This Is What Happens When Vintage Robot Voices Make an Album

We hope that music will always have tribes of people keeping esoteric traditions alive – your Renaissance musical ensemble, your Slovenian folk instrumentalists. It just happens that electronic technologies have attracted their own followings, cultivating knowledge of Texas Instruments chips found in specific arcade games the way some people might maintain a balalaika. Chip singers have never gotten the kind of attention synthesizers have. But if Moog – and the synth itself – can look to Keith Emerson’s “Lucky Man,” fans of robotic sung vocals will always have Humanoid. The seminal acid track “Stakker Humanoid” was the work of artists …

Susanne Ciani is a beacon of inspiration - not simply a pioneer to visit in the archives, but working on fresh, new collaborations, a light for 2014, too.

Watch These Amazing Suzanne Ciani Videos – then Let Neotantrik Launch You Into Dreamland

The electronic music calendar makes the shift of seasons readily apparent. It’s not unlike the movies. Gone is summer blockbuster season, sequels and comic book movies, Ibiza and confetti cannons, big-budget special effects. Now, as in the cinemas, it’s date night dinner and a movie, trip-out night, delicious chin scratching, voyages to other worlds. And it’s not that we love this time because it’s smarter and summer is dumber: it’s because this is the season where the festival calendar can bring us deeper pleasures, richer sensations, and more powerful feelings, the shallow popcorn diversions out of the way. There’s indeed …


The Intellivision Synthesizer: Twisted Electrons’ AY3 is a Chiptunes Desktop Synth

8-bit, lo-fi digital, and chip music-influenced sounds have become interwoven with the sounds of modern synthesis. But make no mistake: the AY3 is what you get when you build a desktop synth with the soul of a vintage 80s game console. Made by Twisted Electrons, who make iPad apps and a Eurorack module, as well, the AY3 is synth hardware powered by a music hip of yore. Inside are two 8912 chips, combined for 6-voice polyphony, which give this instrument the same distinctive sound as classic game scores and other music made on the hardware. The 8912, you see, is …

Artist Decktonic, aka Christian Montoya, hovers over his sound machines, as neon-fantastic as his music sounds. Photo courtesy the artist; (CC-BY-NC) Ben Mason.

Retro-futuristic and Free: All DS-10 Music from Decktonic [Download, Video, CC]

A generation of gaming has done something to our ears. It has primed listeners to appreciate the sound of digital instruments in raw form: dry and immediate, crisply-synchronized machine dance music. So, while I wouldn’t call the music of Decktonic “chip music” or “game music,” somehow it’s a modern take on each. It’s retro-futuristic, electro-techno unadorned with effects. And, hell, while Korg’s DS-10 running on Nintendo DS is far from a high-fidelity sound experience, there’s something irresistibly funky about its sound. Listening to the DS-10 dry in the hands of a creative musician can be a cure for the ear …


Music Made with Korg iPolysix – And Nothing Else: Live Demos to iPad Chip Music

Doing more with less, and embracing limitations: it’s oft-repeated advice in music making. Maybe it’s repeated so often that it ceases to mean anything; I can find no harm in making music using the massive possibilities of a packed studio of gear or the endless depth of a computer. So, instead, doing more with less can be something you do just because it’s liberating. It means you can make music on a budget. It means you can make music when you’re on a bus with nothing but a first-generation iPad and a copy of Polysix. It can mean, psychologically, that …


In Bad Hotel, Addictive iOS Game, Composing Music to Tapped Interactions [Behind the Scenes]

What if a game made you both player and remixer/composer? What if that music plugged into your gameplay brain just like the interactive elements? This week, we get another try at just that – and find out how the whole thing works behind the scenes, with free software you can use, too. If you’re like me, you’ve loved the soaring, gaslight-style music soundtrack, as it makes its sweep across a film, swelling at just the right moments. Or you’ve closed your eyes and enjoyed the frozen narrative of a great score or great record as it washes over you. But …


Sword & Sworcery, Remixed By Japanese Game Music Legends [Preview]

This may sum up how I feel about this project. It almost certainly embodies how composer Jim Guthrie must have felt, as a who’s who of Japanese game music takes on his work. Photo (of the Tokyo Game Show, natch) (CC-BY) kanegen. Sword & Sworcery, the iPad album-as-game, has gotten plenty of love from this site before, and recognition for friend-of-the-site composer Jim Guthrie. (See Jim open up about what happened behind the scenes.) Now, it seems the Canadian songwriter and soundmaker will meet up with some of the biggest game composers from Japan in a unique remix album. In …


A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …


Portal 2’s Musical World, Available Free, in Non-Adaptive Form “For Testing”

Portal 2? It’s only love, and that is all. Following the score in adaptive – and freely-downloadable non-adaptive – form. Photo (CC-BY-ND) _Superbeast_. Game lovers may lap up anything the title Portal touches as though it’s covered in powdered sugar, but resident Valve Software composer Mike Morasky deserves special mention. His music for Portal, and now Portal 2, is dead-on: chilly, atmospheric, dystopian, but also pulsing with energy and able to capture the gaming blockbuster’s strange combination of diabolical cerebral puzzles with wit. It’s all the more impressive, as Morasky has straight-up parodied musical styles in his whimsical Team Fortress …


Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery

Jim Guthrie was a rockstar long before the iPad was. Paired with pixel-intense artist Craig D. Adams (aka Superbrothers) and the co-design and coding effort of a crack team of video game “wizards” at the indie studio capy, he’s made a soundtrack that’s destined to be a gaming classic. But if you don’t want to play it, you can still listen to it. And if you’re playing it, you may find that it feels as though you’re listening to it, and gazing into its artwork. From the moment you tap to launch it, Swords & Sworcery plunges you into a …