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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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So Many Wires and Knobs: Enjoy Synth pr0n Goodness in Our NAMM Gallery I

Now, we get to transport you to the toy store of sound-making gadgets that is the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. James Grahame, the engineer behind MeeBlip, gets to show off his love of synthesizers in his photolog. And we see some of the big winners at the show for electronic instrument lovers: Boutique makers are doing more wonderful stuff than ever. It starts with modular, yes, but look for products in other areas, as well. We were thrilled to get to insert MeeBlip anode at Pittsburgh Modular and Studio Electronics, as they already had some of my favorite stuff …

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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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Inside Koma Electronik, Boutique Maker: Studio Tour, Profile [Gallery, Audio]

Big or small, talk to many music gear makers, and you’ll find they’re in the business largely for love. But it’s still amazing just how many gear makers choose to go it alone. They build equipment in their flats and garages, hand-packing their creations and shipping it to a world of fellow musicians. Koma Electronik is just one of those in the worldwide scene of boutique hardware makers. We’re especially fond of their interfaces and the company of musicians they keep. So, following up on the video that showed what it’s like getting a demo in a van from Koma, …

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komavan

Hands-on with Koma’s Analog Filter/Sequencer, Gate/Delay, in a Van, with Champagne

Koma’s stuff is good. Really good. So good, you might even want to watch a hands-on video where I’m juggling a camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. Their stompable, playable analog effects show well even in the back of a van circling Musikmesse. How I came to see this hardware in the van is a story in itself. The trade show gig works like this: you pay an enormous amount of money for some sort of trade membership, then an enormous amount of money for a booth, an enormous amount of money to staff …

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