This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …

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How Music Label Vlek Makes Ephemeral Sound Physical, While Giving Away Their Catalog [Gallery, Interview]

When music moved from live venues to radios and recordings, artists had to find a way to respond. Now, labels struggle to be heard in the era of Spotify and streaming, always-on, always-overabundant media. We could talk grander themes, but the possibilities of this conflict are most vivid in a microcosm. Call it post-digital or what you will, but being digital now means something different. For Belgian label, Vlek, that reality takes a number of forms, suggestive of the direction for independent electronic music. And so, in Ssaliva’s release for Vlek, executed by Dimitri Runkkari (part of Brussels’ design studio …

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C64s, Control Voltage, MIDI … iPads, Keyboards and Audio: NAMM Saturday [Gallery, Impressions]

Everything old is new again. And everything new is everywhere – at least if we’re talking iPads and so on. At Anaheim’s massive gathering of music gear, there were some definite themes. Photographing for CDM, James Grahame and Marsha Vdovin give us a look at the tools on the floor. James has stumbled upon various fascinating oddities, and of course the booth celebrating MIDI’s 30th anniversary. (We’ll be talking more about MIDI’s history and legacy in the coming weeks.) From top, the keyboard models that made the history first connection, and a Commodore 64 talking to an iPad. Synthtopia has …

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With Pop-Up Store, Party, and … Rectangles, vvvv Celebrates 10 Years of Visual Power [Gallery]

It’s hard to believe – especially as the software remains at the bleeding edge of what you can accomplish with a GPU – but visual programming environment vvvv is now one decade old. It’s one of a handful of tools that has powered the most eye-popping projects of those years, and so it’s little surprise that users and artists around Berlin would pack a developer-led event on Friday to celebrate its birthday. This was no ordinary party. The big reveal for vvvv users: full DirectX 11 support is coming around Christmas – stay tuned for that. (The DX11 implementation is …

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Cubasis: Cubase Goes Mobile on the iPad; Steinberg Answers Our Workflow Questions [Gallery]

I’ll take one DAW, to go? Cubasis isn’t the first traditional-style DAW to appear on the iPad. But it could be the most complete offering yet. I’ll be testing it later this month, but I’m already impressed that the software appears to strike some balance between the traditional working methods of a DAW and the need for streamlined, fat-fingered control on an iPad. Most significantly, it also offers connectivity with other iOS apps and hardware, meaning it could be an ideal mobile sequencer for other apps and gear, and, allows you to integrate with desktop software and Steinberg’s own Cubase. …

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Endeavour’s Evo, Touch-Sensitive Keyboard, Reimagined, Now From EUR499 [Gallery, Videos]

Endeavour’s evo keyboard closely resembles a conventional music keyboard controller. But its piano-style keys and high-performance internals are custom engineered from the ground up for additional expression. High-speed connections mean lower latency than is possible with MIDI, and touch- and pressure-sensitive keys allow additional ways of adding to a performance, all in an aluminum case hand-built in Germany. I was impressed playing the keyboard at Musikmesse earlier this year, but cost put this innovative instrument out of reach of many would-be experimenters. Now, as the product matures, pricing is coming down to Earth. A 24-key version – perhaps just fine, …

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Maschine, in Color: First CDM Hands-On With New Maschine Hardware, Software [Gallery]

Looks smart. There are smart features coming in version 1.8, too – and you get Massive for free. Photos by Arvid Jense for CDM. In living color: the popular drum machine – combining integrated hardware and software – is more colorful, but also more usable, via updates to the screen and pads alike. We’ve gotten a hands-on test with the gear to share some first-hand first impressions. Native Instruments’ Maschine hardware gets a major update today, and color is likely the first thing you’ll notice. The pads are backlit with a rainbow of RGB LEDs, as found on NI’s Kontrol …

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Mouse on Mars: In the Studio, and Reflecting on Performance, Listening, and Melody

Mouse on Mars’ Parastrophics for Monkeytown has been an early highlight of the year, a record packed with musical ideas in densely-configured arrays of sound. The duo is now taking that music on the road, in ambitious, improvisatory live performances. Perhaps all of this can be summed up in one word: energy. Their studio and its arrangements of objects has an energy, an energy that’s present in the craft in the record. And talking to the artists, you get a sense of energy, of enthusiasm, crackling away like an amped-up oscillator. It was therefore a pleasure to get to hear …

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Pictures at an Exhibition: Essential New Gear and Reflections from NAMM

Dewanatron’s Brian and Leon were on-hand with their unique inventions. Photos by Marsha Vdovin for CDM. For the lover of musical instruments and technology, southern California’s NAMM show is a giant toy shop. It’s work for many of its attendees, of course, but we know many of our readers dream of the objects that will make their next creations. And sure, inspiring lust is not our aim; on the contrary, there is some love that goes into these things. In the ideal, that’s the relationship of creator and consumer. These are things not to be bought and discarded, but kept …

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Crowd-funded Sculpture, Made by Binder Clips, an Inkjet Printer, and a Lasercutter

Softlab are at it again, with a spectacular, generated architectural volume. I was part of a group show with them last year; then, they worked entirely with the lasercutter. In the spring, they did a small work that switched media, making each piece of the installation with an inkjet printer to apply color. (Hey, it’s wildly expensive thanks to ink costs, but simple – and with photo paper, looks gorgeous.) Now, they’ve put the two together: it’s a large volume, playing with interior and exterior form, it uses the inkjet-printed cards, and it’s held together with binder clips. It’s installed …

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