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Listen to Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ and the Emotional Content of the Laptop

I’m remiss in not posting this last week when it debuted, and I suspect many CDM readers have heard already, but if not – drop everything, and have a listen (in full) to ‘Platform,’ the new LP from composer/producer Holly Herndon. The full LP is now on Spotify, etc., or NPR First Listen. There’s a lot to discuss here. “Platform,” as the name implies, is intended as a first step toward other interactions. There’s the process and technique behind the music itself. A fearless champion of the laptop’s instrumental and compositional potential, Holly has made the album itself and the …

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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.

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Let Milena Kriegs’ Music Plunge You Into a Beautiful Abyss [Free Downloads]

Grim music is very much in vogue these days – the tell-tale sign being washed-out back and white photos that seem to have escaped from the liner covers of horror movie soundtracks, among other giveaways. But it can get carried away. You might sometimes wonder if producers were being paid by their reverb plug-ins in exchange for lengthening delay times. Milena Kriegs aka Milena Głowacka, however, is some blissfully frightening music I feel is worth listening to. Straddling darker, deeper techno and adventures into more ambient/experimental territory, this Warsaw-based artist is at the center of a growing amount of finely-crafted …

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This 1971 Dancing Rectangle from Poland Predicts Modern Techno, AV

Sonic history in electronic music may be made with technology, but it’s also the output of someone’s brain. As such, it’s natural that liberated creativity can produce all kinds of possibilities. And it should be no surprise that history sometimes comes in cycles. Or… make that rectangles. Speaking of Poland, this short animation, crafted in 1971, features spooky sounds that would be at home on any modern dark techno floor. Entitled “Prostokąt dynamiczny” – literally, “dynamic rectangle” – the animation is by experimental filmmaker Józef Robakowski, with music by the incredible Eugeniusz Rudnik. We saw Rudnik yesterday in our piece …

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Beauty in Repetition: Listen to Hanno Leichtmann’s Minimal Studies

Hypnotic repetitive gestures are perhaps the signature of our generation in music, the legacy of Reich and Glass and Monk and Riley and Young … and tape decks and computers and drum machines. But then, repetition is the very stuff of our bodies, of heartbeats and footsteps and brain waves. Mastering repetition is essential, then, to any compositional practice. It should be, literally, as natural as breathing in and breathing out. And it should have the potential to take on its own voice. That’s the sense I get of this work. Listening to Hanno Leichtmann’s music, you may drift off …

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Put a Radio in Your Modular: Music Thing Radio Music

Once upon a time, musicians made music from the sound content pouring invisibly, inaudibly from the air. The likes of John Cage and Kalrheinz Stockhausen turned the radio into stochastic source and instrument, a means of making music in the now. And now, you can, too, in the latest Eurorack module. Whether you want a modular or not, this is one module you definitely don’t need. You don’t need to act out Cage-ian fantasies and turn your local hit FM station greatest tracks of the 80s and 90s into an experimental noise performance. Nor do you really need to understand …

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Hear this Now: Shapednoise Does a Doom Mix And People are Listening

In the overabundant parade of mixes, you might easily grow weary of the sound-alike monotony of predictably-popular hits inserted back to back in a party-friendly groove. This is not that. The latest from Shapednoise is a mix for FACT that follows in a mold only in that it’s as violently depressing as you’d expect if you’d been following this artist. You know, depressing in a … stimulating way. Shapednoise begins by dropping you out an airlock for a zero-gravity dance of archaic tribal rituals. And from there, things more or less descend into an angry, room-clearing procession of reverbs and …

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Perfect, Beautiful Music for Free From Erased Tapes [2014 in Review]

Erased Tapes was an endlessly inspiring label in 2014. With a singular, understated focus on quality and music orbiting the keyboard, the acoustic, and minimal post-classical introspection, they were a calming counterpart to the year’s steroid-pumped festival commercialism. And first and foremost, they were about records — not fancy design accessories, not “throw everything at a wall and see what sticks” experiments in distribution. (There’s a place for that, yes, but a record label about records was nonetheless refreshing.) And Nils Frahm was a consistent star amidst all of this, a favorite live performer cutting across genres, wrangling keys electronic …

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Careful, drinking this much coffee could start some Internet feuding. I know. Photo from the artist.

deadmau5 Goes Experimental on SoundCloud, and it’s Kind of Awesome

Enjoy it, because this will be about the only time something this weird racks up hundreds of thousands of SoundCloud plays. Yes, it’s Toronto’s Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5, uploading this week to SoundCloud. 432 is an ode to 432 Hz, with horror movie-spooky sounds oozing over the top. “DAT KICK DOE” from earlier this year is a raunchy, thumping distorted loop. (Back story: this sonic horror is how deadmau5 trolls. Well, I’m all for sound as a way to settle feuds.) This is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a return to the service after he deleted it …

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Obsessing About Sound and Process: Climb Into Stewart Walker’s Ivory Tour

There’s a Japanese Taishogoto and vintage Lexicon PCM reverb and loads of computer production. But even for us souls tempted by gear lust, it’s the soul of process that has us talking, and talking, and talking – and listening, on repeat – with Stewart Walker. Native Instruments employee by day, prolific producer by night, he was kind enough to give us an extensive window into his world for CDM. In the dizzying flurry of music racing past, Stewart Walker’s “Ivory Tower Broadcast” is one I keep coming back to me. It’s one that somehow I’ve gotten closer to on repeated …

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