Dam-Funk gets his own drum machine + sequencer. Photo courtesy Bleep Labs.

Artist Gear: Dam-Drum 2.0 is a Handheld Drum Machine from Bleep Labs, Stones Throw Records [Listen]

You know those science fiction episodes where someone’s personality gets transferred to the computer? Imagine if an artist could do that with a drum machine, and you get the idea behind Dam-Drum. Bleep Labs’ John-Mike Reed of Austin, Texas has a unique talent for engineering fun music electronics. His work is sonically adventurous – always with enough rough edges to keep things interesting – and simultaneously demonstrates an ability to compact designs to their most basic elements, while wrapping everything in a veneer of quirky personality. Yes, of course, his googly-eyed robots the Thingamagoops are immediately cute and anthropomorphic. But …

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Faders, Pads, Knobs: Livid’s Alias 8 is a Bread-and-Butter Controller With Things You Actually Want

As controllers get wild and creative and integrated with software, here’s one that might be simple and versatile enough to work with anything for some time. Photos courtesy Livid Instruments. Finally: a boring controller. No, that’s a good thing. We’re in an amazing era of controller hardware, witnessing an explosion of kit with fancy features, tight integration with software, and slick oceans of colored LEDs packed with sophisticated sensors. Only… wait a minute. Sometimes, you want something fairly generic that maps easily to a variety of software, not just the new Abletive Tracktletron DJ Studio Pro Scratchly Edition. Something with …

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Happy Halloween, From Bleepy Monster Electronics Everywhere [Time Warp Gallery]

Let’s do the Time Warp again. As far as synthesizers making spooky sounds are concerned, I’m pleased to party every day like it’s Halloween. (After all, what is the point of music electronics if not to scare small children, animals, and… adults?) But I want to take us back to 2007, when our friends at Bleep Labs produced this great series of limited-edition Halloween mods to their fantastic Thingamagoop. It’s an excuse to just point you to Bleep Labs’ site – they remain one of the world’s great vendors for genuinely-fun sonic electronics for everyone. They’re gadgets you can use …

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Create Analog Motion: Infinite Lines Modular Animation Teaser, LZX Visionary Modular

Now that they’re more expressive and more affordable than ever, analog modulars are finding their way into a lot of visualist studios. Here’s a teaser of some work by reader Johnny Woods. He writes: “Nothing digital whatsoever (it’s all rutt-etra style animation and video synthesis), but I thought you might get a kick out of it!” You thought right. Full description: Preview for an upcoming series of audio-visual videos. Also, just a beautiful combination of colors and shapes. Animated using analog techniques on an LZX Visionary modular system. Audio and video by Johnny Woods. The LZX was a huge underground …

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A World of Sounds: Academik’s Francis Preve Shares Label’s Music, Studio Advice, Samples for Live

Francis Prève works the crowd. Photo courtesy the artist. The abundance of music, and the preceived ease of producing it, comes to some as bad news – or even harbinger of apocalypse. But load up a craft with quantity, and quality is what stands out. Francis Prève is a perfect Renaissance producer. With years of experience as a music technology journalist and sound designer, his own, signature flavor of tech-house is uniquely focused on timbre. His label, Academik Records, debuted last year at Austin’s South by Southwest, but it’s just now kicking into high gear. (If you are in Austin …

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That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas: CDM SxSW Picks, Gone Tech-y, Starting Today

Austin comes into view. Photo (CC-BY) David Berkowitz. Okay, I may be in Germany (see you next week, Messe!), but if you’re in Austin, Texas, the CDM radar is picking up some strong blips of things you probably want to be doing, starting today, Do. 15 Mär. (Erm, uh, sorry, Thursday March 15!) Highlights include a Neon Indian show paired with visuals, music, and the good folks of Switched On, fine music from Robot Koch, TYCHO, and Sepalcure, a Saturday night dance party with Academik on a beautiful rooftop in the heart of town, and workshops – much of this …

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Projection Mapping Meets Turntablism: Serato DJing and Live Visual Feedback

Rooted in pre-digital tradition, the turntables and mixer here get a different kind of digital upgrade: sound-responsive visuals transform the decks. Built by Austin, Texas-based student Mark Morris, artist E.N.S., and collaborators, this work in progress demonstrates what happens if you point the projector directly at the DJ’s rig. Cleverly, they map the platters themselves as they rotate, as well as add interface elements from the DJ software and responsive audio waveforms. From Mark: This is a projection mapping project we’ve been working on for about a month as of uploading. It’s a user interface for Serato Scratch Live that …

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Ambient Listening: Cory Allen + Marcus Fischer (USA) Track Congruities in Two Gorgeous Tracks

In two ambient works, musicians Cory Allen (Austin, Texas) and Marcus Fischer (Portland, Oregon) chart connected sound worlds mined from shared samples, in a sweeping opus of a musical environent. Released yesterday on February 22, coinciding with birthdays of the artist and Chopin, it generously has the you’ve-just-got-to-buy-this price of US$2.22, well worth adding to your downloaded collection. TWO / TWENTY-TWO by CORY ALLEN + MARCUS FISCHER The first track is nothing if not womb-like. It begins with a warm, pulsing hum, delicate tones peeking above the blur. Then it gradually succumbs to binaural fuzz, producing a whitened atmosphere of …

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An Epic, Evil-Looking MIDI Controller: the Custom SR MixControl

From Austin, Texas, a bit of a haven for brilliant custom sound hardware, comes this epic-looking MIDI controller by Mad Zach, the SR MixControl. Covered in blinding super-bright LEDs, and with an absurdly-thorough complement of sliders, knobs, and arcade buttons, it looks as thought it’d be right at home on your evil flying saucer or Mad Max Interceptor. Here’s what the makers have to say about it in their sales pitch:

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CDM@SxSW: Free Live Electronics, Academik Record Launch, Local Electronic Instrument Get-Together

Get your dancing boots on. Striped footware spotted recently at Austin’s hip rooftop lounge Lanai, where we’ll be with Academik Records Friday night. Photo (CC-BY) Cameron Russell. Next week, as the South by Southwest Music Festival descends on Austin, Texas, I’m pleased CDM gets to be involved in a few terrific independent events. No badges, no cover, free drinks and even free giveaways – if you happen to be in Austin, you can save money and then do what I’ll probably do, spend it all at the awesome Switched On synth boutique. Here’s the schedule: Wednesday 3/16: Switched On Meet …

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