Techno is a thread in Europe that can bring people together, and be a lingua franca. That phenomenon can earn detractors and champions alike; the common currency threatens to devolve into sameness. But one thing I’ve found looking beyond centers like Berlin: there’s extraordinary talent on the horizon, answering to the beacon capital techno cities. If techno is giving people musical commonality, it’s also encouraging people to push their music such that they can extend beyond a hometown or home residency.
Soundware is everywhere, from endless catalogs of loops to yet another pack of sampled vintage instruments. But apart from questionable quality as the market grows crowded, the other simple question is, just how should these packs be assembled? SympleSound is what happens when a sound designer decides to treat the sound pack like an instrument unto itself – not just content, but a set of tools.
By letting you get creative with audio, Ableton’s Simpler and slicing workflows have always opened up musical possibilities, and they got a lot more powerful in Live 9.5. But it could do even more. Developer Mark Egloff has released four clever Max for Live patches that let you slice without Push, chop in new ways, and more.
Last November, I went armed with some LOM label microphones to the Netherlands to find out what sounds you could discover in a space research facility. That exploration produced a lot of sounds, and one way to play with them was to transform them into percussion. Now you can download the drum kit I made for your own use, or to create your own instruments.
Enough with pristine, immaculate in-the-box digital production. Let’s get back to grime and dirt. Gorgeous distortion is on offer any time Legowelt is on a sound system live. So it’s great to see the same approach in a free sample pack. This is not a “Top Deep House Production Kit.” It’s samples Legowelt dragged off of old Amiga discs, cranked to be even more evil.
Forget about whether anyone is going to listen to that release, let alone whether you’ll make money. Finishing is a beautiful feeling. Something happens when you get to that phase of adjusting the final mix, bouncing for mastering. For many of us, that last step involves a stereo bounce. But I think it’s high time to start thinking in terms of stems (both in the lowercase, and the all-caps STEMS Native Instruments is keen for you to use).
Remember 1995? Computers onstage were still a comparatively risky proposition – often relegated to MIDI, more prone than today to instabilities, and absent today’s DJ and live performance apps. Monolake, which is now just Robert Henke, was both Robert Henke and Gerhard Behles. (Gerhard is now plenty busy being CEO of Ableton.) And then there was Monolake’s PX18 sequencer, a step sequencer – cum – timeline with loads of interesting tracker-style and mathematical-musical features.
Elektron’s machines are so beloved, they’re almost an electronic instrumental category all their own. But much of that love is focused on the hardware workflow. The challenge lately has been how to make the latest generation of Elektron hardware fit better with other gear – and specifically, the computer. Some of those improvements are coming from Elektron. But some, too, come from third-party developers. And that’s the case with a useful Mac app.
The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.” But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.
Apple is also releasing today a 2.1 upgrade to GarageBand for iOS. The mobile sibling of GarageBand and Logic on desktop doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it’s a reminder that music creation remains central to Apple – even the Apple that sells the world’s favorite phone, not just the Apple that sells the Mac. GarageBand 2.1 includes some features you may or may not care about. But there’s reason to take notice.