Nicolas Jaar, Making Electronic Music Eminently Live, Talks to MTV About Honesty

Nicolas JaarGet More: Nicolas Jaar, MTV Hive A few decades is a short time in the history of instruments. But something magical is happening: the electronic instrument, the computer, is finally easily shifting into performance scenarios, into improvisation, and into bands. (The performance features Livid’s Ohm64 and Ableton Live, with sax, guitar, and drums, at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge. See a note on the rig at Livid’s blog.) Look no further than Nicolas Jaar. In an insightful performance and conversation for MTV Hive, he reveals how he thinks about music – and puts his chops where his mouth is. …


Finger Drumming Interlude: Teezva, Ableton Live, Vestax PAD-One

Amidst the many examples of virtuoso finger drumming and pad performance on YouTube, here’s a potentially-inspiring jam produced by artist Teezva for Vestax. We must have missed this video in the NAMM deluge of last year, but it perhaps remains worth posting. It’s doubly so, as I still haven’t seen any of Vestax’s PAD-One hardware in the wild. (PAD-Ones, if you’re reading, come say hello!) One interesting element of the performance is that Teezva seems effortlessly between triggering clips and loops and individual one-shots. Many performances I see tend to focus on one or the other, but compositionally, that provides …


Letting Out Ethereal Cries, a Slide Guitar Meets Synthesis in the Hands of a Bluegrass Master

When musical traditions meet, handled by people with real mastery of their technique, wonderful things can happen. That can be true of master instrument builders, for one. I got a chance to hear the sounds of the Moog Lap Steel Guitar in June while meeting with the folks from Moog Music. It’s an incredibly-delicious instrument, both in terms of how it’s engineered as a guitar and in bringing the filter from the Moog synth, now itself a tradition. But more importantly, in the stage that comes after those tools are built, traditions fuse beneath the fingers of master musicians. Chris …


Gold Panda on Sampling; Moby on Drum Machines

Something has happened to the mystique of the musical artist, as the superstars have faded. It seems people are increasingly interested with understanding process, in understanding what’s inside the magical black boxes of sound. Jess Gitner hosted Derwin Panda, aka Gold Panda, at National Public Radio’s studios for Morning Edition. She talked to the artist about the basics of how he constructs music from samples. It’s actually quite nice to me to see a story that’s elementary enough that it could be understood by non-specialists — it’s all to easy to forget that for the vast majority of even the …


Learn Mastering Technique in Free Videos: Limiting, M/S, Dubstep Bass

Mastering to me is a bit like applying stain to wood: done correctly, it brings out the definition of what’s there rather than covering it up. But making mastering effective is a really special art. Danny Wyatt, a veteran mastering engineer now working as an instructor with Dubspot, has some serious credentials both on the mixing and mastering side and as an educator. He’s worked with a range of artists over the years (Wax Poetic featuring Norah Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Thievery Corp., the Roots, Ultra Records, and Mos Def, to name a few). But he also doesn’t mystify his knowledge: …


Hawken, Upcoming Indie Mech Game, Stuns Eyeballs; Learns Lessons from Model Kit Building and Kitbash

The craft of photorealistic gaming has risen to astounding heights, but look-alike art direction can overshadow its technical achievement. Not so with an extraordinary-looking indie title called Hawken. The mech combat first-person shooter, built in the Unreal Engine, is crafted in a way that speaks to the possibilities of digital technique to spin imaginary worlds, and to build integrated aesthetics. As Technical Lead Jon Kreuzer told PC Gamer, the nine-person LA studio reused components to construct the world of the game: “Many parts of the levels are created by combining re-usable building blocks into unique structures, which can allow new …


Interview: Anika, Working with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Makes an Album You Don’t Have to Like

Perhaps it’s something of an irony, here on a site that heralds shiny technology, but there is a longing among many musicians to return to something raw and unvarnished in music. There’s discontentment in the ranks of the techno-futurists, enough to sow the seeds of rebellions. If that feeling could be given a voice, Anika would be a good candidate. A political journalist who found herself, entirely unexpected, at a session with Portishead producer Geoff Barrow, she is a vinyl-loving, politically-minded throwback, an antidote to everything that commercially-calibrated in music. The first thing you should know about Anika’s self-titled …


We Love DJ Kool Herc: Free Compilation for the Father of Hip-Hop

Saturn Never Sleeps, the band and label, released a new free compilation late last night to send love and thanks to DJ Kool Herc, the pioneering Jamaican-born DJ who gave birth to the hip-hop age in the West Bronx, New York City. I’m honored to have been part of the compilation along with a broad range of artists: DaM-Funk, Damon Bennett, Dego, King Britt Presents Sylk 130, Ursula Rucker, Lushlife, ZIN, Hezekiah, Soul Litchfield, Illvibe Collective, Rucyl, Shigeto, Galapagoose (recently seen here on CDM sporting the monome software he co-created), Ras_G, Chuck Treece, Suzi Analogue, and Stef Eye King Britt, …


Meet the Music and Sound Oscar Nominees, and Learn from Hours of Info from Sonic Masters

Shared dreams, indeed: welcome to Hollywood. And in 2011, the music and soundscapes of blockbuster films suddenly seem very much like the future of our dreams, from ground-breaking surround sound to interactive music to scores combining low-fidelity and high – and one breaktakingly-terrific score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that stands on its own. The Internet, as the subject of one Oscar-nominated film, is full of short attention spans and flirts, social dysfunction and lust. But there’s another side of the Internet. Someone interested in finding expressive inspiration, in learning the craft of music and sound, can virtually apprentice …


Boomerang III is the Live Looper Box Texas Made Great; Video Tutorials

As we’ve been looking at live looper options from BOSS and VOX, Mike Nelson from Boomerang points us to his company’s live-oriented loopers, boutique-made in Texas. And they look as delicious as Texas BBQ. What’s unique about the Boomerang III “phrase sampler” is just how much it can do with loops once recorded, with computer-like manipulation of your samples. You can undo and redo, play back one-shots, stutter, re-sample, line up loops in sequence, play up to four loops as once, sync to tempo, drift to different tempos, fade, play at half speed, and play in reverse. (Software makers, take …