Andrew Quinn / Nikolay Popov AV performance.

How one community was mapping the future of visuals this summer

There’s a shift on in the worldwide community of visualists, of the growing field of people using electronic visuals as a medium for performance, art, and inquiry. As these media become more mature and more international, there’s a renewed sense of closeness among practitioners. While big media festivals focus on novelty and show, these maker-to-maker events emphasize something else: craft. This summer seemed a particularly historic moment for not one but two tools – each of them built by small teams who make art themselves. We already covered the Berlin gathering for Isadora, the visual performance tool that has rich …

From "Grid Index," Carsten Nicolai catalog, raster-noton.

raster-noton founders on how they found visual inspiration

Few electronic labels or acts have an identity as well defined as raster-noton, and its co-founders Bytone (Olaf Bender) and alva noto (Carsten Nicolai). And I don’t just mean single cycle waveforms or quick bursts of noise, hard-edged projected high contrast geometries or digital aesthetics, though those associations will certainly spring to mind. Even as the label has expanded in its musical scope in recent years, it has retained a sense that aesthetics themselves matter, that its artist roster are capable of painting with sound and exposing the process of using technology. Understanding where that comes from visually is key …


Tresor at 25 set to prove it’s anything but a museum

Berlin’s Tresor club turns 25 this year, celebrating with a four day festival next week. And the lineup is just completely and totally insane. If you took, say, the Thursday night program out of context, you might be excused for believing it was the headliners for an entire festival. The festival says as much about the healthy state of techno as it does about Tresor – but Tresor is without question one of the venues at the center of that world.


Hear the epic live set Skinnerbox played at Fusion Festival

We have the technology. We have the capability to play live sets on mainstages. And for a brilliant example of that, look no further than the frenetic, exquisitely hyperactive acid performances of Skinnerbox. Their set at Fusion Festival from this weekend demonstrates that you can command massive mobs of dance lovers outdoors with live sets, too. And maybe you thought such things were confined to chin-scratching handfuls of nerds.


A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …


Berlin warms up for techno and visuals in a Portuguese castle

Techno lineups don’t have to be scraped off of the top of DJ charts and Google searches. And visuals don’t have to look like a screensaver that got drunk. Festival Forte, set for the end of August at the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, between Porto and Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is a glimpse of something different. Already last year, it ran against the grain of dumbed down summer festivals with some of the bleeding edge of concert visuals, set to an exceptional lineup. And it appears to be set to do that again. So, let’s check in on what’s happening …

Photo: Adam Michaud.

Venetian Snares has a new album and warms up Poland

Summer music season, like summer movie season, can feel, well, repetitive. It’s blockbusters and popcorn fare, both ways. But there are some diversions from that narrative. And one is the award-winning festival Tauron Nowa Muzyka, in Katowice. That town is building on its industrial past, literally – the festival takes place on the site of a coal mine. But it also suggests a new direction both for electronic music and Poland itself. Now in its eleventh edition, Tauron Nowa Muzyka is reaching beyond its normal premises. And this makes a perfect excuse to talk about raw source of fresh energy …

Graham Dunning; photo by Julien Kerduff.

This month, a far-reaching convergence of ideas in music

What will the next wave of invention in music technology look like? Will it follow a narrow course of iteration – a new interface, a new synthesis technique? Or will the next leaps come from networks of ideas, from what happens when different disciplines and cultures collide, when music technology turns to the broader matters of how music is made and how it impacts people? I rather believe in the latter. And that could be why Berlin is the place where so often people gather to work out the next big thing. There’s no single music research center, no formal …

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In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …


Ex-DDR radio facility turns into an alternative synth show

Forget sterile, corporate convention halls. Instead, this week the Communist-chic East German radio facility Funkhaus will be transformed into the sort of synthesizer summit only Andreas Schneider and his crew could imagine. It’s called, somewhat confusingly, the “Superbooth” – a reference to what had been a jam-packed exhibition stand at Frankfurt’s Musikmesse. Now, instead of squeezing into some tables and shouting over the din of a trade show, the happening that was in Frankfurt has a sprawling space. Just how big? Well, let’s let Andreas take us on a tour of the wonderful rooms of the wonderful building where all …