sludge

Celebrate Sludgemas with some free Detroit Underground groove

There are things that make your butt wiggle. There are things that make your brain tickle. There are things that get glitched and grungy. Well, here’s something that does all those things at once – it’s a glitchy good time, and it’s free. Merry Sludgemas. And for anyone bored with overly-shiny, overly-restrained, dark fashion-label sound-alike techno – meet “sludge,” which is totally none of that. Our parade of year-end music queuing continues with some goodness from one of our favorite labels of the year, Detroit Underground. They’ve been experimental and glitchy and groovy and IDM and weirdo and excellent. They’ve …

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gaeilkkkklcblfff

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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domino-in-case

Eowave made a complete synth voice for Eurorack module

The brief: take up a nice little slot in Eurorack, pack a whole synth voice, but still provide enough patching to stay interesting. That’s the new Domino Eurorack module from the folks at Eowave. So, you get a saw/square oscillator, ladder-style filter, decay envelope, and VCA. It’s vanilla stuff, but well executed. And most importantly, they’ve nicely balanced the controls and patch points, so you have something that’s accessible and versatile. Frankly, I think it solves a lot of problems for people. Rather than piece together everything you need one module at a time, this gives you the sorts of …

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karplusstrong

Watch a perfect explanation of modular physical modeling

Eventually, even the most impassioned synth lover gets bored of mixing oscillators together. You need a little spice in your sound life. You need Karplus-Strong synthesis. Commonly associated with physical modeling strings, Karplus-Strong can also be thought of as a flexible feedback system of delayed, filtered noise. Okay, that’s a lot more abstract than imagining fake strings, but I say that for a reason – because it’s a system with lots of component parts, you can use it to create a wide palette of sounds. Some might sound like strings. Some might sound more artificial. Some might sound like percussion. …

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detundeuro

This Eurorack module was coded wrong – and you’ll like it

It’s called the Circuit-Bent Digital Waveguide™ 扰动数字波导. Or the DU™ DU-KRPLS. And straight out of the “that’s not a bug, it’s a feature” files, it’s got intentionally wrong code in it. But that’s a good thing.

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devine

A Richard Devine soundscape from a crazy modular nest

Richard Devine’s Vimeo account is something special. It’s certainly partly theater – there’s something entirely alien about seeing a nest of gear, tangled in cables and blinking, as if modules have achieved sentience and starting interconnecting themselves. But behind that facade of nerdy chaos is some real thought about how to make sounds by creating unexpected combinations of signal processors. It’s something I’ve been discussing with a lot of people lately – this interplay between stability and instability, automaton and entropy.

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arcmonome

A new arc and a new module from monome

Wheels were never as big as grids. Well – in this context, anyway. The arc was the spiritual successor to the monome from designer Brian Crabtree – ultra-high resolution encoders for turning, with lights, as continuous as the monome grid was binary. But despite some poetic, meditative videos the monome project produced, the arc was always mostly quiet on the scene. And then it disappeared, supplanted by other projects (like an entry into Eurorack). Now it’s back, on preorder.

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joey

Here are 3 epic performances on modular that aren’t noodling

We revere the modular synthesizers of the past, but that ignores important innovations both in how modules are designed and how people play. Apart from the fact that Eurorack is quite a lot slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than its predecessors, we have vastly expanded the range of what modules do in ways that lend themselves to live performances. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – a modular performance still involves a lot of pre-patching for people, and there’s clearly something to be said for computers and standalone gear. But that’s perhaps partly the point: the modular solution can stand …

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messe16_ - 1

Here’s all the coolest new gear from Messe and Superbooth, in one place

There’s a Eurorack craze on. Synth fever continues to spread. Instrument and software makers keep innovating. And there was reason to time all of this new gear madness to the beginning of this month – with not one but two massive trade shows, each a short Bahn ride away from one another in Germany. It’s almost too much. So, we’ve put our favorites all together, to keep it all straight.

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messe16 - 5

Gallery: the cool and strange at Germany’s huge Musikmesse show

It hits you at some point. It could be that you find yourself wandering rows upon rows of accordion exhibitors. Or maybe it’s weaving to avoid parades of the 100,000-odd German schoolchildren who come to look at the exhibits. Or maybe it’s seeing a room the size of an airport full of nothing but strange laser and light products for clubs. But Musikmesse remains something exceptional.

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