You Haven’t Heard of 30drop, But You Should Hear This New LP [Techno]

30drop has mysteriously arrived from Detroit Underground (aka “detund”), those purveyors of strange and wonderful techno and experimental music. You may think you’ve heard of 30drop, but apart from the release last week, you almost certainly haven’t. Oh, sure, there have been releases — a second EP showed up in December — but for the most part, this act has flown under the radar. As per usual, detund are digging up precisely what isn’t on trend or rising in popularity, an unknown artist making cooly-weird noises. But the pace is picking up – and this looks to be one of …


Crazy Video: Giant Robot Cassette Kills Giant Robot iPod Classic

The iPod Classic is dead, sure. Now it’s really dead. And the cassette player outlasts its shiny Apple hipster-fashion-accessory counterpart with the non-removable battery – by kicking its sorry ass with a giant mecha fist punch to the face. Hold on… if it seems we may be losing our grip on reality, that’s just because we’re entering the wild world of cassette label / music collective Chrome Brulée. The retro-electro artists, comprising Tony Johnson, Michael Shredlove, Alex Mayhem, Kid Supreme, Aximus & Club Cannibal, make music that’s intentionally backwards-looking, and then release it on cassettes. And then they make crazy …


The iPod is Dead; Now Stop Being So Weepy and Start Looking at the Future

It happened just as Apple was giving us one thing many of us couldn’t imagine wanting (a watch), and one thing we definitely didn’t ask for (“buying” U2’s new record for us). Apple quietly killed the iPod Classic. That is, the iPod touch lives on as an iOS handheld minus a cellular radio, and there’s an app on iOS. But there is no standalone device, with the as-expected discontinuation of iPod Classic. Correction: there is one. The US$49, 2GB iPod shuffle is still available. But it’s a pale shadow of the iPod line. This is a big deal. It means …


Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …


Armin van Buuren DJ Boombox a Pale Imitation of the 80s; A Look Back at Real Ghettoblasters

In the latest megarich DJ – electronics manufacturer collaboration, we find Dutch giant Philips with Armin van Buren. (In fact, you might begin to wonder if these guys are just competing over the Forbes highest-paid DJs list.) This time, what you get is an all-in-one iPad dock with DJ control surface with speaker. That in itself seems not such a terrible idea, but then the problems start. Apart from the usual concerns about obsolete dock devices, the dock slot here places the iPad in an uncomfortable vertical position. There are physical controls for DJing, too, integrated with the (rather excellent) …

Yep, this is about to get as awesome as you think it is. Time for some Belgian bots banging beats.

Shiny Robot-Jamming Gear Pr0n, Cassette Labels: The Future Is What It Used To Be [Awesome Video]

Disappointed our electronic music present didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to when it was still the future? Sad you didn’t get shiny, knob-laden synths, robot masks, blindingly-colorful lens flares, funky-crisp electro jams, and beloved music distributed on cassette? Well, you could sit around getting all wistful, or you could simply make that future happen. Belgian synth collective Chrome Brulée chose action over nostalgia, constructing the universe seen in glossy Roland and Sequential ads from Keyboard Magazine, circa 1983. And the music video they’ve produced is just the teaser: stay tuned for music on, of course, cassette tape. …


Reclaim the Album’s Soul: Tips for Handmade CD Artwork, Make One Sunday

You hear the repeated chorus: music in the digital age has become meaningless and valueless, like turning on water from a tap in the middle of Rome. But, quietly, a movement is stirring that is reclaiming the value of music. Armed with nothing more sophisticated than markers, paper, collage materials, and imagination, they send mixes of music like grade school Valentines. Heck, they even use the mail. It makes the album more personal than it was even in its golden, mass-produced age. Many of the practitioners in this case are returning to the cassette and mix tape. But I was …


Signs of Change, Ingenuity in Music Distribution

Photo (CC) Clonny. Details on Flickr. With the weakened world economy, content in general faces plenty of gloom and doom. Advertising models are severely weakened. But, oddly, in the world of music, there are some positive signs that the shift to decentralized, online distribution might actually be going well — and maybe economic pressures are simply ensuring the parties involved find some way to make the adjustment. And music distribution is becoming wonderfully weird and diverse – maybe far more so than in recording’s so-called golden age, an era in the past dominated by racial division, predatory labels, and a …


Happy 30th, Sony Walkman: Your Memories and the Best of Cassettes on CDM

The once and future Walkman. Photo: FaceMePLS. July 1, 1979: it was thirty years ago today that the Sony Walkman went on sale, launching mobile music for the first time. Wait – rewind (so to speak). That honor really belongs to the portable transistor radio – and, indeed, part of the reason America already knew and loved Sony by the time 1979 rolled around, having embraced their pocketable radios as early as the 1950s. In fact, if you want to blame a device for degrading audio fidelity, you should again look not to MP3s and iPods but back to — …


Project C-90: Insanely Huge Cassette Tape Collection Site Expands

The middle child of audio technology, neither as hip as vinyl or as modern as the MP3, the cassette lives on in a massive online shrine called the C-90 Project. Odds are, if you’ve ever seen a blank cassette, it’s stored in here or soon will be. We saw its colorful compact novelties back in 2005. Now, the site has grown and added features, including bi-lingual discussions in both English and Russian, plus organization by format (compact cassette, the standard size, as well as microcassette and minicassette) and brand. If you want to add to this collection, they welcome participants. …