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Listen to some gorgeous ambient music coming out on tapes

Okay, let’s try to put aside any hipster jokes for a moment. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that cassette tapes are becoming a scene for beautiful ambient and experimental music. It’s gotten to the point that you might find yourself paying to have a tape shipped to you, even if only to thank an artist for a download code. Here are a couple of mixes that might just hook you on the medium all over again. First , there’s Hainbach, whose YouTube channel full of live experiments and mixes is one of my favorite video subscriptions at the …

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This cybernetic synth contains a brain grown from the inventor’s cells

Digital? Ha. Analog? Oh, please. Biological? Now you’re talking. The core of this synthesizer was grown in a lab from actual living cells sliced right out of its creator. Skin cells are transformed into stem cells which then form a neural network – one that exists not in code, but in actual living tissue. Now, in comparison to your brain (billions of neurons and a highly sophisticated interactive structure), this handful of petri dish neurons wired into some analog circuits is impossibly crude. It signifies your brain sort of in the way one antenna on an ant signifies the solar …

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Remembering experimental idol and Pan Sonic founder Mika Vainio

Finnish musician Mika Vainio is likely an inspiration to anyone who loves the sensation of electrified sound in its raw form – bare, exposed, vibrating, voltaic. Mika Vainio is a thread running through so much of experimentalism in the past three decades of electronic music – noise to industrial to techno. News reaches us today that he died at the age of 53. If now electronic music’s dark underground vein has become popular, then his fingerprints are all over that transformation. I can see just how many people he’s touched and how deeply moved they’ve been by his work just …

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How Dutch archives turned into a Lakker AV show about water

Wade in the water, indeed. Set the Irish duo Lakker loose in a Dutch film archive, and what you get is a dense, heavy experimental techno album and a live show exploring the Netherlands’ ongoing battle with the sea. It’s a 2016 album, but even if you caught it before, now we get some insight into its evolution into a live audiovisual show. Even before you get the sense of the historical narrative behind it, the music itself is evocative, dark, and rich. I actually like that we’re calling all this music “techno” now – this isn’t in the four-in-the-floor …

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KOMA’s Field Kit, connecting contacts pickups, and motors, is now reality

So much of the idea of signal and the definition of an audio “mixer” is fixed, we’ve begun to take these concepts for granted. Microphones plus line level, into some faders — that’s what a mixer is. But why does it have to be that way? By creating a new instrument around connecting to contact mics and electromagnetic pickups, and even making output to DC motors and solenoids, KOMA Elektronik leapt out of the mainstream – and turned the concept into a runaway hit. Here’s a beautiful video showing how one artist is making use of the instrument: The artist, …

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Photo: Bobby Collins.

Step inside the mystical sound world of Circular Ruins

Circular Ruins’ auditory landscapes are rich and strange, hypnotic rituals of loops and layers. They’re dark, but somehow un-menacing – safely resonating with whatever dangers live there. The artist speaks to us here about process, and zeitgeist, and cassette tapes. And we get to premiere the full release. We have a look round his studio and rig along the way. Circular Ruins happens to be Marijn Degenaar, who also happens to be on the design team at CDM. Oddly, friends and I have each done a double-take there, discovering his music through some other channel only to find out later …

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From the artist, here's a Female Criminal illustrating the two-volume music she's shared.

Don’t miss Demian Licht’s wonderfully terrifying new release

Demian Licht’s music is frenetic and frightening, but precise, cinematic sonic thriller with an insistent pulse. And the Mexico City-based artist has done it again, following up in less than a year the first installment of her Female Criminals with Female Criminals, Vol. 2. CDM is talking to Demian this week, but I wanted to give you extra time with the music first, in case you’d missed it. as premiered on Crack Magazine At a moment in techno when so much music falls back on the same tropes, Female Criminals is film noir and not just dark. Club drum sounds …

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Inside Zeno van den Broek’s raw immersive AV architectures

Strap on headphones, and the sixteen minutes of Shift Symm is a brain-tickling assault. Even just within the stereo field, raw textures rumble and dance until you feel the sound’s structures inside your head. I was attracted to Zeno van den Broek’s work partly because that sense of patterning in sound and visual formed a work I thought deserved special integrity as a release. This is to me an encouraging sign that there are new frontiers for archaic, exposed AV minimalism in the post raster-noton age. Shift Symm by Zeno van den Broek Shift Symm therefore saw a digital release …

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Avalon Emerson's name keeps coming up - top tip. Photo by Tonje Thilesen.

Musical resolutions – hand-picked music to start 2017

Just as mixes need transitions, humans need pauses. So while some of the divisions of time are arbitrary, we need moments to step back and recollect. So CDM asked a cross-selection of producers and DJs to choose music from 2016 to begin our year. Maybe now – as the vacation spirit is wearing off and task lists are looming – maybe now is the time we need those most. This particular group of humans generally resisted the idea of making charts, as an empty exercise. But I suppose some of those individuals are the very people whose music selections I …

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Raindrops inspire mesmerizing video by Max Cooper, Maxime Causeret

It’s good to be Max Cooper. The artist’s richly crafted sound designs are paired now with a series of music videos commissioned by motion designers. And the most mesmerizing of these is the stunning creation by Maxime Causeret. Driven by the organic sounds of recorded rain, spun into percussion, Causeret’s animations follow emergent systems of colored particles as they merge and swim across the screen. I could say more, but … Max sort of says it all. Here: I’m really excited about this video project, after the first live show it was the part that everyone was asking about – …

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