One of our favorite 2016 inspirations, Antye Greie-Ripatti aka AGF, contemplates in the snow. Courtesy the artist.

A year in music starts 2017 with the best of 2016

The early days of January – the email inbox is still quiet, things are for many still moving slow. But if musical perspective is possible only with hindsight, it’s a moment when the picture of a moment in musical history has first crystallized. The zeitgeist of an era starts to reveal its footprint. This isn’t a look back. It’s a round-up of the music we believe looks forward. Tellingly, too, the music that’s most effective at doing that also has studied their history and developed their art – multiple artists show up on our reissues and new lists. It’s a …

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amulets

AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette

AMULETS is Randall Taylor, a one-man experimental looping ambient artist out of Austin, Texas who works with tape loops and guitar. And to start off the year, Randall wants to show you a key element of his technique – making tape loops from cassette tapes. Tape loops, as associated with the likes of Steve Reich, began mainly on reel-to-reel decks. Using a cassette means some more precise surgery. There’s the cassette housing to contend with, mainly – which means disassembling and then (importantly) re-assembling a delicate plastic case. And the tape itself is smaller, too – 0.15 inches rather than …

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nycskyline

New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now. To walk us through, attendee Max …

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discman

A patchable, circuit bent Sony Discman turns into a glitch instrument

It’s happened: CD players are officially retro/vintage. (Heck, so is the iPod at this point.) But that means it’s time to open them up and glitch them out – at least for some intrepid inventors, that is. Actually, this video is itself vintage, coming from the innocent days of 2012. (Ah – remember then? If only we knew what world awaited us in 2017. We’d… probably have hidden in a basement and all started circuit bending Sony CD players.) Anyway, I digress. Sony Discman. Renamed “Discbitch” – complete with laser-etched name on the case. Patchable. Glitching. Watch: Somehow, it’s trending …

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Grab 150 vintage and rare drum machines for free

You know the person – collecting weird old music gear, from highly valuable to the near-worthless used prices, as an obsessive hoarder. You open their closet and immediately want to grab a mic and start sampling. Well, that’s the feeling of this totally free library of drum machine sounds. You get a 200MB library, with 150 drum machines. They’re eminently playable, too, with General MIDI mappings so you don’t have to hunt around for the sounds. They’re also grouped (kick, snare, hat, cymbal, tom). And there’s a lot of work here – custom graphics for each kit and custom controls …

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Forte festival - Portugal, 2016. Photo by Dina Brudi-Pascal.

Inside Orphx’s terrific live technique, mixing modular and computer

Orphx are simply enchanting – doubly so live. Veteran experimentalists and master virtuosos of live performance, their music is heavy and industrial, but endlessly imaginative and groovy. Onstage, they genuinely improvise – there’s spontaneity and interplay. And that creative energy plays out both in their imposing live schedule and in their prolific studio output. The duo, consisting of a clever matching of skills of Canada’s Rich Oddie and Christina Sealey, had a devastatingly good year in 2016. There was the masterful full-length Pitch Black Mirror. There were remixes and collaborations (like Eschaton, with Ancient Methods). And there were those face-melting …

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Photo: Aoki Takamasa. Courtesy the artist.

raster-noton’s elusive Grischa Lichtenberger on creative sound

Grischa Lichtenberger is working with felt and stencils as well as sound. He’s speaking in hyperlinks, and misusing gear and feeding computers into other computers to form feedback loops. In short, he’s finding a unique and creative materialism in everything he does – and that means we really have to talk to him. So we sent Zuzana Friday to join in a delightfully esoteric conversation with the raster-noton artist. -Ed. Grischa Lichtenberger is a German musician and sound and installation artist, known for his releases on raster-noton. His immersive live performances oscillate between abrasive, aggressive compositions and intricate structures of …

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sludge

Celebrate Sludgemas with some free Detroit Underground groove

There are things that make your butt wiggle. There are things that make your brain tickle. There are things that get glitched and grungy. Well, here’s something that does all those things at once – it’s a glitchy good time, and it’s free. Merry Sludgemas. And for anyone bored with overly-shiny, overly-restrained, dark fashion-label sound-alike techno – meet “sludge,” which is totally none of that. Our parade of year-end music queuing continues with some goodness from one of our favorite labels of the year, Detroit Underground. They’ve been experimental and glitchy and groovy and IDM and weirdo and excellent. They’ve …

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Adult Swim has a free noise album you don’t want to miss

It’s that time of the year again: weeks of hearing Christmas songs on repeat plus the untimely death of George Michael, and your ears are probably oozing peppermint goo while you cry yourself to sleep. This calls for some seriously aggressive noise album. You know – like a palette cleanser. Well, here’s one, and it’s free – from Adult Swim. “Noise” album? Cartoon Network? Okay, the combination sounds unlikely. But if you were expecting some lame hipster compilation that sounds like “noise music” just means someone fell asleep on their guitar pedalboard, think again. It’s actually damned good. And it’s …

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How a meetup space for female music makers is making a difference

Ed.: If we’re going to see more women or other underrepresented groups in music, one place to start is by creating new spaces. CDM contributor Zuzana Friday is involved in an effort in Berlin that does just that. The idea is an informal one: just have exclusively female-identified artists meet for a couple of hours, to give them an environment all their own, then open up to anyone interested thereafter – covering musicians but also quite a lot of visualists, too. Even the name is simple: “Meetup.” That approach has proven fertile enough that it’s fired up the music network …

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