blushrig

The sound world of Joey Blush (aka Blush Response) is far reaching, entering dark clouds of murky industrial, EBM, and techno, all with relentless forward-pushing grooves. But as we talk to him about how he connects his gear, we’re really looking at how he connects his thoughts.

At its best, whatever we’re doing with gear ought to be about our minds. It’s not just connecting a patch cord. It’s connecting an idea from one place to another – re-wiring neurons.

Synth legend Morton Subotnick spoke this week about that process, as he recalled first creating complex metric structures simply by patching together loops on hardware modular sequencers (there, via the Buchla). As rhythmic structures emerged, he blew his own brain open – and the landmark record Silver Apples on the Moon was born. And I thought of this:

“You’re sequencing the sequence!”

I heard a smiling Wouter Jaspers of KOMA Elektronik repeat that phrase like a Zen koan. His sequencer isn’t intended to be simple. It’s even called Komplex.

The Komplex sequencer has reached the final prototype stage, with a release in coming weeks. KOMA Elektronik visited Joey Blush in the studio to play with the Komplex and a host of modules.

And what’s significant about this is that it is a return to some of what Morton was talking about back in the 60s. This isn’t about something abstract; it’s getting hands-on, gestural control over sounds, so that there’s a direct line from your instinct to making some change in the sound by moving your body.

Literally, how is Joey making the connection? He sends over his signal flow to CDM, in terms of what you see in the KOMA video: Continue reading »

deadmau5talent

deadmau5 has a message for DJs: don’t just DJ.

here is what i dont get [Tumblr]

And we couldn’t agree more. For once, bless the mouse – and, give the man some credit, he has a sense of humor and self-deprecation. (That’s his image above, not ours.)

But keep reading – things are about to get cut-up surreal poetic in just a second.

Joel Zimmerman’s message has come a long way. Just back in 2012, he cynically suggested everyone on the scene was just “pushing play” and asked everyone to quit pretending already – fair, perhaps, but not entirely optimistic. And I gave him a hard time for it, because I though it was unfair to the people who were assembling live performances (deadmau5 walked back some of his original article and gave some credit to all y’all controllerists out there):
Deadmau5, Honest About His Own Press-Play Sets, Misses Out On “Scene”

Now, though, he’s saying something different: quit just playing CDs and actually jam live. Play a keyboard. Hook up some MIDI or OSC control. Do something. And sure enough, his own bio rejects the notion of CDs and emphasizes playing his own tracks (live PA style) and on-the-fly cutting and editing (though I’d have to research more what he’s actually doing).

It’s clearly a message the top of the EDM circuit needs to hear, and one the CDM readership would almost certainly endorse. I’d agree with every single word, except I do feel obligated to say I feel strongly that there’s a role for good mixing and selection, for DJs. And even if deadmau5 doesn’t want to be called a DJ, other people may be fine with it. On the other hand, people booked around a hit “banger” aren’t likely to surprise anyone with their subtle track selection, too much faking keyboard lines to the audience is obnoxious, and I frankly what deadmau5 is describing, absolutely, I agree – it’s horrific.

I agree – you and all your friends, probably, agree – so much so that under normal circumstances bringing all this would be boring. Except that this being deadmau5, eloquent troll for all electronic music everywhere on the Internet, it takes another turn. Okay, not only did deadmau5 run to the defense of the poor horses subjected to David Guetta’s nightmare-dystopian Pascha opening, but now this. (Yes, horses, the four-legged kind, though “objectification of women” or “Native American racism” could easily have been topics – that was a three-for-one Ibiza fail there.)

Here’s what I want: I want a t-shirt for each one of these phrases:

you show up to X shitfest, and play a CD.

STOP.

I AM CONFUSED.

Word.

are you or are you not a guy who can use a comupter to make music?

CDM has a new logo and redesign launching before summer is out. Now I have the phrase that will go on the back.

Alternatively, these:

WATCH MY HAND. IT GOES DOOT DOOT DOOT DOOT”

youre beyond a CD player.

And the best:

So you cant pllay a keyboard? COOL! ME NEITHER! MIDI bro.

OSC is the latest fuckin craze.

get your script on bitch.

Printed.

Framed.

throw down some smpte on another track to sync some tailored visuals too…

I swear I’m going to get motion back up, too.

Actually, as I’m playing this weekend, I’ve composed my own little poem, in the style of deadmau5. People ask me about my own story, so here it is.

I’m setting an egg timer and briefly pretending I don’t know how to type in the hopes that it will come out like a deadmau5 Tumblr rant.

so, im actually like this composer whatever in new york but i turn into this cdm blogger man.

and im making music im like fuckin aroung with abledong live and that whatever looping stretching thing with all the grain settings long aso i can play a modern dance performance in brooklyn that winds up going for like an hour and i want it to be all ambient.

im making waves. i rinse it. i shave it. shave it all off.

and then im suddenly in berlin and making techno because i went to barghain a few 2 many times and now i dont know i might just dj this weekend just in case people get borded of me lining up claps on my korg volca meeblip rig because you know i listen to some tracks some time and likke to dance san dso they sometimse want me to play the whole damn thing

i show up to club x, i show up to club y, i show up to club xy i really need a booking manager

i never pirated nothing its all nfr nfr nfr

so i get the d2 the native instruments thing maybe i play with stems that’s the new shit like four tracks of whatever so im doing something creative but thats not ready yet i dont no if native instruments is reading this far but yeah im down for some stems

i totally forgot what this was supposed to be about im stopping now.

now everyone in canada knows mu name

i am totally a guy who can use a comupter to make music because create digtial fockin music yo craz cats.

i cant believe i sat through a whole film yestrday that told me computers are shit computers totally arent shit did you hear from deamdouse people areplaying like cds for 200k something? dollars? whoa. i should get into edm. then i could afford a modular i dream of wires right now i can kind of mainly only afford those nfrs and my meeblp which im obligated to tell you is available now from dotcom.

i can totally play a keyboard which is good because if i couldn’t im not sure how id’ fix it with MIDI or osc or the 80s bro.

DANKE SHÖN DIR!

Okay.

That almost sort of worked. Not really.

I really do hope someone in EDM starts playing synth lines over top of their set or adds fireworks and singing ladies behind them or whatever the point of this rant actually was. Sounds good. I … probably won’t get to see it, assuming I do stay away from Electric Daisy Carnival.

But I think deadmau5 didn’t mean the whole IDM scene in general.

concubine

Can you think, dance, and dream at the same time? We get to debut a new video for Concubine, and it’s the perfect time to look at what this duo has accomplished in 2015.

Concubine, the project from Noah Pred and Rick Bull, is never cold, but it’s always expressing several sentiments simultaneously. It’s at once hypnotic and cerebral, visceral and abstract. Smartly-calibrated percussion politely swings atop future-prog funk flights of fancy. It’ll get a little cheeky, but within a song framework that’s been obsessively constructed. And the album itself is put together similarly. Driving dance tracks are effortless interspersed with ambient tracks that keep the dynamic energy moving – rather than feeling like incidental excursions. It is relentlessly high quality, always at a level of polish – music made by proper gentlemen who nonetheless know how to have a good time. By the time the synth sirens start going off in Entropia, you’re ready for a night out in Blade Runner’s Michelin-starred restaurant and … see where the night leads. Continue reading »

screenshot_62

Open a new tab, and suddenly you have a powerful, sequenced drum synth making grooves. Give it a shot:
https://irritantcreative.ca/projects/x0x
Or read more. (This latest creation came out in June.)

This is either the future of collaborative music making or the Single Greatest Way To Make Music While Pretending To Do Other Work I’ve ever seen.

But, as a new effort works on sharing music scores in the browser, it’s worth checking up on the Web Audio API – the stuff that makes interactive sound possible – and connections to hardware via MIDI.

And there’s a lot going on, the sort of fertile conversation that could lead to new things. Continue reading »

Telemann

The role of the music score is an important one, as a lingua franca – it puts musical information in a format a lot of people can read. And it does that by adhering to standards.

Now with computers, phones, and tablets all over the planet, can music notation adapt?

A new group is working on bringing digital notation as a standard to the Web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – yes, the folks who bring you other Web standards – formed what they’re describing as a “community group” to work on notation.

That doesn’t mean your next Chrome build will give you lead sheets. W3C are hosting, not endorsing the project – not yet. And there’s a lot of work to be done. But many of the necessary players are onboard, which could mean some musically useful progress. Continue reading »

beatstepproangle

Do call it a comeback. The hardware sequencer, once a forgotten relic of the computer age, has returned with a vengeance. And the reason is simple: we need it. Sure, we might play with a computer, but we’ve fallen for other synthesizers and drum machines – a lot of it quite cheap, too. We want hands-on control so we can play live again, improvise with our hands rather than furrow our brows over a mouse and screen. And we might even have beloved analog gear and want it to groove along with everything else.

Few companies represent the blossoming of love for gear quite like Arturia. It was just a few short years ago that the name meant plug-in emulations of vintage gear. Now, people are more likely to think of something like the hardware MicroBrute synth.

Arturia’s first BeatStep was cool – a combination step sequencer and drum pad controller. But it was also limited: you could only sequence one part, and pattern triggering options were woefully limited.

This month, the company has shipped the long-awaited BeatStep Pro. I’m finishing a review now – it’ll be an in-depth hands-on, and I’m also waiting to make sure I have the latest firmware changes.

But since I’m focusing on those details rather than rushing, we can meanwhile watch some videos of just how this gear looks in action. And you can let me know if that raises other questions – what do you want to know? What gear do you care about working with? I’ll answer as much as I can in our review.

For starters, here are ten analog synths – plus Ableton Live. (Digital or analog? Yes.)

Continue reading »

Octave One by Marie Staggat-23

If anyone can make cookie-cutter techno, then improvisation is the route back to heart and soul. And there are few people as good at making dense, bass-heavy improvised dance music as Detroit’s Octave One.

I mean, yes, it’s a little weird that any of us would get overly eloquent or snobby writing about dance music. I would hope your test is the same as my test – does piping a track make you start doing an embarrassing little jig at your desk? (Boy, am I glad my office is on street level and equipped with giant, aquarium-style windows.)

Octave One stopped by Resident Advisor recently, with a table bestrewn with gear – that thickened-up gravy of sound. Yes, that’s our own MeeBlip (SE edition, modded with an extra-big knob) on the bass stabs at the beginning. And there’s tons of KORG and other gear in there, as well. There’s a nice balance of advance preparation with rich live-played synth lines and mixing and filtering. It means they’ve done enough that they can lay down a groove, but they also can feel transitions, structure – actually say something in the moment. They’re also clever in keeping everything accessible, rather than doing something overly cerebral. Sonically, everything is defined (clever groove can help), but there’s also a healthy amount of dirt and warmth.

Continue reading »