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Inside the making of a wearable metronome

Can the metronome get a new lease on life as a smart wearable device? That’s the gambit of Soundbrenner, a Berlin-based startup that hopes to do for metronomes what the smartwatch and fitness wearables have for those categories.

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Inside hands-on live technique with Blush Response, KOMA, Elektron

The sound world of Joey Blush (aka Blush Response) is far reaching, entering dark clouds of murky industrial, EBM, and techno, all with relentless forward-pushing grooves. But as we talk to him about how he connects his gear, we’re really looking at how he connects his thoughts. At its best, whatever we’re doing with gear ought to be about our minds. It’s not just connecting a patch cord. It’s connecting an idea from one place to another – re-wiring neurons. Synth legend Morton Subotnick spoke this week about that process, as he recalled first creating complex metric structures simply by …

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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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Tour Erica Synths in Riga, Where Vintage Tubes Live [Gallery]

Forget the notion that new technologies replace old, that design is a steady progression from past to future. Think, instead, of music – variations on a theme, modernity made from the spare parts of the past. Latvia may be eager to shed its Soviet past, and with good reason. But part of the legacy left behind is a history and expertise in engineering. Rīga, the Latvian capital in this Baltic country, was home to the mighty RMIF synth company and Blue Microphones, among others. The economic strain of the Soviet union sometimes required these makers to be even more ingenious …

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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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Explore a Hyperactive Explosion of Sound, As Mouse on Mars Turns 21

Musically speaking, Mouse on Mars are like that kid who can’t keep still. In a good way. But perhaps now is a perfect moment for that nervous energy, that quirky, disruptive approach to sounds. It can be refreshing colliding with the duo’s endless, too-much-coffee-when-saying-yes-to-projects collaborations, and anarchic playful love of noise. Because the anxieties of music can leave people creatively constipated. It can drive people to either a chin-stroking disdain for audiences at one extreme, a sort of retreat into abstract sounds with fear that anyone might feel a physical urge when listening, or buttoned-up commercial conformity at another. This …

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In a Holiday Greeting, Digital Animators Turn Back to Folding Paper – and Vintage HBO

Holiday Card from Shilo on Vimeo. If hearing the tune from the vintage HBO intro/bump doesn’t send a little nostalgic chill down your spine, you probably didn’t grow up in the US in the 1980s. Looking back at this old animation earlier this year, I was struck by the old way of making motion graphics. As dramatic music swells in the background, the camera pulls back, sweeping theatrically over an intricate set of the American landscape as the sun casts its final light. It’s all shot real-for-real, real models, real, physical details, all with the kind of physicality that digital …

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1024 Architecture Tesseract is a Dazzling Hypercube of Light; Gallery, Behind the Scenes

1024 Architecture have already made rectangles sexy, in light, mappings, and stage environments. Now, they’ve gone all fourth-dimensional on us – and the results are stunning. They give us a look behind the scenes at this project, and how they’ve used Ableton Live and Quartz Composer to realize it. You can even use their QC patches in your own projects, if you think you can add more nth dimensions. (For the record, a tesseract is a specific hypercube – a 4-dimensional shape, of the class of n-dimensional hypercubes. It’s also a cool reference to the science fiction of Madeleine L’Engel. …

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Cyborg Beatboxer AV: Gloves, Heartbeat, Gesture Merge in Wild Performance

Humanelectro + “∑(SIGMA)” from Ryo Fujimoto on Vimeo. Once, you might see strange sensors or generated graphics as a kind of novelty, used for their foreign, futuristic quality. Now, a generation immersed in such tech exploits these tools because it’s second nature. That’s the message of the creators behind a fantastic trans-media beatbox performance starring Japan’s Ryo Fujimoto. And while you’ve seen each clever gimmick on its own, here they try ticking all the boxes at once. Musical gloves dripping in wires with flex sensors – check. Muscle sensors – check. Glowing-blue heart-rate sensor behind the ear – check. LEAP …

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Stirring Solo Vocal + Ableton Push: Thomas Piper, Live at Webster Hall

If the computer can do one thing, it is to vastly expand what a single musician can do live. Whether you rise to that challenge has everything to do with who you are as an individual musician. It’s about the person as much as the machine. Thomas Piper, Jr. is at his absolute best in a soulful, no-holds-barred, energetic performance New York’s famed Webster Hall. (His son Zion, by the way, is also terrifically talented.) Here, his vocal is front and center far more than the computer, but the digital instrument also supports what he’s doing. At the Kompakt pop-up …

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