yak

Duet for Singer and Jet Plane: A Soviet Airliner as Instrument

Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines. As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process. The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. …

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Novation’s Launchpad Grid, Now in Color, for Ableton or iPad

Novation’s Launchpad has seen slimmer and smaller versions. And upcoming is a Pro version with pressure/velocity and MIDI in and out. But if you just want the grid, you can now get the base model with RGB color. It’s officially called the Launchpad mk2. No availability or pricing yet (damn you, unstable Euro), but you can sign-up for notification. The update has the same basic design as the original, but updated with styling from its Pro sibling, and RGB color behind the pads for more visual feedback. Here’s the obligatory video of the new model, which gets a very cute …

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The Best Little MIDI Fader and Knob Box Just Got Better

I just can’t hide my affection for the Faderfox line, and one unit in particular: the UC3 was pretty close to perfect. While there are other MIDI controllers with faders, the UC3 stands out by combining a healthy assortment of encoders and faders (plus one crossfader) in an ultra-compact, lightweight package. Nothing comes close to saving space either in your bag or in cramped performance setup situations. Every component feels smooth, solid, and premium, in contrast to rivals that have generally favored low price over quality. And it’s USB class compliant, so drivers aren’t issue. Well, the UC3 was nearly …

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bladestage

Inside The Glitch Mob’s Crazy Rockstar Live Electronic Rig

Press play? More like bang drums hit stuff finger warp touchpad go crazy. The Glitch Mob are one of America’s leading festival electronic acts. (And members like EdiT have IDM, not just EDM, credits to their name – so they were “glitching” before it was cool, in other words.) But while that circuit is in a frenzy of one-upmanship when it comes to spectacle, there’s some real playing behind this act. And that distances them from artists that put on a big show visually but have shied away from anything risky in the set – like actually playing the parts, …

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recuejam

The Joy of Little Boxes, and Lovely Music by Recue x Jolea

From small boxes, big sound, and enormous fun… Something has happened in the evolution of electronic music production. What was once so often a slow process has become a jam, what was carefully orchestrated on screens finds itself embodied in gear. And small and affordable “toys” can often deliver the greatest “switch-on-and-play” satisfaction. Helsinki’s Recue and Jolea first found their way to their album by playing live, so it’s fitting we start with a live set from them. Their fusion is beat-driven, left-field pop – settling into moody, experimental grooves with effortless hooks over top. It’s melancholy surfaces with sparkling …

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The Snap-Together Studio: What littleBits Can Do Now

For all the power you might imagine of various tools, sometimes it’s combining simple devices that yields the greatest results. Our friend Chris Stack is no stranger to deep synths and powerful modulars. But he’s been doing inspiring things with the littleBits line of snap-together modules made with KORG – particularly now that they’re paired with modules for MIDI and CV. You might have seen some of these videos on (cough) other sites, while I was getting behind in my workload, but Chris has kept making more in the interim. He writes: “I was able to hook LittleBits into my …

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Advance_61

This Video Demonstrates How Akai’s New Keyboard Controls Everything

It’s a horse race. Two keyboards – one from Native Instruments, one from AKAI – really want to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. And we’re getting closer to find out if either deserves your attention. You’ve heard this story before. Sure, you have powerful software on your computer screen. But when you want physical control of those instruments beyond just playing keys, you’re left either manually mapping controls or reaching for your mouse or trackpad. So, over the years various solutions have tried to solve this automagically. There was Automap, seen in Propellerhead Reason and …

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Conductr Controls Traktor and Ableton All in One iPad App

If you want to control Ableton Live from an iPad, you’ve loads of options. If you want to control Traktor – not so much. The best all-in-one option is Traxus Control, which is free (though it requires Lemur). Now, one app does everything. The same app has modes for both Ableton Live and Traktor – meaning you can tote one iPad and be ready for both the live set and the DJ set. And on the Traktor side, you get fluid integration with Native Instruments’ DJ software – ironically, when NI themselves have no such controller app. And the advantages …

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Akai’s Midimix is a $99 USB Mixer Controller With One Key Feature

Akai’s new US$99.99 Midimix is built on a simple idea – so much so that you could easily miss it. But one button makes it much more useful than its nearest rivals. First, the obvious: yes, it’s a MIDI controller with a mixer layout. So, there are eight line faders and a master fader, 3 knobs per channel (for EQ), and dedicated mute (switchable to solo) and record arm buttons, plus bank controls. That’s it – no extra functions, no confusing mappings. And then there’s one very obvious but clever button: SEND ALL. Hit SEND ALL, and you fire off …

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Versus is a New Performance Controller from Faderfox, Nyma, Magda

What if one controller could pack everything you need for playing creative DJ and live sets in a single, tall, slim device? What if it had the ultra-compact design of German builders Faderfox and Glanzmann? And what if it borrowed elements from previous controllers, but grouped them in a new way you probably hadn’t seen before? We’ve just gotten the first look at Versus, a new controller collaboration built with the artist Magda, alongside Nyma (Nima Chatrsimab), a DJ/producer and technical guru with a long resume here in Berlin, and the builder Faderfox together with Glanzmann DDS. It’s a kind …

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