Reconnect with Electronic Music’s Revolutionary Roots, in Stunning Images [Gallery, Videos]

“On a western device, you push a button and get a result. On a Soviet instrument, you push a button and get something.” -Benzo When music was first electrified, it was nothing short of a revolution – literally. And as today’s technologies again attempt to fuse human and machine, there’s no better time to connect with past visions again. “Discontinuity” is the theme of the this year’s CTM Festival in Berlin. But it sets the stage for an unprecedented movement to put today’s machines back in context, across the barriers of time, and – increasingly, in a closer European/west Asian …

READ MORE →

In a Holiday Greeting, Digital Animators Turn Back to Folding Paper – and Vintage HBO

Holiday Card from Shilo on Vimeo. If hearing the tune from the vintage HBO intro/bump doesn’t send a little nostalgic chill down your spine, you probably didn’t grow up in the US in the 1980s. Looking back at this old animation earlier this year, I was struck by the old way of making motion graphics. As dramatic music swells in the background, the camera pulls back, sweeping theatrically over an intricate set of the American landscape as the sun casts its final light. It’s all shot real-for-real, real models, real, physical details, all with the kind of physicality that digital …

READ MORE →

Armin van Buuren DJ Boombox a Pale Imitation of the 80s; A Look Back at Real Ghettoblasters

In the latest megarich DJ – electronics manufacturer collaboration, we find Dutch giant Philips with Armin van Buren. (In fact, you might begin to wonder if these guys are just competing over the Forbes highest-paid DJs list.) This time, what you get is an all-in-one iPad dock with DJ control surface with speaker. That in itself seems not such a terrible idea, but then the problems start. Apart from the usual concerns about obsolete dock devices, the dock slot here places the iPad in an uncomfortable vertical position. There are physical controls for DJing, too, integrated with the (rather excellent) …

READ MORE →

Dancing Nomads and Afro Futurism: Fhloston Paradigm Chasing Rainbows Video, from King Britt

Chasing Rainbows (Festival Edit) – Fhloston Paradigm from King Britt on Vimeo. Fhloston Paradigm is King Britt’s project from last year on Kode9’s Hyperdub label, dripping with all-analog sound and sci-fi afro futurism. And now it has the music video to match. It could well inspire you to get up and dance, survivalist style. The project grows out of King’s drool-worthy studio – a compact balance of Roland DR110, Korg Mono/Poly, Korg MS20, Roland JX3P, Moog Sonic 6 and SQ10 sequencer. King’s touring now, with the live debut of Fhloston Paradigm slated for October 26th at the Mountain Oasis Festival …

READ MORE →

We Travel The Space Ways: Hear Erika’s Stellar, Synth-y, Space-y Solo Debut [Listen, Video]

What if you would strip away the latest fashions, the murky layers of effects and gimmicks, and just get out to the otherworldly pleasure of listening to machines transport you into outer-space grooves? The solo debut of Detroit-based artist Erika, Hexagon, could give you just that liberating feeling. It’s arrestingly minimal in its materials, not only because it’s been sequenced entirely on hardware with a single vintage sequencer, but because the tracks themselves are so beautifully economical and direct. And that makes them no less imaginative. Retro without succumbing to nostalgia, always with an alien-chic groove, Hexagon feels like an …

READ MORE →

Retro Mobile Music: What Vintage Palm and Windows Mobile Did, How to Use Them Today

Newer, faster, thinner … better? One technology follows another in dizzying cycles. But how is it that something that was once an amazing engineering marvel ceases to be so? If it really works as a musical instrument, how could it be less of a musical instrument than it was before? Palm Sounds’ Ashley Elsdon was talking about music making in the palm of your hand before anyone had ever seen an iPhone. So I had to smile when I saw him connecting an old Palm to our MeeBlip synth. It wasn’t just a novelty – the synth was ticking along …

READ MORE →

Fract, Synth Studio as Game, Looks Better, Sounds Better, Wants Your Vote [Video, Gallery]

Amidst its future-arcade, glowing 3D architecture, Fract is a game. In a broken-down “abstract world,” you are piecing together puzzles, reconstructing machinery. But Fract is also a synth studio, one that promises the ability to create your own synth instruments, design your own sounds, and eventually piece together your own music. If Tron let you imagine a fantasy inside the computer, Fract takes you inside your synth. It’s like getting sucked into Reason. (Damn, now I want to meet Thor and Redrum…) I called it Myst meets music making when we saw it last year. Since then, the Montreal-based indie …

READ MORE →

What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

READ MORE →

Discovering Analog, Visually: Meet the Oscillator, in Video Synths

Hearing synthesizers is great. But being able to hear and see – that’s another experience. And for all the renewed interest in analog modular synthesis for sound, a small but passionate scene is beginning to rekindle interest in visual analog synthesis. I find it inspiring even in how you might think about generative processes and synthesis in the software domain. And – well, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun to look at and use. In the latest example, we get to tour the basics of synthesis itself through video. If you’re new to this stuff, a promising …

READ MORE →

Tested: MS-20 Mini versus Original MS-20, in the Studio [Discussion, Audio, Photos]

MS-20 mini, on the left, next to the original, on the right. Photos: Peter Kirn and Benjamin Weiss for CDM and DE:BUG. It’s the news collectors of vintage synths on eBay probably didn’t want to hear. For $599, Korg has made a new MS-20 that the company says has “perfectly reproduced its circuitry” for an “authentic” sound. You can read our full review of the MS-20 mini, and watch a video, whether or not you’ve ever used the original. But if you are curious how a new MS-20 mini stacks up against the vintage MS-20, we hauled both into the …

READ MORE →