As we remember Alan R. Pearlman and the impact his instruments had on music, here’s a survey of the many places ARP sounds appeared in music culture. It’s a reminder of just how profound electronic music tools can be in their influence – and of the unique age in which we live.
Perhaps now is the perfect time for an ARP revival. With modular synthesis reaching ever-wider audiences, the ARP creations – the 2500, 2600, and Odyssey featured here – represent something special. Listen across these tracks, and you’re struck by the unique colors of those ARP creations across a range of genres. It’s also significant that each of these designs in their own way struck a balance between modularity and accessibility, sound design and playability. That includes making instruments that had modular patching capability but also produced useful sounds at each patch point by default – that is, you don’t have to wire things up just to make something happen. That in turn also reduces cable spaghetti, because the patch connections you make represent the particular decisions you made deviating from the defaults. On the 2500, this involves a matrix (think Battleship games, kids), which is also a compelling design in the age of digital instruments and software.
And lest we get lost in sound design, it’s also worth noting how much these things get played. In the era of Eurorack, it’s easy to think music is just about tweaking … but sometimes it’s just as useful to have a simple, fresh sound and then just wail on it. (Hello, Herbie Hancock.)
It’s easy to forget just how fast musical sound has moved in a couple of generations. An instrument like the piano or violin evolved over centuries. Alan R. Pearlman literally worked on some of the first amplifiers to head into space – the Mercury and Gemini programs that first sent Americans into space and orbit, prior to Apollo’s journey to the moon. And then he joined the unique club of engineers who have remade music – a group that now includes a lot of you. (All of you, in fact, once you pick up these instruments.)
So I say go for it. Play a preset in a software emulation. Try KORG’s remake of the Odyssey. Turn a knob or re-patch something. Make your own sound design – and don’t worry about whether it’s ingenious or ground-breaking, but see what happens when you play it. (Many of my, uh, friends and colleagues are in the business of creating paid presets, but I have the luxury of making some for my own nefarious music production purposes that no one else has to use, so I’m with you!)
David Abravanel puts together this playlist for CDM:
Some notes on this music:
You know, we keep talking about Close Encounters, but the actual sound of the ARP 2500 is very limited. The clip I embedded Monday left out the ARP sound, as did the soundtrack release of John Williams’ score. The appearance is maybe more notable for the appearance of ARP co-founder David Friend at the instrument – about as much Hollywood screen time as any synth manufacturer has ever gotten. Oh, and … don’t we all want that console in our studio? But yes, following this bit, Williams takes over with some instrumental orchestration – gorgeous, but sans-ARP.
So maybe a better example of a major Hollywood composer is Jerry Goldsmith. The irony here is, I think you could probably get away with releasing this now. Freaky. Family Guy reused it (at the end). We’ll never defeat The Corporation; it’s true.
It’s also about time to acknowledge that Stevie Wonder combined Moog and ARP instruments, not just Moog. As our industry looks at greater accessibility, it’s also worth noting that Wonder was able to do so without sight.
What about U2? Well, that’s The Edge’s guitar routed through the ARP 2600 for filter distortion and spring reverb. That’s a trick you can steal, of course – especially easily now that Arturia has an emulation of the 2600.
Expect our collective reader knowledge exceeds anything we can contribute so – let us know what other artists using ARP inspired you, and if you have any notes on these selections.
Just as mixes need transitions, humans need pauses. So while some of the divisions of time are arbitrary, we need moments to step back and recollect. So CDM asked a cross-selection of producers and DJs to choose music from 2016 to begin our year. Maybe now – as the vacation spirit is wearing off and task lists are looming – maybe now is the time we need those most.
This particular group of humans generally resisted the idea of making charts, as an empty exercise. But I suppose some of those individuals are the very people whose music selections I value most – because they actually reflect on this a bit and choose something meaningful. So, arm twisting where necessary, we got this. Several colleagues included moments of reflection spent over the new year’s holiday looking back across the whole year. Some even did their digging while preparing for New Year’s gigs.
Anyone who says they’ve got the “best” music of the year is probably out of touch with just how much music the planet is making. But here, we have an honest selection of music that moved people. And we get to meet some of the people making those picks. I hope you enjoy.
Alan Oldham to me is the embodiment of electronic music futurism as it has radiated from Detroit. Apart from being an exceptional DJ and producer (as DJ T-1000), he’s also a leading comic book artist and one of the most desirable people anywhere to design your record sleeve. This is someone who can illustrate electronic fantasies in sound or image. So his picks are a wonderful place to start.
Dasha needs little introduction – the Russian native, Berlin-based producer and DJ does a bit of everything, from experimental to techno. She helms the beautifully unique Fullpanda, is brilliant in live electronic performance across genre, and has made appearances on the likes of raster-noton.
And I think Dasha came up with my favorite response to these. She chose just one track – one favorite from the past two years. And she said she doesn’t like the forced exercise of selecting charts and numbering them, or DJs charting their own music – all of which I appreciate. (Though in this case I specifically said to DJs, I was happy to see their own tracks in there, too – because I chose producers I love.)
But here’s her one track – and this one selection says a lot, and is worth some time. (The label is a favorite round here at CDM, Nordanvind Records.)
Korridor – “Somnolence”
Noncompliant (also known as DJ Shiva or Lisa Ess) is a powerhouse of midwest techno and a talent whose moment has come. 2016 was a prelude to what is yet to come, I think, with a Berlin debut and devastating new techno cuts. So apart from a deep insight into politics and unending oasis of empathy, Lisa is your go-to cat when you want grimy, powerful techno.
It’s also worth highlighting some of the picks here. The lose of Cherushii aka Chelsea Faith was not only personally devastating to many, but heart breaking because her music represented some of the richest possibility in the scene now. How that continues will be a topic to come.
I was fortunate to get to seek out Zeno for our new Establishment imprint, because I already knew and loved his music tastes. So drawing on his own rich experimental background and creative taste, here are some more experimental selections for our list. We’ll be talking more to Zeno this week about his own work, too. But of course, I’m especially fond of the Grischa Lichtenberger music here – see our recent interview.
[Epilepsy warning – but otherwise, this video is amazing]
Esther Dune at Berlin’s Gegen party.
Bridging the Amsterdam and Berlin scenes and a regular ring-leader of some of the better appearances literally underground at Tresor, Esther is an unsung techno champion. And like the others here, she’s got a long battle history in labels, production, and DJing. I actually insisted that she select some of her own label and production efforts for that reason – you don’t want to miss them. And it starts with this beautiful, weird track by Jimmy Asquith, the man behind Lobster Theremin records.
You’re probably going to want a record player in order to acquire a lot of this, FYI. Esther’s meticulous personality also means she’s the only one who gave us catalog numbers.
Myles Serge / Duijn & Douglas – Split EP (A1 Myles Serge -The art of shadow thoughts) [Another Earth AE101]
John Heckle – Tribute to a Sun God (B1 Mesopotamia) [Bedouin Records BDN010]
Esther, as I lack a meticulous personality, I’m not totally certain this is the right L.I.E.S. cut, but … it’s also too nice to share if not.
Meanwhile, here’s one of hers – delicious:
And quite fond of this whole John Heckle record:
Hayden Payne, New York-to-Berlin transplant (a phrase associated with NYC now much like “world champion New York Yankees) is one of the brightest up and coming techno acts. His now-regular sets at Berghain are deliciously gothic and adventurous. And I think his taste are a beautiful hype-free window into what’s happening in the international electronic scene, what’s driving the queues at these clubs beyond just hype, and what is genuinely fresh and enjoyable and new. And sure enough, he delivered a lovely reminder of some favorites of mine, ones I’m sure will appeal here.
Apart from liking Grischa’s latest as much as apparently the rest of us do, Kyoka is a person whose live sets and music consistently come up when chatting with the others here. The second raster-noton inclusion on this list apart from Dasha, I added Kyoka because of her intelligence and enthusiasm. So, we’ll get some repetition, but I think well-deserved – these are tracks a lot of us couldn’t stop listening to last year, and may still look forward to savoring this year.
004_241 B – Grischa Lichtenberger
Bound State – Ueno Masaaki
Dark Barker – kangding ray
Twistet In the Wind – Frank Bretschneider
a1_entrance_m_v2 – Eomac
Cause to emit sound – DJ SODEYAMA
Just Face It – DJ Git Hyper
From Moscow to Copenhagen, Anastasia has emerged as a brilliant connector – she’s someone who manages to seem to be everywhere, know everyone, but then apply that social intelligence to greater musical depth. And I asked her here because her sets and mixes are diverse and not just cookie-cutter creations.
yen towers – bid II, posh isolation
ctrls – the wave, token
air max’97 – thrall, decisions
dreams – headhunter, nous disques
rx 101 – 101 reasons, saction
jamaica suk – Depth Between Waves, L.A.G.
melly – skip fire, where to now?
rommek – solvent, blueprint records
ken ishii – extra (7th plain remix), a-ton
imaski – hyperloop, (Establishment)
Photo: Michael Breyer.
Susanne Kirchmyer just played a brutal set at about blank his weekend. To those in the know, she’s simply a legend – a foundation of the European scene. She’s also been active in transforming the face of the scene to come, through her work with Female Pressure.
Now, like Dasha, Susanne straddles experimental and techno, AV performance and dancefloor in her own work. Unlike Dasha, Susanne’s rebellion to “name five to ten tracks” was to go with more instead of less. But that reflects her collections, too, so let’s have at all of it!
10 chosen most significant:
Born In Flamez x Modeselektor – TBF [XLR8]
Perc – Ma [Stroboscopic Artefacts 026]
Monolake – Error (VLSI Version) [Imbalance Computer Music ML-032]
B12 – Core Meltdown [FireScope 003]
Rrose – Emboli [Khemia 002]
Adriana Lopez – En Ningun Lugar [Modularz 25]
Headless Horseman – Under The Earth [the29nov 001]
Annie Hall – Hyssop [Subspec 035]
Sky Deep – Woman & The Gun feat. Hevî [female-pressure – Music- Awareness & Solidarity w- Rojava Revolution]
Annie Hall – Herschel [CPU 00011100]
Other tracks that I wanted to be in the top 10:
Orphx – Blood in the Streets [Sonic Groove LP02]
Alhek – The Voice Of Cement Buildings [Mechanical Thoughts LP01]
Antigone & Francois X – Ready To Escape [DEMENT3D 012]
Scalameriya – Ambidextrous [Genesa 006V]
Angelina Yershova – Immersion [Twin Paradox 003]
Silent Harbour – Dock Operations [Transcendent LP001]
Shlømo – The Ritual [Wolfskuil LTD 029]
Kero / Gotshell – Samaria District [Blueprint 047]
More tracks that I really like:
Simo Cell – Away From Keyboard [Livity Sound 021]
Shifted – Clairvoyance Part II [Drifting Over 001]
Dimi Angélis – Dwarf Planets [Construct Re-Form 012]
Insolate – Renew [Out of Place 002]
Trinity – Orchard [Coincidence 074]
DJ Red – Sweet Silence [Electric Deluxe 047]
Klaudia Gawlas – Obsession [Credo 038]
Etapp Kyle – Ahora [Ostgut Unterton 08]
Actually, 2016 was a very good year listening to the music I collected
Kevin McHugh, aka Ambivalent, but impressing lately as techno act LA4A, is our consummate tasteful last entry here. I appreciate that Kevin actually said he enjoyed picking these for this task. And he’s worth quoting here, because I feel some of his music was the most underrated of the year – even though it was also widely selected by our group of contributors as some of our favorite.
Morphology – Vector Plant – DUM
Physical Therapy – 909 Reasons Why – Delft
Amotik – Terah – Amotik
Avalon Emerson – Glider Gun – Valence
Emmanuel – Masa – Enemy
Vernon Felicity – Defender – Delft
TAFKAMP – I Laf You – Paling Trax
Ambivalent – Whyou (Michael Mayer Remix) – Kompakt
Camea – Signs (Andre Kronert) -Neverwhere
Truncate – Wave 1 – Truncate
Now, this is my kind of New Year’s Resolution. Because listening to all of this makes me want to go discover more and make more music. Unlike those forgotten new year’s gym memberships, this is fitness that is addictive.
And I hope we’ll visit these friends here more throughout the year. That’s a resolution to keep.
Let’s be clear: there should be no excuse for the press in our sphere, including this outlet, to treat International Women’s Day as a chance simply to talk about women in music. That obligation is year-round and daily, or we simply aren’t doing our jobs. But that’s not the origin of Women’s Day, anyway. The history, rather, is one rooted in organizing for change. (Like so much modern grassroots advocacy, indeed, it comes from the labor movement just after the turn of the last century.) It’s about people working finding fair opportunities for their work.
Focusing energies around an annual check-up on fairness, opportunity, and change seems necessary. There’s a broad spectrum of that in our community today. Here are just a few selections.
Evaluating the problem – a lack of gender diversity in electronic music – is now well-trodden territory. But now it seems the scope of the conversation is growing, to understanding how this symptom is related to deeper issues around discrimination (particularly the ways in which young women are discouraged from technical and engineering work), and how to change the biases in the structures through which music is presented.
Some of the most active work in actually changing the problem, not just describing it, has come from powerful collectives that have spent many years growing.
Discwoman, based in New York, raise the profile of female, queer, and transgender artists – and they’re increasingly on a mass market, international stage.
Discwoman, centered in New York, can now be found taking over Mixmag and showcasing artists at Miami’s Winter Music Conference. Founders Frankie Hutchinson, Emma Burgess-Olson, and Christine Tran are featured in a new documentary short on the group, joined by artists The Black Madonna, Nicole Moudaber, Star Eyes, Sandunes, Demian Licht, and Nina Sonik. In Miami, more favorite artists are on the bill – Honey Dijon, Laura Jones, and Tokimonsta. I have to say The Black Madonna and Honey Dijon each blew me away the last time I heard them at Panorama Bar – and this is why any conversation about “diversity” is also a conversation about “quality,” about the health of our music community. A WMC with these artists featured more prominently is simply a better WMC, full stop.
The group, it should be said, is also dedicated to queer and transgender artists, not only “women” per se.
Another group leading activity in the USA is Womens Audio Mission. They’re a great resource for production, all round, not only doing advocacy but teaching kids about music and highlighting terrific projects:
female:pressure is a collective we’ve covered with some frequency on CDM (and they’ve been terrifically prolific). In recent events, they’ve also dialed up the depth of the conversation.
In September, they tackled the interlinked questions of genre and gender, assembling, across genres, Emika (Electronic Pop, UK/Czech Republic), Sarah Farina (Rainbow Bass, Germany), Gudrun Gut (Experimental electronica, Germany), and Phia (DIY-pop, Australia):
As with the collectives above, the goal is increasingly to effect real, concrete change, not just “raise awareness” or have some discussions. With a real business imperative involved, dBs – a music education institution – has launched a “dialogues” series with female:pressure to look at why so many of their (and other students) are guys.
“Why aren’t more women studying music production?” is the question, with a five-part series now in progress investigating:
1. visibility and the role of media (role models)
2. prior education and exposure (social stereotypes)
3. politics and philosophy (feminism, gender, activism)
4. the creative approach (& impact of previous topics)
5. future of the industry (money, business, power; the idea of success)
One of the richest discussions I’ve heard in recent years came from CTM Festival two years ago – and it’s very much out of the realm of the usual chatter on the topics, going deeper into theory and re-imagining the whole problem. It’s epic – part of the reason I’m late in writing it up is I had fantasies, never realized, of trying to respond to everything they raise – but well worth devoting some time to hear in its far-reaching entirety. The contributors each compelling:
Sadie Plant (UK/CH): “Mixing music, cybernetics, and feminism.”
Susanne Kirchmayr (AT): “Generative transformations – Deviate from the grid” (which gives you Susanne’s background in linguistics as well as in music; you might also know her as the awesome producer/DJ Electric Indigo)
Fender Schrade (DE): “Performing Between Their Bodies And Your Ears. Stories of a Trans*gendered Live Sound Engineer.”
Marie Thompson (UK): “Feminizing noise”
Advocacy groups and collectives are going beyond simple “raised awareness” as an objective, looking to material calls to action. The issue advocacy not-for-profit turn(the)tables on, which states its goal as seeking social change from dance music culture, has made a call for today organizing for charts on services like Beatport that highlight women:
That could have a ripple effect, since these services then become the basis for other DJs, producers, the press, and so on to assemble their own lists. Some of the results are already commendable, too. For instance, from Kritzkom:
Jennifer was evidently asked by Beatport to make her list (with some people who are personal inspiration to me, like Aurora Halal, Erika, Xosar, rRoxymore… I could go on). But her comment is telling, and is a reminder that International Women’s Day should not become a token day to suddenly promote women – while ignoring them the rest of the year. As she says, “Too many women making outstanding music, this list could have been much longer!” Indeed. But then, that suggests that the problem shouldn’t be what’s posted on “Women’s Day,” but addressing what isn’t posted the rest of the year.
But perhaps the boldest project out today is one from female:pressure, and its goals reach much further. The project deserves its own in-depth coverage, but it seems to fit the context here if for no other reason than by way of contrast.
female:pressure have chosen today not to simply do another generic compilation of female artists, but one with a specific political cause in mind.
Today, the group’s musical release caps off a series of outreach events and talks organized to highlight The Foundation of Free Women in Rojava, a non-profit effort whose goals are no less than building a new society for women.
The project represents a rare collaboration between European artists and activists in the Kurdish regions of Syria (in areas the Kurds call Kurdistan). Thirty years of Kurdish resistance against Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey have provided a revolutionary template for the role of women in society, as women have taken on leadership in what can be stateless conditions. Those Kurdish organizers came in contact the western artists of female:pressure, and the dialog prompted a request from Syria for an artistic response.
This is not the brand of social media-friendly feminism that you’re likely to see elsewhere today; the resistance here is armed, and according to activists, a line of defense against violent attacks by Islamic State.
female:pressure describes the project as “revolution”:
female:pressure is launching an awareness and solidarity campaign for the cantons of #Rojava (located in northern Syria), where women participate on all levels of decision making and building a new society from scratch, with built-in social, racial and ethnic justice, religious freedom, ecological principles and gender equality.
With a series of music, media and sound art to listen, dance and fight to, we would like to send our love and strength to these women and spread a positive message in support of their efforts.
Antye Greie-Ripatti, aka AGF:poemproducer, is a self-described pacifist, so I asked her how she dealt with the topic of armed resistance. She answered,
we advocate the right of self defense
and we respect other womens choices under severe violent threats
She and I both discussed the idea that pacifism was something we can more easily endorse in our relatively safe Berlin.
It was the International Free Women‘s Foundation – the Kurdish organizers – who asked female:pressure to listen to their story, says AGF, and the group wanted to respond.
we stand with these women
we are inspired by them
and we want to learn
There are musical threads, as well. Activist “Hevî” (a psuedonym meaning “hope” in Kurdish) spent time in Rojava in Syria, and came to collaborate with Berlin-based artist Sky Deep. Music producer/DJ/curator Ipek Ipekcioglu has been invited to play at the first international music festival to be held in the autonomous canton of South Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, and has collaborated with Kurdish musicians in Turkey and around the world; she joined discussions with the others at CTM Festival last month and advocates on political issues.
The musical context is expanded to an open call, with twelve selections out today.
On Mixcloud, you can hear some additional discussion:
I imagine not everyone would feel invested in this issue, or perhaps agree with the approach. (I hope, as well, that CDM isn’t hacked again by anti-Kurdish Turkish nationalists – seriously, that happened early in the site’s life, so it would be a second time.) AGF tells us “we do not all agree on everything, we are still making a conversation,” adding, “I think we must support each other.”
But to come full circle, this is a reminder that “Women’s Day” was never simply a day for women. It was a day meant to lead to radical activism and protest and political change.
And what makes the musical thread unique in this case is that it can bring together – as it did Sky Deep and Hevî, according to their notes on their musical collaboration:
Sky Deep and Hevî are friends from two completely different worlds yet somehow, this song is a result of our worlds and passions combined. This song was born from the internal journeys that happen within the external environments that we endure everyday of our existence. It is a special moment when two people come together with intersecting journeys that result in art PLUS activism. We work towards freedom every day. This song is a piece of our soul. Hope lives in these frequencies.
In that context, it seems, the role of Women’s Day to some artists has returned to its social justice origins.
If you have projects you wish to share from today, let us know in comments.
If DJing with vinyl leaves traces in our memory, recollections of physical handling of album sleeves and crates, then for digital DJing, we must rely on data. Traktor DJ is quietly noting everything you do as you play – at the gig, in the studio. The key is how to do something with that data.
The coolest trick came last month from our friend Tomash Ghz – he of the superb Digital Warrior, among others. (Very keen to get back to my desk in Berlin to muck about with the latest step sequencer there, but I digress.)
Tomash has whipped up a free tool that works out what music is at the top of your charts. It’s a tool for automation, to be sure – but it’s also an accurate window into what you’ve played. You can look by month, then see the top ten artists, labels, and tracks. It might encourage you to play more tracks in Traktor, even as you listen to music. And the code is all in Processing, meaning even an amateur coder/hacker can have a look and learn something – or make their own tool. (Visualizations, anyone?)
This illustrates something, too. By opting for plain-text, easily-readable data storage, Native Instruments opened the door to this kind of user mod without having to do any work or add support costs. This should be the norm in the industry, not the exception.
Here are some other tricks for working with playlists and history.
Explore the past. In addition to the History tab, you can find tracks you’ve played as long as you’ve used Traktor in Explorer > Archive. From there, you can generate new playlists and the like.
Export to Web pages. You can export playlists to webpage and not just Traktor’s own playlist format, which gives you a format you could easily edit for track listings on MixCloud and the like. Right-click on your playlist to choose the export option.
Takeaway playlists. Traktor on iPad and iPhone is a great way to mess about with playlists on the go. Native Instruments has a helpful tutorial on the topic.
What’s sorely missing in Traktor is the ability to fully sync playlists and history between iOS and desktop. That’s too bad. Even just as a journalist, I’d love to use Traktor on my phone when traveling as a way of selecting and charting music; as a DJ, doubly so.
So, I’d like to see NI develop this side of their tools, particularly as they have the leading desktop/mobile combination. And it’d be great to see all music software makers think more about how users can access data about what they’re doing. It’s essential for DJs, but could also be helpful for production.
With a mind-boggling amount of music released daily, the DJ might be more important than ever. The word “curation” is overused … how about selection, or filter? If you’re like me, you’ve grown reliant in at least some genres on mixes from favorite artists and journalists just to skim the good stuff of the top. The best is really amazing. The rest is really abundant.
And, for that matter, who says mobile devices aren’t useful to DJing? (Stay with me – these two ideas connect.)
Here’s the thing: Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ has skyrocketed to success partly because the touch interface it uses is stunningly intuitive. Getting through your library is simply faster. Finding interesting mixes, mucking with how tracks go together, tapping your way through loop points — faster. In fact, it’s notably better than another popular DJ tool – sorry, Native Instruments, but it’s more fun and more accessible to pick up Traktor DJ on iOS than it is to wade through Traktor Pro’s desktop UI.
This speed couples with the ability to work with Traktor DJ anywhere. So, sure, there are reasons other than ease that could keep you on Traktor for desktop. But when you’re away from your desktop…
And that’s where Traktor on iOS becomes truly indispensable. Suddenly, that pile of music you want to dig through is something you can pull up on a bus trip, or sitting on your couch.
Traktor 1.5 is a relatively minor, if welcome, free update to the US$9.99 app. The Beat Grid works more accurately, snaps magnetically, and lets you pinch to zoom. There are performance and reliability enhancements. There’s a new “SuperSlicer” available for in-app purchase, with some useful and fun effects (reverse, slice), and some others that make you sound like you’re faking turntablism badly (scratch, brake, pitch shift). (Well, okay, maybe some of you can make them sound not tacky. See the obligatory video below – it is, at least, very fun.)
But there’s one huge feature, long overdue: History Playlists.
You see, the way I expect most DJs will want to use Traktor on the road is as a satellite for other tools – CDJs, desktop DJ apps. Traktor already gave you the ability to sync loop points, but, while that’s cool, that’s a relatively niche application. Most of you are more likely to use this as a way to dig through tracks on the go, then turn them into mixes and DJ sets – either mixing right on the iPad, or going back to your main tool of choice.
Now, Traktor can keep track of what you’ve played, generating set list and mix ideas on the go, whether you finish them in Traktor or elsewhere. It’s even more essential on iPhone – you’re not DJing with your phone, but you might use some spare time to navigate the latest music.
And that completes a list of skills Traktor on iOS has built over time:
It’s great for digital crate-digging. Drop some of the music you want to check out on your iPad or iPhone (especially if you have it set to manual sync), and go to town. Browsing the library with your fingertips is fast, and using a mobile gadget to whittle down your music library is a no-brainer. (In fact, the very thing that makes it annoying for serious DJing – limited storage – is ideal for this application.)
NI’s automatic matching algorithms sometimes come up with comically bad ideas. But either way, it’s a win, too: when it’s right, it makes it easy to navigate huge libraries of music and find mates. When it’s wrong, it can actually spark some creativity.
Mess with effects and touch sound. Traktor’s iOS interface is also an exceptional way to mess with effects (via X/Y controls), with a growing collection included. And touching sound directly makes a lot more sense for looping and other manipulations. A lot of it isn’t so serious, but it’s fun to mess around with, too.
No more excuses – finish those mixes. There’s a record button, and plenty of fool-proof controls, and enough effects and touchable slice manipulations to keep it interesting. So, if procrastination keeps you from connecting your DJ control surface, maybe this will get you to the task.
DJ on call. If anyone knows you know anything about music, they expect you to DJ, anywhere, any time. It’s the new digital equivalent of the days when your family made you play piano at all their get-togethers, knowing you were taking lessons. Now, maybe you won’t play a 10,000-person festival crowd using your iPad. But your friend’s party? Sure.
It can still fit into a stage rig. I think for serious DJ sets, you’ll want more storage and more tactile controls. But paired with the Kontrol Z1, you do get basic physical mixing controls and separate headphone outs, in a very compact package. That can make Traktor on iOS useful as a backup for a live set (or extended DJ set).
I was going to list some downside here, but I … can’t. I’m not sure this is reason to get an iPad or iPhone if you don’t have one, but it’s equally hard to argue against spending ten bucks to add this if you do. There are some very strong other DJ offerings, but I find Traktor superior in terms of sound fidelity, effects, and ease of navigating the library, as well as overall how clean and accessible the UI is. You might choose Algoriddim djay for its superior controller support, but that only becomes relevant if you’re intending to replace your laptop or hardware.
I’m as keen as everyone else to see where Traktor and its rivals go next with computer DJing. (And there’s the question of Pioneer’s next move, apart from getting into the turntable business.) But for now, I think Traktor on iOS is one of the most useful tools out there. Even casual DJs and those who are mainly producers will probably find a reason to keep it in their toolset.
Until now, though, I didn’t use it nearly as much as I’d like because of the history question. So now… it’s on.
Moogfest in 2011: bands space aliens can enjoy. Photo courtesy Moogfest.
Okay, perhaps Moogfest has a built-in advantage in its theme. Affection for Moog among synth aficionados is akin to affection for chocolate or unicorns – perhaps not universal, but darned widespread and passionate.
But looking at the lineup for Moogfest, it’s apparent how the name of just one early pioneer of electronic musical instruments can resonate across genres. The festival, which once began as a humble gathering of a few names in music, continues to expand its roster of artists as the weekend of October 26-27 approaches in Asheville, North Carolina. And while electronic music fans might balk at the number of sheer bands, perhaps that says something about the state of live music festivals in the United States: it really is an eclectic scene of artists, and they really are indebted to rock-and-roll, and they really do like things like Moogerfoogers and Voyagers (among other things).
There are some more experimental entries, though, too, returning Moogfest to some of its earlier roots, the titan being none other than Morton Subotnick. Subotnick’s ongoing legacy surely pits him as one of the great composers in electronic music, and an innovator in interaction and design, to boot. (What I think is harder to measure, in fact, is Subotnick’s impact on other artists, composers, and designers, though that’s the topic for another time. And oh yes, he used Buchla synths and not just Moog modulars. The Moog name can be a great window for people into the wider landscape of instrument history.)
Buchla fans may still be waiting for Buchlafest, but you get Maestro Morton Subotnick at Moogfest. Photo (CC-BY) Ethan Hein.
From our friends at the fest, we’re happy to share a Spotify playlist of some of the music. There are some terrific tracks in there — some of my favorite Four Tet, Squarepusher, Prefuse 73, and Carl Craig cuts make the list, but watch in particular for Subotnick’s landmark “Silver Apples of the Moon,” to say nothing of hearing Orbital cover Doctor Who (by Derbyshire/Grainer at BBC).
It’s the third edition of the festival “under new ownership” – there was a New York rendition for a time, and a more informal gathering before that. (I do hope that the unofficial alternate Roguefest happens again this year – organizers, let us know.) But it appears that Moogfest is really coming into its own in the new format.
Generations and imaginative musical diversity: it says something about the state of music with electronic instruments to hear the work of Squarepusher, the ground-breaking bleeps of Carl Craig, and the vocals of Julie Holter (sounding in this compilation very much carrying the torch lit by Kate Bush). Photos courtesy Moogfest.
Explosions in the Sky
The Magnetic Fields
GZA presents Liquid Swords
Pantha Du Prince
Shpongle presents The Masquerade
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin
Mouse on Mars
Prefuse 73 with Teebs
Morton Subotnick presents From Silver Apples to a Sky of Cloudless Sulfur
Bear in Heaven
Harold Budd with Keith Lowe*
Buke & Gase
Wick-It the Instigator
From the festival’s 2011 highlights, here’s a look at the atmosphere of the event in video reel form:
The weather outside is frightful, but the hi-fi is so delightful. Let it snow. Photo (CC-BY) Junichiro AOYAMA, Kyoto.
From Berlin’s Melissa Taylor and Tailored Communication, for my money, just about the best publicist for electronic music out there, we get one epic playlist. If you’re lucky enough to get one holiday or another (Christmas? Boxing Day?) in the next few days, fire up this terrific playlist. You get a full range, from some favorites of mine in 2011 like best-of-toppers Sepalcure, Ghostly’s Mark E, mainstay Thomas Fehlmann, Four Tet, and many more.
It’s exceptional quality stuff, perfect to settle back and take your ears and musical mind on a much-needed vacation.