Analog-Rytm-By-Elektron-Top-View

Elektron’s upcoming hardware drum machine, the Analog Rytm, is silent no more.

The Swedish maker has posted audio samples of this 8-voice box, covering a range of styles. And you can see some specs now on the product page:

http://www.elektron.se/products/analog-rytm

What you can’t do is order the Analog Rytm – not yet. There’s a waiting list so you can be notified when it goes on sale (not really a waiting list for the preorder, so much as a “now you can buy it” list):

http://www.elektron.se/content/analog-rytm

We expect to be on top of a review before the beginning of summer. In the meantime, let’s have a listen. Continue reading »

ms20kit_letter

ms20kit18

Call it the MS-20 “Biggie.”

A year after remaking their classic 1978 MS-20 synthesizer in a hugely-popular “mini” version, KORG surprised everyone by unveiling a second reissue this year, the limited-edition MS-20 Kit. Its innards are entirely identical to the MS-20 mini; component-by-component, the sound circuitry is the same. And since the MS-20 was a fairly convincing replica of the original, inaccurate mostly in that it can’t reproduce the aged components we’re now used to, that’s a good start.

Now I’ve had the experience of assembling and playing the kit, following up our debut with the mini last year, and can share what I’ve learned.

Photos: Benjamin Weiss, aka NERK (mostly), of DE:BUG Magazine.

The differences in the special edition this year are mostly to do with size. Instead of the miniaturized keybed, enclosure, and jacks on the mini, you get an MS-20 that is physically indistinguishable from the original – full-sized keyboard, full-sized audio jacks. (Oddly, I read people complaining about the plastic sides. Sorry, everything old did not use Moog-style wooden endcaps; that is authentic.) There are only two things that are a giveaway this isn’t a vintage MS: one is the USB and MIDI port conspicuously added to the back, and the other, more telling sign, is that the thing is physically so darned clean, as it is a 2014 creation rather than late 70s / early 80s. Just as before, though, you even get a copy of the vintage manual and patching examples.

There was also one subtle change: you can switch between two analog filter circuits, choosing either the more unruly original MS-20 filter, or the cleaner, revised design included on later units. You select the different filters using a DIP switch inside the hardware. That means unscrewing the back panel – easily done, but still necessitating a screwdriver. Fortunately, KORG has also enabled a three-key startup sequence: depress those keys on the keyboard as you power on, and you can swap filter models on the fly. This appears not to be possible on the mini – certainly not without voiding the warranty.

Also changed is how the MS-20 Kit is delivered: as the name implies, you assemble it yourself. In fact, fully-assembled, it doesn’t quite fit in the box in which it’s packed. Continue reading »

flappybird

If Brian Eno were scoring the dreams of a gaming addiction, it might go something like this.

Yes, we already told you previously that Lemur 5 adding a canvas object would mean anything could be a controller. It makes the iPad controller app as much a blank, well, canvas, as your Web browser window, more or less.

But with relatively scant documentation, Lemur 5 assumed a lot of its users. I mean, it seems like you’d almost need some ingenious coder/hacker to turn this into something completely ridiculous, right?

Okay, that didn’t take long.

Someone going by the name “saveas909″ (Panagiotis) has appeared on the Liine Lemur forums, with some quick hacks that already demonstrate the possibilities. Flappy Bird, the nail-biting addiction, is transformed into zen-like ambient beauty. Riffing on the familiar ball physics seen in a traditional Lemur control (one going back to the original hardware), a billiard ball collision simulation both makes those circles bounce off one another and, in turn, generate lovely music.

Watch: Continue reading »

If you can’t get to a shoreline this week, I wholeheartedly endorse watching the waves crash behind none other than TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander. We had a sort of Roland meditation with him before, and I’m even more fond of this set.

Sit back and enjoy an hour of sound.

It’s worth reflecting on the resurgent hardware set, particularly with the Roland AIRA lineup some of the most talked-about, popular gear of 2014 (and volca beats still selling, and Rhythm Wolf in the wings).

TM404_cover01 Continue reading »

Been there. The artist Dillon, working magic on the studio and stage - but finding her muse in bed and beta waves, half-asleep with no one else around.

Been there. The artist Dillon, working magic on the studio and stage – but finding her muse in bed and beta waves, half-asleep with no one else around.

Electronic music has become associated with over-the-top lyrics, the plastic veneer of party-time superficiality. But in any medium, some people are writing from the heart, and that can obscure a simple reality: writing from your most vulnerable places can be hard.

Whatever your music-making medium of choice, you may resonate with artist Dominique Dillon de Byington – born in Brazil, raised in Germany, now goes by the simpler Dillon. Berlin-based, English-language Electronic Beats has taken their superb video series Slices from a hard-to-locate DVD to the mass audience of YouTube, and shorts like this demonstrate why that’s good news.

Dillon is making heartfelt, poignant songs paired with lucid production, first on “The Silence Kills” and now brings those same sensibilities with still greater depth on her second outing, the album “The Unknown” on BPitch Control (the label helmed by Ellen Allien).

But it’s a struggle, one that’s easy to recognize. On a secluded Winterreise through slightly bleak-and-gray, damp German forests, she reveals how she worked through the potential creative blocks. She stopped writing, for one – sometimes the only cure to a creative block is a retreat. But then she also turned to middle-of-the-night forced writing sessions, visited by the half-awake muse. (There’s, of course, physiological phenomena coming to your aid in that state, as your brainwaves shift to creativity-inducing frequencies in the half-asleep mode of relaxation.) Continue reading »

The long wait for the new production software Bitwig Studio has created anticipation and exasperation in equal measure – people were excited, people were impatient; some drooled over every tiny feature details, some dismissed them and said they’d wait until it shipped. But the wait is over; today is actually the day Bitwig Studio is something you can download, try out, and buy. It’s not a beta; this is it. 299€ / US$399 buys you the full download version; a demo is available. (Boxed versions cost more.)

So, what can you expect on today as release day?

Well, at least Bitwig has enlisted some significant third-party support.

bitwignektar

There’s hardware controller support, from Novation’s Launchpad, for instance. At Musikmesse this month, we saw hardware integration from Livid Instruments and (newly-debuted) support from the beautiful Panorama keyboards. The latter means a keyboard that integrates directly with the workflow of the software, with Bitwig joining Reason, Cubase, and Logic. Here’s a look at how that works with the very-pretty Nektar (and that installer just went live today, too): Continue reading »

Moog's latest are more portable and more affordable than ever. And with expression and CV inputs, they can also unlock a world of sound exploration entirely in a shoe-compatible interface.

Moog’s latest are more portable and more affordable than ever. And with expression and CV inputs, they can also unlock a world of sound exploration entirely in a shoe-compatible interface.

Yes, it’s a good time to be in love with synths and drum machines. But for all the hype around those instruments lately, adventurous guitar effects are also seeing a new renaissance. While guitarists have always had a lovely palette of oddball stompboxes and grungy distortion and effects, they’ve lately been seeing more affordable, more accessible tools for sound design that had been more associated with synths.

And, of course, wherever you see the word “guitarists,” any instrumentalists who need stomp form factor will also benefit – bass guitar, electric violin, experimental accordion, whatever.

Say the name “Moog,” and most people will see keyboards in their head. But Moog Music has become as much a maker for guitarists as keyboardists. That includes the brilliant if spendy Moog Guitar, but also the Minifoogers, a tasty lineup of compact stomp effects that make the sounds of the Moogerfooger line and Moog synths less expensive and more portable.

And there’s also Eventide, whose H9 harmonic processor is both one of the best of its breed in the harmony category and a platform for more Eventide stompbox effects. That is, you can load up any effects you like while still accessing the features with your feet – it’s like a computer you can use with shoes.

Chris Stack of Experimental Synth has been making videos for years showing off all the Moogerfoogers can do. Now, he’s gotten a loan of the Minifoogers and came away impressed. His nephew Vincent Crow shot a quick video to show off the sonic range of these boxes, neatly arrayed into a pedalboard full of Moog-ness:

Chris’ favorites? He tells CDM, “I found the Drive pedal to be surprisingly interesting. I’ve always loved the overdriven Moogerfooger sound, and this takes it to another level.” Continue reading »