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One new board turns into a complete sound and light lab

This board could be the first time you learn about wiring simple circuits. It could transform into a weirdo light-powered instrument. It could be a place you hold a workshop. It could even become an advanced studio for creative circuits. It’s powerful if you know what you’re doing. It’s still cool if you don’t. The OMSynth miniLab realizes a dream hardware inventor and artist Pete Edwards had been brewing for years. He tested that dream in iteration after iteration in workshops, usually involving bags of circuits and breadboards (the latter allowing for solder-free connections). And it moved with him to …

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Grieving for Oakland’s lost, imagining what comes next

“Community” is a word we use too much, until it doesn’t mean anything. “The dance music community.” “The electronic music community.” And then in extreme moments, it’s a word whose meaning again becomes plain. That was the sense for a lot of people over the weekend, as news rippled of the people lost in Oakland. Friends grieve their friends and lovers. They grieve lost role models and sources of music and inspiration. These events touch people who were intimate — and touch people who were strangers. A person you played with once, a person you heard once … or your …

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Look inside the world of cassette tape culture in this short film

The 21st Century is bringing a yearning for physical objects and low fidelity – two threads that perfectly combine in the anachronistic cassette tape. Now, I find talking about cassettes tends to get some chortles, perhaps people mumbling under their breath about hipsters. But as production times and costs rise for producing vinyl, cassettes are a way of producing consumable goods on the cheap, quickly. And that makes them a likely antidote to the ephemeral digital file, in a way that the bland office equipment of a USB stick is unlikely to accomplish. Burn to tape, then, and you’ve got …

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Transmissions from the magnetic ooze, in new oqko video premiere

Let’s take an unsettling journey into some black goo. No, trust me – it’s going to be a good time. “Hysteresis” is the new underground audiovisual release from the anonymous duo “-N.” The only way to get the music release is on cassette tape. There was never even a digital master made; they went straight to tape master via analog. And then there’s the video, which premieres exclusively here on CDM – because we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the world’s tastemaker black goo fans. But the video is otherworldly and beautiful. Shot with the grainy quality of …

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Modal’s Craft Synth is a surprising £79.00 monosynth

Imagine if Boeing or Airbus, in the midst of releasing airliners, suddenly unveiled a paper airplane kit for kids. The Modal Craft Synth isn’t that extreme – but maybe it’s close. Unlike their flagship synth, a monster luxury instrument that will set you back about five grand (USD), the Craft Synth is kit priced. £79.00 (about US$100 at the moment) buys you a complete monosynth. It’s labeled a “kit,” but you snap together pre-made circuit boards – think IKEA lay-flat cleverness. Of course, at that price, you don’t get a case or any particularly high-quality or rugged components. But if …

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Franck's work Flesh. Courtesy the artist.

Interview – Franck Vigroux is celebrating technology but resisting normality

Can you look deep into dystopias, and the darkest uses of technology for surveillance, and come away optimistic? Can you work across every medium imaginable, eschewing any particular style or genre, yet retain a voice? For the answer to these questions through an artist with a unique level of experience and a long-standing body of work, CDM’s Zuzana Friday talks to Franck Vigroux. It’s a vision of a dark future that might just encourage you. -Ed. Looking at Franck Vigroux’s resume, you’d never imagine he’d fly under the radar. Yet this award-winning, endlessly touring, prolific collaborator of a musician only …

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You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use. With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.) First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some …

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A call for emotion in musical inventions, at Berlin hacklab

Moving beyond stale means of framing questions about musical interface or technological invention, we’ve got a serious case of the feels. For this year’s installment of the MusicMakers Hacklab we host with CTM Festival in Berlin, we look to the role of emotion in music and performance. And that means we’re calling on not just coders or engineers, not just musicians, and performers, but psychologists and neuroscientists and more, too. The MusicMakers Hacklab I was lucky enough to found has now been running with multiple hosts and multiple countries, bringing together artists and makers of all stripes to experiment with …

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Delia Derbyshire gets her own road

Here’s a sure new pilgrimage site for electronic music fans. Late great composer Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop will have a street named after her in her hometown of Coventry, as reported by the BBC. And because Delia is more than a composer, but a state of mind: Pete Chambers BEM, director of The Coventry Music Museum, was among those to campaign for the recognition. He said: “Originally it was to be named Derbyshire Road, but I suggested “Way” instead, so it gave a double meaning, as Delia was a genius and strong personality and really did do …

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Pauline Oliveros, who transformed how we listen and think

This year continues a stunning series of losses of some of the most important pioneers in electronic music. But of all those, Pauline Oliveros is without peer – an innovator in the art of listening itself. And we’ve learned she’s died at the age of 84. No one else in music has a resume like hers. She was capable of turning the accordion into an avant garde electronic instrument. She had a black belt in karate. She was one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Center, a defining figure in the entire west coast electronic scene. She …

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