kaossilatorAll Kaoss, All the Time: In a world of endless choices, what happens to the creative power of limitations? Back in November, we saw Norman Fairbanks make an album entirely on Tenori-On, Yamaha’s interactive blinking-lights button pad.

“Ah,” you said. “But that sounds suspiciously like the music of Toshio Iwai, the Tenori-On’s composer-inventor. And it costs a lot of dough. And I have to live in the UK to buy it.”

Enter our friend Gary Kibler. He’s also a huge fan of the Tenori-On — he did cover the UK launch event for us, and then lauded its innovative design. But his creation uses a decidedly more accessible instrument: the Korg Kaossilator, which can be yours for a mere US$200 street — about US$1000 less than the Tenori-On.

Here’s the surprise: the sound-packed Kaossilator can do just as much as the Tenori-On, arguably more. And Gary really didn’t need anything else. The Yellow Album is —

Produced and performed exclusively on the Korg Kaossilator. No other effects, EQ or sounds were added other than those incorporated in the original device. Audio was recorded directly off the unit and the only edits performed externally were simple volume balancing.

The Yellow Album (free MP3 album from Gary Kibler) Updated: New link from ReverbNation, to save Gary’s bandwidth!

There you go. All you need is a Kaossilator. You can now cease lusting after anything else.

Okay, that wore off fast.

grids All Monome, All The Time With Something Else: Meanwhile, while I got distracted by turkey and stuffing and neglected to post this back at Thanksgiving, the Monome got an album of its own. Matthew Davidson, aka Stretta, did an “all-Monome album” called Grids, and made it fully free and Creative Commons-licensed. Like Kibler, Davidson has some significant credits as a composer (Davidson did the only-ever live performance of Switched-On Bach with Wendy Carlos — that being the original and greatest “entirely made on xx” synth album.)

So, what is the sound of one Monome playing?

You got it: silence. Yes, unlike the Korg and Yamaha instruments, the Monome has no sound generation facility of its own, meaning Matthew “limited” himself to a Doepfer modular, Prophet 5, and MOTU’s MachFive 2. In other words, it’s not really an all-Monome album. But it is quite good, and the Max patches used to make it are available free. (Wait, that’s yet another thing that’s not a Monome used on this album, if you’re still bothering to count.) Matthew, to his credit, admits “the notion of an all Monome album is somewhat of a misnomer.” But he does put forward the idea of a Monomist quite effectively.

Grids – The All-Monome Album (also on Audio News Room, LadyC]

I’m waiting for someone to hack some internal sounds into the Monome. Get back to us if you have. In the meantime, yes, the whole appeal of the Monome over something like a Kaossilator is that it’s just a controller, ready to be connected to whatever you desire — even visuals, or robots, or a giant space laser that blasts pretty patterns into the moon.

Monome, Unplugged — Erm, Live: Part of the cult popularity of the Monome phenomenon can be chalked up to the fact that the talented electronic artist Daedalus was playing out with an early prototype before anyone had even heard of a Monome. Daedalus has an album of his own — live at the Low End Theory event in LA. His live show is simply fantastic, so an album version sounds great to me — and it helps bolster the cause of genuine live electronic performance. I’m very much looking forward to this one. It won’t be free, but I like paying for music. On January 22, you can pay for his music, too.

Daedelus Readies Live Album [XLR8R]

Alpha Pup Records

Daedalus + Monome

Daedalus, whom I caught at a show live in New York. He keeps his instrument tilted toward the audience so they can see what he’s doing. And that might be a gimmick — except he plays the thing damned well.