polyrhythmus

Polyrhythmus is the machine generator of notes and rhythms many of us have long dreamt of.

It does Euclidean rhythms – symmetrical divisions of time that beautifully produce common polyrhythms (not just for nerds, but modeling a lot of popular rhythms – see the research of Godfried Toussaint). It’s also capable of making other rhythms. It can be polymetrical or polyrhythmic. It’s … also an arpeggiator. It also automates parameters and MIDI Control Change messages. It has loads of modes. It’s modular. It’s dynamic. It’s amazing. It’s a music making nerd’s dream, friendly to anyone who loves rhythms, notes, and patterns.

It’s, for now, a convenient Max for Live module for Ableton Live. But the creator wants to know if we’d want a standalone version. Answer: yes.

Watch, as creator Benniy C. Bascom demonstrates:

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Christina Vantzou. Photo: Renaud Monfourny.

Christina Vantzou. Photo: Renaud Monfourny.

You know that feeling, on a hot day, of someone running an ice cube down the back of your neck? Or perhaps, going deeper, the dream of plunging into a frozen lake?

That visceral, primeval emotion, that chill that prickles the hairs on your head – that might start to describe the eerily-lovely wonderlands of Christina Vantzou. Brussels-base artist Vantzou was the visual imagination behind The Dead Texan (with Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie), releasing an epic audiovisual masterpiece that paired cinematic ambience with video realizations.

Vantzou has continued as a composer, with two records on Kranky Records (easy to remember – titled No. 1 and No. 2) engineered by Wiltzie. In swells of impossibly-slow, post-minimal string, electronic, and vocal textures, she makes elegant scenes of sound. It’s not wallpaper to me, as those materials could easily become; there’s some emotional sensitivity that makes these frozen tone poems heart-wrenching.

But because Vantzou works so much with colors, with static images, the palette of these two records is also perfectly-suited to remixing – at least in the hands of experimental artists. And Vantzou proves she’s as sharp a curator as composer, she’s released remix albums of each that can stand alone as much as the original. No. 1, in 2012, featured the likes of ISAN, Robert Lippok, Ben Vida, and many others, plus a bonus Dead Texan cut. Tracing the same adventurous, experimental collaborations, No. 2 – released last month – turns to Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Ken Camden, John Also Bennett (aka Seabat), and Loscil (Vancouver’s Scott Morgan).

The Loscil track is beautiful enough to put a pit in your stomach. But it’s Vantzou’s video that crystallises this whole aesthetic path. It’s a simple conceit: a young woman half-dances in slow-motion, her hair flowing before the camera in a way you might dance to the track in your mind. But her ghostly figure and costume, all in rich colors against a dark background, recall a Caravaggio painting, transposed to more modern, non-descript settings. The effect is eerie, unsettling – as if she has been caught sleep walking.

VHS (Loscil Remix) from christina vantzou on Vimeo.

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Print

Right in the manual, KORG suggests that you might turn their magnetic modular system, the littleBits Synth Kit, into a keytar. But this is a sort of “attach all the modules to a bit of wood” affair.

Meanwhile, in Japan…

Pantograph is an art/design agency and animation house (site link – Japanese only). And when they got their hands on the Synth Kit, they did it up properly. Think beautiful, multi-colored cases, proper playable ergonomics – and a blinking light-up KORG logo. The results are enchanting:

If you want one of your own and you’re passing through Tokyo (superfans, buy that plane ticket now), you can make one apparently at the Tokyo Toy Fair. See the news item from KORG Japan: Continue reading »

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“Producer”: in electronic music, this used to mean some person who makes tracks. Today, some special electronic musicians go way beyond that role. They’re combining skills partly because it means diversifying income, but also out of a real love for doing a variety of stuff. They’re holed up in the studio making music, sure – but they’re also finding collaborative ways of doing that, often online, and sharing skills and sounds as they develop them. It’s a more open, connected approach to electronic musical practice.

And Mad Zach is a great example. He’s a producer and DJ, but he’s also a journalist, he’s devising new ways of performing with controllers, he’s sharing sounds and techniques with others, and he’s teaching.

I’m biased – I mix a lot of these things myself, and I’ve naturally gotten to be friends with other people who are doing the same. (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is a Renaissance Man / Renaissance Women phenomenon, or if we just can’t say no to things! But it can be fun!)

So, I was really eager to get to talk to Zach about what he’s up to. CDM got that opportunity when we Beatport approached us to provide some input on a video tutorial accompanying a sound pack Zach was assembling. Zach and I talked a bit about what to share, and in the end I encouraged him to talk about his approach to playing live and making more soulful grooves. This wasn’t advertorial – on the contrary, since it was a voluntary collaboration, I used the opportunity for my own ulterior motives of getting to learn more about how Zach works. I’m really happy with the result, which you can see below.

But I also wanted to talk to Zach more about how he wound up making this sound pack, and how he manages these different threads of his career and musical activity. With so many in our community pursuing multi-track music making in this way, that technique may be just as important as what he does with the software. Continue reading »

unnamed

The new music video for Lusine, like the track itself, is almost sickeningly stomach-turning, it’s so beautiful.

Director Christophe Thockler has made an epic opus. The last time we caught up with Thockler, he had set 36,000 photos of melting ice to the chilling music of Ben Neill and Mimi Goese.

This time around, we’ve gone from ice to the titular blood. And that’s lots of blood – enough to attract vampires from a couple of cities away. 5 litters of blood rush through some 15 kg of components salvaged from TVs, phones, and computers, waste turned into what the director dubs “electrorganic” material.

He isn’t just shooting stills this time – but 30 minutes of video and 7,000 photos combine to the result you see here.

Lusine – Arterial from DaBrainkilla on Vimeo.

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yosemite

Music software developers usually tell you about compatibility well after an OS is out, or at least the day it comes out. Steinberg is already releasing information about OS X Yosemite, the new Mac operating system, before it’s even out. And they may be well-advised to do so, with Apple for the first time allowing the public to test the latest OS.

The current installer for all Steinberg software breaks under OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the in-beta software. There’s already a fix on the support site, though:
Steinberg Application Installer Tool for Yosemite

Download this tool and you’re sorted.

I’m curious, anyone brave enough to be testing Yosemite now?

I’ve just this month upgraded to 10.9. After some installation hiccups, the install has been great – though this again confirms my theory of “stay about one year behind the latest OS.” (Also, it seems you will want a newer machine with SSD to use some recent software on the Mac side, generally.)

Let us know in comments – developers and users alike.

Photo courtesy Apple.

Note: We’re already hearing some issues with Ableton, mentioned on their forum. This is pre-release operating system software, however. Generally, our advice holds: don’t install any new OS – even a shipping one – until you’ve verified compatibility with critical software, and made a backup to which you can easily revert. With pre-release software, it goes even further: expect bugs. Install only if you have a spare machine and enjoy troubleshooting, and report what you find.

Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak - and he's going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak – and he’s going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

It’s “the science of being imperfect” – and Mad Zach is one heck of a mad scientist at it.

We all know Ableton Live productions, even sometimes from fairly skilled music makers, can get painfully stuck on the grid. If that’s the disease, Mad Zach has the cure. Armed with Ableton Live and together with releasing a very special, very useful sound pack, this insanely-prolific DJ, producer, writer, and educator has some advice for how to get the soul and groove back in your machines.

CDM teamed up with our friends at Beatport Sounds to work with Zach on an instructional video that goes deeper into the craft of the groove. And I love what Zach has done with the tutorial. If you’re still learning your way around Live, I think you’ll still like it — just follow along the beginner and intermediate tutorials first before you tackle it. At the same time, if you’ve got a bit more production under your belt, it won’t insult your intelligence. I learned something, and I’ve been using Live since 1.0.

Highlights, as we “escape the grid”:
How to use the (oddly underused, misunderstood) Grooves section in Live
Extract an original TR-909 shuffle
Drawing in swing
Recording MIDI controllers

Now, some background: Continue reading »