namm

What to expect from 2017’s first wave of new music gear

Happy New Year? Not yet. In the universe of music gear, the NAMM show in California is a sort of unspoken new year’s holiday – home to the biggest wave of music tech announcements of the year. It doesn’t cover everything, as many music producer-specific makers have fled the pricey trade show booths for more focused events. But there’s still rather a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect. Year of the drum machine The monosynth has made its comeback; now it might be the drum machine’s turn. Behringer and Akai are likely to join recent product launches from …

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nycskyline

New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now. To walk us through, attendee Max …

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0-coast

Two videos show why the Make Noise 0-COAST modular is cool

2016 was the year when people said, hey, I want to get in on some of that modular goodness, but … maybe I don’t want to buy a rack and spend thousands of dollars to do that. So it’s great to finally see desktop semi-modular becoming a thing – and an affordable thing at that. There’s the best note entrant, Moog’s excellent Mother 32. But I also like the much odder, but still affordable Make Noise 0-COAST (that’s a zero, not the letter o). It’s got a far more idiosyncratic front panel, but that shouldn’t put you off: it’s still …

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erika_live

This extended techno mix will get you through any Wednesday

I hear from the Internets that there are some “top 1000 DJ lists” chosen by surveys or something. Suffice to say, I’m tired of letting people vote for things in 2016. So let’s talk about Erika. Do you need a DJ, playing some heavy, long techno set? Do you need an ambient/experimental something-or-other? Do you need it live? Do you need a combination of an Erika with BMG, for Ectomorph, also one of the best live acts out there? In this event, accept no substitutes. So, for anyone who’s been depressed lately about “fashionable” techno and expensive coordinated t-shirts and …

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accordioning

This group of practitioners is imagining the future of the accordion

I can see that look in your eyes. That thirst. “Please, Peter, regale us with esoteric information about contemporary accordion playing technique.” Absolutely. Let’s do this. You see, for all the extremist ideologies social media and the Internet are amplifying, well, at least experimental accordion practitioners are finding each other, too. And maybe it’s worth listening to them. The keyboard is dominant now in electronic music, after all. And they make keyboard-based music sound different. For instance, there’s this beautiful work by Martin Lohse and Bjarke Mogensen, “Passing 1,” set to Hubble imagery: And one 2013 gathering pulled artists and …

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ghostshipmain

Grieving for Oakland’s lost, imagining what comes next

“Community” is a word we use too much, until it doesn’t mean anything. “The dance music community.” “The electronic music community.” And then in extreme moments, it’s a word whose meaning again becomes plain. That was the sense for a lot of people over the weekend, as news rippled of the people lost in Oakland. Friends grieve their friends and lovers. They grieve lost role models and sources of music and inspiration. These events touch people who were intimate — and touch people who were strangers. A person you played with once, a person you heard once … or your …

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screenshot_632

Google explores how machine learning could navigate the history of art

You might have some art history under your belt. Now experimental artists are giving the machines a chance to do the same. It’s called Google Arts & Culture Experiments, and it takes a new angle on machine learning. The concept: let those algorithms find new ways of venturing through the history of art and human culture. This isn’t just about the machines, either. Continuing the Chrome Experiments series, the search giant is enlisting artists and creative coders to try an inventive take on what this might mean. After all, while the machine learning may be for the AI, it’s the …

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glasshouse6atnight

Find tranquility in this film with Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto

Meditative sonic architecture meets a great work of modern architecture, as Alva Noto and Ryuchi Sakamoto invade Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House.

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VIDEOVOTOMATIC_RICHISON3

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 …

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leo

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.

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