perseids

The Perseid meteor shower arrives on the 13th of August – this Thursday. So, let’s celebrate with some music and sound.

First, a quick refresher: what is a meteor shower? It’s what happens when the Earth passes through the debris trail left by a comet. (Ah ha! See, just now you were sitting at your desk, and may have forgotten that you’re traveling at hyper-fast speeds on a rock hurtling through the vastness of the cosmos. Oh, yes.) We hit the Perseids every August, but this year is special in that you’ll only have to contend with urban light pollution – not the moon.

CDM readers in Asia, you may get the best show due to an expected peak in the middle of your Wednesday night, but all of us around the world with clear skies ought to be able to see something Wednesday night (or Tuesday or Thursday, even).

Slate has a great write-up that’s both a viewing guide and a set of answers to frequently asked questions:

How to Watch This Week’s Perseid Meteor Shower [Slate Bad Astronomy]

Part of what I love about electronic music and music technology is that it can embrace futurism, a sense of curiosity about our cosmos, and even can literally engage the processes of observation in astronomy. And that in turn means science can inspire song.

dotdot

The lovely Polish producer dot dot, aka Artur Sleziak, shares this dubby ambient work by way of marking the occasion. Continue reading »

Jam Supercut from Matthew Ogle on Vimeo.

Call it a jam session that has completely fallen apart.

Having Web services go dark is certainly not news in this day and age. We’ve come to expect that Internet services won’t be there forever. (Google Reader, anyone?)

But if you pull apart some of the backstory behind the end of a service called “This Is My Jam,” you’ll come across an unnerving reality of the way music on the Web is evolving (or devolving).

This Is My Jam began life as a kind of hack – pick your one and only favorite song of the moment, then embed it as a streamable player. Now, to be honest, I was a little surprised the service lasted as long as it did. What’s happening now is, the site is turning into a read-only “time capsule.” Spotify integration will mean playlists of favorite songs will live on there, as well. It’s a shame, as I found the site a really lovely way of finding music that really mattered to people.

But the reasons it’s now untenable bear as much attention as the end of the site itself, because I’ve been noticing these trends, and they reach far beyond just one clever “favorite jam” site. Continue reading »

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Sometimes the narrow apertures of musical genre can be a dead-end for inspiration. You often just can’t find a way to kick-start your creative process by listening only to songs that sound like you want. So, mixes really ought to be mixes. They ought to be personal. And even for producers and DJs, listening ought to be a pleasure.

This weekend, we invite back Sofia Kourtesis, the globe-trotting German-Greek-Peruvian producer and DJ, to share some of her sonic touchstones. (She was part of a big mix-up of mixes posted in March, and has also shared her techniques for mining flea markets to make music.)

Following yesterday’s discussion of the importance of pop, and a ground-breaking show at Berghain later this month, this seems appropriate. So enjoy the exclusive mix Sofia has prepared for us on CDM – “the streets we left behind”:

Continue reading »

Happy 8th of August, everybody – that means it’s 808 day, of course. So, to celebrate, let’s flash back to a 2012 video of Egyptian Lover assembling a beat in his hotel room. The LA rapper/producer was a big part of the early hip hop and electro roots of 808 use.

There’s something that still resonates in the beautiful simplicity of this Roland box. I’m struck when I hear it and watch in use that there’s something that seems futuristic – cold, even, but in a Stanley Kubrick 2001 sort of way. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck in traditional 808 thinking. You can use today to build some entirely new drum machine, inspired by this simplicity – or abuse an 808 (or 808 sample set) into sounding completely different.

And, of course, I do think the TR-8 from Roland is spreading so fast partly because it really resurrects these sounds in a hands-on way.

Whatever you do, happy grooving this weekend.

And let’s muse over some vintage ads. More accuracy and less trouble.

Visualize patterns.

rolandtr808ad

roltr808ad

C.A.R., by Jazamin Sinclair.

C.A.R., by Jazamin Sinclair. Win her tape from us, because Create Cassette Music.

The problem with festivals isn’t that we’re lacking for choice. But in the fast food court of summer festivities, the offerings tend to be arrayed in hard-edged silos.

Here’s the dance music one, and it’ll be a rave.

Here’s the rock one, and it’s just going to be about guitars.

Here’s the experimental one, and everything is likely to be a big long drone in some cavernous distorted reverb.

This one is only for J.S. Bach. And so on…

Pop-Kultur’s name alone implies a different frame around music. It’s experimental, but it’s also pop. It’s death metal, glam rock, pogo. It’s electronic media and technology interwoven with punk rather than an uncomfortable rival. And most appropriately, it comes in the venue and the city that have been of late hopelessly typecast: Berlin. Berghain.

So, be glad for once, you don’t have to hear about 808 bass drums, or dark rooms, or the wall, or the 90s. This is a different Berlin, maybe the next European capital. It’s a festival program that acknowledges the cross-genre magnet the city has become, people playing against genre and type and even specific media.

What you do get is something that could (should?) become a template for the scene. With backing from the local government, there’s actual discourse happening at this event – you know, like talking and thinking and stuff, those activities often forgotten in the summer music season.

And it’s a mad mix. Mute founder Daniel Miller talks to composer Owen Pallett talks to New Order’s Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris. Underground heroes like Bernard Sumner, Sven Regener, and Andreas Dorau talk about their books and their stories. Elijah Wood is DJing (really).

Those offerings join a full discourse program, backed by local government funding.

And in the lineup, we see a bit of the kind of personalities that can dress music across Europe and internationally in some new garments, ones less restrictively tailored-tight.

herbert Continue reading »

Here’s a live jam video that shows just how performance-friendly an all-in-one iPad drum machine can be.

The pad controller you’ll recognize. But there’s an Audiobus story here, too.

It started as a way to route audio between apps on iPads and whatnot – a drum machine app could be processed by a filter app. But now, Audiobus is answering some questions about how you can combine apps into something you can really play.

And that brings us to Remote Triggers. Think of them as a custom remote control for different apps, used via a separate app called Audiobus Remote. With hardware, this is pretty much a no-brainer – if you combine a looper pedal and a distortion pedal, they’ll each have controls for looping and switching on crunch, for example. On the screen, Audiobus’ Remote Triggers keep those tools under your fingertips even when combining several apps.

It’s a huge boon to live performance. Oliver Greschke’s Elastic Drums is to me one of the best reasons to keep an iPad in the studio – full of grimy drum machines sounds and the tools to sequence them. When Oliver combines that with Audiobus remote triggers, plus physical controls via the pads on IK Multimedia’s iRIG Pads, that software power sits at the center of an eminently playable performance tool.

Suddenly, you’re convincingly jamming on an iPad the way someone else might on a 909. It’s about time. Continue reading »

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The very fact that a tool is called a “digital audio workstation” rather than “music making software” tells you something. Historically, these have been tools that do a lot of things in a fairly complex interface. And so a lot of DAWs seem to be counting how many windows and views and tools they can provide.

PreSonus’ Studio One is among a handful of tools that has bucked the trend, putting everything in a streamlined single window view. The notion is to provide the multitude of features producers demand, but keeping everything close at hand and operating quickly.

And now, you can try it free – not as a demo (though there’s one of those, too), but in a surprisingly full-featured version that costs nothing. Continue reading »