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With Autist and Rainbow Arabia, pop retro futurism meets the club

Electronic music’s popular future is unquestionably tied up with techno nightclubs – for better and for worse. And that’s perhaps no more true than in Berlin, birthplace of Traktor and Ableton Live, in this nation that birthed major DAWs and modular revivals, then became a beacon for the use of said tools to make dance music. So the question is, where do we go from here? Are clubs about producing effective repetition (literally), or are they also some kind of laboratory for new hybrids of styles? I’m involved in a second time in a Thursday night experiment of sorts at …

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An earnest album, recorded to four-track, as Shamir looks for hope

We often describe quality pop and songwriting as effortless, as easy. But what about when it’s awkward, uncomfortable? Aren’t those the moments that describe longing? When Shamir Bailey says he recorded his album to four track, the first thing I’m obligated to consider is, of course – he might be lying. And ground hum and hiss shouldn’t be accepted as any form of authenticity any more than should an Instagram filter. But there’s no question artists today bear some burden of the polished album, whether in the form of the tools we use and their opportunities for endless obsessive adjustment, …

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The DX7 - one of three instruments in a new library for Ableton Live. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Bernd Sieker.

Go full retrowave with a magical FM synth library for Ableton

FM is a conundrum. On one hand, it’s the ideal form of synthesis, capable of a rich range of sounds and transformations. On the other, it’s hard to actually get all that sound under control – the very thing that range would make you want to do. And accordingly, a lot of sound libraries have just skipped over FM altogether. Not our man Francis Preve and Symplesound. Here’s the concept: make FM fun and playable again. Make FM something where you want to start toying around and turning knobs, without fear that you’re going to get lost in a muddle …

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Funklet teaches you your favorite grooves in your browser

You can learn a lot from a drummer. The best grooves of all time are meticulously constructed – and understanding them means understanding a lot about rhythm and form. So these are objects worth study. What your Web browser can do is make that study easier – even if you’ve never touched a drum kit. That comes at the right time, too. Thanks to the power of the computer and electronic music hardware, we’ve all of us become composers or expanded our compositional horizons. We may not imagine that we’re composing drum parts when we mess about with drum machines …

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Virginia’s Fierce For The Night brings the heart house needs

Caught in the shadow of lost idols and shaken faith, pop is wanting some new soul. Now, Ostgut Ton might be the last place you’d expect to look for one of 2016’s great songwriting fixes. (“Singing along” and “Berghain” tend not to be uttered together.) And yet, here we are. Virginia, the Panorama Bar resident, as a new record. And it’s an utter triumph.

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Listen to how pop hits have evolved over the years

There’s a simple antidote to the endless circular “pop music was better in the old days” debate: actually listen to the songs. A new interactive tool lets you do just that. But warning: it may not be as pleasurable to turn back time as you think.

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SX on how they make electronic gospel so good it “Hurts”

SX are the embodiment of just how dynamic DIY music can be. The Belgian duo, now in their second outing, make music that’s unmistakably pop, but with plenty of raw power humming under the hood. And Benjamin and Stefanie are fully invested in their collaboration in every last detail of production, from studio to music video to live. I wanted to talk to them primarily about how that creative process came together.

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Music is getting worse, unless of course it isn’t

Complaining about pop music is probably the safest form of musical clickbait imaginable. After all, who isn’t annoyed by at least some earworm, some teeny-bopper celeb? If you long for still more of that, we have another white guy shouting at a camera about it – and, to be fair, some of this is reasonably funny. There’s just one problem: is the argument that music is getting progressively worse actually true – or even asking the most relevant questions?

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Glitchy pop and psycho-surreal videos from Hungary’s RUMEX

So, now that summer is over (northern hemisphere), was yours, well, f***ed up? RUMEX understands. Don’t miss the surreal, now award-winning video from this young, now-as-yet-unknown Hungarian artist.

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iPhone app for making cover songs, a sign of a changing music world

The music industry is fantastic at hindsight. We’ve obsessed over the spread of online piracy, the death of the CD, then the impact of streams. But every measure of the business model is somehow framed around acquiring records. And it’s about passive consumption. We have to remember, though, that passive consumption is itself really the outlier. Until the dawn of recording, music only existed when you played it. Our current copyright and licensing system was first structured around sheet music. And that world never went away. Precise recordings can give you the experience of listening, but no technology can give …

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