haxancloak_moog2

Moog talked to The Haxan Cloak about the visceral quality of sound in air

Isn’t it weird how oddly superficial and fashion oriented talking about music can get? Let’s remember what we’re doing: we’re moving sound particles in air and then seeing what happens to our physical body and mood when they disrupt tiny bits inside our ear. To quote Keanu Reaves: whoa. So it’s refreshing that a recent video Moog shot with The Haxan Cloak isn’t really about Moog synthesizers and isn’t really about The Haxan Cloak. It’s about what happens when you hear really low frequencies. It’s about the feeling of motion you get when you arrange melodies into repeating patterns. It’s …

READ MORE →
edit-0-01-42-16

How Dutch archives turned into a Lakker AV show about water

Wade in the water, indeed. Set the Irish duo Lakker loose in a Dutch film archive, and what you get is a dense, heavy experimental techno album and a live show exploring the Netherlands’ ongoing battle with the sea. It’s a 2016 album, but even if you caught it before, now we get some insight into its evolution into a live audiovisual show. Even before you get the sense of the historical narrative behind it, the music itself is evocative, dark, and rich. I actually like that we’re calling all this music “techno” now – this isn’t in the four-in-the-floor …

READ MORE →
fieldkitfilm

KOMA’s Field Kit, connecting contacts pickups, and motors, is now reality

So much of the idea of signal and the definition of an audio “mixer” is fixed, we’ve begun to take these concepts for granted. Microphones plus line level, into some faders — that’s what a mixer is. But why does it have to be that way? By creating a new instrument around connecting to contact mics and electromagnetic pickups, and even making output to DC motors and solenoids, KOMA Elektronik leapt out of the mainstream – and turned the concept into a runaway hit. Here’s a beautiful video showing how one artist is making use of the instrument: The artist, …

READ MORE →
automatonism

This software is like getting a modular inside your computer, for free

Modular synthesizers present some beautiful possibilities for sound design and composition. For constructing certain kinds of sounds, and certain automated rhythmic and melodic structures, they’re beautiful – and endure for a reason. Now, that description could fit both software and hardware modulars. And of course, hardware has some inarguable, irreplaceable advantages. But the same things that make it great to work with can also be limiting. You can’t dynamically change patches without some plugging and replugging, you’re limited by what modules you’ve got bolted into a rack, and … oh yeah, apart from size and weight, these things cost money. …

READ MORE →
bastlbeauty2

In Czech, instruments and music releases are all about extended family

It’s a wonderful thing to find kindred spirits. It doesn’t matter if they look like you, if you share a gender or an age, or if they come from down the street or around the globe. And that’s the experience a lot of people have had when coming in contact with Bastl Instruments and the underground music and instrument enclave of Brno, Czech. Bastl are known for their cute compact desktop synth hardware and quirky modular line. And small builders are themselves tight-knit, but there’s more to it than just what Bastl Instruments as a maker provides. There’s a sense …

READ MORE →
smc0073_gui1-960

BT’s Phobos is a scifi synthesizer using something called polyconvolution

We’ve reached a new era in software instruments. For years, designers had produced instruments that either relied primarily on sampled sound, reproducing existing acoustic instruments, or worked mainly with synthesized sound and short wavetables, like a typical synth. What’s happening now is we’re getting a bumper crop of hybrid instruments – ones that use extensive multi-gig sample libraries and combine them with synthesis and processing to form sounds that hadn’t existed before. I’ve written at some length about the approach of LA-based Output on these lines – and relied on their instruments when under painfully short deadlines, in particular. Now, …

READ MORE →
felicity-jones-jyn-erso-rogue-one-disguise

Watch a half hour documentary on the sound of Star Wars Rogue One

For lovers of sound design – cinematic or otherwise – Star Wars is always good reason to nerd out. But Rogue One is something different, as the first film to be a standalone or spinoff. On the music side, it meant a new composer who wasn’t John Williams (Michael Giacchino). But perhaps the less known story is that sound, too, got a new direction. Filling the shoes of Ben Burtt is no easy task. There’s probably no Hollywood sound creator better known than Burtt. And as with any Star Wars film, you have the unique challenge of trying to do …

READ MORE →
meeblip_triode_beautyshot

The great sounds you’re making remind us why we make MeeBlip

Getting in the zone is a beautiful thing – that feeling when music seems to almost play itself, when it really feels new. Just like you do a lot of preparation and practice as a musician to get there, when you make instruments, you’re endlessly learning how to make help people find that zone. And that’s ultimately why I feel lucky to be involved in making instruments as well as making music – with CDM generally, and with our own toes in the water, MeeBlip. Now, as it happens, people are making amazing things with the MeeBlip (alongside the other …

READ MORE →
Photo: Bobby Collins.

Step inside the mystical sound world of Circular Ruins

Circular Ruins’ auditory landscapes are rich and strange, hypnotic rituals of loops and layers. They’re dark, but somehow un-menacing – safely resonating with whatever dangers live there. The artist speaks to us here about process, and zeitgeist, and cassette tapes. And we get to premiere the full release. We have a look round his studio and rig along the way. Circular Ruins happens to be Marijn Degenaar, who also happens to be on the design team at CDM. Oddly, friends and I have each done a double-take there, discovering his music through some other channel only to find out later …

READ MORE →
1280px-italian_gas_horn

Meet the guy you can blame for all those air horn sounds everywhere

The air horn is one of the weirder cultural tropes around today. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious – and it’s also ubiquitous, from radio ads to pop songs. It’s clearly out of its original context, but what was it’s original context, anyway? The answer to that is more clear-cut than you might imagine. But it also points a finger squarely at us cultural consumers and producers – that too much copy-paste could become a literal, repeated warning bell. Author Jeff Weiss actually wrote a beautiful essay for Red Bull Music Academy back in 2013″ In Search of the Air Horn In …

READ MORE →