Teenage Engineering Wants You to Make Your Own Pocket Case

First, they made dirt-cheap synths and drum machines. Then, they made housings that turn them into handheld calculators. Now, they want … you to rethink the case entirely. Say what? So, the bad news is, Teenage Engineering’s cool calculator-style cases for their amazing-sounding, crazy-cheap synths and drum machine are backordered. And that is too bad. Because, damnit, even I can’t get one. And they’re really cool – I had a look at the cases at Musikmesse, and they recall nothing if not a Braun-style dress-up suit for these wonderful (and useful) sonic toys. But this being Teenage Engineering, they’ve found …


Inside The Glitch Mob’s Crazy Rockstar Live Electronic Rig

Press play? More like bang drums hit stuff finger warp touchpad go crazy. The Glitch Mob are one of America’s leading festival electronic acts. (And members like EdiT have IDM, not just EDM, credits to their name – so they were “glitching” before it was cool, in other words.) But while that circuit is in a frenzy of one-upmanship when it comes to spectacle, there’s some real playing behind this act. And that distances them from artists that put on a big show visually but have shied away from anything risky in the set – like actually playing the parts, …


Watch a Hacklab Merge Science and Live Music Technology: MusicMakers

Documentary MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival 2015 from CDM on Vimeo. With computers and electricity or without it, musical performance has the potential to be expressive, powerful, immediate. Making music live in front of an audience demands spontaneous commitment. What technology can allow us to is to wire up that potential to other fields in new ways. And that was the feeling that began 2015 for us, working in the collaborative MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival in Berlin. Neuroscientists met specialists in breathing met instrumentalists. Think the lightning bolt in the laboratory: it’s alive.


On Apple Watch, Sound Design Translates into Haptic Feel

You already know sound is something you feel, physically – you know this from the sensation in your head on headphones, from your gut as a PA produces big bass, from the bodily experience of thunderstorms or the siren on an ambulance. But we may soon live in a world where increasingly the role of sound design is wrapped up in interaction – where those sounds can produce physical sensations and haptic interactions. And whether or not the Apple Watch is used by musicians and DJs with new apps, it could add to possibilities for sound designers. Wired has a …


The Best App for Exploring Sound Just Got Better: Borderlands 2.0

It looks like a spaceship control panel, and has the futuristic sound to match. Borderlands Granular already set a high water mark for how touch could open up new possibilities in sound creation. With a new version adding live input and more control, though, its latest release may be even more significant than its first. Granular synthesis, which treats recorded sound as a fluid construction of tiny grains, needs an interface to realize its power. It’s not something that can be understood by turning a single knob. It’s defined by the sounds you put into it, by the way you …


Watch a Mechanical Drum Machine That Uses Wheels and Magnets [Video]

Drum Machine – XOXX Composer from Axel Bluhme on Vimeo. Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer does just that. A project by Axel Bluhme, it turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound. Full description: A drum machine that is fun and easy to use This project started with a curiosity to …


Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. Håkan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …


On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …


Watch a Dreamy, Groovy Reverie Played Live on Desktop Synths

Jeremy Blake (aka Jeremy Leaird-Koch) is the kind of omni-dimensional talent who that seems tailored for the age of Web media. Yes, he’s an electronic musician, but … have a listen to his SoundCloud, and you’ll find the common thread is craft more than genre. And yes, he’s also a video editor, who’s also making imaginative and dazzling visuals. Let’s instead just wander into his studio, virtually speaking, and let him play for us on a nice, assembled gathering of custom hardware. And drifting off on this chillout groove is a nice way to take a pause in your day…


This Custom Suitcase Will Make You Lust for Modular

Having something pretty won’t necessarily make you make better music. But from the carved face on a viola da gamba to the shine of brass on a trumpet, musicians have long imbued the objects that make music with visual features reflecting the unseen beauty of the sounds they emit. And this suitcase for sound, the work of Swedish design Frédéric Sebton, is beautiful both aesthetically and in its practicality. This one-off creation houses the “Verbos Composition Suitcase” – a very practical and reasonably affordable starter kit of Verbos modules, the title a cheeky reference to the (unrelated) VCS modular. Inside …