Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery

Jim Guthrie was a rockstar long before the iPad was. Paired with pixel-intense artist Craig D. Adams (aka Superbrothers) and the co-design and coding effort of a crack team of video game “wizards” at the indie studio capy, he’s made a soundtrack that’s destined to be a gaming classic. But if you don’t want to play it, you can still listen to it. And if you’re playing it, you may find that it feels as though you’re listening to it, and gazing into its artwork. From the moment you tap to launch it, Swords & Sworcery plunges you into a …


Hack by Day, Afrotronic Future Funk By Night: Handmade Music NYC Sat 4/2, Listening and More Free Now

If you’re in the NYC area, we hope you’ll mark your calendar; if not, we have some free listening for you to explore below. Hacking and inventing, creative musicians are making and modifying the tools of their performance to express the music they imagine, with stunning variety of results. And so it is that once a month (erm, more or less), we get together in Manhattan to celebrate music makers at a little thing we call Handmade Music. This month, experimental sound systems and Afrotronic future funk with new electronic instruments inspired by west African tradition join the lineup. 1-6 …


Visions of Bleeps and Beats: Images and Video from Handmade Music

“Handmade music” has now been taken up by groups in cities around the world, without any central organization. It’s an open celebration of experimentation in music making and sound. Here, we get a look at the event series we’ve been running here in New York that helped spawn those others. Part of what I like about playing live is that it is unpredictable. We get to get together and try things, play wildly divergent styles of music, and explore ideas for what to play, all with a friendly group of people. So, here – thanks to the lovely videography of …


Grids, Chips, and Blips: Handmade Music NYC, Saturday 2/5 Lab + Party, Video Samples + Listening

Galapagoose plays a Brooklyn rooftop at the monome community tour in the fall. Now he’s back to celebrate the release of new software, and meets up with artists from across the digital music-making spectrum. Handmade Music is back on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with an epic lineup spanning digital synths to monomes to interactive installations to chip music. It’s a bit like stepping into the music tech world described on the Web. (For the vast majority of you outside NYC, hoping to have good documentation of recent events edited and available shortly.) We’re moving to Saturday night and …


Nintendo NES Does MIDI and Live Music, Integrated into Your Studio

Retro chip music appeal and the occasional Super Mario Bros. game aside, you probably think of the Nintendo NES and Famicom system as something collecting dust at garage sales. You probably don’t think of this NES running as a self-contained music production workstation, syncing to MIDI and Android, or exploiting new software for producing elaborate musical sequences, drum and bass lines. Think again. What might to outsiders seem like the nostalgic draw of video music has become something else entirely – the NES is taking its place as a serious, studio synth. Via Keaton Shurilla (Theta_Frost) comes a number of …


OTO Biscuit Update: Lovely Boutique 8-bit + Analog Effect Gets New Features

I covered the OTO Machines Biscuit early this year, in particular noting the design process of creating new hardware. Hardware today is back with a vengeance, but with the flexibility of software: the gear is contained in a single object and interface, but can be upgraded just as computer code on a desktop can. Sure enough, OTO are back this week with a series of updates, which are easier to watch and hear than to talk about. See the video above for four new effects and various other improvements, available as a free firmware update and delivered (oh, the retro …


Decibel Log 2: Robert Henke, Room40 Label, Flying Lotus and Friends

The FlyLoTrio After Rocking Decibel – Ronald Bruner Jr., Flying Lotus and Thundercat The patter of rain against the window brings in day two at Decibel.  Early afternoon coffee is the ‘tall’ to order for the conference sessions in Pravda studios.  Robert Henke (Monolake) greets with a smile as he takes the podium for the first lecture “The Age of Abundance.”  It is a rare opportunity inside one of the minds behind Ableton, as he thinks on the future of electronic music eleven years after the founding of the company.  His talk revolves around the evolution of computer technology to …


In Photos: Discovering Sound Making, Electronics at Culturefix NYC

Photos above: Jennifer Meagher, with additional photography by myself. Handmade Music found a new home on New York’s Lower East Side, at Culturefix, an electronics boutique cum gallery, bar, and tapas. The philosophy of this event has long been to simply open the doors, letting a community of people come together, make some noise, and have fun and learn. So we’re indebted to the people who made it happen – and I think there were some lessons to hopefully reproduce. And yes, part of why I share this is I hope we can work over time to provide more resources, …


Reformat the Planet, Feature-Length Chip Music Documentary, Arrives on DVD

REFORMAT THE PLANET trailer from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo. The journey to complete and release a documentary is a long one, but Reformat the Planet, a feature-length documentary on the chip music scene, has reached the other side. Focused on the hub of artists in New York and the Blip Festival, Reformat the Planet has had some significant success out on the festival circuit, and it’s the product of a talented team of producers called 2 Player Productions, who do some really lovely work. (Staking out a corner of the indie game world, they also have worked on the …


Brilliant LEGO Mindstorms Drum Machine, NXT-606 – New Video

Peter Cocteau’s NXT-606, an 8-bit, sample-based drum machine built on LEGO’s Mindstorms prototyping platforming, has already been making the geek blog rounds. But let’s consider it here as more than just novelty. First, there’s a new video which better demonstrates the instrument, how it functions, and how it was developed. Second, there are design features of this project that I think are worth admiring beyond the sheer “because you can” achievement (which is, I’ll admit, formidable, as well). Brilliant, minimal design: Peter cleverly consolidates controls on two knobs, as seen in the new video, without requiring laborious menu navigation or …