shamir

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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Now you can put a Buchla-style modular inside Reaktor, free

There’s nothing quite like a Buchla. The “West Coast” modular that inspired the likes of Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani has an approach to signal and expression that is both uniquely experimental and uniquely musical. It’s its own animal. So it’s about time we see that philosophy applied to the open patching of Reaktor. The Cloudlab 200t isn’t a Buchla clone – its creators are quick to issue a disclaimer there, and say this is all just for fun. But fun it is, with a lovely approach to patch design. Trevor Gavilan produced the design, with contributions and components from …

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These circuit-bent instruments and sounds are simply gorgeous

Mention “circuit bending” and you may think of someone making unlistenable noise on a Speak & Spell they … broke. But in the grand tradition of Reed Ghazala, circuit bending can mean instruments that have exquisitely mutated from vintage devices, resplendent in new paint and making bizarre but wonderful new sounds. I guess you can think of it as the difference between a conservatory-trained woodwind quintet and … the sound of your first-grade music class playing those plastic recorders. Ivo Ivanov is squarely in the master builder category. We can drool over his visually beautiful creations, in this gallery here. …

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DU-VHS = what TV would be if it were glitchy, nerdy, and underground

Our friends at the hypergeeky, futuristic Detroit Underground have built an app. And it’s full of videos, layered in a VHS-style retro video interface. DU-VHS is available now for iOS (iPad and iPhone both), and as a Web app accessible through any browser, all for free. Step inside, and you’re treated to an explosion of electronic sound and image – burbling, bleeping hyperactive musical textures, and degraded retro-videocorder lo-fi renditions of videos. There are music videos, loads of live performances, and even interviews and synthesizer odds and ends. It’s the work of designer Jean Christophe Naour. If you’re wondering why …

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Recreate classic MP3 visualizers, free – and use them in VJ apps

It’s funny, some things you really didn’t imagine looking back on with nostalgia. And yet, there you are – reminiscing about the days of staring at your Winamp MP3 visualizer. Well, I totally missed it, but there are some free projects that let you bring back those visualizers. Better still, you can pipe them into VJ apps on both Mac and Windows. First off, MilkDrop itself is a fascinating story. I won’t dive all the way down that rabbit hole at the moment, but here’s a short version of the story. Creator Ryan Geiss was (and is) a talented electronic …

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euro808

System 80 is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack

Wait… I don’t think I’ve ever basically said everything I needed to say in a story right in the headline before, but… yeah. This is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack. And for anyone disappointed that Roland didn’t do a TR-08 Boutique Series at NAMM, here’s one that is probably exactly as analog fans would want it. You get the layout of the original 808, if a bit miniaturized and squashed, but control-for-control an image of the original. You get independent outs for each part. You get CV I/O for connecting to other modules. It’s Eurorack. It’s 60HP. It looks …

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Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering

Perhaps the most unexpected product news this month is Roland’s unveiling of RolandCloud. It’s a subscription service from the hardware maker, the biggest component of which is providing access to a range of software plug-ins. Roland, while one of biggest names ever in hardware and synthesizers, is still a relative newcomer to software. But their PLUG-OUT line has steadily built up to library of a few instruments. That includes modeled remakes of classic synths (SH-101, PROMARS, SH-2, SYSTEM-100) and one new synth (SYSTEM-1). Those instruments – and two just-announced new ones – are the first additions to the subscription service. …

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discman

A patchable, circuit bent Sony Discman turns into a glitch instrument

It’s happened: CD players are officially retro/vintage. (Heck, so is the iPod at this point.) But that means it’s time to open them up and glitch them out – at least for some intrepid inventors, that is. Actually, this video is itself vintage, coming from the innocent days of 2012. (Ah – remember then? If only we knew what world awaited us in 2017. We’d… probably have hidden in a basement and all started circuit bending Sony CD players.) Anyway, I digress. Sony Discman. Renamed “Discbitch” – complete with laser-etched name on the case. Patchable. Glitching. Watch: Somehow, it’s trending …

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Grab 150 vintage and rare drum machines for free

You know the person – collecting weird old music gear, from highly valuable to the near-worthless used prices, as an obsessive hoarder. You open their closet and immediately want to grab a mic and start sampling. Well, that’s the feeling of this totally free library of drum machine sounds. You get a 200MB library, with 150 drum machines. They’re eminently playable, too, with General MIDI mappings so you don’t have to hunt around for the sounds. They’re also grouped (kick, snare, hat, cymbal, tom). And there’s a lot of work here – custom graphics for each kit and custom controls …

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Spaceship Delay is an insane free plug-in inspired by hardware

Spaceship Delay is a free modeling plug-in for Mac and Windows with some wild effects. And it’s made possible partly thanks to the openness of hardware from KORG (and us). The plug-in itself you shouldn’t miss, and if you’re interested in how it’s made, there’s a story there, too. First, the plug-in — it’s really cool, and really out there, not so much a tame modeling effect as a crazy bundle of extreme sonic possibilities. In fact, it’s as much a multi-effects processor as it is a delay. Here it is in action, just quickly applying some of the sounds …

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