This holiday, take a holiday to another world, chip music style. An imagined NES dimension, here envisioned (CC-BY-SA) torley.

Cool Yule: Toy Company’s Free 8-bit/Lo-Fi Christmas Album, from Montreal

Whether you’re unwrapping presents or not, we’re spending these twenty four hours unwrapping some beautiful musical gifts: have a Yule that’s cool with fine, free/donationware releases. First in the queue… If unimaginative holiday music on endless repeat has given you the winter blues, the fine folks of Toy Company have the cure. The Montreal-based collective and 8-bit/lo-fi techno party series have brought together a number of friends with original tunes and noise and digital-fuzz-laden covers of tunes like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” Meticulously-rendered, quirky music is free to hear, or thank the artists by naming your own …

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anushri

Mutable’s Anushri Bundles Sequencing, Drums, Synthesis, CV in One Hobbyist-, Modular-Friendly Kit

Call it the Mutable Fun Pack. The Synth Happy Meal. The Family Variety Bucket. The Anushri doesn’t have quite the sound design depth that Mutable’s Shruthi-1 does, but in its place, you get a whole mess of different features. It’s an analog synth, with an additional digital oscillator. It’s got its own step sequencer/arpeggiator. It’s got an 8-bit, bit-crushed drum machine. And it has analog connections for modulars in addition to MIDI, so modular lovers can put it into a Eurorack if they like. In fact, it seems to bring some of the compact, lovable features of Roland’s 101 and …

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Gotye to Queen to Radiohead, The Songs of Hard Drives, Robotics, and Retro Gear

Beyond the viral-ready novelty, listen to the serenades of defunct hard drives, flatbed scanners, and garage sale-rescue computers and you might just hear a sense of urgency. As the discs whir, the chips bleet, and the solenoids ping percussion, this chorus of obsolete electronics seems to plea, save us from landfill doom. The latest breakout hit from repurposed retro machines is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Here, it’s covered by a set of glockenspiel-playing solenoids and an HP ScanJet as the angst-ridden whine of the now-infamous vocals. An Amiga rounds out the band. Even the robotics can be …

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modemachinessid

Chip Grooves: SID 8-bit Hardware Groovebox Preview, Works with iPad Editor [Videos]

German maker Mode Machines has been busy in the cloning laboratory. The latest hardware melds the classic chip sounds of the SID chip with an x0x sequencer a la the Roland TB-303. That surely qualifies as the synth nerd equivalent of combining chocolate and peanut butter.

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syitcases

SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …

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gamemusicbundle

A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …

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dms0

Apple II Gets a New Drum Machine: DMS Drummer, Now with Video Tutorial-Demo

Who says technology doesn’t last? The Apple II platform will be 35 years old in April, yet it’s still going strong. It even gets a brand-new drum machine software, launched this month, complete with eight wavetable-based drum sounds, and a clever sequencer. The surprise: the whole combination, delivered on a 5 1/4″ floppy disk, can be stunningly usable, as in something you’d actually want to make music with. Not bad for a computer you can typically pick up for a few bills at a flea market. (Emulators can also run the software, so you don’t even need hardware. Of course, …

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iPad Meets Kinect, Twister Meets Tenori-On: Behind the Scenes of Pxl Pusher Music Game

What happens when you meld the most futuristic Microsoft technology with the most futuristic Apple technology with the most ColecoVision-esque graphics as built in Jitter? Or you create gameplay that couples physical human contortion with the step sequencing rhythms of music? A different take on music games, that’s what. Developers Matt (“M@tt”) Boch and Ryan Challinor work, in their day jobs, on the music game as most people know it, at Harmonix. Harmonix’s roots remain in the rhythm game, so that music play, even at its most serious, is still about musical timing accuracy. Pxl Pusher is a very different …

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Digimancy: A Commodore 64 Spouts Philosophy, Plays Modular Synths

In some cross between a self-aware, intelligent computer a la HAL and an experimental sound artist, the project Digimancy presents a talking, synth-playing Commodore 64. Get through a few minutes of it spouting theory, and somewhere at about 6 minutes, 30 seconds in this video, that Commodore 64 starts to jam with danceable, glitchy sounds. It’s a bizarre laboratory sonic production – white lab coat included – but eventually, this semi-evil computer makes songs. And it’s just the sort of convergence of analog and digital we love, as the C64 chips drive a nice set of boutique, analog gear. Patch …

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Open-Source Rockit 8-bit Synth Kit Coming

Chicago-based hacker and synthesist Matt Heins is working on an open source synth kit. As a co-creator of the MeeBlip open source-synth hardware, I’m biased — I want more open synth hardware! So this is looking like some great company. The instrument is 8-bit, with analog filter circuitry, coded in C. The specs: Fully Open Source Hardware and Well-Commented C Software Design Digital Analog Hybrid Circuitry 2 Digital Oscillators with 16 waveshapes, updateable to more 2 Low Frequency Modulation Oscillators with 10 destinations Innovative Digitally-Controlled Analog Filter with Low-Pass, Band-Pass, and High-Pass with Envelope Control and External Audio Input Analog …

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