Keys and Knobs and Such, New Gear, in Photos: Notes and Gallery from NAMM Day 1

From the Prophet 12 to Korg’s MS-20 Mini (and King Korg – more on that soon), iConnectMIDI interfaces for your iPad to Arturia ultra-portable keyboards, from analog to digital, from big releases to oddities, CDM has some roving reporters out on the floor of America’s biggest musical instrument trade show, NAMM. James Grahame, principal engineer behind the MeeBlip, kicks things off. Looking through his photos is a bit like seeing the show through his eyes. The flagship keyboards you’ve heard of (though Moog-branded water is a surprise). Some of the other good news: the iConnectMIDI4 Plus looks very versatile, indeed, …

Finnish vocalist Jolea onboard again for this one. Yes, to make collaborations happen, keep those backpack studios handy.

A Music Rig in a Backpack, A Single Made in an Attic: Recue + Jolea “Blame”

Recue X Jolea – In the Attic, Session #1 – Blame from recue on Vimeo. There’s something to be said for the rucksack studio. When we last caught up with Finnish artist Recue, our friend Riku Annala was stranded in an airport hotel room, but managed to coax a live jam out of the experience. This time, mobility wins again, in a collaboration with Helsinki-born vocalist / singer-songwriter / producer Jolea. It’s a reminder that you don’t need to wait for the studio setup of your dreams. You can produce just by carving out a small amount of space …


Portishead’s Adrian Utley Tours His Synth Collection – And New Arturia MiniBrute [Video, Analog]

Simple, hands-on synths are sometimes chided for being overly simple, cut-down versions of the infinite possibilities of modulars or digital instruments. And they might even seem anachronistic, throw-backs to old instrument designs. But if you need someone to explain the appeal of these instruments, you could do worse than Adrian Utley of Portishead, seen here in his Bristol studio. He tours the Arturia Minibrute, and talks about unlocking the unique sound of a particular instrument – what it is about the character of that synth that makes it special, why synths sometimes do some things better than others, and why …


Get Arturia minimoog-V, Free, Today Only [CET]

If you love that original Minimoog sound, but you’ve run out of space in your flat and money for used bank accounts and don’t like the notion of maintaining pots and oscillators and lifting heavy vintage gear, the Arturia minimoog-V remains a lovely, economical, liftable alternative. It’s the one software plug-in to receive the endorsement of the Moog Music company. (Bob Moog himself got involved when the software was developed.) And for one day, it’s completely free. You’ll want to grab it right away – that day, today June 21, ends when it does as the clock strikes midnight in …


The Best New Stuff from NAMM, in Videos: Akai, Arturia, Livid, Moog, Smithson-Martin, Teenage Engineering

Can I have this fun, wacky, sound-shaping Arturia monosynth and the new Moog Minitaur, please? Actually, at their prices, you really could – and still spend less than the cost of a lot of standalone synths. There’s lots of new stuff for musicians. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to leave some of it out, and skip to what’s really interesting. Neil Bufkin did a great job last year covering NAMM for CDM, shooting some lo-fi, informal videos that got right to the heart of what we wanted to know. So, I’m pleased to share Neil’s work again, since …


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 …


Arturia Origin, Guest Review: From Soft Synth to Hard Synth, at a Price

Ever wished you could pack the sonic goodness and programming power of a soft synth into a hardware box? Dreamed of software that lived in a road case and had the stability and power-on capability of your outboard gear? You’re certainly not alone. That meant many of us were intrigued when soft synth emulator house Arturia showed off the Origin, a DSP-based hardware box that put their emulations in a box that wasn’t a PC. There’s plenty to recommend this device, with an onboard step sequencer and terrific sounds. And then you hit the US$2500 street price – hardly recession-friendly, …


Gallery: The Music and Visual Controllers of NAMM, Up Close

Jay Smith of Livid Instruments may be in the business of making controller hardware himself, but that doesn’t stop him from appreciate the knob-laden goodness of the NAMM show floor. Jay’s own gear reveals a not-so-secret love of knobs and buttons and faders, and if you’re into that sort of thing, this year’s NAMM music trade show had plenty to love – Akai’s APC40 controller for Live, Akai’s MPK keyboard, the Alesis MasterControl, Arturia’s Factory Experience controller for their soft synth emulations, and even another brutish-looking computer-in-a-keyboard, now with pads, from Open Labs. The shots give you a particularly good …


Preset Pack: It’s a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, Modular Moog World

I usually don’t pick up presets and sound libraries on CDM, but this one deserves an exception. Musicrow has built a preset pack for Arturia’s Moog Modular V. That’s the software emulation of the truly modular Moogs — the ones with patch cords — so this gives you what you don’t get out of the real thing, a set of sound presets you can call upon immediately. Looks like a good blend of “traditional” presets and more unusual ones, and Arturia’s emulation, like the original Moog modular, has a rich set of sonic capabilities. 20 of the 200 presets are …