cyrusrex + Baseck – #DBC611G-1D from Muff Wiggler on Vimeo.

Pulsing, rattling, buzzing, quivering, the music of LA-based artist Cyrus Rex is a sumptuous feast of sound. Here’s a musician who connects massive arrays of gear, like some post-apocalyptic robot dream, and then makes it sound like it – rapid-fire machine reveries set in motion amidst nests of cables.

Little wonder this video at top, with Cyrusrex and Baseck, comes from MuffWiggler. It is full of gear:

Cyrusrex + Baseck – Modular Synth, DSI Tempest, DevilFish TB303, Strymon BigSky, casio #DBC611G-1D

But don’t stop there. Cyrus Rex’s music is an IDM orgy of synthesizers, each sound precise and exquisite amidst the raging terror of noise. Continue reading »

Guessing that 'new' flag will not be a feature. This image has been making the rounds.

Guessing that ‘new’ flag will not be a feature. This image has been making the rounds.

Keeping new musical instrument announcements under wraps prior to embargo dates is proving, again, to be more or less impossible. Native Instruments’ Komplete updates, teased in a video on Friday, have now been prematurely revealed via one print magazine hitting newsstands (Beat, in Germany), and multiple leaks by dealers (some even crawled by Google, according to a CDM reader). Forum members at GearSlutz have been dutifully reproducing everything, leaving few secrets. From there, the cat’s out of the bag; I’m seeing this spreading through German-language outlets and expect others will pick this up soon. Oddly, forum members and commenters have also proceeded to review the announcement in some detail, apparently on the merits of a serious of text bullet points and screen shots alone.

I think that’s a little ridiculous. You need to hear instruments to judge them; you need to actually use hardware and software to judge its quality. Implementation is everything.

This isn’t the whole story – not yet. The leaks don’t yet reveal any details of how that works, only the basic physical form of the keyboards, as well as what instruments have been added in Komplete 10′s software.

So, I’m posting it here in the hopes that more inquisitive CDM readers will ask us some questions. What would you want to see tested; what would you want to know? Let’s see some questions rather than premature reviews, and we can find some answers. (My experience is, readers here ask terrific questions.)

But for starters, here’s the information shared on GearSlutz and in a story on (German-language site) Amazona.de. The big story, as the teaser video suggested, is keyboards designed for controlling instruments in Komplete. Many of the hardware features you’ve already seen in the “teaser” video (which actually showed quite a lot): Continue reading »

glitch

Native Instruments today releases a teaser video which it says is “A glimpse of the future” of Komplete, the production suite that includes Reaktor, Kontakt, and various synths and the like.

That video clearly shows some kind of hardware. Now, the degree to which I can speculate about an unreleased product is inversely proportional to the amount I know about such a product.

So, with that in mind, let me objectively describe what you see in the video in ways that are truly obviously discernible, for those of you who can’t be bothered to squint at the video yourself. I’d say we see:

Continue reading »

pdkinect

Pd: Ugly. Hugely useful. Free.

The open-source, free graphical patching environment can do everything from simple MIDI tasks to building synths and effects to advanced multimedia. And because it’s free software, it’s also been adapted to run places other tools can’t – it’s been used in commercial iOS apps with millions of downloads (via libpd), and will run happily on a Raspberry Pi or even a hacked e-reader or ancient iPod.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s also getting a healthy stream of updates. And while those usually don’t merit specific mention, 0.46 is very cool. (It’s the “vanilla” version, so perfectly suited to work with libpd for iOS, Android, and game development, among other things.)

New in this release:

  • Native OSC (Open Sound Control) support. oscformat, oscparse objects now does OSC over UDP. (TCP, USB, etc. still require the slip encoder/decoder by mrpeach.)
  • Built-in support for Jack (inter-app audio, etc.) on OS X.
  • No more manually setting up devices: “Audio and MIDI devices saved by name so that when they get switched around Pd has a better chance of restoring settings correctly.”
  • New string support: ,
  • Netsend/netreceive bi-directional TCP support. (Overdue – thanks!)

Continue reading »

dsm01shipping

Eurorack fever continues to spread. The ease of making musical electronics fit the standard, pioneered by Germany’s Dieter Doepfer, and the growing appetite from a small but passionate audience, seems to make producing new modules irresistible. The entire design equation is different: a single task or handful of tasks can become a product.

Dave Smith Instruments is the latest entry. And the product is the perfect choice for DSI. It’s a module built around on the Curtis filter, the signature filter found on everything from the 1980s Prophets (back when Dave’s company was Sequential Circuits) to the latest Mopho and Prophet 12 – as well as instruments like the Oberheim Xpander and Rhodes Chroma.

Putting the Curtis filter in a module gives you a range of features:

  • Switchable 2/4-pole, resonant low-pass filter
  • -12 dB, -24 dB switchable filter slopes
  • Dedicated voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA)
  • Audio input jack, filtered audio output jack (well, of course, though you can choose signal from either before or after the VCA)
  • Control voltage inputs for frequency, resonance, and amplitude
  • Self-oscillation in 24 dB mode

Street (MAP) US$179.

And yes, it’s actually as far as I know the first time in quite some that Dave Smith, known as the father of MIDI, had his name on something without MIDI built in. But that’s not in and of itself news; a module is by definition different from a standalone synthesizer. Continue reading »

Welcome to the 21st Century. One day, you’ve got no radio, and you’re dubbing music onto cassettes – if you’re rich. The next, you’re part of a wired global music phenomenon dancing to avant-garde electronic noises made by machines – and you’re learning how to make those sounds yourself for an audience back on the other side of the planet. (Hey, I’m just a Kentucky boy. I find this all futuristic, too.)

Yet it may be the ones in denial about this phenomenon are some of us who have been living in the big cities – New York, Berlin, LA, London. The good news is, everyone is about to tune into sounds that have traveled trans-continental distances. And in that exchange, the music will change. Sometimes it’s traveling abroad that makes us discover the sound of where we came from; sometimes it’s hearing something from abroad that reveals some side of us we didn’t know – when the foreign feels personal.

VICE/Thump did a quick film with BOSE. It’s a bit of a tease to those of us who would want to get to know the music better, like watching an advertisement about the topic. But there are some gems in there. Let’s consider it the trailer to a conversation I hope we have on CDM.

And one of these quotes, while coming from the Indian experience, will no doubt sound familiar to everyone reading this site – that first time you heard new sounds.

“When I heard Prodigy, for example, I was, like, what are these guys on? I mean, this is insane. How can you make these sounds? It was just like music from another planet. It was crazy. I was like, that’s what we need to do here.”

Yep. That’s the feeling. Continue reading »

eighteenth-weathervane

Brian Crabtree, alongside partner Kelli Cain, nicely exemplifies a lot of this site’s raison d’ĂȘtre over the the past ten years. Artmaker and toolmaker are indistinct roles; they’re both flipsides of the act of making.

The monome, the invention for which Brian is best known, is at first blush nothing more than a box of buttons. It’s even lifeless until connected to a computer. But in its design is a statement that draws a thread from the design of tools to the design of music. Ideas about compositional technique are embodied in the software; notions of aesthetics are evident in every detail of construction, material, and sourcing. The same is true of its successors, arc and the ultra-limited aleph.

This is a tool that is also a sculpture – music made into an object. (The Museum of Modern Art and LA County Museum of Art each took notice. But maybe it’s more important than a community of musicians did.)

In other words, Brian has been doing what composers do. He’s been externalizing ideas about design and aesthetic, encoding messages about what beauty is.

In some ways, though, you need that musical soundtrack to fully decode the message. And so it’s significant to me that we have some of Brian’s first recorded music in a long time. (He’s been active in live performance, but hasn’t committed anything to an ‘album,’ as such.)

The results are beautiful, organic. Not one but two outings have debuted this summer. There’s skyclad, a four-track EP on The Leap, a label based in Boston and Santa Fe that pairs live events with releases and podcast. (It’s no stranger to the monome community.) And there’s eighteenth on Detroit Underground – a second EP. Continue reading »