Inside hands-on live technique with Blush Response, KOMA, Elektron

The sound world of Joey Blush (aka Blush Response) is far reaching, entering dark clouds of murky industrial, EBM, and techno, all with relentless forward-pushing grooves. But as we talk to him about how he connects his gear, we’re really looking at how he connects his thoughts. At its best, whatever we’re doing with gear ought to be about our minds. It’s not just connecting a patch cord. It’s connecting an idea from one place to another – re-wiring neurons. Synth legend Morton Subotnick spoke this week about that process, as he recalled first creating complex metric structures simply by …

READ MORE →
wrkshp

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 …

READ MORE →

This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …

READ MORE →

The One Module Everyone Needs: KOMA’s Cable Organizer Accessory, 25€

The beautiful thing about modular synths is making connections physically – each link with an actual cable between them. It is, really, the whole point. Of course, you need somewhere to put all those cables and keep them organized. There are various cable racks available, but they’re generally mounted to walls and such. Synthtopia this week covered a nice option that can mount to a mic stand, from Synthesizers.com. But for sheer utility, it’s hard to beat what KOMA Elektronik this week was showing at Musikmesse. The Kabelhänger goes the obvious, “why didn’t anyone do this before?” route: it makes …

READ MORE →

What Can You Hack on KORG volca series? First Mod Details, as KOMA Meets KORG [Video]

When KORG’s Tatsuya Takahashi is involved in a project, you can expect some hackability. KORG surprised the music tech community by releasing filter schematics for its monotron and designing the boards for the monotron and Monotribe in such a way that opened them to modifications – like adding much-needed MIDI capability absent on those first devices. The KORG volca series already has MIDI input and most other features you want, so the majority of volca buyers won’t need or want to modify anything at all. That’s not bad for boxes that cost just US$150. But there are some opportunities for …

READ MORE →

Keys and Knobs and Such, New Gear, in Photos: Notes and Gallery from NAMM Day 1

From the Prophet 12 to Korg’s MS-20 Mini (and King Korg – more on that soon), iConnectMIDI interfaces for your iPad to Arturia ultra-portable keyboards, from analog to digital, from big releases to oddities, CDM has some roving reporters out on the floor of America’s biggest musical instrument trade show, NAMM. James Grahame, principal engineer behind the MeeBlip, kicks things off. Looking through his photos is a bit like seeing the show through his eyes. The flagship keyboards you’ve heard of (though Moog-branded water is a surprise). Some of the other good news: the iConnectMIDI4 Plus looks very versatile, indeed, …

READ MORE →
meeblipkoma2

Hands-On Jam: MeeBlip SE with Koma Elektronik Delay, Filter [Gallery, Video]

A wintry afternoon sometimes calls for putting the work on hold and spending some time jamming. So, this week (in approximate celebration of Sinterklaas), I headed around the corner to the offices of Koma Elektronik, the boutique all-analog gear producer. Here’s a few minutes of combining digital with analog, each with its own timbres and applications. In the digital corner: the iOS step sequencer Phaedra (watch for an update on that soon), and our open source MeeBlip SE synth. On the analog side: Koma’s BD101 delay/gate and FT201 filter/sequencer. In the digital world, we get the flexibility of MIDI sequencing …

READ MORE →
komakontrol

Koma Kontrol Surface: Touch Surface Hardware, CV + MIDI [Preview]

Sometimes, an idea is so beautifully elegant, it just seems obvious. That’s the feeling I get from Koma’s newest prototype. The Kontrol Surface is a touch controller device. In its Light version, it’s an X/Y touch controller with CV output. The Pro version adds MIDI so it works with both analog and digital gear, and ups the ante to three-axis X/Y/Z capacitive touch. Folks with MIDI gear will wait for the Pro version, but the Light edition already appears like it’ll become a must-have for analog/modular owners. Specs: 1 x CV output 1 x inverted CV output Manual gate output …

READ MORE →

Quäkmonster: Cookie Monster + Speaker + Theremin = Stuffed Sonic Creature

I could make some comment, but the sight of a blue muppet with a speaker in his mouth making Theremin sounds I expect will either elicit immediate horror or delight – and nothing I can say would change that. From our friends at Koma Elektronik, this (intended) monstrosity is the work of head of production Felix Obeè, evidently taking time off of designing boutique analog effects. The creature joins a more serious discussion of analog production at an event by DE:BUG next month in Berlin.

READ MORE →

Music from Patch Cords, in the Studio with Jimmy Edgar and KOMA Elektronik [Create Analog Music]

Modular music may be associated with densely-layered, sometimes-indecipherable ambiences, but Jimmy Edgar weaves funk and synthesized electro-dance into songs fed by his Detroit roots. (Jimmy’s now on Hotflush, formerly Warp Records, !K7, Poker Flat) In a studio tour with boutique analog maker KOMA Elektronik, he shows off their FT-201 sequenced filter and gestural control on the recently-introduced Kommander X/Y CV controller. I hope Jimmy’s natural musicianship also comes across; having watched him make some quick connections in the studio, this really is a rack he plays like an instrument, not just a fascinating spaceship control panel for sound design. (Not …

READ MORE →