual pedals. (The EHX Freeze Sound Retainer is a nice snapshot tool.)

For guitarist, keyboardist, and Ableton Push instrumentalist Ian Williams, who’s naturally in Ableton’s spotlight, all that process is effectively digital. (I notice he’s got the Universal Audio Apollo Twin as interface, as well; I was recently singing the praises of the ability to do DSP live onstage.) The same relationships take place in software instead of being physically cabled between gear.

That said, I find it interesting that the recording process for the band involves a lot of “real-for-real” miking of amps and the like.

battlespush

A lot of the video focuses purely on the compositional process. It’s also noteworthy to see Ian’s approach to Push. Now, to me, one disadvantage of Push is that you lose everything you’ve learned in terms of muscle memory and the sound you produce. But Ian argues that’s a feature, not a bug. “It keeps it kind of strange – that’s the key,” he says, and accordingly shows off Push chops as a way of getting past habits directly to “just listening” as you play. He also uses his multi-instrumentalist approach to make the keyboard sound more like a guitar, guitar more like a keyboard.

I’m fascinated by the way bands use laptops onstage. The reality is, I think we’re all so used to laptops that they aren’t the obstacle they once were – for audience or artist. It comes down not to a philosophical choice so much as an implementation choice, and you should definitely do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Here, it’s nice to see both working.

Also – duct tape on headphones and beds in the studio. You know it.

Enjoy, by way of dessert, the lovely “My Machines” video.

Battles is on Warp Records, so you get a nice connection between the world of the rock band and Ableton’s experimental electronic roots.

https://www.facebook.com/battlestheband/

http://warp.net/artists/battles/

http://bttls.com/

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Eerie Resonance: Listen as a Synth Accompanies Singing Architecture

Dancing about architecture? How about singing about architecture – or architecture that sings?

Burnley England’s Singing Ringing Tree is an abstract sculpture that resonates with the wind. Rising above the grassy hills of Burnley, England, it seems to live at some strange intersection between future and past – a sci-fi Stonehenge. And the project, the 2006 work of British architecture firm Tonkin Liu, makes lovely otherworldly sounds.

John Keston, sound designer and the writer of audio invention recipe blog Audiocookbook, has been making a set of “duets,” coupling more conventional electronic synthesis with the wind-blown ambiences of the SRT construction. He’s surprisingly adept at interweaving these contrasting timbres into dreamy drones, armed with a Novation Bass Station II and the new, more affordable Moog Minifooger Delay pedal.

srt_day_1

Bless USB power – the whole thing runs on an external battery. (The Novation doesn’t have an internal battery compartment, but it can run on an outboard tank.)

The project is coming in seven parts, but I’ll let part 7 out on CDM, as I enjoy the more-exposed synth. No. 1 was released this week on his blog, and is a beautiful example of the sounds melding together.

And do put on headphones – you’ll hear why.

setup

Duet No.1 for Synthesizer and The Singing Ringing Tree

Funding partners that made this happen — all of them, by the way, essential to supporting American musical invention:

American Composers Forum
Jerome Foundation
ACF’s JFund, which supports new music for emerging artists in Minnesota and the 5 boroughs of NYC.

(Note to Jerome: you guys should really just add Berlin as NYC’s sixth borough in which artists can still afford to live. I kid. Sort of.)

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