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Check out this ultra-limited, monochrome “design” synth

Would we love synthesizers if they were a little, well, nuts? And, by extension, don’t we love them even more if they’re a lot crazy instead of a little? If that’s how you feel, you’ll love the 20. Everything about it screams sex appeal. Apart from luxe materials, this is finally a synth that looks like someone kidnapped Dieter Rams to do the panel design. And the “20” is a reference to how limited it’ll be – twenty black, twenty silver. But if you’re Darth Vader, you really do need those black keys with black body. I mean… why did …

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A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …

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Reaktor Blocks works with modulars, Maschine, adds drums

Native Instruments keeps adding to Reaktor Blocks, the patch-and-play toolkit they’ve built atop Reaktor. And… it’s turning into kind of an awesome product in its own right. Reaktor Blocks 1.2 adds a bunch of the sort of stuff I think you or I would add to it were we in charge of the product. It’s suddenly got drums. It’s got a new sequencer that you can power with Maschine. It’s connecting via MIDI and CV to outboard gear and analog modular. In short, it’s something you actually want to play with.

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The Subharchord. Photo Gerhard Steinke.

Meet the Subharchord, subharmonic organ of the DDR

Once upon a time in East Germany, an alternate branch of the evolution of the synthesizer and the organ came into being. And now it has a second chance to capture imaginations. The Subharchord was the DDR-era invention of engineer Enrst Schreiber, first designed in 1958. It was an original production but inspired by Oskar Sala’s so-called Mixtur-Trautonium. State backing came from the unlikely goal of serving as a commercial rival to the Hammond organ, thus bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Communist nation. Unfortunately, practicality and politics intervened. But that’s not to say the Subharchord wasn’t ahead of its time …

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Get some inspiration in the magic of field recording

Field recording isn’t just an empty exercise. It can change how you think. Just listen to Chris Watson, who records nature for a living: “Listening in a positive way – that is, actively taking the decision to focus on certain things and reject others … stimulates my thought process. It makes me think more laterally about problem solving. It makes me think in a different way.”

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iZotope Mobius and the crazy fun of Shepard Tones

I always figure the measure of a good plug-in is, you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t want to tell everyone about it, because then they’ll know about it. iZotope’s Möbius is in that category for me – it’s essentially moving filter effect. And it’s delicious, delicious candy.

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The new Bastl bitRanger is handheld patchable insanity

What do you get when you cross a tiny patch bay with total mayhem? Well, the bitRanger, apparently – a limited-run collaboration of Bastl Instruments and Casper Electronics (Peter Edwards), and possibly the most interesting surprise to come out of Moogfest this week.

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Someone recorded an Ableton tech support prank call

Okay, obvious disclaimer. Please do not prank call Ableton tech support. They’re busy, hard-working people. But … this is hilarious (as is the fact that it’s labeled as a tech support call “from Berghain”). A custom-built Launchpad and Live hacked to run inside Linux? Going with the flow and working the audience when a glitching Live set randomly launches clips? At least this scenario sounds like a plausible one involving a regular CDM reader. Listen:

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Your unconscious meat body plays this online drum machine

I am a damp rag of exposed flesh, my limbs ill-defined blobs drifting in some undetermined direction as I float through space – wet steak in a wormhole. But then there’s a parade of translucent boxes against this surrealist-nightmare distorted planet, and a triumphant series of chime rings out. A clear pattern is articulated from the murk, a rhythm emerging from the disarray. No, no – hold on, don’t stop reading, I’m fine. I am actually describing to the best of my ability the experience of using one #$(&*ing insane browser music toy created by our friend Sam Rolfes. It’s …

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Photo: Adam Michaud.

Venetian Snares has a new album and warms up Poland

Summer music season, like summer movie season, can feel, well, repetitive. It’s blockbusters and popcorn fare, both ways. But there are some diversions from that narrative. And one is the award-winning festival Tauron Nowa Muzyka, in Katowice. That town is building on its industrial past, literally – the festival takes place on the site of a coal mine. But it also suggests a new direction both for electronic music and Poland itself. Now in its eleventh edition, Tauron Nowa Muzyka is reaching beyond its normal premises. And this makes a perfect excuse to talk about raw source of fresh energy …

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