In case you haven’t seen it, Nine Inch Nails has taken to the multi-touch Lemur control surface and More Buttons Than Thou top-end Monome. There’s a short video of an experiment combining the two with a real (MIDI-enabled) Yamaha piano. It’s just under a minute, but already evocative — I’m not entirely sure why Alessandro is manning the touchpad on his laptop given all this hardware around, but the cascading patterns on the Monome suggest both LED art and a digital take on a player piano.

More videos on the official NIN YouTube page, which has recently launched a visuals contest for interpreting music from the new album.

But lest you think you need all that pricey hardware to make use of an unusual tool, look no further than MilkyTracker. Platform wars end here: MT runs on Windows (95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista), Mac OS X (PowerPC, Intel), Linux (x86, 64-bit x86, PowerPC), Linux game/mobile platforms (GP2X, ARM), UNIX (FreeBSD x86), and Windows CE. Wowsa. And it’s all yours for a donation, if you can spare one. Heck, there are even video tutorials on the site.

But geekdom aside, I love that MilkyTracker ninjas can make so much music out of so little. Without taking on the aesthetic style here, if that’s not your thing, it’s a reminder that economical choices with your tech can produce all kinds of different sounds. So, maybe rather than loading that preset, try to construct a drum kit out of basic waveforms.


Video by extrabajs; for some reflections on MilkyTracking, see our friend thumbuki — who, speaking of doing more with less, is working with an OLPC. Economical hardware use is back in an age of power efficiency and computing beyond the deep-pocketed “first world” — and everything old is new again:

Milky Tracker @ thumbuki

What? MilkyTracker is fanning the flames of a platform war with the Atari ST? No worries: MaxYmizer is a newly updated (yep, you read that right) tracker tool for the Atari platform. Polyphonic MIDI input and MIDI clock output means it should easily integrate with your existing studio. See the Digital Tools blog for full details.

  • monoman

    That isn't Trent, actually.

    That is Alessandro, synth guy for NIN.

  • Doh… I knew that, and yet I wrote something completely wrong anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

  • bobobobobo

    have milky for bout a year or more. its pretty cool.

    i tried renoise and IMO it suckzzz so bad! its like putting a ps3 cd in a sega genesis… damn…

  • guidedbyVOIP

    Okay, I have a Commodore64 just waiting to knock some heads on Milky. For realz. Its in my closet, manual, box and all. Don't play. I'll load some trackers on that…like tomorrow or something. I'm bored, what else can I say?

  • Sure, I'm up for it. Bring on the battle of the trackers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • mex

    That video is stupid. Just because its a well-known person… its ooooo…aaaaahh… so amazing, lets talk about it… no. its boring. its some guy playing his monome using an free app called flin. Big deal. Boring.

  • vvvoid

    Just because its a well-known person… its ooooo…aaaaahh…

    true, that. i'm sure the dude can and will do some interesting stuff with that kit ('tho I'm no nin fan) but c'mon, it's all about celebrity, here.

  • Well, we got a number of tips on the NIN video — not necessarily from celebrity chasers — so I felt it was worth sharing. I do agree that it's not quite fleshed out. I think it does illustrate that some of this technology is getting recognition from people in those circles.

    Alessandro, the guy who does the synths from NIN whom I initially failed to credit(!) because I had a brain fart, does do some great synth programming. So maybe the lesson here is about celebrity — I'm always for giving attention to people doing great stuff, and think they should be celebrities, and in this case Alessandro is far lesser-known than Trent. No reason you can't know both.

  • i had this idea years ago (along with a lot of cdm readers, i'm sure), but i can't afford a MIDI player piano.


  • Okay, for anyone who didn't find *this* inspiring, still more inspiration ๐Ÿ˜‰

    By the way, if you haven't heard NIN's Ghosts, give it a listen (you can get half of it for free). It's a *very* different instrumental album. I agree that celebrity shouldn't be a reason to pay attention to more artists than others, but on the other hand, no reason to let it stop you from appreciating something, either.

  • Milkytracker is fast tracker 2 inspired. For the impulse tracker fans there's schism tracker. Been using schism for 6 months now and it's great!

  • it’s all about celebrity, here.

  • Mr. Sophistication

    hmm… extrabajs means "extra poo" in Swedish…

  • xpez2000

    he is adjusting the BPM in the FLIN by tehn program and thats why you see everything speed up.