Photo: Adam Michaud.

Venetian Snares has a new album and warms up Poland

Summer music season, like summer movie season, can feel, well, repetitive. It’s blockbusters and popcorn fare, both ways. But there are some diversions from that narrative. And one is the award-winning festival Tauron Nowa Muzyka, in Katowice. That town is building on its industrial past, literally – the festival takes place on the site of a coal mine. But it also suggests a new direction both for electronic music and Poland itself. Now in its eleventh edition, Tauron Nowa Muzyka is reaching beyond its normal premises. And this makes a perfect excuse to talk about raw source of fresh energy …

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Graham Dunning; photo by Julien Kerduff.

This month, a far-reaching convergence of ideas in music

What will the next wave of invention in music technology look like? Will it follow a narrow course of iteration – a new interface, a new synthesis technique? Or will the next leaps come from networks of ideas, from what happens when different disciplines and cultures collide, when music technology turns to the broader matters of how music is made and how it impacts people? I rather believe in the latter. And that could be why Berlin is the place where so often people gather to work out the next big thing. There’s no single music research center, no formal …

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In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …

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Ex-DDR radio facility turns into an alternative synth show

Forget sterile, corporate convention halls. Instead, this week the Communist-chic East German radio facility Funkhaus will be transformed into the sort of synthesizer summit only Andreas Schneider and his crew could imagine. It’s called, somewhat confusingly, the “Superbooth” – a reference to what had been a jam-packed exhibition stand at Frankfurt’s Musikmesse. Now, instead of squeezing into some tables and shouting over the din of a trade show, the happening that was in Frankfurt has a sprawling space. Just how big? Well, let’s let Andreas take us on a tour of the wonderful rooms of the wonderful building where all …

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Minguet Quartett, The Long Now 2015, Kraftwerk. Photo: Camille Blake.

A festival to ponder the nature of time

Now, following a century of recording and broadcast, where does musical performance go next? That challenges not just space or culture, but reimagining the place of time itself in the performance. Berlin is a fitting place to contemplate time. Once home to Albert Einstein, it helped incubate modern general relativity. At its southwest is Mendelsohn’s Einsteinturm; it has the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in its DNA. Adlershof, a short S-Bahn ride away, is home to the enormous BESSY II synchotron photon radiation source (particle accelerator.)

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Returning the festival to a place for the specific and the new, at Atonal

Electronic music, even at its most adventurous, has a bit of a chicken and egg problem at the moment. Festivals feed off of other festivals. Projects are made to be as portable as possible, touring from one place to another. Venues, crowds, and even the festival programs themselves are made to be as interchangeable as possible. None of these things on its own is a bad thing; music touring as an institution has likely been around as long as musicians have owned shoes. But at some point, you need something new to happen. You need someone to do something specific …

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From the Heart of Belgrade’s Underground, Inside a New Festival Experience

Summertime. You certainly can’t complain about your options in electronic music festivals. But in some of the best festivals, there’s also a sameness – talented lineups, repeated from weekend to weekend. That predictability is part of the draw, part of the commercial viability of many of these events and of the artist industry they support. But where do you go if you want something different to happen? If you want a mix of music that’s different, an environment that’s different, if you want all the things that wouldn’t work elsewhere? One place to go is the countryside of Serbia, from …

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7 Ways SONAR+D is Asking Bigger Questions About Music Tech

Lineup Sónar+D 2015 from Sónar on Vimeo. There’s nothing inherently wrong with asking the same questions repeatedly. Cyclical inquiries are necessary in any practice. And over time, you refine answers. But this year’s SONAR+D program promises something different. SONAR+D is the younger, digital discourse alongside Barcelona’s massive electronic music festival. SONAR itself deserves a lot of credit for helping create the template a lot of digital music and media festivals follow today. And as that has since blurred into a parade of headliners, SONAR+D added a lot of dimension. There were good talks, hacklabs, workshops, and a showcase of makers. …

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The Soul of Czech DIY, at Noise Kitchen Nerdfest and Party

From gear to music, welcome to the capital of DIY. Music technology makers and musicians from the experimental to the party end of the spectrum are gathering soon in central Europe, and they’re worth a listen and look wherever you may be. Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, was already home to some terrific musical experimentation and the mind-tickling inventions of Bastl Instruments. Now, it’s getting its own shop – NOISE.KITCHEN – and a festival to celebrate, called Synth Fest. This is about as unlikely a place as you’d expect to find such things, but the whole …

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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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