Photo: Bobby Collins.

Step inside the mystical sound world of Circular Ruins

Circular Ruins’ auditory landscapes are rich and strange, hypnotic rituals of loops and layers. They’re dark, but somehow un-menacing – safely resonating with whatever dangers live there. The artist speaks to us here about process, and zeitgeist, and cassette tapes. And we get to premiere the full release. We have a look round his studio and rig along the way. Circular Ruins happens to be Marijn Degenaar, who also happens to be on the design team at CDM. Oddly, friends and I have each done a double-take there, discovering his music through some other channel only to find out later …

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STEREO FIELD is a beautiful touchplate instrument and controller

This might just be a real spiritual successor to the Cracklebox. (That’s the classic – and very nicely unpredictable – creation of Michel Waisvisz, one associated with the research program at STEIM and many of the ideas about expression and nonlinear sound ever since.) STEREO FIELD is a sound box / controller centered around touch plates, marked with concentric overlapping circles that represent the interconnection of two analog stereo circuits. It’s a sound generator: you can make some (raw sounding) analog, atonal sounds by patching its circuitry to an output. It’s also a sound processor: use incoming signal to combine …

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Look inside the world of cassette tape culture in this short film

The 21st Century is bringing a yearning for physical objects and low fidelity – two threads that perfectly combine in the anachronistic cassette tape. Now, I find talking about cassettes tends to get some chortles, perhaps people mumbling under their breath about hipsters. But as production times and costs rise for producing vinyl, cassettes are a way of producing consumable goods on the cheap, quickly. And that makes them a likely antidote to the ephemeral digital file, in a way that the bland office equipment of a USB stick is unlikely to accomplish. Burn to tape, then, and you’ve got …

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30drop

You Haven’t Heard of 30drop, But You Should Hear This New LP [Techno]

30drop has mysteriously arrived from Detroit Underground (aka “detund”), those purveyors of strange and wonderful techno and experimental music. You may think you’ve heard of 30drop, but apart from the release last week, you almost certainly haven’t. Oh, sure, there have been releases — a second EP showed up in December — but for the most part, this act has flown under the radar. As per usual, detund are digging up precisely what isn’t on trend or rising in popularity, an unknown artist making cooly-weird noises. But the pace is picking up – and this looks to be one of …

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Crazy Video: Giant Robot Cassette Kills Giant Robot iPod Classic

The iPod Classic is dead, sure. Now it’s really dead. And the cassette player outlasts its shiny Apple hipster-fashion-accessory counterpart with the non-removable battery – by kicking its sorry ass with a giant mecha fist punch to the face. Hold on… if it seems we may be losing our grip on reality, that’s just because we’re entering the wild world of cassette label / music collective Chrome Brulée. The retro-electro artists, comprising Tony Johnson, Michael Shredlove, Alex Mayhem, Kid Supreme, Aximus & Club Cannibal, make music that’s intentionally backwards-looking, and then release it on cassettes. And then they make crazy …

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The iPod is Dead; Now Stop Being So Weepy and Start Looking at the Future

It happened just as Apple was giving us one thing many of us couldn’t imagine wanting (a watch), and one thing we definitely didn’t ask for (“buying” U2’s new record for us). Apple quietly killed the iPod Classic. That is, the iPod touch lives on as an iOS handheld minus a cellular radio, and there’s an app on iOS. But there is no standalone device, with the as-expected discontinuation of iPod Classic. Correction: there is one. The US$49, 2GB iPod shuffle is still available. But it’s a pale shadow of the iPod line. This is a big deal. It means …

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Before Computers, the Godfather of House Made Remixes with Razor Blades: Frankie Knuckles, RIP

The picture of old-school DJing is someone hauling around a crate of records. Frankie Knuckles, the house pioneer, was playing The Warehouse in Chicago and touring with reels of tapes. Remixing was something done with a razor blade. The saddening news has arrived that “godfather of house” Frankie Knuckles has died at the age of 59. His friend and collaborator David Morales shared the news via Twitter late Tuesday. (See Ben Rogerson’s report in MusicRadar, which comments a bit on the origins of Jamie Principle’s Your Love.) The man most associated with Chicago house music actually was born in the …

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DbN Keeps 2014 Weird: Experimental Music, Made from Found Tapes

DbN – The Found Tapes Project 2014 from DA BOOK on Vimeo. If Auld Lang Syne and predictable “best of” lists are getting you down, here’s likely the weirdest-sounding New Years’ greeting you’ll get, to kick off 2014. Düsseldorf by Night (DbN) improvises strange, creepy-beautiful soundscapes from cassettes. It turns the flea market into a sample library. It looks like the terrific iPad app Samplr gets some heavy usage in this, as well. That’s a good choice – touchable waveforms keep everything happening live, with intuitive gestures, as would jamming on an instrument. Bonus: if you see DbN’s Found Tapes …

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Yep, this is about to get as awesome as you think it is. Time for some Belgian bots banging beats.

Shiny Robot-Jamming Gear Pr0n, Cassette Labels: The Future Is What It Used To Be [Awesome Video]

Disappointed our electronic music present didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to when it was still the future? Sad you didn’t get shiny, knob-laden synths, robot masks, blindingly-colorful lens flares, funky-crisp electro jams, and beloved music distributed on cassette? Well, you could sit around getting all wistful, or you could simply make that future happen. Belgian synth collective Chrome Brulée chose action over nostalgia, constructing the universe seen in glossy Roland and Sequential ads from Keyboard Magazine, circa 1983. And the music video they’ve produced is just the teaser: stay tuned for music on, of course, cassette tape. …

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Reclaim the Album’s Soul: Tips for Handmade CD Artwork, Make One Sunday

You hear the repeated chorus: music in the digital age has become meaningless and valueless, like turning on water from a tap in the middle of Rome. But, quietly, a movement is stirring that is reclaiming the value of music. Armed with nothing more sophisticated than markers, paper, collage materials, and imagination, they send mixes of music like grade school Valentines. Heck, they even use the mail. It makes the album more personal than it was even in its golden, mass-produced age. Many of the practitioners in this case are returning to the cassette and mix tape. But I was …

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