Can you whistle? Can you hum? Sing? Dance? Let’s assume for a moment that the problem isn’t your musicality, because you have something to express. The point of technology and music skill is really to express that inner musicality. For a beautiful demonstration of that, watch one guy roam the streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood with one piece of gear – and make an amazing song just from looping.
You know a classic Roland 202, 303, 404, 606, 707, 808, 909, and whatnot can make techno. But in the hands of Andreas Tilliander, these vintage Roland boxes are like classical instrumentation. They can form delicate ambient ensembles, or dark, pounding rhythms. And far from being only a grid to switch on and off, they become improvisational tools that spawn live performances and organic sessions. It’s little wonder that Andreas goes by the moniker TM404 – the Swedish-born producer seems like he might have been raised by a family of Roland boxes rather than humans. So, we took the opportunity …
Native Instruments keeps adding to Reaktor Blocks, the patch-and-play toolkit they’ve built atop Reaktor. And… it’s turning into kind of an awesome product in its own right. Reaktor Blocks 1.2 adds a bunch of the sort of stuff I think you or I would add to it were we in charge of the product. It’s suddenly got drums. It’s got a new sequencer that you can power with Maschine. It’s connecting via MIDI and CV to outboard gear and analog modular. In short, it’s something you actually want to play with.
YouTube is a mystery – completely arbitrary videos getting down votes for no reason, arbitrarily angry comments, spam, conspiracy theories… well, one artist has decided, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Artist Arkaei has made a very respectable live looper performance using Ableton Live and Push 2. And rather than wait, he’s delivered it with its own angry comments. Call it con-troll-erism. (Uff, let me really apologize for that.)
Field recording isn’t just an empty exercise. It can change how you think. Just listen to Chris Watson, who records nature for a living: “Listening in a positive way – that is, actively taking the decision to focus on certain things and reject others … stimulates my thought process. It makes me think more laterally about problem solving. It makes me think in a different way.”
Okay, obvious disclaimer. Please do not prank call Ableton tech support. They’re busy, hard-working people. But … this is hilarious (as is the fact that it’s labeled as a tech support call “from Berghain”). A custom-built Launchpad and Live hacked to run inside Linux? Going with the flow and working the audience when a glitching Live set randomly launches clips? At least this scenario sounds like a plausible one involving a regular CDM reader. Listen:
It looks like a small remote control for a game system, but it’s a musical instrument. The OP-Z caught our imagination earlier this year at NAMM with a host of bizarre and wonderful functions, from sequenced instruments and drums to live visual animation accompaniment (seriously). Now, Cuckoo Music catches up with Teenage Engineering in his ongoing video series. That means a chance to see how the pocket music gizmo has progressed, as well as what’s happening with live visuals. Teenage Engineer David Mollerstedt joins: Meanwhile, TE’s instruments see other lovely action. Mikael Jorgensen writes CDM to tell us about his …
This one’s too good to wait. Gustavo Bravetti, the Uruguay-born producer and DJ, is already something of a maximalist. He’s the sort of person who can rock alternative controllers live on a mainstage in front of massive festival crowds – the powerful counter-example to the notion that such high-pressure gigs have to be press-play. And now, he’s been hard at work on a powerful tool for expanding the possibilities of performance on Elektron’s hardware, all using Push for control. I could ramble on, but the best way to follow this is to watch the extensive tutorial video he’s just posted:
As part of a collaboration with Novation, we spoke with artists Shawn Rudiman and My Panda Shall Fly about how they’re working with Novation’s Circuit. Both artists got their hands on the updates to the Circuit hardware in advance – providing drag-and-drop sample loading and sample editing. They talk a bit about what that’s meant to them – and what they think about working with hardware in general.
We revere the modular synthesizers of the past, but that ignores important innovations both in how modules are designed and how people play. Apart from the fact that Eurorack is quite a lot slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than its predecessors, we have vastly expanded the range of what modules do in ways that lend themselves to live performances. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – a modular performance still involves a lot of pre-patching for people, and there’s clearly something to be said for computers and standalone gear. But that’s perhaps partly the point: the modular solution can stand …