lemurlemur

Before there even was an iPad or iPhone, there was Lemur. The touch-based controller device was theoretically the first-ever consumer multi-touch hardware. Early adopters connected the pricey smart display via Ethernet to a computer, and wowed friends with flying faders and bouncing balls and new ways of doing everything from manipulating spatial audio to playing instruments.

Then, the iPad arrived, and Lemur had a new life as an iOS-only app. For many of us, it’s alone reason enough to own an Apple tablet.

But Apple tablets are pricey. Android tablets are cheap. And Android tablets are increasingly available in more sizes. So, maybe you want to run Lemur on Android. Maybe it’s your only tablet. Or maybe you’re just worried that now your live performance set depends on an iPad mini, and if it dies, you’re out hundreds more – so Android is an appealing backup.

Well, now, Lemur has come to Android. It wasn’t easy; it required lots of additional testing because of the variety of devices out there and weird peculiarities of making Android development work properly. (Disclosure: I was one of Lemur’s testers, and was gratified when it suddenly started working on my Nexus 7, which is a fairly excellent low-cost device.)

But now it’s here. And it’s fantastic. Nick from Liine came to our monthly mobile music app meetup in Berlin and showed us just how easy it is to code your own custom objects using the canvas – more on that soon. But combine that with a stable app for hosting your own creations, and Lemur is simply indispensable. It’s US$24.99 on the Google Play store.

Oh, and one more thing: wires. Continue reading »

max7collage

Being “software about nothing” isn’t easy.

Max has for years been a favored choice of musicians and artists wanting to make their own tools for their work. But it’s been on a journey over more recent years to make that environment ever more accessible to a wider audience of people.

The aim: for beginners and advanced users alike, work faster, producing tools that work better. Okay, those are easy goals to set – a bit like all of us declaring we’re going to “get in better shape” in a few weeks from now on New Year’s Eve. But Max 7 somehow brings together a range of plotlines from years of development and evolution.

This is very quickly looking like the visual toolkit for media that Max has always longed to be.

What’s new?

Too long/ didn’t read? Here’s the quick version:

  • Patch faster and prettier with a new UI, styles, new browser, and loads of shortcuts.
  • Elastic, pitch/tempo-independent audio everywhere, syncable everywhere.
  • Loads of pitch correction and harmonization and pitch effects, straight out of the box.
  • Use Max for Live patches directly – even without a copy of Ableton.
  • Use video and audio media directly, without having to make your own player.
  • Use VST, AU plug-ins seamlessly, plus Max for Live patches – even without a copy of Ableton.
  • Make video and 3D patches more quickly, with physics and easy playback, all taking advantage of hardware acceleration on your GPU.

And what’s new in detail, as well as why it matters: Continue reading »

anodewood

MeeBlip anode, our ready-to-play bass synth with an analog filter, is now shipping and in dealers worldwide. We knew we wanted to make something that was accessible to those new to hardware synths, but had enough personality to surprise advanced users, too – even in a small box, for US$139.95 list.

And we also now know what the critics think.

It’s always easy to explain what you wanted a creation to be. It’s a different, if exciting, experience when you read someone else’s take on what resulted. But that makes me all the more pleased to share a round-up of reviews of the anode, reviews that we’ve found exceptionally thoughtful and thorough, that connect to what we were trying to do.

If you like what you read, anode is on sale now, including fine dealers worldwide.

anodekeybuy

Keyboard Magazine gave MeeBlip anode its Key Buy award (our second, following the first-generation MeeBlip), saying: “after a day in the studio it becomes clear that nothing else sounds like it.” Continue reading »

matrixfx

Few things would make my fingers go numb and my brain at a loss for words quite like this. But there’s simply not much to add to this, other than to say that Aphex Twin has released a 21-track modular album and loads of other things, plus pages and pages and pages and pages of interview notes via the wonderful noyzelab blog. There’s a two-part interview, and as for everything else, you might as well just head to SoundCloud, queue things up, and not sleep for a long time. (They’re all free downloads, too.)

The whole thing looks like the interview was conducted over IRC and you may need to snort caffeine and Pixy Stix to get through it in one sitting, but, you know – in a good way. I think you’ll have fun.

Aphex Twin SYROBONKERS! Interview Part 1

Aphex Twin SYROBONKERS! Interview – Part 2

On Blogger, so you can party like it’s 2006. Brilliant work by Dave Noyze, a nerdy geeky explosion for all you boys and girls. Aphex Twin macht Kinder froh.

It’s a whole Richard D. Jamesgasm.

I could add technical notes, for instance, except that I think the list of classic modular gear not used in these releases or discussed in the interview is probably longer than what it is.

And, sure, maybe that’s not really Aphex Twin, and maybe it’s not really his son, except that it is, so don’t worry about it. (If this really is Peter Kirn, really on CDM. Is it? Am I? Meh, never mind.)

Definitely don’t miss the album or these sounds. And, perhaps, maybe all of us should put our weird s*** on SoundCloud, and maybe someday, ads for BMW will air between them. In the meantime, go burn through their bandwidth, because you can. Continue reading »

SoundCloud has posted a somber memorial to the Berlin Wall, for the 25th anniversary. The concept is intriguing not only for its content, but also its form. The work uses time as a measurement of space – the duration sound would take to travel the length of the whole wall. In comments on SoundCloud, the 120 people who lost their lives are counted out in their fateful location. See the full description below. I’m curious to hear what readers think; my own preference would have been for an abstract interpretation rather than such literal, figurative sounds, but this is entirely personal.

The anniversary of the fall of the wall has in Berlin brought a host of events – including many celebrating the musical renaissance that followed reunification. And it is no exaggeration to say that Berlin has become a world capital of music technology, host to Ableton, Native Instruments, and SoundCloud, but also countless researchers, artists, electronic musicians, and small builders, as a direct result of this historical event.

Perhaps against this, it is worth reflecting on the text of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the fourth movement “Choral,” which was played yesterday on the anniversary.

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen,
und freudenvollere.
Freude!

Oh friends, not these sounds!
Let us instead strike up more pleasing
and more joyful ones!
Joy!

The text: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. The original word was not joy, but the more politically-loaded freedom.

Given that last night is, somewhat incomprehensibly, both the anniversary of the fall of the wall and the horrific Kristallnacht, in a city that was home to Nazis and the fulcrum of a nuclear standoff with my own native United States that very nearly destroyed humanity and a lot of life on earth, this is the reason we have to make sounds in Berlin or far away from it- we are at a boundary line for humanity. Continue reading »

garageband_yosemite

Here’s a welcome change. OS X Yosemite (10.10 is a major update to a desktop operating system that brings with it almost no apparent headaches for pro audio.

The normal advice applies. Backup your system before doing anything (even Apple’s Time Machine I’ve found does the job nicely). Time something major like an OS update for when you’ve got time to test, and to revert if you have trouble. (Hint: not in the dressing room before a gig.) And don’t rush to update – there’s nothing here that you immediately need for music work.

But in this case, if you are trying out OS X Yosemite for other reasons – or investing in a new Apple computer (the MacBook Pros are especially nicely priced at the moment) – you may be pleasantly surprised that there a few issues. The lag in testing and compatibility is measured in days or weeks rather than months. And anecdotally, I’ve seen a bunch of people update to the new OS on recent machines and report real happiness with the results. Older hardware owners are definitely left in the dark, but it’s been a while since Apple has changed system requirements. This is what maturity looks like. Maybe some of that agony we went through in the past has paid dividends. Continue reading »

herndonhome

American artist Holly Herndon has built an extraordinary musical performance idiom in her live sets and records. She blends deep rhythms with ethereal vocals, interweaving electronic and processed and human sounds with unusual fluidity.

Her vocal chords are beautifully present, as are her own custom-made Max patch sound designs. But she can also draw the computer’s electrical vocal chords, harnessing, Nikola Tesla-style, the unseen electro-static and mechanical life of her computer itself. This is not laptop music meant to make the computer invisible. This is laptop music that recognizes that our strange metal devices have become new instruments, machines that co-exist with us in the real world.

She deals, too, with intimacy, memory, and feeling – all related to her use of process in studio and live performance.

Holly has done various interviews, but Red Bull Music Academy gave her two solid hours on the mic in Tokyo recently, and the resulting talk sits nicely in focus between the gathered audience of practitioners and the larger public.

It’s worth watching the entire lecture, but there are some topics worth highlighting. Continue reading »