eyewitnessnews

Watch a 1986 TV story on house music, plus too many documentaries

In our last episode of “watching things on the Internet instead of doing real work,” we were enjoying a full-length 90s electronic music documentary and a bunch of music videos. Well, here we are at yet another weekend. And hopefully we can give you some video watching pleasure yet again, in those moments when you aren’t, well, hopefully, making music. Leading the pack is a 1986 story from Chicago TV news back when house music was in its early days, as spotted by Dancing Astronauts. And it’s an astounding document, featuring Danny “Sweet-D” Wilson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Steve “Silk” Hurley, …

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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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Outpouring of Respect for DJ Rashad, Footwork Pioneer; Listen and Watch

“Music has lost a legend,” rapper Danny Brown puts it. This week, DJ Rashad was found dead, in a major loss to modern music. There is not yet a conclusive cause of death. The Chicago artist was best known as a leading pioneer of footwork, but beyond that at age 34 was deeply connected to musicians in a variety of genres. Official statements already put this more eloquently and succinctly than I could, so instead I offer only my grief and condolences, and those statements alongside video and music of his work. (Rashad will close out the Hyperdub 10th anniversary …

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frankie_gray

Why Frankie Knuckles Mattered: Read, Watch, and Hear

The passing last week of Frankie Knuckles has led to an outpouring of remembrance for this dance music pioneer, a signal of just how deeply and broadly his work was felt. To give us greater insight, CDM turns in our obituary to Denise Dalphond, the enthnomusicologist who has devoted much of her work to researching the roots of electronic dance music in America. (Her PhD dissertation, “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music,” is due soon.) She gives us her thoughts on Knuckles’ significance as well as lining up some of the best places to watch and hear …

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Before Computers, the Godfather of House Made Remixes with Razor Blades: Frankie Knuckles, RIP

The picture of old-school DJing is someone hauling around a crate of records. Frankie Knuckles, the house pioneer, was playing The Warehouse in Chicago and touring with reels of tapes. Remixing was something done with a razor blade. The saddening news has arrived that “godfather of house” Frankie Knuckles has died at the age of 59. His friend and collaborator David Morales shared the news via Twitter late Tuesday. (See Ben Rogerson’s report in MusicRadar, which comments a bit on the origins of Jamie Principle’s Your Love.) The man most associated with Chicago house music actually was born in the …

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Vectr, the Wave-your-hands Analog Module, Just Got Crowd-funded

Wriggle your fingers above the light-up glow of the Hackme Vectr, and you can control sounds in space. The results are good for spooky sonic exploration – a less-temperamental Theremin – and apparently have inspired sound lovers, because the project reached its first crowd-funding goal. Through Thursday morning, January 9, you can get your own Vectr for about US$299-325 (or a fancy special edition for $399), estimating shipping in May. In this initial design, the focus is on analog control: 3-axis gestural control with LED feedback 30-second gesture sequence recording Sequence gesture playback, itself controlled by gestures It’s especially nice …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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Playable 8-bit Game as Promo, and Okkervil River’s Nostalgia-Drenched Wonderlands

The standards for advance promotion of an album may be getting a little … intense. Photos? Track listing? Advance music video? Streaming preview? How about a complete, playable adventure video game in your Web browser, free, with charming graphics and an original chip music soundtrack adapting the songs from the record in 8-bit form? Due out Tuesday, September 3, Okkervil River’s LP “The Silver Gymnasium” isn’t shy about its nostalgia factor. The whole record is a re-imagining of frontman Will Sheff’s 80s childhood. That might be a bit much were the browser game not so beautifully executed. Sheff created the …

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Mission accomplished. Photo (CC-BY) Thoth God of Knowledge.

Create (Really) Analog Music: Music Video Made on Historic Edison Wax Cylinder

The miracle of recording is somehow no less extraordinary in this digital age – the ability to capture sound, the revolution that transformed music making worldwide, for better and for worse. In fact, if anything, the abundance of digital music is causing some people to rediscover the recording techniques that preceded it. Andy Deitrich of Chicago’s Mucca Pazza writes to share the experience of returning to that means of recording. I love the saturated quality of the sounds you get: it’s really evident how much the medium here colors the sound. Andy writes:

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Happy Halloween: Exclusive Free Liz Revision Mix, Party in Chicago with Bitshifter

The veil between the living and dead is growing thin, and I… uh, have some free music for you. Sorry, it turns out I don’t have a clever lead for this story, and my segue makes no sense. So let’s get to it! Friend of the Site Liz McLean Knight aka Liz Revision aka Quantazelle of subVariant has put together a special, exclusive mix for CDM of 117-119 bpm musical goodness, excavated from the “_blippy” folder of sketches on her USB drive. Matt Moldover, who has been working on his CD-as-electronic-instrument album, lent his laptop. (Watch him assembling CDs in …

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