The Artist on Your Playlist: James Blake’s Haunting Voice Owns the Internet

When I asked what albums readers were loving early in 2011, England-based James Blake’s full-length stood out in numerous reader comments. If you haven’t already seen him plugged on radio and online – and at least some of you haven’t yet – it’s a perfect time to check him out, with the full-length this week available for digital download even outside the UK. Blake made a name for himself in some astonishing EPs over 2010, with a haunting but fragile voice singing soulful melodies atop minimal percussion and warm, fuzzy keys in close-fingered voicings. Now, his full-length is here. If …

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A Stunning Live Performance on Roland’s 1996 Workstation, VS-880 (Bonus: MPC3000!)

From comments (thanks, Charlie Cowper!), here’s a live performance by Japanese electronic artist Rei Harakami on nothing more than a 1990s-vintage multitrack digital workstation, Roland’s VS-880. (The VS-880 was introduced at NAMM in January 1996.) Harakami is a virtuoso on this machine, not simply playing back tracks but dancing through menus and settings and adding live mixing and effects. It’s a mix performance, yes – but it’s a seriously impressive one. And it shows how much this now-“vintage” machine can do, even with some simple parameters. I’m almost afraid to mention the VS-880, lest we get an arbitrary direct translation …

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Interview: Music Production Guru and Violinist Laura Escude

She’s a composer, a sound designer, a performer, and a violinist; she’s recognized as an expert in Ableton Live and has worked with artists ranging from Cirque du Soleil to Kanye West. But now we really get to hear Laura Escudé’s musical vision as a complete picture in her debut album this year, Pororoca. That seemed the perfect time to talk to Laura about her work, particularly as it lies at the intersection of vectors in sound, visuals, and technology that matter so much to so many of us. Laura shares where she sees the music scene going, her own …

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Electronic Sounds and Satisfying Limits: Chris Randall Talks About Making Capacitor, Resistor EPs

The Roland CMU-800-R, a rare computer music production accessory for the Apple II, in near-mint condition in Chris’ collection. Photos (CC-BY-NC) Chris Randall; used by permission. By day, Chris Randall makes great music software and blogs, but as his not-so-secret Micronaut alter-ego, he’s building a triptych of EPs on the theme of electronics. These aren’t studies for those with gear lust; on the contrary, Chris explains, they are as much compositional exercises in limitation. The devices are a means to greater focus. In the crisp, thumping, rhythms and patterns calculated into Capacitor, that includes devices like the Roland CMU-800R – …

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