Andrew Quinn / Nikolay Popov AV performance.

How one community was mapping the future of visuals this summer

There’s a shift on in the worldwide community of visualists, of the growing field of people using electronic visuals as a medium for performance, art, and inquiry. As these media become more mature and more international, there’s a renewed sense of closeness among practitioners. While big media festivals focus on novelty and show, these maker-to-maker events emphasize something else: craft. This summer seemed a particularly historic moment for not one but two tools – each of them built by small teams who make art themselves. We already covered the Berlin gathering for Isadora, the visual performance tool that has rich …


Zont is a futuristic pocket synth that takes snap-in cartridges

Time to start singing about how we’re the operator with our pocket calculator again. The ZONT Synthesizer is an upcoming handheld instrument. And it’s what one designer imagines for the synths of the future. Apart from being tiny, you can change its function by snapping cartridges in and out – Game Boy style. And whereas we think of synths now as big, clunky boxes with wires coming out of them, the ZONT can either plug into a desktop dock for connectivity or connect wirelessly. We’ve had a chat with its designer to see what’s in store.


DU-QVJ is a handmade pendant that makes glitchy visuals

Record releases are old and tired. So are jewelry. Let’s solve this: with a wearable 8-bit necklace and pendant that takes audio input and turns it into weird visualizations – of course. DU-QVJ is a collaboration between Detroit Underground, the fantastic tastefully strange label, with Russian engineer Alexander Zolotov. Add a tiny battery, plug in audio input via one minijack, and optionally add headphones on the other end. In between, the object makes gorgeously lo-fi grungy imagery on its 128×64 monochrome OLED display. Forget Apple Watch or even Pebble: here’s the wearable you want. It looks like what Lieutenant Worf …


The next prank call you get could come from this crazy synth

::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone. Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?)


A tour of musical inspiration in Moscow from Pixelord, Novation

Bridging the worlds of bass music and video games, Pixelord is a Siberian-born artist transplanted to Moscow. In a new video from Novation, he takes the English manufacturer on a tour of his sources of inspiration in the Russian capital. This is of course by no means a complete tour of Moscow or its scene – that’s like having one person show you around The Netherlands for nine minutes. (Actually, literally like that.) But you do get a nice little taste of Alexey Devyanin’s personality, in the midst of a new album he’s working on.


14 videos to remind you why it’s fun to play techno live

For many of us, there’s a special pleasure to seeing someone play live – and dancing to someone playing live. And by “live,” I don’t mean “a bunch of your tracks cued up as scenes in Ableton Live or on an Elektron.” I mean genuinely improvised. Electronic dance music naturally lends itself to on-the-spot creation. A rigid grid, easily-understood conventions around instrumentation and form, and the fact that styles like techno are built around machines all add up to natural experimentation.


Silk is a giant string instrument that makes Bitcoin into music

::vtol:: silk from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Welcome to the Internet of Sounds. The latest from our friend vtol, aka prolific Moscow-based sound artist Dmitry Morozov, is an installation of tall, spindly metal towers strung with wire. Standing at two meters, motorized fingers pull on diagonal strings – five of them, for the dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar, and Ruble. The tune, though, is all about data. As Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrencies fluctuate in value against the more traditional currencies, the imagined monetary values generate new melodies and rhythms. Recalling both the controversial recent silk road and its historical analog, these …


Read the article Bob Moog wrote when he met Leon Theremin

It’s hard to imagine what the evolution of the synthesizer would have been without Leon Theremin. For one, it was Theremin’s invention that first captivated Robert Moog. Theremin kits were Dr. Moog’s first product and many would say, his first electronic instrumental love. That impact was significant, too, on a whole generation – actually, even my own father made building a kit Theremin one of his early experiences with electronics. The fall of the Soviet Union still has ripples felt in the electronic music world today. And surely there’s no more poignant moment in the intertwining of post-Cold War history …


These mics capture sounds from the edge of human hearing – and beyond

Here’s how much Slovak label LOM loves field recordings and strange sounds: they didn’t just stop with releasing a few wild experimental ambient albums. They’ve gotten into the boutique mic business. They’re creating new hardware that lovingly captures electro-magnetic fields. They’re printing t-shirts with custom designs to show their passion in illustrated form. These are people who are really passionate about recording. And you can get bit by the same addiction. Let’s have a look at what they’re offering.


Duet for Singer and Jet Plane: A Soviet Airliner as Instrument

Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines. As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process. The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. …