But, on the upside, we’ll be huge in Japan.

Yes, just to be clear, this is Hatsune Miku, who is actually a software vocal algorithm, not an actual singer, playing live in front of throngs of fans.

Enjoy that stomp box while you can. It may… kill you in your sleep, strangling you with your own guitar cables, and then go on the road with your volcas and electribes in your place. Don’t even think of letting it talk to Siri.

(Seriously, KORG, did you ask Yamaha if they’re including the Three Laws of Robotics on that chipset, or should we be worried?)

And yes, while the rest of the world argues about just what knobs Deadmau5 or Daft Punk may be twiddling onstage, it’s worth noting that Miku has been playing “virtual” concerts like this in front of an adoring public since 2009. As noted in comments, technically there is sampled material sliced to produce her voice, but the combination of machine-controlled lyrics with a projected animated avatar is unmistakably post-human performance – or at least very much augmented human performance. In some sense, of course, this is all of us playing with computers; the Miku concerts simply embrace the phenomenon as natural.

Via a completely insane message thread on GearSlutz. (Who are these people, anyway?)

Update: my sister points out that Japanese fiction was already onto this concept – see Sharon Apple in Macross Plus, circa 1994.

mikustomp

You’re not hallucinating. This is a stomp box that adds a Japanese robot woman singing along as you play. If you’ve heard the now-popular Vocaloid effect, this is that, in a stompbox.

Just how Japanese is this product? Let us count the ways. First, let’s just quote the product text:

Hatsune Miku sings when you play your guitar! A design that fuses the worlds of Hatsune Miku and guitar effects. Nearly unlimited possibilities; 11 lyric patterns are provided. Lyrics for “Senbonzakura” (a Japanese song) are preset. An iPhone app for entering lyrics is available, so you can make MIKU STOMP sing your original lyrics.

This all uses the latest Yamaha engine to make the sounds – “she” sings along to your actual playing.

There’s a knob for different vocal modes. And yes, there’s a Nyan mode. (Rejoice!)

Continue reading »

gadget

Ableton alone can’t take you mobile, apart from bringing your MacBook running Live on the bus. But now KORG is ready to take your Ableton Live work on the road. Apart from adding native Live set export to their electribe and electribe sampler, the new versions of KORG’s iOS apps Gadget and iKaossilator do export, too.

And that’s just one feature in the deceptively-named “1.03″ release of KORG’s Gadget.

Gadget is one of those apps that I’ve had to file under “wow, this looks cool but I’ve no time.” As the name implies, you get a selection of synths and drum machines. Here’s where having a newer iPad benefits you, too – the latest processor runs up to 20 at once. There’s a 303-style bass, PCM and digital synths, virtual analog synths, semi-modulars, percussion synths, “wobble” and chip goodies. Then, you can either perform live with the lot or save patterns.

1.03 finally makes integrating that goodness easier, with MIDI input, Live export, and multitrack export, for starters:

taktile_gadget Continue reading »

electribesamplerangle

Few pieces of music hardware ever have had the impact that KORG’s electribe series has. And there was a time when playing live almost equated to showing up with this gear. Today, KORG has a genuinely new generation of that hardware, long awaited by fans. The engines under the hood are new, finally taking the tech we’ve seen on various KORG gadgets and building it into the flagship production gizmos. They allow for more live performance scenarios.

And in a first, you can use an electribe to build patterns for Ableton Live, creating on-the-go or onstage patterns you can bring back into your live studio.

And in a nod to the endless rise of the MPC-style grid, these are electribes with pads on them. There’s still an X/Y pad, but it’s shrunk to dimensions resembling a trackpad. And there are loads of knobs, the effect being oddly reminiscent of Swedish drum machine maker Elektron as much as something from KORG.

There are actually two electribes today: one called simply “electribe,” the other “electribe sampler.” (Yes, that new capitalization is official, too.) Continue reading »

volcasample_angle

The KORG volca sample is a fun-looking sample “sequencer” – it can play back, modify, and mangle pre-recorded samples in a step sequencer. But it requires a dedicated iOS app to do the actual sampling.

That makes for a mixed bag, straight out of the gate. As KORG says:
“The new volca lets you recapture the excitement of the first generation of samplers, in which any sound — vocals, spoken words, ambient sound, or glitches — becomes material for your creations!”

– right, but then it leaves out one of the best things about those hardware samplers, namely – sampling.

With that disappointment out of the way, the volca sample otherwise is full of some cool ideas. Let’s have a look at what it can do. Continue reading »

Akai’s Rhythm Wolf looks good. And its US$199 price impressed. But when we finally heard some noises out of it back in July, many were disappointed. And, as so often happens with music gear, we’ve mostly following a non-functioning unit at Musikmesse (certainly unfinished and possibly even damaged at the show).

A new $200 drum machine still sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Fortunately, it seems the waiting is over.

Our sources say that review units should be arriving this month, so expect a CDM review.

And we’ve seen an unofficial video appear that showcases a production unit, at top. If you’re wondering how that bassline magically appears, it was dubbed over later. Sound quality here sounds better, though I still have some questions.

Almost everything was recorded in realtime, external delay effect used on the bassline. The bassline in the first part of the video was added afterwards.
Subwoofer or headphones recommended.

One appealing aspect of the Rhythm Wolf is hack-ability. That reasonably large case could mean separate outs for the different drum parts. I definitely imagine pairing this with some external effects.

The Colectivo Triangular this video comes from is really cool – gear-obsessed IDM lover, surprise:

https://soundcloud.com/colectivotriangular
http://colectivotriangular.wordpress.com
https://twitter.com/col_tri_

So, that’s the Akai corner. Now, meanwhile, at KORG…

abayomi-push-preview-draft

Jesse Abayomi, Ableton Product Specialist, is one heck of a virtuoso Push player. And you can learn something from him, too.

Performance technology doesn’t always add to performance, it’s true. But when the machine and human are in sync, it’s beautiful. People can develop their musical chops and machine control chops at once – improve on their musical practice and technique. And when that happens, the quality of performances actually gets better.

I’ve seen a funny thing as Push has crept into performances. Just as with the spread of custom controllers in the past, access to more playing technique has livened up live sets. It literally makes it more fun to be an audience member – not only if you’re (cough) one of us creepy, nerdy people always hovering behind the screen of players, but even when out in the crowd, listening to the music being more dynamic.

Ableton, for their part, have begun spotlighting artists using Push. This is marketing stuff, but they’ve also presented some real techniques you can learn from. That is, they might be trying to sell you Push, but if you’ve got one already, you should pay attention.

With Jesse in Zone3 guise (shifting from his techno and house realms into bass music), he does some amazing things on “Chemistry.” It’s also a nice catalog of the sort of functions Push can accomplish. By my count, that includes:

  • Clip and scene triggering
  • Pad triggering (live, with velocity)
  • Step sequencing (percussion, melodic)
  • Mixing
  • Step sequencing one-shot samples (in place of triggers)
  • Melodic playing (bassline)
  • Parameter control (via a macro – more on that below)

Continue reading »