Down with Sequencers: The Age of Glass Finger-Drums Through Their Beats, Live [Videos]

For years, drummers have had to look sideways at drum machines — boxes with step sequencers blinking, out to replace them. With acts like The Age of Glass, tables are turned. The sounds are electronic (Access Virus, Machinedrum), but the playing is all live. Drummer Nick Froud plays all those parts without any sequencing, fingers blazing. The band has a self-released (Bandcamp) EP out this week, as well as some videos of them working away at the studio. The results are jammy, trippy, grooving good times. Great to see the studio work and recording, but this must be a lot …

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Hear the Gorgeous, Ethereal Vocal Music of Georgina Brett, and More Live Looping

London’s Georgina Brett is part of a generation of solo artists who use layered loops to build trascendental, rotating textures from repetition. Hardware loopers and effects pedals remain the preferred tool here for Brett as for many such artists. But Brett’s work is worth a particular mention for its ghostly, ethereal quality and thoughtful, delicate compositions. There is for me a continuum connecting to the Minimalists, of course – as a soloist, she’s doing some of the things that the Meredith Monk Ensemble did (minus the loopers), and there’s a feeling of the “discovered folk music” that Monk used in …

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Four Tet Walks Through His Unique Live Rig for Red Bull Music Academy [Video]

Playing with laptops can become performative in conventional ways, just by adding instruments – voice, guitar, live drums, ukelele, or whatever it is you play. But it becomes more mysterious in the hybrid performance media that emerge from “playing” the arrangement directly, manipulating the larger bits of a track in the form of stems and samples. That can be really boring – the “press play” approach – or it can begin to embody an artist’s musical imagination. They can improvise with the composition. You’ll want to make sure you don’t tune out early in this video with Four Tet, shot …

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New Music From Sheffield’s The Black Dog: Focused, Finely-Honed Objects [Stream, Video, Mix]

Out this week is a new full-length from The Black Dog. The Sheffield, England-based trio – Ken Downie, Martin Dust, Richard Dust – have been making smart, non-boring electronic music for ages. (Let’s not utter “IDM” – but “smart” fits.) From Warp to Ostgut Ton, they’ve been an indelible and irreplaceable part of the creative landscape. What strikes me about Tranklements is its effusive economy and clarity. In a time when music is regularly dripping with reverb or smothered in gauzy effects and nostalgia, this is a record that stands apart from any particular time, dry and direct and witty. …

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Peter Cusack, recording sounds at Chernobyl in 2007. All photos courtesy the artist.

“You learn a lot about the city by asking about its sound”: Peter Cusack Interview, Sounds

He calls it “sonic journalism.” From the Chernobyl site to inside London, Peter Cusack has been turning his ear to the world’s most interesting places. A leading practitioner of sound art at the intersection of ecology and music, Peter Cusack is a uniquely inspiring voice in music making. So we’re keen to welcome Czech-born writer Zuzana Friday Prikrylova to bring her conversation with the artist, for the first time in English here on CDM. We bring with that exclusive sounds for you to hear from the artist. -Ed. Peter Cusack is a musician and a sound artist with a long …

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Retro Mobile Music: What Vintage Palm and Windows Mobile Did, How to Use Them Today

Newer, faster, thinner … better? One technology follows another in dizzying cycles. But how is it that something that was once an amazing engineering marvel ceases to be so? If it really works as a musical instrument, how could it be less of a musical instrument than it was before? Palm Sounds’ Ashley Elsdon was talking about music making in the palm of your hand before anyone had ever seen an iPhone. So I had to smile when I saw him connecting an old Palm to our MeeBlip synth. It wasn’t just a novelty – the synth was ticking along …

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Full-On Music Geekout: Schneiders Buero and RoughTrade, for Musical Delights [Videos]

If someone were to buy you a shopping spree, letting you roam free to stash anything you wanted in your cart, you could do worse than winding up with Schneiders Buero, the Berlin-based music gear boutique. And for records, the wonderful RoughTrade in London would easily be a top pick. Let’s combine them. That’s what happens in a new series of Schneiders Buero videos, as the man Mr. Schneider himself takes to the aisles of one of the world’s best-known record shops – and his own in-store corner full of musical creations. Getting on to some specific gear demos, we …

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Novation Bass Station II: All-Analog Sequel to a Classic Instrument, $499 Street [Video, Pics]

The original Bass Station would now be old enough to drink. But the new Bass Station II (which, in a typical marketing twist, Novation would like to remind you can also do leads) is improved, expanded, and more connected. And with a street price of US$499, the competition for affordable synths has gotten just plain ridiculous – in a way that can only benefit the synth consumer. Now, the Bass Station II has two filters, two oscillators and a sub-oscillator, patch save capability, and analog effects. It also looks playable, with a step-sequencer, arpeggiator, onboard modulation, and MIDI and USB. …

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Novation’s Launchpad S: Brighter, Faster, Driverless, Friendlier with Other Apps [Artist How-to]

Novation’s Launchpad may have begun its life focused mainly on controlling Ableton Live. But a new update, while not radically different from the original, is more flexible, working with more software and more operating systems – including the iPad. It’s also brighter and refreshes faster than the original. Updated – for a newer Launchpad, check out our hands-on guide to the Launchpad Pro. The Launchpad S is, generally speaking, still a Novation Launchpad. It has the same complement of controls, and unlike some recent hardware, it lacks features like velocity sensitivity and full-color RGB LEDs. This is still just a …

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Do Not Adjust Your Radio: Surreal Sound Collage Interventions on BBC Radio 4

Before any explanation, perhaps you should listen. This is what some British listeners will hear as they tune into what they think will just be everyday national radio programming. Suffice to say, something will sound a bit off: Artist Christian Marclay is the person responsible for the work, the first of five such commissions in sound art for the widely-heard UK broadcaster BBC Radio 4. (He joins Ruth Ewan, Mark Wallinger, Susan Hiller, and Peter Strickland. More information on Radio 4’s blog.) This is the sort of commission that invites bold experimentation: working with London-based art platform Artangel, a GBP …

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