Music software is at its best when it goes beyond cookie-cutter regularity, and spawns something creative. And sometimes, the path there involves retooling how that music is made.
That’s why I’m pleased to get to share this interview with WaveDNA. Liquid Rhythm is something unlike just about anything else in music software. It looks like a music theory class collided with a mandala. In colored patterns, arrayed in bars and wheels, you can produce all kinds of new rhythms, then integrate deeply with your host software. If you use Ableton Live, the integration goes further still. Whether you’re using Drum Racks or notes, you can automatically see what pattern goes with what, working in real-time with everything visible as you go. There’s a whole suite of tools with more than enough of what you could explore in any host. (Then, in Live, it just gets crazier.)
You can randomize and remix and shift, for quick ideas. (They had me at ‘randomize.’) Or, if you’re brave enough to enter the worlds of beat and pattern control, you can use the tools for fine-grained production of unusual musical ideas.
Plug-ins, patches. VST, AU, RTAS for any host. Or Max for Live for Ableton Live, now with full integration with Ableton Push hardware.
Palettes of rhythms. Paint with patterns, or make patterns in pitch and rhythm from clusters, in BeatBuilder.
Dial up rhythms. BeatSeeker displays various genetic possibilities of patterns in a huge wheel.
Accents, grooves. Design grooves and velocity by color in an accent editor, or re-groove existing materials with something they call GrooveMover.
MIDI without a piano roll. Yes, this common interface has become tyranny. It’s tough to describe, but they have a different view, one that provides manual control in a unique interface that goes its own direction – more like a genetic cell than a piano roll. (See the video, as it’s easier to see than write about.)
Integrate with Ableton Live clips.
“We’re a music software company that makes no sound,” say the creators in the interview here. Instead, they let you put rhythms where they don’t normally go. Sounds good to me.
Here’s a look at how their in-line editing works, and how the musical concept functions: Continue reading »
Nid & Sancy – The Cut up Jeans Technique app from Lab101 on Vimeo.
Like an attention-starved Tamagotchi – or a two-and-a-half year-old toddler – this is an app that wants to shake around and gets easily bored.
Yes, we’ve seen endless predictions that apps might replace albums. (I said it on a panel once, so I’m guilty.) But… how, exactly? In a novel and entertainingly-juvenile concept, the app R.A.N.D.Y. is a handheld dancing character who wants to be shaken around in order to keep the music playing.
Worth it? Well, with the funky sounds of Belgian electronic/punk act Nid & Sancy, yes. And in exchange for shaking your phone around, you get the album for free.
Apparently getting this into the App Store was more challenging, however. Apple hit the developers with multiple rejections for being “useless.” (Oh, sure, and sliding squares around until you get fired from your job, that’s useful?)
Somehow, that makes us like it … more.
Correction: I misread Kris’ message. In fact, Apple has still not approved the app. There were some revisions – adding additional background information – but this has not made it into the store.
Reader Kris Meeusen worked on this, and made use of free software libraries (creative coding platform Cinder), with a heavy dose of OpenGL and GLSL to keep all the animations happening interactively, in real-time.
I say keep the uselessness coming.
The label Erased Tapes lies perfectly at the crossroads of craft today, from instrument building and modification (electronic and acoustic) to performance and composition (again, electronic and acoustic). And a new collaboration weaves together all those threads. We couldn’t be more pleased to get to share the first exclusive track from that project, as well as announce an event we’ll co-present here in Berlin in June.
Peter Broderick and Greg Haines are each multi-instrumentalist composers, at home singing and playing instruments both new and old. Their relationship spans several years, but this year brings the debut of a finished record from that collaboration. Greg Gives Peter Space is a unique hybrid of cosy folk and spacey dub, producing a sound a bit unlike either one. And in a live context, the matrix of synths and effects they use in improvisatory constellations should produce a more far-out space journey than the living room-close sound you get here. Either way, it’s gorgeous stuff, the product of the care these two artists bring to the work of sound design and songwriting and performance.
On the evening of June 9, the duo will join us in an event we present with Berghain Kantine and Erased Tapes. (Details below, if you’re in or near Berlin.) The record is out on digital and vinyl June 16.
In the meantime, we can enjoy this cut:
Let’s not stop there, though. Here’s Peter Broderick playing with another collaborator, Martyn Heyne, in 2012 for his album that year, These Walls Of Mine, revealing that same improvisatory acumen. (This one take, no edits, complete with instruments and synths and such – and the floorboards becoming part of the instrument.) Continue reading »
MIDI: it’s not just a protocol. It’s a state of mind. It’s the interconnectedness of all things musical.
Or, at least, it is at MIDI HACK next month in Stockholm. A 24-hour hackathon will delve deep into musical creation. It’s not just mucking about with code, either: there will be performances and talks, artists and makers, all to feed your ideas.
And whereas past hack days have often focused on Web programmers and music consumption (music what?), this is different. If you’re a singer, or you want to rip a MIDI controller into shreds, or wire up a banana, this is the event for you. It appears equally friendly to someone who writes VST plug-ins as someone who wants to try a new way of performing. And that sounds refreshing.
Also, while it’s called a “MIDI Hack” day, control voltage and OSC are also welcome. Fear not, then, brave advocates of analog and OSC.
But you need to get on this: applications close at the end of the weekend. It’s quick to sign up, and it’s free, and they’ll feed you while you’re there.
http://www.midihack.com/ (scroll down to ‘Sign Up’ for a form)
The venue is nice, too: the swanky headquarters of Spotify, amidst the already-posh environs of Stockholm. Luxury while you’re awake all night.
I’m doubly excited as I’m evidently the keynote speaker. And if I get enough herring and some mysterious Swedish energy drink (or just their excellent coffee), I hope to get into the hacking, too. So see you there.
Thanks to Rikard Jönsson and Sebastian Höglund for making this happen. And, by the way, Sebastian puts out wonderful music on his label Jämmerdosa, as with the band Varg – with an ethereal, beautiful video to match – extra performance inspiration for what sounds like it’ll be an intensive weekend of creative hacking: Continue reading »
It’s time to reinvent the graphical score. With musical practice more international, more broad and varied than ever, and electronics in the mix, conventional notational idioms just aren’t enough.
For curator and prolific electronic producer Hanno Leichtmann, the starting point was a collection of vintage Letraset and Letratone type, as pictured above. Leichtmann, a graphic designer himself (and maker of beautiful record covers), is passionate about digital and ink-based design processes alike; even the posters for the event are exquisitely (and expensively) hand-produced. He then invited a who’s who of illustrators and graphic designers from Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, and Argentina, Dennis Busch, Angela Lorenz, Philip Marshall, Caro Mikalef, Till Sperrle and Damien Tran.
Next step: “marry” them to collaborators, turning to boundary-pushing musical artists Thomas Ankersmit, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, Jan Jelinek & Masayoshi Fujita, Andrea Neumann, Martin Brandlmayr, and The Pitch. (Robert Lippok also DJs.)
With acoustic and electronic ensembles alike, the resulting graphic scores will be creatively reinterpreted by the musicians, for a whopping six world premieres over just two evenings. Audience members are invited to catch drinks and look through the “action scores” in a lounge.
If you’re in Berlin, the event is tonight and tomorrow night – and very affordable – at RadialSystem, and I hear tickets are still available at the door. (Day one and day two are each on Facebook; read more info from host Digital in Berlin or (auf Deutsch) bln.fm. If you’re – more likely – in the rest of the world, though, I think it’s still worth checking out the music, before and after the event. Continue reading »
It’s probably the greeting I’ve heard most in the past couple of months, apart from “Hello.”
Sometimes even before “Hello.”
Everywhere I go, people are asking me what I think of the Roland AIRAs – particularly the TR-8 drum machine.
There are now reviews everywhere of the AIRA TB-3 and TR-8 (and some of the VT-3, as well). For CDM, we’re planning some additional detail, but we’re still awaiting our review hardware. Fortunately, I got to spend an action-packed day with the trio of AIRAs with Benjamin Weiss.
So, I can do what I’d do in a bar: I can tell you all the really important details and skip straight to what I think of these (at least while we wait to do more exhaustive, detailed coverage).
Benjamin and I even finished an all-AIRA track for our NERKKIRN project. Well, nearly all-AIRA – the sound sources are exclusively AIRA TB-3, TR-8, and VT-3 with my voice. Here’s what sounds came out (teaser):
Having a day to mess with these is actually rather a great way to test the gear. You’re left with a fairly immediate impression. Continue reading »
Don’t call it a comeback. Hardware step sequencing is becoming the must-have accessory for even computer users.
And the boutique Digital Warrior controller, which neatly combines knobs with colored pads, is a great solution. I’ve been messing about with the Arturia BeatStep, as well – review coming – but the Digital Warrior has some tricks of its own. It integrates nicely with Traktor, like the still-forthcoming MIDI Fighter Twist from DJ TechTools. But the reason I wouldn’t buy or recommend the DJTT piece is – no MIDI DIN connector. And that spoils the fun.
Here, the Digital Warrior is comfortable not only integrating with your computer but with MIDI gear, as well. Note the cable making its way into the volca beats. And the volca beats I think has become most popular of the volcas with good reason: the touch strip at the bottom is ideal for quick sequencing. Some of the sounds I think are better than others, but it does have a grungy and unique sound, aided by the PCM and grain controls. And, crucially, the bass drum is deep. (I remain interested to hear what Akai’s rival Rhythm Wolf will sound like, though the tiny size of the volca is perfect when you’re cramming a live rig into cramped quarters, which always seems to happen onstage – hey, half a meter square is enough for you, right?)
You can output MIDI clock (as with volca beats), or use the MIDI port as MIDI thru, turning the box into a proper MIDI interface.
Bottom line: whether working in something like Ableton or Traktor, you can layer hardware step sequences over top so that you actually have something to play (rather than waving your arms around while some scenes or tracks play automatically – bah).
Details: Continue reading »