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Berlin warms up for techno and visuals in a Portuguese castle

Techno lineups don’t have to be scraped off of the top of DJ charts and Google searches. And visuals don’t have to look like a screensaver that got drunk. Festival Forte, set for the end of August at the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, between Porto and Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is a glimpse of something different. Already last year, it ran against the grain of dumbed down summer festivals with some of the bleeding edge of concert visuals, set to an exceptional lineup. And it appears to be set to do that again. So, let’s check in on what’s happening …

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The Subharchord. Photo Gerhard Steinke.

Meet the Subharchord, subharmonic organ of the DDR

Once upon a time in East Germany, an alternate branch of the evolution of the synthesizer and the organ came into being. And now it has a second chance to capture imaginations. The Subharchord was the DDR-era invention of engineer Enrst Schreiber, first designed in 1958. It was an original production but inspired by Oskar Sala’s so-called Mixtur-Trautonium. State backing came from the unlikely goal of serving as a commercial rival to the Hammond organ, thus bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Communist nation. Unfortunately, practicality and politics intervened. But that’s not to say the Subharchord wasn’t ahead of its time …

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Sony have sold ACID, Sound Forge, more to MAGIX

It’s the end of an era – but maybe not such a golden era. Once upon a time, ACID and Sound Forge were each industry-leading software tools, originally developed by Sonic Foundry. Now, languishing alongside their stablemate, video editor Vegas, they’re seeing ownership pass from Sony (via its creative software division) to German software house and holding company MAGIX.

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A photo series documents clubs after the party

DJs, electronic musicians, and true fans know a side of clubland that is anything but glamorous. They know the brutal boredom of dressing rooms, the glaring reality of clubs with all the lights on. And DJs and staff are all too familiar with the wrecked landscape of clubs after the patrons have left.

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Karachi Files, Pakistan, and music in displacement

We live in worlds of displacement. Some of those new geographies are chosen, are freeing. This is the age of cheap airfares, of migratory artists crossing oceans, of global communication and spontaneous international collaborations. Then, there’s the inescapable darker side: forced migration, refugees. There are flights of fancy, flights of exile. And as through the history of music, musical practice traces those human movements. Karachi, Pakistan has served as a stage for very different kinds of displacement and resulting creative expression. Some of those were explored recently, which I glimpsed in a festival held by Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) …

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This is the new DJ mixer from Xone creator and Richie Hawtin

If a DJ mixer could be anything you wanted, what would it be? That question isn’t actually that easy to answer. DJ mixers have a fairly defined set of functions, and not a lot of obvious room for variation. They have become more or less a commodity product as a result. And even as we’ve seen high-end mixers, those have tended to be simply a spendier version of the same commodity. So, maybe the news that Richie Hawtin was working on a new mixer, teased out over the past few months, didn’t interest you at first. But, having had a …

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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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Here are 3 epic performances on modular that aren’t noodling

We revere the modular synthesizers of the past, but that ignores important innovations both in how modules are designed and how people play. Apart from the fact that Eurorack is quite a lot slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than its predecessors, we have vastly expanded the range of what modules do in ways that lend themselves to live performances. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – a modular performance still involves a lot of pre-patching for people, and there’s clearly something to be said for computers and standalone gear. But that’s perhaps partly the point: the modular solution can stand …

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Change your mood with our favorite springtime mixes

In the age of the algorithm and overabundant streams, the mix might be more important than ever. Mixes can give us insights into tastemakers’ and producers’ imagination; they can be intimate and human at a time when so much of our music stream is faceless. But then, with so many mixes out there, who curates the curators? Meet a new feature on CDM, finding mixes across various genres. To kick off the series, CDM’s Zuzana Friday gives us her seasonal picks. The mixtape may have gone digital, but it’s no less relevant. -Ed.

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Here’s all the coolest new gear from Messe and Superbooth, in one place

There’s a Eurorack craze on. Synth fever continues to spread. Instrument and software makers keep innovating. And there was reason to time all of this new gear madness to the beginning of this month – with not one but two massive trade shows, each a short Bahn ride away from one another in Germany. It’s almost too much. So, we’ve put our favorites all together, to keep it all straight.

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