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Perfect, Beautiful Music for Free From Erased Tapes [2014 in Review]

Erased Tapes was an endlessly inspiring label in 2014. With a singular, understated focus on quality and music orbiting the keyboard, the acoustic, and minimal post-classical introspection, they were a calming counterpart to the year’s steroid-pumped festival commercialism. And first and foremost, they were about records — not fancy design accessories, not “throw everything at a wall and see what sticks” experiments in distribution. (There’s a place for that, yes, but a record label about records was nonetheless refreshing.) And Nils Frahm was a consistent star amidst all of this, a favorite live performer cutting across genres, wrangling keys electronic …

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No Excuses: Watch Deft Make a Track in FL Studio in Ten Minutes

“But I don’t have enough time.” So, get a camera crew from FACT to loom behind you and watch while you produce, all with a clever ten-minute clock ticking away for their series Against The Clock. Actually, no. Two problems. One, the pressure might make you completely freeze up. Two, yes, you might not have FACT around. But you could imagine a timer. Deft, the aptly-named Croydon, UK artist whose work ranges from cinematic and ambient straight through to footwork, here goes a bit modern drum and bass in a perfectly passable track that he assembles under the clock. Got …

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Obsessing About Sound and Process: Climb Into Stewart Walker’s Ivory Tour

There’s a Japanese Taishogoto and vintage Lexicon PCM reverb and loads of computer production. But even for us souls tempted by gear lust, it’s the soul of process that has us talking, and talking, and talking – and listening, on repeat – with Stewart Walker. Native Instruments employee by day, prolific producer by night, he was kind enough to give us an extensive window into his world for CDM. In the dizzying flurry of music racing past, Stewart Walker’s “Ivory Tower Broadcast” is one I keep coming back to me. It’s one that somehow I’ve gotten closer to on repeated …

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Beautiful 1974 circuitry makes eerie sounds that inspire today.

Pea Soup to Go Puts Decades of Experimental Sounds into Your Browser

Oh, sure, the future of the music industry might be U2 showing up in your iTunes or streams of chart-topping hits. Or, just maybe, the future just for now will be instead weird, humming soundscapes that drone on in a browser tab, generatively faded from decades of performances of a legendary experimental piece. Option number two may be wildly unrealistic and wholly unviable commercially but – hey, it’s your browser, and you can make that choice happen right now, for free. Sonic legend Nicolas Collins, sound professor, editor of Leonardo Music Journal, and electronic music inventor, has unveiled his latest …

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Morpheme is a Microscopic Audiovisual Journey Into Sound by Electric Indigo

Morpheme excerpt [Electric Indigo & Thomas Wagensommerer] from Electric Indigo on Vimeo. Journey into “Morpheme,” a half-hour audiovisual odyssey by Electric Indigo (aka Susanne Kirchmayr) and visualist Thomas Wagensommerer. An exercise in granular extremism, it begins as a delicately crackling mist of noise, as if atoms were dancing. Just about five and a half minutes into this excerpt, someone switches on a light, and it buzzes with pounding, angrily-vibrating rhythms. Electric Indigo’s music is a regular feature here because I never cease to be amazed at the breadth of her musical output, ranging from darkly-grooving club-ready material to more idiosyncratic …

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Photo (CC-BY) @ fr4dd. Music below.

In 20 Minutes, with 20 Cables, Learn to Get Started with Modular Synths [Video]

Modular aficionados are fond of describing the potential of their boxes full of wires as unlimited, endless. That might well raise the question – where do you actually start? Schneidersladen, the unofficial headquarters for European lovers of Euroracks hidden away above a grocery store, has an intro course. Don’t watch this expecting stunning sounds – this isn’t about showing off. Instead, get ready for a big basket of bread and butter, the starting points to learn how to actually begin working. From there, you can get as fancy as you like. But the pace is methodical and beginner-friendly. German, but …

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Bugs Make Music, Lured by Light, in Music and Art Project

That’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Wayward insects become the source of eerie, ambient music in a new work by British-born, Baix Penedes (Spain)-based artist Dickon Stone. Each insect lured by the glow of his light-up sculpture in turn triggers musical elements. Over the course of five years, he’s shaped that process into a strangely-lovely, otherworldly soundscape and formed a two-track EP, which you can preview here. (Five years, huh? Well, that’s proof that even with swarms of insects helping you shape the music, you can wind up obsessing over finishing. But the results are worth it!) Dickon sends …

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Watch Elektron and Roland AIRA Sing, Live: Dark, Dubby Techno by Phelios [Video, Listen]

There was a time when “live” or live PA meant “I’ve hauled a bunch of gear to this gig and made a mess of cables and I’m going to improvise live for you.” Now, too often, it means “I’m going to DJ with Ableton Live instead of Traktor or CDJs.” Don’t get me wrong. It’s not so much about a laptop or hardware. But there is a spectrum – a useful spectrum, applicable to different artists at different times. And if you really want “live,” you want an artist who constructs music before your eyes out of building blocks. Electronic …

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A Dreamy Video, Remix with Loscil, and Other Christina Vantzou Gems

You know that feeling, on a hot day, of someone running an ice cube down the back of your neck? Or perhaps, going deeper, the dream of plunging into a frozen lake? That visceral, primeval emotion, that chill that prickles the hairs on your head – that might start to describe the eerily-lovely wonderlands of Christina Vantzou. Brussels-base artist Vantzou was the visual imagination behind The Dead Texan (with Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie), releasing an epic audiovisual masterpiece that paired cinematic ambience with video realizations. Vantzou has continued as a composer, with two records on Kranky Records (easy …

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In Living Rooms, Homes, Beautiful Music as a Ritual: Olafur Arnalds; Matthew Flook; Free

For centuries, music was something made in a living room, made at home. It was a brief fluke of the 20th Century that music came out of a heroic process in a hidden-away studio. But if the gold-plated, magical record is threatened, some artists are trying to bring the daily ritual of home music making back. ├ôlafur Arnalds and Matthew Flook are each making gorgeous, cinematic-ambient tracks, and each have made projects that involve doing so on a regular basis in their homes. Let’s listen. Arnalds has been making some of the finest scores anywhere, and now has earned the …

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