When you imagine inquiring in the universe, your first idea is probably someone looking at something – an image. But there are other ways of sensing and studying the world, too. Last week’s detection of gravitational waves, confirming the presence of what had been predicted by Einstein, is special in that it heralds a new significance to sound in physics.
Record releases are old and tired. So are jewelry. Let’s solve this: with a wearable 8-bit necklace and pendant that takes audio input and turns it into weird visualizations – of course. DU-QVJ is a collaboration between Detroit Underground, the fantastic tastefully strange label, with Russian engineer Alexander Zolotov. Add a tiny battery, plug in audio input via one minijack, and optionally add headphones on the other end. In between, the object makes gorgeously lo-fi grungy imagery on its 128×64 monochrome OLED display. Forget Apple Watch or even Pebble: here’s the wearable you want. It looks like what Lieutenant Worf …
Triple Sun – Sprint from Martin Blažíček on Vimeo. From Bratislava, the duo Triple Sun are making spontaneous, ethereal music with a combination of modular and computational tools. Against a flickering black-and-white film, this video last year is one of my favorites. We’re inviting Triple Sun this week to Berlin along with Jonáš Gruska as part of a live program, so I want to take a second chance to explore what they’re doing.
Once, weird instruments only made the rounds at exclusive academic conferences. Now, they go viral on Facebook. Such is the case with Collidoscope, the creation of a UK-based mixing and mastering service (out of London label Sunlightsquare Records) and Queen Mary researchers – Ben Bengler and Fiore Martin. It’s a massive tangible table-top interface to a granular instrument.
Techno has become folk art, popular music idiom. Yet it’s still often viewed through the machines that first made it. What if you could give it some sort of physical, mechanical form? That’s what Graham Dunning has done with Mechanical Techno. And in a new video (produced by Michael Forrest), he shows how it’s done.
We covered Andy Grobengieser’s lovely Minimoog LEGO kit proposal. But perhaps the iconic synth keyboard just isn’t open-ended enough in terms of sound design. You want kids to play with the wide sonic palette of the legendary Moog Model 55. Now, they can.
Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.
Touchplates are so in this year. Yes, it’s a testament to the legacy of synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla: electronic musicians evidently long for something new. And the latest is a glimpse of something found in our news tip inbox. It’s called “HYVE” and it’s a hybrid synthesizer, combining a number of ideas about pitch arrangement into a single touch-plate layout. There’s a keyboard. There’s a hexagonal pitch array. And there’s a heck of a lot of polyphony. And… well, it’s best to just watch the video:
Okay, we’ve had pirates and Star Wars and cute houses and such. It’s about time synth lovers got the LEGO set they deserve. Andy Grobengieser is a music pro and LEGO enthusiast out of New York, and he’s got one heck of a Minimoog set designed. (Thanks for telling us about this on Twitter, Andy.) You can even help make it a for-sale set from LEGO – hopefully the first of a whole synth line, if we’re lucky.
If you’re using Ableton Live, you simply need to know about Sonic Bloom. It’s like a spa-slash-university for your Live-using self: you’ll come out refreshed, smarter, and even a bit better looking. Creator Madeleine Bloom has been busy. The site, at the age of three this month, now has five hundred tips, tutorials, and informational articles on Ableton Live. (And, occasionally, you’ll pick up an Oblique Strategy, or two – like fill every beat.) There are some ninety freebies, too – from Live Packs to skins and colors to keep your Live set looking spiffy. For instance, just this week, …