New Years’ Eve? What’s that? The music tech year begins and ends at the massive NAMM trade show, across from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. So, as we settle in for a few hours’ rest before the big circus begins, I asked Liz McLean Knight and Mike Una to offer some of their 2007 highlights. And this gives us some great music to listen to while we (invariably) edit the hours of footage of NAMM and my recent Australian visualist tour.

Great music, great tools, and some personal highlights ahead. (Photo: moriza. Ah, sweet 2007.)

Liz – Bestest Music

LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver. Someone great is such a great song.
Burial: Untrue. Emo-dubby-2step, but gorgeous and slightly creepy.
Modeselektor: Happy Birthday!. Ghetto tech glitch crunk, woo-hoo!
I Broke My Robot: Tomorrow Does Not Exist. Dark, crunky IDM breaky good times.
Simian Mobile Disco: Attack Decay Sustain Release. You can’t not dance to this
Justice: t. Irresistable electro funk
Digitalism: Idealism. The track “Idealism” is totally fun and “Zdarlight” and “The Pulse” remind me of Daft Punk at their rockiest
Near the Parenthesis: Of Soft Construction. Really gorgeous crunchy ambient stuff, and it was great to bring him out to Chicago
The Tuss: Rushup Edge. If it really is an Aphex Twin side project, RDJ hasn’t lost his touch
VA: 8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk. Chiptunery + Kraftwerk = Awesome
Par Grindvik: Death is Nothing to Fear 1. Excellent minimal blippy EP. “Casio” is great
Jeff Samuel: Fire. Another great release on Poker Flat
SuperMayer: Two of Us. Superpitcher and Michael Mayer collaborated on this gritty bassy, slightly irrevernt stomper of a 12”

Liz – Neatest Tools

Splice Music
Tenori On
Image Line’s DirectWave

Liz – Musical Highlights

Playing at the Metro (finally!)
DJ Set in a lower East side loft in September, making the crowd go bananas
Having Tycho come play at one of our Ramp Chicago nights (gorgeous music and video… seriously he’s the new Boards of Canada)
Having a track on Black Dog’s label, Dust Science: Mental Ziltch King on Faith is Fear
Demo Swap at Ramp Chicago with special guest CDMlord Peter Kirn
Nerding out as a Dorkbot presenter with Mike Una
NYE warehouse rave in Chicago, dancing until 5am, not remembering how I got home, but glad I did, with all my belongings. Good times.

Mike – Best live electronic shows

1. Simian Mobile Disco. These guys have a ton of energy, a round table full of excellent gear, and superbright (blinding!) LED towers that pulse colors in sync with the music.

2. Cornelius “Sensuous” tour. Cornelius continues to delight and astound in the most well-conceieved, well-executed audiovisual experience I’ve ever seen. The music is a superb blend of traditional instruments and electronics, all intricately synchronized with amazing videos and stage antics. One highlight: They throw a tethered Boss SP-303 into the audience, so the crowd can trigger samples along with the band.

3. Chicago’s Moment Sound crew. At one of their shows recently, a crowdmember told me that they hadn’t understood electronic music until they came and saw these guys play. No laptops, just a table full of drum machines, sequencers, and samplers, with everyone tweaking knobs, tapping pads, and nodding heads. The sounds are fun for your brain and your booty, and they cover a lot of styles and tempos from ambience to krunky get-downs.

4. Dosh. This guy is amazing. He does a lot of live looping, playing synths, a drum kit, glockenspiel, all with an excellent indie/drum ‘n bass vibe. IMHO, a single human could not accomplish more things simultaneously and he does it with rhythm and grace.

Mike – Best gear of 2007

1. Alesis iO/14 firewire audio interface. With Sweetwater selling these babies at $199, this is the best quality-to-price ratio I’ve seen yet, giving the average Joe/Jane a solidly constructed, high bitrate audio/MIDI interface. Plus, it has support for older digital mixers via ADAT Lightpipe.

2. HighlyLiquid’s MIDI decoders. These affordable, simple kits accomplish complex things with a minimum of fuss. A very powerful tool that does much of the heavy lifting for those wanting to explore the intersection of MIDI and the real world.

3. Livid Instrument’s Ohm wins “best use of woodgrain in a MIDI control surface.”