The mash-up of an 808 and the US elections no one asked for

I’d wager at this point 100% of you would rather think about drum machines than the American elections. But somewhere, vintage voting machines – they of the hole punch and hanging chads – await retirement. Here, they get a second lease on life. Instead of gloomily voting for Trump or accidentally for Pat Buchanan, they can produce sliced-up audiovisual jams. (Hey, if you’re going to have to watch debate clips ad infinitum, why not turn it into something you can dance to?) Maybe beat box voting machines would be the answer to get Millennials to the polls. So, basically what …

Your new stage, your new studio. Photo: Hai Art Hailuoto.

Watch crazy sounds meet remote Finnish countryside

“Electronic music needs to be wilder” was the challenge issues by Matt Black (NinjaTune, Coldcut) last year at Ableton Loop at a talk I moderated. But maybe this could be interpreted as “into the wild” in a difference sense. At the moment, I’m part of an ongoing series of residencies that takes that in a different direction – taking music performance (electronic, electro-acoustic, and acoustic) into unexpected natural environments.


A composition you can only hear by moving your head

“It’s almost like there’s an echo of the original music in the space.” After years of music being centered on stereo space and fixed timelines, sound seems ripe for reimagination as open and relative. Tim Murray-Browne sends us a fascinating idea for how to do that, in a composition in sound that transforms as you change your point of view.


Lesley Flanigan’s ethereal music mixes singing and vibrations

There’s no oscillator quite like your voice. And sometimes the simplest techniques can yield elaborate textures. Lesley Flanigan has built a body of work out of an elemental approach to electronics, and her new release Hedera is to me the most beautiful yet, transporting us somewhere truly sublime. The source, in addition to singing, includes feedback, a broken cassette player – but evolves into mists of sound and space, shifting from the delicate to the raw.

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Watch techno made entirely with physical, mechanical objects

Techno has become folk art, popular music idiom. Yet it’s still often viewed through the machines that first made it. What if you could give it some sort of physical, mechanical form? That’s what Graham Dunning has done with Mechanical Techno. And in a new video (produced by Michael Forrest), he shows how it’s done.

A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.


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?)


Meet Eurorack modules with literal dirt, radiation, coded viruses

If you like dirt in your distortion, now you can have … literal dirt. Like, a big pile of Earth inside a Eurorack, conditioning an amplifier circuit and producing distortion. That kind of dirt. I don’t want to say that Eurorack buyers will now buy anything, but you be the judge: 40 buyers sold out the first run of the ERD/ERD “Earth Return Distortion” and filled up the wait list. (What I don’t know is whether anyone took the manufacturer up on the sale offer – send dirt from a cool place, get a discount.)


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 …


This Computer Singing 90s Love Ballads will Break Your Heart

What do machines sing of? from Martin Backes on Vimeo. While Google has imagined how machines might dream, media artist and multi-disciplinary technologist Martin Backes has revealed how they sing. And not just bad karaoke, either. Following in the footsteps of a legacy of machine vocals that originates with Max Mathews’ Daisy Bell, a computer rendition so ground-breaking it was featured in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, Mr. Backes has gone one step further. He wanted to produce an algorithm that would make a computer seem to emote. Grab a mic, and this is a sound art installation. A installation in …