Thomas Pesquet snapped this photo looking over his feet at our planet. Photo source ESA/NASA.

Now hear the audio from an ISS spacewalk – and sample and remix it

In our ongoing look at the sounds from space, here’s another angle: the same day as astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough (NASA) were making an “Extravehicular activity” (EVA / “space walk”) outside the International Space Station, we have publicly available, openly licensed sound from that experience. This is more spoken word than ambient sound, of course. At the same time, you get a feeling for what the routine of this work is like. This is humans doing what still challenges robotic instruments – space maintenance. (Without humans, the in-flight repair of Hubble, for instance, would never have happened.) …

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When a record label gets into making cool, weird instruments

Streaming revenue may be hit or miss, but record labels can always make their own boutique sound hardware. Ghostly International have long pioneered new ideas in the category of “selling stuff that isn’t vinyl.” There was the Matthew Dear Totem, for instance – though that served zero practical function and didn’t make sound. Their store feels as much a trendy boutique for design fetishists as a record outlet. But I think it’s their musical instrument collaborations that are most interesting. Yeah, okay, you could say this is getting a bit hipster-y. But remember that it’s really musical instruments that have …

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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 …

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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 …

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That $329 iPad looks like an affordable music app machine

Well, if you’ve been waiting to dive into the world of the iPad – or you’re stuck with a machine that’s too old and slow to run the latest software – Apple pretty much has your answer. At US$329 and with 32GB of storage, the new 9.7″ iPad is a nice sweet spot. The A9 processor is more than capable enough for most audio production tasks. It’s got a big-enough Retina display. And that storage will be enough for running synths and other apps. And the pricing is aggressive enough that you might as well go ahead and buy new. …

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Watch this to learn how to create hip-hop 808 bass lines easily

You either already know what this is about – or you don’t know that you already know what this is about. That is, you’ve heard bass lines made with 808s all over the place. That’s likely to continue, too – thanks to the dominance of PAs with heavy bass, and the corresponding use of bass in all kinds of tracks, this has become a big part of musical language. And it’s a versatile approach to making bass lines. Because of its construction, you could take this same technique and apply it to any kind of music. But yeah, it is …

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Now you can put a Buchla-style modular inside Reaktor, free

There’s nothing quite like a Buchla. The “West Coast” modular that inspired the likes of Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani has an approach to signal and expression that is both uniquely experimental and uniquely musical. It’s its own animal. So it’s about time we see that philosophy applied to the open patching of Reaktor. The Cloudlab 200t isn’t a Buchla clone – its creators are quick to issue a disclaimer there, and say this is all just for fun. But fun it is, with a lovely approach to patch design. Trevor Gavilan produced the design, with contributions and components from …

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Photo credit: Aldo Paredes.

The Black Madonna, shesaid.so talk role models, co-conspirators

Kentucky-born artist The Black Madonna this month joined Romanian Andreea Magdalina, founder of all-female network shesaidso.so for GROOVE. The message is as simple as taking women seriously – and what can be done to change things when it doesn’t happen. It’s worth sharing that conversation – and please, listen to its entirety – for a couple of reasons. First, I think we’re obligated to keep sharing this conversation and ones like it so long as it keeps prompting negative and defensive reactions, primarily from men. (Comment threads on social media are not at the moment the most flattering representation of …

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These circuit-bent instruments and sounds are simply gorgeous

Mention “circuit bending” and you may think of someone making unlistenable noise on a Speak & Spell they … broke. But in the grand tradition of Reed Ghazala, circuit bending can mean instruments that have exquisitely mutated from vintage devices, resplendent in new paint and making bizarre but wonderful new sounds. I guess you can think of it as the difference between a conservatory-trained woodwind quintet and … the sound of your first-grade music class playing those plastic recorders. Ivo Ivanov is squarely in the master builder category. We can drool over his visually beautiful creations, in this gallery here. …

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Carla, an existing plug-in host for Linux. These apps could be getting a lot more plugs soon.

Steinberg brings VST to Linux, and does other good things

The days of Linux being a barren plug-in desert may at last be over. And if you’re a developer, there are some other nice things happening to VST development on all platforms. Steinberg has quietly rolled out the 3.6.7 version of their plug-in SDK for Windows, Mac, iOS, and now Linux. Actually, your plug-ins may be using their SDK even if you’re unaware – because many plug-ins that appear as “AU” use a wrapper from VST to Apple’s Audio Unit. (One is included in the SDK.) For end users, the important things to know are, you may be getting more …

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