Steve Reich’s exploration of rhythm and phase take on special meaning in the age of ubiquitous electronic instruments. What started with clapping, with pianos and marimbas, and tape loops doubles now as a way of thinking about machine rhythm, too. Hearing Reich on Game Boys here isn’t just a novelty. It feels like a real re-instrumentation – Wendy Carlos’ Switched on Bach approach for the Mario Bros. generation. Listen & watch (it’s all live):
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.
SX are the embodiment of just how dynamic DIY music can be. The Belgian duo, now in their second outing, make music that’s unmistakably pop, but with plenty of raw power humming under the hood. And Benjamin and Stefanie are fully invested in their collaboration in every last detail of production, from studio to music video to live. I wanted to talk to them primarily about how that creative process came together.
Call it music for Internets. Brian Eno has a new album coming, and you can listen to 21 minutes of gently undulating sonic seas, a weary plodding deep melody bobbing atop it, in the stream of “The Ship.”
Eat, Drink, Shop, Relax is the opposite of the mindless consumption suggested by the title. The new EP from Lucy is a sumptuously gorgeous electronic pleasure, one that literally grows out of meditation.
Techno is a thread in Europe that can bring people together, and be a lingua franca. That phenomenon can earn detractors and champions alike; the common currency threatens to devolve into sameness. But one thing I’ve found looking beyond centers like Berlin: there’s extraordinary talent on the horizon, answering to the beacon capital techno cities. If techno is giving people musical commonality, it’s also encouraging people to push their music such that they can extend beyond a hometown or home residency.
Enough with pristine, immaculate in-the-box digital production. Let’s get back to grime and dirt. Gorgeous distortion is on offer any time Legowelt is on a sound system live. So it’s great to see the same approach in a free sample pack. This is not a “Top Deep House Production Kit.” It’s samples Legowelt dragged off of old Amiga discs, cranked to be even more evil.
The piano has been living with a beautiful legacy, but that legacy can double as tyranny. The Steinway Model D, favorite instrument of mine that it is, has also frozen the technological development of the keyboard instrument. And that’s why the Una Corda is different. Built custom by David Klavins, and associated with that builder’s collaboration with pianist Nils Frahm, this lightweight piano is unlike any you’ve seen or heard before. And now, you can get a taste of playing the real thing with a software instrument.
I suspect many electronic music aficianados have the soundtrack for the film The Revenant on repeat who haven’t even seen the film. Any new Alva Noto/Ryuichi Sakamoto collaboration will get the attention of lovers of minimal electronic achievement, with good reason. And The Revenant might just be the perfect landscape for that collaboration. Its marathon portrait of bleakness and intense, lonely revenge make the film a platform for a perfect Alva Noto/Sakamoto score.
The path from past to future has become delightfully twisted in our modern age. Some of the best new technologies mix old techniques with new. They treat the computer and electronics not as a separate entity, but for its potential hybridization. And one great example of that is gamut inc, a project that explores instrumental-electronic interactions. Founders Marion Wörle and Maciej Sledziecki came to visit us at the MusicMakers Hacklab we’re hosting at CTM Festival in Berlin. And they brought the most extraordinary inventions along.