It’s a marvelous time to be a musician. You can imagine a musical instrument, a compositional invention, and then realize that idea in short order.

So I was glad to get the chance to emcee an evening of discussion with Reaktor experts, including the folks who built the tool, last month in the software’s hometown Berlin. That discussion ultimately was partly about Reaktor, but partly about the act of instrument building itself – meaning there were insights for anyone interested in working with electronics or software to dream up new musical tools. Continue reading »


He’s an artist who listens to bats, builds microphones (dubbed “ears”) designed to find the most delicate sounds possible, discovers unexpected beauty in the fiery breath of an oil refinery, and helps a label of unusual sounds.

So it’s our pleasure to invite Jonáš Gruska to Berlin next week, to present a concert (2.12) (with fellow Slovak-born artists Nina Pixel and Triple Sun), as well as an Elektrosluch-building workshop (1.12) for anyone who wants to both get soldering and hearing otherwise-inaudible electromagnetic utterances in their world. Both at are Platoon Kunsthalle, in the heart of Berlin. He will even transform its metal container walls into an instrument. We talk to Jonáš about his unique musical imagination: Continue reading »

simone gatto

We’ve stepped into a music party at OHM, the Berlin venue constructed from a power plant battery room. And it’s clear that the label behind the event, Italian imprint Out-ER, is something out of the ordinary.

For one thing, instead of a normal DJ set, we’re treated to what’s described as a “workshop.” And there are regular pauses that announce the link between tracks and the feelings that inspired them.

But then, Out-ER’s Simone Gatto (seen, top) is not your typical label chief. Gatto is a philosophy graduate who has researched emotions and empathy, linking them to music and perception. He draws on the work of Swiss composer/educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze – the man behind Eurythmics (the 19th century movement-based music pedadgogy, not the 80s duo with Annie Lennox).

And Gatto is also researching how musicians emotionally engage with their audience when they play. He’s interested in how DJs can intentionally trigger specific emotions. Continue reading »


There’s probably no more prolific man in the DIY synth scene than Ray Wilson. His Music From Outer Space has a galactic-sized library of projects for electronic musicians. And that’s just part of his contributions.

So that means all of us in this community are hugely saddened to learn that Ray faces serious cancer. With self-employed health care still a major challenge in the United States, that brings with it crippling medical expenses. His kids have turned to crowd funding to try to fight to get him treatment he needs. Continue reading »


Ableton’s Push 2 has a big, beautiful, color display. But what goes on that display is limited to what Ableton has built in – or, rather, it was, until now.

London-based producer/hacker sigabort has already built a Max object that lets you access the display directly as a high-res, color texture. Max boffins, this means you can even use Jitter objects directly. And for those who have no idea what the previous sentence just meant, think of it this way: Max patches will now be able to create their own full-color visual outputs, for practical or entertainment purposes. (Max for Live support is coming, which is the big one.) It’s fast, too – roughly 18 fps rendering and native externals for Mac and Windows. Continue reading »

Once, weird instruments only made the rounds at exclusive academic conferences. Now, they go viral on Facebook.

Such is the case with Collidoscope, the creation of a UK-based mixing and mastering service (out of London label Sunlightsquare Records) and Queen Mary researchers – Ben Bengler and Fiore Martin. It’s a massive tangible table-top interface to a granular instrument. Continue reading »


It doesn’t have screens. There are no giant wheels or touchstrips. There’s no complex software integration, or built-in mixer, or pads for remixing.

But what the DJ4 is is what you might be missing in other DJ controllers. It’s got the controls you need in a tiny, tiny footprint that won’t have you hunting for new luggage or scrambling around a venue to find a bigger table because your gear won’t fit in the booth. (Ahem, yes, you know who you are, giant controllers.) And unlike the increasingly branded, computer-tied world of DJ controllers, this one also works with anything – now even as a MIDI controller without a computer in sight. In other words, it’s a Faderfox. Continue reading »