From Spain, Abstract, Ambient Mix and Transcendent Images [Listen, Gallery]

If your ears and spirit need an ambient reboot, you could do worse than this gorgeous, abstract wash of sound pieced together from two wonderful Spanish artists. From bzzzbip, aka multimedia artist Antònia Folguera, and about:blank!, a photographer/filmmaker/artist, comes this project in sonic exchange. Antònia writes: About:Blank! and I exchanged songs via email and dropbox in order to put together an abstract ambient mixtape. When we were done with the selection I mixed the first half, and he did the other half. If it were an actual mixtape that would be side A and side B. this is the result. …

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The Newest Analog Goodness: Highlights from Berlin’s ALEX4, at Musikmesse [Synth pr0n]

Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us. There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the …

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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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Korg MS-20 Mini, Up Close: Gallery, By Candlelight

Korgs by candlelight… If you’ve been up close and personal with an original Korg MS-20 (or own one yourself), this gallery may actually be redundant. But we have some stills from our upcoming video short on the MS-20 Mini to prove what Korg’s reissue of the 1978 original looks like. There is something unreal about seeing the same instrument, shrunken. And yes, because it’s Berlin in winter, and we were in the basement of Mindpirates, we broke out some candles. It’s a great way to unwind on a January night. Stay tuned for our upcoming series, The Phantom of the …

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Gallery: Vintage Moog Ads, Vintage Bob Moog, from the Bob Moog Foundation Archives

All images courtesy The Bob Moog Foundation. Used by permission. Go visit them, and enjoy many more. Moog made the scene, indeed. In this birthday week for Bob Moog, here’s a gallery looking back at the man and in advertisements, the Minimoog, the keyboard that shaped so much of synthesis to this day. I could say more, but the images already say so much. Indeed, it seems we’re long overdue for a resurrection of this kind of romance with synthesis and electronic music technology. As I’m also editing remembrances of Max Mathews – a digital counterpart to Moog’s analog breakthroughs …

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Nine Keyboards in One: Extensive Q+A, Gallery for KORG on Kronos, Son of OASYS

One keyboard, a mind-bending nine engines, lots of tech specs … now that we’ve lived in a world of impressive, technically-intimidating workstation keyboards for a couple of decades, it’s easy to imagine your eyes glazing over when there’s a new one, let alone the general public. So, what might get your attention? This. “Workstation keyboard” is usually a phrase that sends me for the exits; my computer makes a perfectly good workstation, thanks. I’ve understood why people like them; I’ve just never seen one that could personally excite me. But now that the trade show hype has died down, it’s …

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Virtual Synths: Modeling Gear, as Imagined by Communities and Engineers

Do Androids Dream of Electric Synths? Imagining an instrument from a clean sheet of paper is an essential part of the design process. It can remind us of the extent of possibilities – and, sometimes, why compromise is necessary. The German site Amazona.de this week unveiled mock-ups of an instrument conceived by their community. The design looks terrific, and the specs (below) do read like the sorts of things synthesists would want. My only concern is that the results could be very cost prohibitive; the obvious remedy it seems would be to use digital oscillators in place of the eight-voice …

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Novation Returns to Virtual Analog Hardware Legacy with $699 UltraNova

UK-based Novation are known these days mainly for making MIDI controller keyboards for computers, but the company first made its name in synths. Novation’s virtual analog synths were beloved for their distinctive sound, accessibility – both in price and ease, and compact design. And some of that legacy, frankly, has been missing in recent years, even with the fun Xio keyboard. UltraNova could be the hardware that brings back Novation’s soul. And the timing couldn’t be better, with a rekindled love for hardware synths even among dedicated computer users. As the name implies, the UltraNova recalls Novation’s best-loved synths, the …

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Album Art and Design, Alive and Well in the Digital Age

Today’s reflections on the importance of album art: 1. Album art can be beautiful, whatever the recording medium. It can reflect great design, and extend the expression of the album itself (well, and it helps if the album is great). Justin and Colin have created the site Hardformat to celebrate design on everything from tapes and records to new releases. They have a gorgeous gallery of stuff, pictured above. I like what they have to say on their about page: It seems like everybody’s talking about the end of physical music media. Who knows whether they’re right or not, but …

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