A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.

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OK Go get their own KORG volca sample

Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.

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IDOW Gear 6 (Eurorack)

I Dream of Wires Doc Gets Premiere; Here are Pics and Facts

The modular synthesizer, that wild animal covered in wires, has seen its once-endangered populations flourish and its revival in full swing. And now, it has its own movie. Some years now in anticipation, and with limited screenings here and there at film festivals, I Dream of Wires gets a wide release. The film is surely a landmark, but the launch is likely to be, too, bringing one of the modular synth’s greatest composers (Morton Subotnick) back to Berlin, Germany for a gala release performance, joined by video artist Lillevan. Mr. Subotnick is a rare figure, having made an impact not …

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‘R is for Roland’ is Coffee Table Pr0n For Synth Lovers

Blah, blah, the influence of the Roland drum machines, their musical/cultural significance… I’ve actually written those words before, so I’ll skip doing it this time. In case the YouTube subtitles aren’t working, let me translate the German from the making-of video below: “We decided to make a giant bit of pr0n for you because these old Roland boxes are so beautiful. Try to keep our finely-printed pages from sticking together.” Actually, the still above looks like something out of Blow-Up< – Antonioni for the studio set?

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CDM is on Instagram – And Finding Strange and Cool Stuff at Musikmesse

Leave the selfie sticks to others – welcome to Music Nerd Instagram. Social media can be a real chore at times, but Instagram for me is a bright spot. Following the right people and tags, it’s a place where you can actually find useful and inspiring stuff, and a visual record of where you’ve been, a form of external memory. I’ve been using it as such on a personal account, but it was high past time to give CDM its own home. Follow us – and feel free to tag us, as we’ll be reposting the best images from around …

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See All the Synth Gear in Schneiders’ Booth in 1 Minute, 39 Seconds

You… might not want to watch this if you’re prone to motion sickness. The array of press releases and new gear at a show can be dizzying. But this is literally dizzying – though not boring. This is a fly-through of the bigger-than-ever 2015 Musikmesse Schneidersbüro Superbooth, hosted by our friend Wouter of KOMA Elektronik and shot with an iPhone and Instagram’s Hyperlapse. There is just a whole lot of modular here. (Schneiders’ has a lot, but not even all the boutique makers here at the show.) And… it’s just plain cool. It’s blinky. It has lights. It has knobs. …

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Modal Just Blew Up Analog With 8-Voice Polysynth, More

UK maker Modal Electronics last year surprised the synth scene with a move into premium analog. This is luxury synthesis – the Aston Martin of synthesizers. Well, it turns out they were only getting started. The product line for 2015 today gets a full range of models. And the 008 is the new headline instrument – an 8-voice analog synth that’s worthy of pinning up to your ceiling and staring at at night, boys and girls (or, um, “grown-up” boys and girls, perhaps). Yes, we’re keen to test this and see if it sounds and functions as well as it …

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You Want to Stare into Schneider’s Giant Rotating Eurorack Modular [Video]

Round and round and round it goes… It’s the motorized rotating pillar of Eurorack modular synthesizers from Berlin’s Schneidersladen, which served this evening as backdrop to an excellent workshop from the boys of Bastl Instruments of the Czech Republic. And, well, we’re not sure what happens to your brain if you keep watching this. Here, seen at twelve times normal rotation speed, thanks to Hyperlapse and my iPhone. This being Berlin, you can get this and falafel within a fairly short walk. Follow the Schneiders blog here: http://www.schneidersbuero.de

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This Custom Suitcase Will Make You Lust for Modular

Having something pretty won’t necessarily make you make better music. But from the carved face on a viola da gamba to the shine of brass on a trumpet, musicians have long imbued the objects that make music with visual features reflecting the unseen beauty of the sounds they emit. And this suitcase for sound, the work of Swedish design Frédéric Sebton, is beautiful both aesthetically and in its practicality. This one-off creation houses the “Verbos Composition Suitcase” – a very practical and reasonably affordable starter kit of Verbos modules, the title a cheeky reference to the (unrelated) VCS modular. Inside …

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Tour Erica Synths in Riga, Where Vintage Tubes Live [Gallery]

Forget the notion that new technologies replace old, that design is a steady progression from past to future. Think, instead, of music – variations on a theme, modernity made from the spare parts of the past. Latvia may be eager to shed its Soviet past, and with good reason. But part of the legacy left behind is a history and expertise in engineering. Rīga, the Latvian capital in this Baltic country, was home to the mighty RMIF synth company and Blue Microphones, among others. The economic strain of the Soviet union sometimes required these makers to be even more ingenious …

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