Reconnect with Electronic Music’s Revolutionary Roots, in Stunning Images [Gallery, Videos]

“On a western device, you push a button and get a result. On a Soviet instrument, you push a button and get something.” -Benzo When music was first electrified, it was nothing short of a revolution – literally. And as today’s technologies again attempt to fuse human and machine, there’s no better time to connect with past visions again. “Discontinuity” is the theme of the this year’s CTM Festival in Berlin. But it sets the stage for an unprecedented movement to put today’s machines back in context, across the barriers of time, and – increasingly, in a closer European/west Asian …

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Holly Herndon, Ethereal and Heavy-Hitting, Creates Video World as Deliciously Surreal as Auditory One

Holly Herndon – Chorus [Official Video] from RVNG Intl. on Vimeo. Electronic music has, since the beginning, been at the razor’s edge of science and artistry, somewhere between radical noise and classically-derived engineering. But few artists have managed to meld the dark thump of techno with the intricate constructions of post-minimalist new music quite like Holly Herndon. Her rapid-punctuated, ethereal vocals are float above complex, dance music-inspired machinery, producing an effect that is arrestingly gorgeous and frightening all at once. In short, it’s damned good stuff. Indeed, Herndon was for me and many others one of the highlights of CTM …

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Music and Performance, Made On The Spot: Hacklab, Open Call in Berlin

Inventing technological hacks in short time is one thing. At CTM Festival in Berlin, we want to push collaborative participants to go further. First, invent the technology for performance. Then, invent the performance – and be ready to perform publicly – and it do it all in just one week. It’s time again to join a MusicMakers Hacklab. Last year was the first week-long event hosted with CDM, and the first at CTM Festival. CTM makes a perfect venue, a brilliant and packed showcase for adventurous sound (and in parallel with another digital media fest, Transmediale, in the same city …

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Experimental Electronics Listening: Biosphere, Samuel Kerridge, Bill Kouligas + PAN

Humming and hypnotic, moving from dripping-wet ambient surface textures to pulsing thumps like an alien rave in the next room of your spaceship, the sounds of these three artists and their taste in tracks can pleasantly absorb an evening. We have not one but three four separate mixes, enough experimental electronic sonic diversity that you should feel absolutely free to skip my textual ramblings and queue up some music to hear. In fact, I actually hope that you don’t know many of the artists featured, as simply encountering sound is a great pleasure – us journalists with our waterfalls of …

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Cut From a Different Cloth: Threads and Circuits at MusicMakers Hacklab CTM [Video, Gallery, Pt. 2]

So much is possible when we just open up the materials of musical invention to a range of people – and those materials can be cloth, circuits, acoustic, electronic, light, sound. I was reminded of that yet again last week, thanks to an amazing group of artists, developers, facilitators, and organizers. I’m still recovering – in a good way – from five days last week filled with people sewing and soldering, wearable interfaces and constructed projection-mapped kinetic sculptures and new digital instruments. Native Instruments and Ableton took us inside their development process – and provided hardware, pretzels, pastries, and Club-Mate. …

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MusicMakers Hacklab Report: Blinking Lightbulbs with MIDI, Why Working Together Matters

It’s a wonderful time to be experimenting with technology and music. You can create something that looks like the stuff most people imagine as “the future” – elaborate dances of light, power over sound just by waving your hand, software that seems directly out of Star Trek. But you can do it with technology that is now reaching maturity – decades of experience of artists, engineers, and designers is at your back. “That’s not new,” someone might say. Exactly. Instead of technology being a disposable commodity, forgotten in a couple of years, it’s actually something you can get good at. …

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Phantom's Hanna Toivonen, live. Mask by Jenni Ahtiainen/ gTie. Photo: Kiki Ylimutka — at Flow Festival 2012.

Singing Serenades with Laptops: Intimate Sessions with Solar Year, Phantom [Video]

NFOP SESSIONS #13: Phantom – Albuquerque from Tonje Thilesen on Vimeo. Far from being an icy presence in front of an unmoving operator, the laptop has quietly become second nature. As tools mature and musicians gain comfort, music software can at last become another instrument. So, let’s get comfy and close with some musicians who are finding intimate, personal expressions with impromptu human-and-laptop ensembles. Our friends at No Fear of Pop – a top-notch, pretension-free chronicle of new music – have in the past year been doing live portraits of artists in their NFOP Sessions series. This is the feeling …

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In Berlin, musicians and creators gather to work collaboratively on new means of creation and performance. Imogen Heap and her team are among the participants, presenting an interactive workshop on wearable tech. Photo from TEDGlobal 2012 in Edinburgh, by James Duncan Davidson.

Hack Into MusicMakers’ Future in Berlin [CTM Open Call]

Happy New Year, from the future. It’s too late for sci-fi movies with a dateline of 2013. If you want something futuristic, you’ll just have to get to work. That’s what we’re doing in Berlin at CTM Festival later this month, with some of our favorite artists and engineers and designers and artist-engineer-designers. And we’d love to have you join us. We’ll have live music to enjoy. That includes high-tech original creations — Sonic Robots’ real-life 808 drum machine and band, and Tarik Barri and Lea Fabrikant with their three-dimensional audiovisual space trip. Tim Exile will treat us to his …

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Pinball Pianola: Pinball Game Meets a Piano in a Wild Constructed Instrument

Pinball Pianola from Lucas Abela on Vimeo. The mechanical and kinetic collide – literally – with the sonic, in a devilishly-inventive hybrid instrument that cross-breeds a pinball table with a piano. Australian artist Lucas Abela is joining us next month as part of CTM Festival: The Golden Age. In the meantime, he shares this work. I’ve devised a Frankenstein experiment, combining the greatest musical invention of all time, the Piano; with the coolest amusement machines ever conceived; Pinball, to create an interactive sound installation like no other; ‘Pinball Pianola’, a musical device constructed by replacing the keyboard, hammers and front …

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