This holiday, take a holiday to another world, chip music style. An imagined NES dimension, here envisioned (CC-BY-SA) torley.

Cool Yule: Toy Company’s Free 8-bit/Lo-Fi Christmas Album, from Montreal

Whether you’re unwrapping presents or not, we’re spending these twenty four hours unwrapping some beautiful musical gifts: have a Yule that’s cool with fine, free/donationware releases. First in the queue… If unimaginative holiday music on endless repeat has given you the winter blues, the fine folks of Toy Company have the cure. The Montreal-based collective and 8-bit/lo-fi techno party series have brought together a number of friends with original tunes and noise and digital-fuzz-laden covers of tunes like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” Meticulously-rendered, quirky music is free to hear, or thank the artists by naming your own …

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mannheimsteamrollercover

It’s Good to Be Mannheim Steamroller: Egyptian Artefacts, Wolves, and a Cape to Wear in the Studio – WSJ

Image: Jason Hickey. As Christmas revelers head out for last-minute shopping in the last surge of pre-holiday capitalism, they might catch over piped music the ouvre of one Mannheim Steamroller. For all the electronic artists we might imagine as representing the genre, this guy has sold one heck of a lot of Christmas records, in a strange brew of hyper-active electrified timbres and New Age. How many records? Well, enough that he is able to, from his Omaha home, raise wolves. Not yet fully grown, they require a full-time trainer (they now respond to commands in German), walks up to …

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A Very Acid 303 Christmas, and Pencil-and-Paper Roland Beat Patterns

Melbourne, Australia-based acid music lover dyLab posts 303-made goodness on the Acid Box Blues blog. And here’s a great way to get in the holiday mood — well, that is, if acid music gets you in the holiday mood. It’s a pattern laid out on paper, ready to program into your TB-303 hardware, software emulation, x0xb0x, Pd patch, or however you get your real/fake 303 on. The pattern is the work of Honeysmack (Soundcloud site), a fellow Melbourne-based artist. The December Acid Pattern I’m rather hoping that putting patterns and presets on paper catches on; I dubbed our MeeBlip version …

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Truly Last-Minute Gift: Osmos, the CDM Game of the Year, for Mac and Windows

For a truly unique and very much last-minute gift for anyone you know, look to CDM’s favorite game of year, the gorgeous, blood pressure-lowering title for Windows and – at long last – Mac. I may personally identify a little too much with the abstract protagonist of this game, as my holiday activities could well be described as floating around the universe, sucking particles into my gravity well as I grow in size. But whether or not I feel literally like an expanding bubble of matter, one of my favorite experiences this year was entering this ingenious physics-based game. It …

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Free Instrument + Sounds from NI in the Holiday Selection 2009

The days (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) have grown shorter, so it’s time to put in some extra hours working on music production. Native Instruments have released a big selection of synthesis sounds, sampled instruments, and multiple effects in a free, Kore Player-based instrument, in case you haven’t already heard the news via NI’s site. While they’re presets, there are enough macro controls and variations that, combined with your own effects, you can certainly make these your own. And if nothing else, you can drown out the sound of overplayed holiday picks – just make yourself a soundscape, put …

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Last-Minute Holiday Shopping: Geeky Gift Ideas, even for the Non-Musician

Andromeda MK-1 and MK-2 from Eric Archer on Vimeo. Thanks to the miracles of express shipping, there’s still time to give the gift of music technology for various holidays. (And I do mean the holiday season, not just Christmas – for me, it extends neatly to my birthday on January 13, which in turn falls before the music tech holiday NAMM.) Geeky goodness There are really wonderful sound makers out there to give to beginners and enthusiasts alike. MAKE:Magazine has done a fantastic job of covering terrific, affordable kits that anyone can use. I haven’t seen anyone – muscially inclined …

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Recession Specials: From Tenori-On to Little Phatty, Costco Blue Mic Deal to Soft Steinway

Illustration (CC) Dani Armengol, who just became my hero. Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Who need them? The entire month of December seems to be on sale when it comes to music tech. Christmas (and Hanukkah, for that matter) are nearly here. Whether it’s economic pressure or just some aggressive holiday pricing, there are some big deals out there that could make excellent gifts – or might just give you a nice list for shopping for yourself before or after the holidays. (Yes, it’s true: most of what readers suggested in our “gift guide” for the CDM Winter 08 special wasn’t …

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8-bit and Retro Holiday Cheer: Advent Calendar Albums, Casio and Coneheads

Kasio Kristmas from Jim McKenzie on Vimeo. Feeling a warm, holiday glow – or is that just nostalgia for simpler times, times when less digital information was needed to capture sound? Bits were real bits; sampling rates were low enough you could count to the top of them. Kids walked uphill through the snow both ways to buy a new Casio keyboard, and they didn’t yet believe Nintendo’s R.O.B. was a gimmick. They had none of your Grand Theft Audio nonsense: they hummed along to annoying tunes and watched sprites dance across the screen like a derezzed Sugar Plum Fairy. …

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Still Time to Win T-rackS, Get Personal Notes, Be Thankful

A turkey. Photo (and crafting) (CC) Patti Haskins. Americans are busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and … everyone is busy, anyway. But there’s still time to: 1. Tell us what makes you musically thankful – we’ll feature your responses on CDM. 2. Tell us if you’d like to get handcrafted, human-written exclusive notes in your inbox occasionally from CDM (totally optional). 3. Get a chance to win the deluxe edition of T-rackS 3, the tasty mixing and mastering suite, with lots of new routing, models, and metering. I’m actually working on a way to visualize all of these “reasons we’re …

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CDM Holiday Guide: Thanks for Answers; Ads Close Wednesday 11/26

Thanks to everyone for submitting responses for the Holiday Guide. You’ll be keeping me busy this week – nearly 200 fantastic responses were submitted, which given the depth and number of questions we asked I find pretty impressive! If you’re interested in advertising in the guide, your ad will be exposed online in the main site feed for all of our online readers plus will get additional exposure in the online / downloadable / printable version that people will hang onto. We can send you details, but you need to contact us and ads do close end of day Wednesday …

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