amulets

AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette

AMULETS is Randall Taylor, a one-man experimental looping ambient artist out of Austin, Texas who works with tape loops and guitar. And to start off the year, Randall wants to show you a key element of his technique – making tape loops from cassette tapes. Tape loops, as associated with the likes of Steve Reich, began mainly on reel-to-reel decks. Using a cassette means some more precise surgery. There’s the cassette housing to contend with, mainly – which means disassembling and then (importantly) re-assembling a delicate plastic case. And the tape itself is smaller, too – 0.15 inches rather than …

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A patchable, circuit bent Sony Discman turns into a glitch instrument

It’s happened: CD players are officially retro/vintage. (Heck, so is the iPod at this point.) But that means it’s time to open them up and glitch them out – at least for some intrepid inventors, that is. Actually, this video is itself vintage, coming from the innocent days of 2012. (Ah – remember then? If only we knew what world awaited us in 2017. We’d… probably have hidden in a basement and all started circuit bending Sony CD players.) Anyway, I digress. Sony Discman. Renamed “Discbitch” – complete with laser-etched name on the case. Patchable. Glitching. Watch: Somehow, it’s trending …

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Reaktor adds Ableton Link, for software patches or hardware modular

Native Instruments’ Reaktor is the latest tool to add Ableton Link support – and as before, each time you add a new tool, Link gets way more useful. Ableton Link is already opening up jams in DIY software, including Max/MSP, Max for Live, and Pure Data. Reaktor joining the party means not only will DIY patchers reap the benefits, but anyone exploring Reaktor Blocks or fun toys they downloaded from the User Library or anything else can have fun, too. And this essentially brings Link into the virtual modular world. Reaktor Blocks is fun to use for just about anyone, …

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A piano, played by clouds and sky

We can reinvent the instruments we already have; we can try to steer a pathway to something new. Or we can sometimes imagine a known instrument in a new context. This new short film covers a robotic piano that’s got an unusual angle. Using image analysis, those mechanical fingers transpose patterns of cloud and sky onto the keys. This poetic take on cloud gazing comes from media artist David Bowen. It’s a nice take, I think, on sonification, in that it isn’t just about a stream of data that’s abstracted from its source. It’s really as though the drifting clouds …

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PushPull is a crazy futuristic squeezebox instrument you can make

PushPull will blow apart your idea of what a typical controller – or an accordion – might be. It’s a bit like a squeezebox that fell from outer space, coupling bellows with colored lights, sensors, mics, and extra controls. And you can now make one yourself, thanks to copious documentation. You may have seen the instrument in action in the last couple of years ago – gasping in the dark. PushPull Balgerei 2014 from 3DMIN on Vimeo. But with more complete documentation, you get greater insight into how the thing was made – and you could even follow the instructions …

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One new board turns into a complete sound and light lab

This board could be the first time you learn about wiring simple circuits. It could transform into a weirdo light-powered instrument. It could be a place you hold a workshop. It could even become an advanced studio for creative circuits. It’s powerful if you know what you’re doing. It’s still cool if you don’t. The OMSynth miniLab realizes a dream hardware inventor and artist Pete Edwards had been brewing for years. He tested that dream in iteration after iteration in workshops, usually involving bags of circuits and breadboards (the latter allowing for solder-free connections). And it moved with him to …

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Modal’s Craft Synth is a surprising £79.00 monosynth

Imagine if Boeing or Airbus, in the midst of releasing airliners, suddenly unveiled a paper airplane kit for kids. The Modal Craft Synth isn’t that extreme – but maybe it’s close. Unlike their flagship synth, a monster luxury instrument that will set you back about five grand (USD), the Craft Synth is kit priced. £79.00 (about US$100 at the moment) buys you a complete monosynth. It’s labeled a “kit,” but you snap together pre-made circuit boards – think IKEA lay-flat cleverness. Of course, at that price, you don’t get a case or any particularly high-quality or rugged components. But if …

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motherfer

The MotherF***** is the DIY delay-reverb box of your nightmares

If you want a nice, pristine, versatile delay/reverb, then … this isn’t it. It’s called the MotherF***er 2 for a reason. It’s the creation of Ewa Justka, engineer and musician born in Poland and based in London. (Ewa was also nice enough to co-host the MusicMakers Hacklab with us at CTM Festival this year, where she was a patient and inspirational guide for our artists in inventing all manner of new things.) And this pedal is all sorts of crazy in all the best ways. Keep watching, as there are actually a bunch of different possible sounds in there. And …

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Micro-ritmos turns bacteria and machine learning into spatialized sound

In the patterns generated by bacterial cells, Micro-ritmos discovers a new music and light. From the Mexican team of Paloma López, Leslie García, and Emmanuel Anguiano (aka Interspecifics), we get yet another marvel of open source musical interface with biological matter. Micro-ritmos from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. The raw cellular matter itself is Geobacter, an anaerobic bacteria found in sediment. And in a spectacular and unintentional irony, this particular family of bacteria was first discovered in the riverbed of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. You heard that right: if you decided to literally drain the swamp in the nation’s capital, this …

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Watch Myriam Bleau’s beautiful work with glass and discs

The beautiful thing about performance life in the post-digital age is that it opens up what musical practice itself can be. It means an AV artist might draw as much on the tradition of painting or sculpture as on music. It might blur the boundaries in such a way that it’s hard to say which medium you’re looking at at all. SONAR and MUTEK as festivals have grown in their brand to present AV work, but to me they’re at their best in those particular magical moments when you feel as if the performer has invented their own medium. By …

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