When audio software maker Camel Audio announced they were ceasing operations and making their product line unavailable, we considered two possibilities: either they had simply closed shop, or they were bought.

Well, they were bought. That is, we can’t confirm the plug-in vendor has been purchased by Apple. Here, let’s line up two scenarios again. Either:

1. Camel Audio spontaneously moved their UK business registration to Apple’s London address and named Apple lawyer Heather Joy Morrison as their sole Director. (Upside: awesome prank. Downside: um, maybe you get thrown in the Tower of London, or whatever England does these days.) OR –

2. Apple bought them.

MacRumors breaks the story, but this is no “rumor.” Because the UK corporate registry records are public, they have the PDF of the filing. (See below.) And Heather Morrison is listed on LinkedIn as Apple’s iTunes Senior Counsel, Europe. (My guess is this has nothing to do with the App Store or iTunes, but just that Ms. Morrison is the most convenient senior legal representative for Apple in the UK.)

Okay, so now we know Apple bought Camel. What does it mean for Camel’s products, like CamelSpace or CamelPhat? Continue reading »

Marek Biliński live in Warsaw, 2013. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Robert Drózd.

Marek Biliński helms a Moog live in Warsaw, 2013. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Robert Drózd.

The setting looks futuristic — like Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Syd Mead to make a theme park. But it’s actually Warsaw and environs. And the path the future is via the past, and a history largely unknown outside of the country. Boiler Room, best known for webcasting parties, shifts gears from what’s new-and-hip to where it all began, and the result is inspiring.

The film was directed by Marcin Filipek for Boiler Room with the input of Gosia Herman of Boiler Room Poland, and is the result of half a year spent gathering artists. The stunning imagery is the work of cinematographer Michal Dabal.

The strongest part of the film is unquestionably its glimpse of early Polish pioneers, and the challenges they faced as they carved a path through new electronic musical frontiers. So, you get:

The film also makes a connection to today’s musical generation in Poland, with younger artists: Continue reading »


How much freedom do you want when building things? You want the ability to experiment and make choices, but you also want the process of making to be easy enough that you can play.

Bleep Labs last week introduced the first two kits in a series they’re calling Rad-Fi. The idea is, follow the instructions, and you can build a synth and an effect quickly by connecting parts on a breadboard. That makes kit assembly stunningly easy, because there’s no soldering involved. It also means it’s very possible to make modifications by snapping in additional parts, or, if you want to get fancy, reprogramming or adding intelligence with the aid of an Arduino.

The concept is not to be a kit on a single board – there are other options for this. Fueled by experience teaching workshops and helping people learn about electronics and sound quickly, this is best understood as a set of parts and techniques that rapidly puts an idea together, for later modification if desired.

Rad-Fi a collaboration between Bleep’s John-Mike and Pete Edwards (the latter, of Casper Electronics fame, is an American now based in the Netherlands – in case you’re in Europe and looking to book a great synth-building workshop). When I was in Amsterdam last year at STEIM, Pete showed me some of his projects – rich-sounding instruments capable of terrific sounds, all assembled from standard parts on a breadboard. Rad-Fi here are an outgrowth of some of those ideas, merged with efforts by John-Mike Reed in a similar direction. Continue reading »


It’s the best-known sample of all time. It might be the most-heard six seconds of sound in modern recording.

But before it became the “Amen break,” the signature riff was part of The Winstons’ song “Amen, Brother.”

And so, how much did the artists who actually produced the original sound earn from their “success”? Well, that’ll be … nothing, apart from the original revenues from the 1969 release. Nothing in royalties from its use … well, seemingly everywhere. (N.W.A.? Oasis? Futurama? Check.)

Zip. Zero. The drummer, Gregory Coleman, died homeless in 2006. Richard L. Spencer, the vocalist and sax player you hear on the classic cut, owned the copyright but never got a cent from its reuse. Forget Searching for Sugarman. BBC tracking down Richard L. Spencer (picture, top) may be the even bigger story of a lost and unsung musical hero, all but disappearing after 1971.

So now, one crowd funding project wants to right the wrong, doing through donations what the international intellectual property system couldn’t do for an independent musician.

The project is the brainchild of Martyn Webster, a 42-year old DJ from the UK. Webster fits the MO of the whole Amen break-sampling scene, making electro, hiphop, and rap in the 80s and 90s. So, he’s just a DJ who loved this musical gesture and wanted to give back. The plan: raise money, then give it to Richard L. Spencer to make up for years and years of success given to other artists.

Mr. Webster writes, simply: Continue reading »

Patching on a computer involves plugging something into something else virtually. In this video tutorial, you can extend that by adding a physical knob to control your custom creations, for Max/MSP (and Max for Live).

It’s just a quick tip, but I know this gets asked a lot. (Greetings, students – happy spring semester to you!) And there’s something really fun about seeing a knob in the real world controlling something. Bonus points for using a toilet paper roll as a custom “housing.”

It’s also nice seeing this accomplished in the all-new Max 7.

And this is just the start, part of a project extending beyond Max/MSP to free tools like Pure Data, JavaScript, and Python. The basic idea is a set of techniques for real-world control, backed by free code/patch examples and video tutorials. The creator explains: Continue reading »

Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance … in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8′s software features might help you forget that.

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important.

And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart.

That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming that something called “1.8″ wasn’t terribly big news. But you’d be wrong – and that’s a good thing, too.

The 1.8 update released today actually does quite a lot. And so the folks working on that software got in touch with CDM to tell us more about it, in some detail. (Trivia: Akai’s Pete Goodliffe was responsible years ago for the early iOS MIDI library PGMidi. This is a very small world, indeed, when it comes to MIDI engineering.)

The banner features:

1. A better workflow for sample capture/chop/edit – yes, remember sampling? The MPC hasn’t forgotten.
2. Non-destructive chop and reverse.
3. A live looper, focusing on the machine as an instrument.
4. Pad perform mode (scales, chords, progressions).
5. You can record audio input through insert effects (again, focusing on live sampling).
6. Vintage Mode Emulation is now an insert. (Mmm, vintage-i-fy anything, then!)

Now we’re talking. Sure, that pad perform mode looks familiar with NI’s Maschine and Komplete Kontrol and Ableton’s Push offering something similar. But the implementation here is worth examining, and really focusing on actual sampling, chopping, and looping is something that could make those other tools jealous again.

For an overview, let’s first revisit the preview video from December, which Akai tell us “holds up pretty well” in terms of final shipping functionality:

Continue reading »

Isotonik Showcase – Part ONE from Isotonik Studios on Vimeo.

Music software can treat devices as melodic instruments, as percussion, as audio effects… so why not visuals, too? Of course, there’s no substitute for a dedicated visual artist / VJ in a set, but Brainwash HD at least gives you the tools to integrate performance visuals as an element of a set in Ableton Live. It’s the visual equivalent of the sound modules we’ve been looking at lately.

And Brainwash is just one of a number of clever little Max for Live modules from Isotonik Studios, as seen in the video at top. CDM has gotten an exclusive first look at what they’ve been building.

Before we get to those acid-watched visuals, this showcase also shows Max for Live tools you might use for any number of tasks. Follow and Return allow you to trigger actions based on clips. Follow expands on the built-in Follow Actions in Live by setting up any action you want when a clip finishes playing. I’ve long felt that Follow Actions were needlessly neglected by Ableton since their introduction; I’d still love to see more internal, integrated behavior, but for making your own custom performance rigs, this looks terrific.

And yes, this performs something Live itself ought to do, but doesn’t – it lets you set Scenes as Follow Actions. Continue reading »