Analog synthesizers are superior because of their pristine, high-fidelit –

Oh, f*** it, who are we kidding?

We want to wail on an ARP Odyssey with ridiculous modulation that turns it into a groovy, angry space alien, and then film it on VHS interspersed with some car chase, just because. Someone in Krakow, Poland agrees, and the video above is what happened.

I’m going to defend the ARP Odyssey remake. Reader reactions clearly show this is a favorite. And the video reveals why: the Odyssey captures some of the ridiculously, wonderfully diverse noises of the ARP 2600 in a keyboard. That’s really all you need to know; the Odyssey is a perfectly reasonable target for a reissue.

At the same time, I’ll repeat that remakes alone aren’t enough. It was a pleasure to see Uwe of Berlin’s MFB the other night – his instruments, like the Dominion, are something new. So, too, have we seen creative new creations from Tatsuya Takahashi and KORG in the volca series. And the Arturia MicroBrute. And Mutable’s Shruthi. And Dave Smith, and Moog. And the list goes on (even before we get into modulars). I’m more excited about the new stuff, because it can produce unexpected new sounds, and because it renews all of these design challenges.

If an ARP Odyssey is beautiful because of its association with your own music in the past, with music you made and heard, these new creations are beautiful for the opposite reason. Of course – of course we should keep inventing instruments no one has imagined in order to make music no one has yet heard. Continue reading »

Careful, drinking this much coffee could start some Internet feuding. I know. Photo from the artist.

Careful, drinking this much coffee could start some Internet feuding. I know. Photo from the artist.

Enjoy it, because this will be about the only time something this weird racks up hundreds of thousands of SoundCloud plays.

Yes, it’s Toronto’s Joel Zimmerman, aka deadmau5, uploading this week to SoundCloud. 432 is an ode to 432 Hz, with horror movie-spooky sounds oozing over the top. “DAT KICK DOE” from earlier this year is a raunchy, thumping distorted loop. (Back story: this sonic horror is how deadmau5 trolls. Well, I’m all for sound as a way to settle feuds.)

This is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a return to the service after he deleted it – a major exodus, given he had 33 million plays when he shut it down. Now, the artist has his own streaming service: allows him to control what content he releases and charging US$5 for webcasts, downloads, and lots of other stuff. It seems it could be a sign of things to come – better to charge every fan five bucks if you can rather than wait for five bucks to show up from the likes of Spotify, and much better to have control over how things are released. Continue reading »


KORG has now made it public: we’ll get to see their ARP Odyssey, a remake of the classic 1970s synth involving one of the original creators, in January. Some sort of working unit at the NAMM trade show seems a likely thing to hope for.

And we can also see from the image they’ve posted that they’ve opted to recreate the third-generation ARP aesthetics, faithfully reproducing the black-and-orange labels. (Click for a full-size version, without the text.)

The Odyssey is a reasonable enough synth to reissue. Moog Music has already corned the Minimoog and KORG themselves the legendary MS-20; the ARP Odyssey is a logical rival to those units, a 2-oscillator, standalone synth in a keyboard. Just as it was a more affordable, accessible entry point to the ARP 2600, so, too, is an ARP Odyssey remake today. Continue reading »

nilsstudio_Alexander Schneider_06

Nils Frahm is a gem in music right now, a sensitive and reflective voice. And infused into everything he does is an unwavering sense of taste.

If you’re feeling the weight of the endless rotation of overplayed saccarine-sweet Christmas tunes, Nils can cure what ails you. For the second year in a row, he’s released an achingly mellow mix of favorites he’s dusted off from his vinyl collection. Curl up under the crackling analog fuzz of those records and settle in.

Each has obvious touchstones of piano inspiration; last year’s he described as “your mobile campfire.”

We have this year’s and last year’s mix here for your listening pleasure, plus the twinkling beauty of Wintermusik, his 2007 release featuring improvised piano, celeste, and reed organ. (Durton Studio, the photo pictured, was the setting. Photo: Alexander Schneider.) Continue reading »

There is so much bell action in this free download, there are bells combined with other bells. There are church bells, and there are Yamaha DX7 bells, synthesized through FM. It’s maximized Christmas soundware. Once you fire this up, it’s like an Egg Nog with a mulled cider inside and then a duck inside that.

And, incredibly, it’s the 114th Ableton pack release from Brian Funk, aka electronic musician (and certified Live trainer) AfroDJMac. That’s 114 free downloads – far more than we could ever hope to cover.

Because these are Ableton Live sound packs, you can actually open up the audio in any tool you like – minus the convenient mappings, but totally usable nonetheless.

Beyond the free downloads, there’s a sale on now with coupon code “half” getting you all Brian’s paid stuff for — you guessed it – 50% off.

I’ll let the video speak for itself. Merry Christmas, Brian!

More info:
Yamaha DX7 Ableton Live Pack:
More instrument downloads, tutorials and music:

Home Alone (Ableton Live Remix) from Keenan Gaynor on Vimeo.

It’s the holidays, a time for family, and to ponder when controller mappings meet one-shot clip triggering, cable TV, weird child neglect, and brutal violence against slapstick criminals. Yes, of course – it’s the time-honored tradition of Ableton Live and Home Alone.

There’s the 2010 original remix on Launchpad. But, unlike the Home Alone movie, the sequel’s even better. Last year, Keenan Gaynor quietly updated the remix on a Novation Launchpad Mini. And clearly he’s picked up some better techniques in Live. (Pro mode, anyway!) So, even though the original will have a special place in our nerdy Ableton-using holiday hearts, catch the refresh, too.

All of the music. All of the magic.

Just go easy on the Pepsi. Continue reading »

Shorter days means longer nights making music. And Christmas songs on repeat means it’s time for some creativity.

So even though it’s a holiday, let’s head to school – in the best possible way.

Toronto-based Andrew Triple A sends us a quick beat-making video. It’s nice to see someone not just lean heavily on a single sample, but use that riff as inspiration to play. Whether this is your musical taste or not, there’s something you can learn here.

And I was intrigued to look more into the melody behind this tune I’ve heard over and over again.

I finally released a new beat making video after a few years. It is featuring a “Carol of the bells” sample turned into an interesting hip-hop instrumental. Also what’s cool about the sample is that the original “Carol of the bells” melody is from a folk Ukrainian chant that was later translated into different languages all over the world. I’m sure the readers of your blog will enjoy watching this episode, especially now during the Christmas season.

Thanks, Andrew, and Merry Christmas.
Video by:
Jewelry by: