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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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Analog Strings from Output melds string orchestras, string synths

There are string synths. And then there are sample libraries of orchestras. The strings synths produce sounds that are recognizably vintage, and more or less unrelated to actual orchestras. The sample libraries can get into obsessive compulsive detail and sound like an orchestra. But either way, we’ve been there before. There are great string synths around, but they tend a certain direction. And sampled orchestra libraries, while great, give you that feeling that what you’ve really done is to skimp the musicians of the Bratislava Radio Orchestra on a gig (and your feeling of being in the room with a …

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Meet the guy you can blame for all those air horn sounds everywhere

The air horn is one of the weirder cultural tropes around today. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious – and it’s also ubiquitous, from radio ads to pop songs. It’s clearly out of its original context, but what was it’s original context, anyway? The answer to that is more clear-cut than you might imagine. But it also points a finger squarely at us cultural consumers and producers – that too much copy-paste could become a literal, repeated warning bell. Author Jeff Weiss actually wrote a beautiful essay for Red Bull Music Academy back in 2013″ In Search of the Air Horn In …

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Sloo is the maddest, most swarming soft synth you’ve ever heard

When was the last time you just got lost in a synthesizer? Like, when you forgot everything else you were doing and just turned knobs and forgot what hour it was? Well, if it’s been a while, you might want to try Sloo. If you want, you don’t actually need to read any more. Just know that Sloo is a thing for Reaktor from Tim Exile, and it involves a gazillion oscillators, and it will make totally mental noises. It feels like someone has just heated up a giant, hot, steaming Jacuzzi of oscillators and you’ve jumped in and dunked …

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Robin Fox talks epic AV performances and rare synthesizer archives

There’s barely a performance medium that Robin Fox hasn’t touched, not a form with which he hasn’t moved us. From laser AV spectacles to exhibitions to work with contemporary dance (including the wonderful Chunky Move), this Australian artist is the kind of multi-faceted mind we adore. And so we sent Anahit Mantarlian for a marathon interview, so we can all geek out accordingly. -Ed. Audiovisual experimentalist Robin Fox has been busy. In 2016, the Australian composer and laser charmer toured Europe, presented his latest show RGB to Atonal Festival, performed at the inaugural MUTEK.JP Tokyo, and opened an organization (alongside …

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Inside Zeno van den Broek’s raw immersive AV architectures

Strap on headphones, and the sixteen minutes of Shift Symm is a brain-tickling assault. Even just within the stereo field, raw textures rumble and dance until you feel the sound’s structures inside your head. I was attracted to Zeno van den Broek’s work partly because that sense of patterning in sound and visual formed a work I thought deserved special integrity as a release. This is to me an encouraging sign that there are new frontiers for archaic, exposed AV minimalism in the post raster-noton age. Shift Symm by Zeno van den Broek Shift Symm therefore saw a digital release …

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Raindrops inspire mesmerizing video by Max Cooper, Maxime Causeret

It’s good to be Max Cooper. The artist’s richly crafted sound designs are paired now with a series of music videos commissioned by motion designers. And the most mesmerizing of these is the stunning creation by Maxime Causeret. Driven by the organic sounds of recorded rain, spun into percussion, Causeret’s animations follow emergent systems of colored particles as they merge and swim across the screen. I could say more, but … Max sort of says it all. Here: I’m really excited about this video project, after the first live show it was the part that everyone was asking about – …

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Photo: Aoki Takamasa. Courtesy the artist.

raster-noton’s elusive Grischa Lichtenberger on creative sound

Grischa Lichtenberger is working with felt and stencils as well as sound. He’s speaking in hyperlinks, and misusing gear and feeding computers into other computers to form feedback loops. In short, he’s finding a unique and creative materialism in everything he does – and that means we really have to talk to him. So we sent Zuzana Friday to join in a delightfully esoteric conversation with the raster-noton artist. -Ed. Grischa Lichtenberger is a German musician and sound and installation artist, known for his releases on raster-noton. His immersive live performances oscillate between abrasive, aggressive compositions and intricate structures of …

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NI just gave away a bunch of morphing toy sounds from your childhood

Mighty morphin’ nostalgia rangers. That Fisher-Price “Pull-a-Tune” xylophone. The plastic turntable Fisher-Price musicbox. L.G.B. and Lionel locomotives. A tin robot. Even if these don’t bring up memories of your own childhood playtime or your family’s playthings or (uh, depending on age) a visit to the local toy museum, they’re full of charming, magical sounds. And in a free sample library from our Berlin neighbors at Native Instruments, you can mess around with them in a morphing 3D interface. It’s just what you need to produce some ghastly, gothic, creepy horror soundtrack to scare the living f– Oh, wait. Sorry. Holiday …

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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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