adele

Music is getting worse, unless of course it isn’t

Complaining about pop music is probably the safest form of musical clickbait imaginable. After all, who isn’t annoyed by at least some earworm, some teeny-bopper celeb? If you long for still more of that, we have another white guy shouting at a camera about it – and, to be fair, some of this is reasonably funny. There’s just one problem: is the argument that music is getting progressively worse actually true – or even asking the most relevant questions?

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Making stems ought to be a step in your production workflow

Forget about whether anyone is going to listen to that release, let alone whether you’ll make money. Finishing is a beautiful feeling. Something happens when you get to that phase of adjusting the final mix, bouncing for mastering. For many of us, that last step involves a stereo bounce. But I think it’s high time to start thinking in terms of stems (both in the lowercase, and the all-caps STEMS Native Instruments is keen for you to use).

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modstepkorgvideoframe

This Modstep video explains why you’d want an iPad

Modstep is … an app that does a lot of sequencing things on iOS. Step sequencing and sequence recording with … a lot of stuff. And then those things all connect together, and there are templates for… Okay, it’s hard to explain. Those of us in the business have gotten used to the “it does a whole bunch of stuff” quality of DAWs. But now, new organisms are crawling out of the sea and walking on land, and they don’t have a genus and species yet. Fortunately, a new Modstep video does it absolutely perfectly, so let’s watch that.

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UnReaL, Born in Flamez: music from a trans-human future

Ed.: There’s a record release entirely in etched glass, shaped like a pyramid. There’s an artist who is not only post-genre, but post-gender, and trans-… human. There’s a collective that steps calmly from grimy basement to global festival, talks about occulture and “magick,” and juggles queer partys and zines. For anyone sick of the predictable grinding machinery of the music industry running business as usual, this should be irrefutable evidence that UnReaL, and the artist Born In Flamez, are something different. We arranged a rare interview with the collective and BIF to enter that world – a science-fiction now that …

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px18timeline

See the 1995 Monolake step sequencer that inspired Ableton

Remember 1995? Computers onstage were still a comparatively risky proposition – often relegated to MIDI, more prone than today to instabilities, and absent today’s DJ and live performance apps. Monolake, which is now just Robert Henke, was both Robert Henke and Gerhard Behles. (Gerhard is now plenty busy being CEO of Ableton.) And then there was Monolake’s PX18 sequencer, a step sequencer – cum – timeline with loads of interesting tracker-style and mathematical-musical features.

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Sakamoto and Alva Noto again create electronics, scoring masterpiece

I suspect many electronic music aficianados have the soundtrack for the film The Revenant on repeat who haven’t even seen the film. Any new Alva Noto/Ryuichi Sakamoto collaboration will get the attention of lovers of minimal electronic achievement, with good reason. And The Revenant might just be the perfect landscape for that collaboration. Its marathon portrait of bleakness and intense, lonely revenge make the film a platform for a perfect Alva Noto/Sakamoto score.

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iphonejacks

Apple is probably killing headphone jacks, but don’t panic

It’s the same old story: if you love Apple, you better also love carrying around little adapters. In a surprise to no one, latest reports – including one from Fast Company – suggest Apple is about to nix the 3.5mm “minijack” analog headphone jack from its next iPhone. (iPad and presumably laptops, too, would be next in line.) There are two common misunderstandings of the news. One reading (from Apple critics) assumes this locks you into proprietary Apple headphones. It doesn’t. The other (from Apple fans who don’t know that much about audio) assumes higher audio fidelity from “digital” headphones. …

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Microsoft just gave us the touch laptop Apple won’t

Apple’s strategy is clear: make one line of things that are laptops (running OS X), make another line of things that are touch-based (running iOS). That strategy has served them – and musicians and other creatives – well. You can certainly have a lot of fun with a fairly inexpensive iPad full of apps, and the MacBook line has earned its place as the music laptop of choice. But that’s still left some creative types in the gap between the two. That is, it did, until today.

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consentissexy

Let’s talk consent: how to make nightlife safe from harassment

Eletronic music as a medium is now interwoven with nightlife culture, even in a lot of the experimental end of the spectrum. So that means for those of us who care about the medium, it’s time to face a reality about night venues: a lot of people, particularly women, don’t feel comfortable and safe. Talk to regular clubgoers, and you’ll hear an unnerving number of tales about harassment. We’re not talking people just getting a little aggressive – we’re talking being groped repeatedly on the dance floor.

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foxtrott

Starting music is the theme of a Novation product launch next week

Novation are promising something new on the 1st of October. Let’s just say whatever [redacted] may be, we’ll cover [redacted] when the time is right. But what I find interesting is the way they’re introducing the message. Just as Ableton did with Push, the message is about “starting something” – about getting past that initial creative impulse. I think we’re seeing a shift in the way we talk about music technology in general. The old way of selling was to make the process as mysterious as possible. Serious professionals would tell you how they had the killer tool that you …

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