In case you haven’t seen it, Nine Inch Nails has taken to the multi-touch Lemur control surface and More Buttons Than Thou top-end Monome. There’s a short video of an experiment combining the two with a real (MIDI-enabled) Yamaha piano. It’s just under a minute, but already evocative — I’m not entirely sure why Alessandro is manning the touchpad on his laptop given all this hardware around, but the cascading patterns on the Monome suggest both LED art and a digital take on a player piano.

More videos on the official NIN YouTube page, which has recently launched a visuals contest for interpreting music from the new album.

But lest you think you need all that pricey hardware to make use of an unusual tool, look no further than MilkyTracker. Platform wars end here: MT runs on Windows (95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista), Mac OS X (PowerPC, Intel), Linux (x86, 64-bit x86, PowerPC), Linux game/mobile platforms (GP2X, ARM), UNIX (FreeBSD x86), and Windows CE. Wowsa. And it’s all yours for a donation, if you can spare one. Heck, there are even video tutorials on the site.

But geekdom aside, I love that MilkyTracker ninjas can make so much music out of so little. Without taking on the aesthetic style here, if that’s not your thing, it’s a reminder that economical choices with your tech can produce all kinds of different sounds. So, maybe rather than loading that preset, try to construct a drum kit out of basic waveforms.


Video by extrabajs; for some reflections on MilkyTracking, see our friend thumbuki — who, speaking of doing more with less, is working with an OLPC. Economical hardware use is back in an age of power efficiency and computing beyond the deep-pocketed “first world” — and everything old is new again:

Milky Tracker @ thumbuki

What? MilkyTracker is fanning the flames of a platform war with the Atari ST? No worries: MaxYmizer is a newly updated (yep, you read that right) tracker tool for the Atari platform. Polyphonic MIDI input and MIDI clock output means it should easily integrate with your existing studio. See the Digital Tools blog for full details.