A Live 9 That Works Better, and Better in the Dark, Finally Here [Plus More Skins]

Community service announcement! If you play or care about the guitar, skip past this story to the one immediately thereafter, using scrolling! (suggested by readership feedback) A new Live 9 with bug fixes, improvements, and a Disco skin ideal for use in low-light situations. No, not like that other time when we said it was and then it was promptly pulled. This time, for real – as in, I just downloaded it. What you can’t see is what matters: badly-needed reliability fixes should address performance and stability complaints we were hearing from Live 9 users. There’s no way to picture …

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FL Studio 11: Play it with Touch and Everything and Everywhere, Live or Editing

FL Studio 11 has arrived, hot on the heels of an impressive FL Studio Mobile release. The folks at Image Line have been intensely busy, but what strikes me is that you can now play FL Studio using almost anything, on almost any device. The Mobile version works on Android and touch Windows devices, not just iOS, when most folks target only Apple. And the upgrade to FL Studio 11 is similarly flexible. There’s a clip-triggering performance mode, which already supports a range of input methods: “mouse, touch screen, typing keyboard or MIDI controller. Supports APC20/40, Launchpad, Lemur, Block, Maschine/Mikro, …

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Voice as Surface and Artifact, in the Experimental Drone Music of Jelena Glazova [Listen]

Experimental noise art, drone music, and other forms – whatever you might call them – can unquestionably be an acquired taste. Absent the normal landmarks of harmonic and rhythmic structure, they raise questions about just what makes form – and accordingly, as a listener you can be lost in a unpleasantly-formless mass. But in the music of Latvian sound artist and poet Jelena Glazova, as in the experimental sound I find most appealing, the experience is not cerebral so much as sensual. There is a conceptual background, but perhaps that’s what sound does so well: it can execute a concept …

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In Drawings, A Producer Looks at Big Acts’ Live Laptop Rigs, Deadmau5 to FlyLo

In a charming set of schematic doodles, self-described hip-hop producer deejers has assembled an exquisitely-researched compendium of live laptop rigs from top music acts. In the lineup: Flying Lotus, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Daft Punk – a reasonable sampling of artists playing big shows live on the US circuit. And, oh, yes, deadmau5, who despite claiming that everyone just presses play, has put together a fairly impressive controller setup with monome, Maschine, Lemur, and Pioneer EFX-1000. (Just one of those four controllers could let you assemble a track from scratch, let alone all four.)

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Sound from Silos: Live Experimental Audiovisuals Rumble a Man-made Cave [Watch, Listen]

Electronic music, once the exclusive domain of secluded art laboratories, has now made the connection to clubs inseparable. The rhythms of dance music draw a line from popular to research; the software and gear marketed for dance musicians cross-pollinating with more experimental tools, as music styles, textures, and timbres mix, as well. But now, finding a way out of that club context and its restrictions may be as vital as the emergence from the lab years ago. Making connections between Argentina and Germany, across an international collective of audiovisual artists, FxLD’s latest project invades a disused grain silo in Berlin. …

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Good Reading: Matmos, In the Studio, In and Out of Boxes, with XLR8R and Ableton

Now with the release of The Marriage of True Minds, the duo’s album based on parapsychological telepathy experiments, it’s worth visiting again with Matmos. The Baltimore-based duo offer dueling interviews. One, with XLR8R, ventures into their basement full of sonic wonders, full of handmade instruments and electronics and oddities, like wooden creations built around contact mics and some thing covered with knobs called The Polygamist. (And yes, there’s really no excuse for using generic sounds for the components of a song when the world of sound is so wide.) Of the two, it’s Drew Daniel (PhD!) who seems more comfortable …

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Can make the biggest acts' live shows tick - but can also rock a live performance like she's just landed from a flying saucer. Check. Laura Escudé, achieving superhuman levels of music-technological knowhow, can still share what she's learned with us Earthlings.

Live Music Tools at the Bleeding Edge: Laura Escudé, From Herbie Hancock Collabs to Solo (Live Berlin, Sat)

It’s one thing to talk about tools. It’s quite another to put them into action, to make them withstand the rigors of creative process and idiosyncracy, let alone the torture test of touring. Laura Escudé is as deep in the trenches, on a day-to-day basis, as just about anyone on the planet. The music tech guru has worked with some of the world’s best-known artists, bending technology to their imaginative desires and world-trotting live shows. (Think Herbie Hancock, Bon Iver, and Cirque du Soleil, among others.) But she’s still found time to develop her own, unique sonic voice and live …

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Mostly Robot, Behind the Scenes: When Electronic Masters Form a Band [Video, Panel Audio]

It began as a way to demonstrate Native Instruments technology. But watch the video above of Mostly Robot, and you’ll see what happens when some well-loved solo electronic stars work to form a band. This isn’t just about some cool toys: it’s about really playing electronics as an instrument. And as the Internet debates what it means to play, they ask a question that could be even more important: what does it mean to play together? Mostly Robot is an “all-star band” made up of some really amazing people. Jamie Lidell is known as the Warp artist who has gone …

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Insane Colors, Touch, Knobs: Ander’s Crazy Custom Live Controller, and Some New Music

What if software could leap off the screen, transforming into physical form? Ander’s custom controller for live performance looks like just that. An epic array of candy-colored buttons, with a dizzying arrangement of knobs atop it, it’s the opposite of what many live performances these days can be. Rather than a spectacle that distracts from the live performance, it is a spectacle that embodies the performance – not only Ander’s physical gestures, but the way he conceives his music. By making all of his set touchable – even though that involves a lot of advance preparation – the performance it …

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Playing Live, Dangerously: Mouse on Mars as Augmented Band [Video]

When it comes to live performance, this might be the year of living dangerously. There’s not one answer to the question of how to play live, but as we consider the possibilities – and the risks of playing live – Mouse on Mars is one terrific case study. Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma are joined by drummer/vocalist Dodo Nkishi. Since part of their setup is playing live as in Ableton Live, Ableton shot a video mini-documentary of their performance rig earlier this year. It’s an intensive setup, but you might just glean some ideas for how you play live. …

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