Since the spring, Native Instruments has been eager to talk about Stems every chance they got. And shops and some celebrity DJs have been quick to endorse the new initiative for releasing music in multi-track, DJ-friendly formats. But today, on the occasion of the official Stems launch, you can actually get your hands on Stems – literally.
That’s because as of today, you have both usable content and DJ tools to play with it. There’s a basic but significant catalog of Stems content available, and the Traktor 2.9 software necessary to play them in a DJ set is now ready to download. With that copy of Traktor, you can map Stems control to your favorite hardware, or use out-of-the-box support from NI’s own S8 and D2, complete with visualization on those units’ displays.
Saying Stems is a revolution or that it will fundamentally change DJ performance is I think a little exaggerated. The techniques for DJing don’t really change just because you’ve divided up mixes. But that shouldn’t turn you off from the real potential here.
Stems could the direction of the tide in some key areas. First, far too many recent releases (techno, I’m looking at you) have been reduced to making DJ “tools” – stripped-down tracks composed for mixing that are basically unlistenable on their own. Ironically, I think Stems could free up producers to make songs for listening and then let DJs work out how to break them apart into a mix. Second, Stems might finally make it easier to approach DJing from a digital perspective. The reality is, most digital DJ sets you here are fairly linear mixing affairs. And I think part of the reason DJs aren’t more adventurous is, while you have tools for looping and slicing and whatnot, you might not want to do that on an entire stereo master at the same time. If you could do it on a single part, though, everything gets a bit easier – and now you can do it on material from actual tracks, not just assembling boring piles of sample packs and generic loops.
Finally, Stems could help save the download business when it’s under fire, and make a little extra cash for producers who need it to support themselves.
Let’s be honest: it’s a bit of a mystery why KORG has’t already shipped a mixer. KORG volca series customers seem to snap up every single volca model the Japanese maker can cook up. That leaves them with a bunch of toys with stereo minijacks and no way to mix them together other than buying compact mixers by the likes of Behringer and Mackie.
So, what we’re looking at here is either an actual leaked image of an upcoming KORG volca mix, or someone’s mock-up of what they wish that would be. Either way, same result: yeah, you probably kind of want this. (As spotted on the unofficial volca Facebook group, which is a great resource. KORG, if this is real, apologies, but… yeah, on the Internet, once things have leaked, it’s done.)
Stereo minijack ins
Effects controls and per-track routing
Tempo-synced effects (with MIDI in)
A KAOSS-style X/Y pad
Knob for level; mute switch
It’s certainly possible this is a mock-up made by someone outside KORG. Making good-looking renders is something anyone with some basic technical background can do, and there are a lot of talented people out there. There’s no way to know until there’s an official announcement. I’ll leave it to you to speculate.
If this isn’t what KORG is planning, it sure seems to be a no-brainer set of features that would fit perfectly with the company’s DNA and its volca line. I kind of think it is a genuine leak. But… if it’s not, KORG, go make this, please, and apparently you can have yet more of our money.
Update: yes, this is a mock-up posted in January. Thanks to commenters for pointing that out; we didn’t have the original reference. It’s the work of German KORG fan Chris Johannes, who built this in 3D Studio Max. But that raises the question – why isn’t there something like this on the market, from KORG or elsewhere?
My suspicion: because no one is quite sure exactly how to make it, what features to include and what to leave out. (See the immediate discussion here on CDM of pan.) So I’m very curious to hear how people use mixers in these hardware setups, if you make performances with them.
Here’s how much Slovak label LOM loves field recordings and strange sounds: they didn’t just stop with releasing a few wild experimental ambient albums. They’ve gotten into the boutique mic business. They’re creating new hardware that lovingly captures electro-magnetic fields. They’re printing t-shirts with custom designs to show their passion in illustrated form.
These are people who are really passionate about recording.
And you can get bit by the same addiction. Let’s have a look at what they’re offering.
By way of follow up to our chat with Daniele Antezza yesterday, his Inner8 live act with sYn will meet up with another audiovisual collaboration – Susanne Kirchmyer (Electric Indigo), with visualist Thomas Wagensommerer. That takes place at Berlin’s Krake Festival next week, which means we get an extensive conversation with the two artists alongside a canal in the video below.
They talk at length about aesthetics, collaboration, and connections to artistic practice:
But now that we’ve had you doing a lot of reading and watching of things this week, let’s get some music. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Susanne’s music, as her knowledge base is so deep and broad – if it’s experimental or if it’s club or if it’s composition and sound art, she’s been more or less doing all of it at the edge of what’s possible for a quarter century. So, as usual, her latest podcast is a field guide to some of the best production work going on in a bit of each of those genres, with dark experimental club sounds woven throughout. Listen: Continue reading »
Daniele Antezza and Federico Nitti are seated in a patch of grass in the park, lost in reflection like giddy monks.
The conversation turns to archaic geometries from lost civilizations, then to how to let loose unstable configurations of sound, then how to sweep away a party crowd in the whole experience. But, perhaps true to his Mediterranean roots, Daniele’s favorite English word for describing the elements of his work is “taste.”
Inner8 is the project for people whose flavor palette turns to the experimental. Daniele is known to techno fans for his collaboration Dadub with Giovanni Conti. That act is a pillar of the sound of Stroboscopic Artefacts, and the two have a mastering operation – Artefacts Mastering – to match. If Dadub is the street-legal club operation, then, Inner8 is the wild concept car wildly tearing around a test track. And for full immersion, Daniele works with sYn – sound artist and visualist Federico Nitti – to add a live visual component.
Inner8 is both a record album and live show, and accordingly it’s on a label (Undogmatisch) that’s also an art collective and event series. The self-titled album arrived last week.
The record is I think one of the most interesting to be released this year. Far from the rambling experimental norm, here Daniele maintains a sense of focus, heart, direction. The complete record is ready to stream, and comes with a visual accompaniment employing the work of both sYn and artist collaborator Valentina Bardazzi.
Give the full record a listen (thank you, FACT):
We got to sit down with Daniele and Federico to talk signal routing, synesthesia and audiovisual process, and of course, name dropping Electro-Harmonix pedals and exploring the mysteries of the Moebius strip. Continue reading »
The sound world of Joey Blush (aka Blush Response) is far reaching, entering dark clouds of murky industrial, EBM, and techno, all with relentless forward-pushing grooves. But as we talk to him about how he connects his gear, we’re really looking at how he connects his thoughts.
At its best, whatever we’re doing with gear ought to be about our minds. It’s not just connecting a patch cord. It’s connecting an idea from one place to another – re-wiring neurons.
Synth legend Morton Subotnick spoke this week about that process, as he recalled first creating complex metric structures simply by patching together loops on hardware modular sequencers (there, via the Buchla). As rhythmic structures emerged, he blew his own brain open – and the landmark record Silver Apples on the Moon was born. And I thought of this:
“You’re sequencing the sequence!”
I heard a smiling Wouter Jaspers of KOMA Elektronik repeat that phrase like a Zen koan. His sequencer isn’t intended to be simple. It’s even called Komplex.
The Komplex sequencer has reached the final prototype stage, with a release in coming weeks. Joey Blush visited KOMA Elektronik in their studio to play with the Komplex and a host of modules.
And what’s significant about this is that it is a return to some of what Morton was talking about back in the 60s. This isn’t about something abstract; it’s getting hands-on, gestural control over sounds, so that there’s a direct line from your instinct to making some change in the sound by moving your body.
Literally, how is Joey making the connection? He sends over his signal flow to CDM, in terms of what you see in the KOMA video: Continue reading »