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 …


Watch Kate Simko mix Classical and club music with her ensemble

A friend of mine joked recently that someone having “classically trained” in their bio probably mean they’d had three months of piano lessons once. I’m sure that’s true for some people, but the fact is, there’s a growing population that mixes experience in electronic music and the club. And Kate Simko is one of the people pushing that boundary – just as she exemplifies some of the best technique in production generally.


Electro-harmonix owners show love with tattoos

How much do you love that stompbox? Or, more to the point, how long do you expect to love it? Electro-harmonix owners are a rare bunch, apparently tattooing their favorite boxes with some frequency. There are some sophisticated, elaborate tattoos in the bunch, as well. But I have to say, I think my favorite are the circuit diagrams (and there’s more than one – of different models, even). Respect.


Grab free sound samples of Montana’s ringing rocks

I’m going to let you start off with whatever bad rock puns you can think of. (Rolling Stones, rock music, uh whatever.) Done? Great! Okay, now let’s talk about the mysterious ringing rocks of Montana – and how you can grab some free sounds to use in your music right now, just in case you can’t make it out to the great American west at the moment.


Enjoy the sweet sound of guitar just intonation on this album

Sorry. I’m terrible at writing headlines, actually. I’m also mostly terrible at writing reviews. So let me just say that if you haven’t heard Horse Lords, the Baltimore-based indie band, since their 2010 founding, you deserve to. And they make a great argument for why alternative tunings really do matter in music.


A new arc and a new module from monome

Wheels were never as big as grids. Well – in this context, anyway. The arc was the spiritual successor to the monome from designer Brian Crabtree – ultra-high resolution encoders for turning, with lights, as continuous as the monome grid was binary. But despite some poetic, meditative videos the monome project produced, the arc was always mostly quiet on the scene. And then it disappeared, supplanted by other projects (like an entry into Eurorack). Now it’s back, on preorder.


The likely end of Rane as we know it, with inMusic acquisition

Not all independent music gear makers last. And so we’ve learned this week that Rane, the Seattle area-based company founded way back in 1981, will see new ownership with a buyout by giant inMusic (of Numark, M-Audio, Akai, and related). That means, if nothing else, a transformed landscape for DJ mixers. At one end, you’ve got the big conglomerates – Japan’s Pioneer DJ, America’s inMusic. At the other, boutique makers are staking out increasingly specialized, low-quantity product. This sheds still more light on the significance of the new mixer from Richie Hawtin and Xone creator Andy Rigby-Jones. With Rane out, …


Watch a beautiful meditation on the function of music

As co-host of the American public radio show Radiolab, Jad Nicholas Abumrad is usually in the business of giving you sounds on their own. You provide the mental images. But in a stimulating new film from director Mac Premo, thoughts become images as well as sounds. It’s a fitting conversation. Abumrad (a Lebanese-American, as I am) comes from a background in music composition. Premo, apart from being a filmmaker and commercial director, is an artist. Both live in New York. So what we get is a counterpoint of two imaginations running at once: sonic and visual, musical and optical. And …


A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …


Quick listen – love the new Jimmy Edgar ULTRAMAJIC sound

In the dark, damp swamp that is the stream of dance music that press get in their inbox, Jimmy Edgar has consistently been a rainbow-colored lighthouse. Apart from the tropically-hued surrealist work of Pilar Zeta literally making that true, Jimmy has been an aesthetic compass at the helm of his ULTRAMAJIC label. Basically, stuff this label puts out is worth listening. (Ditto their label showcases… there’s a Friday morning I found myself at Panorama Bar when they were turning the lights on. Thursday is the new… oh never mind.) What I like about the latest direction is, you get pared-down …