Digital Fireworks: A Very Audiovisual 4th of July from Nalepa + Johnny de Kam

For a very different aesthetic take on the United States’ Independence Day celebrations, here’s electronic producer Steve Nalepa joining visualist superstar Johnny de Kam for a collaboration. I find it makes for some nice, chilled-out Monday, July 4 inspiration, wherever you are – no marching-band bombast required. Nalepa has been sharing his Ableton skills with the Dubspot school, online and off, and Johnny de Kam, if you don’t know his work, is one of the leading visualists on the planet, a skilled craftsman of motion and live visual performance, as well as a founder of visual software maker Vidvox. See, …

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How’d Apple’s Cloud Do? Four Questions, Answered

Earlier today, as indie music advocates expressed concern over Apple’s iCloud today, I asked a set of questions about what I thought was relevant about these services. Those were questions not just for Apple, but any new “cloud” service. I don’t want to leave those questions dangling, now that we know more about Apple’s upcoming entry. So here are some answers, now that we have some data (though not, importantly, a shipping product).

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Eigenharp Covers Glass, and Software for Futuristic Instrument Goes Open and GPL

Speaking of futuristic instrumental design, the Eigenharp – an instrument that looks like the bassoon was redesigned by Vulcans – brings two big developments with its appearance this week in the Bay Area of California. First off, if you’ve doubted its utility in musical practice and you’re a fan of American minimalism, we’re treated to it covering the music of Philip Glass’ landmark Koyaanisqatsi. Geert Bevin, Eigenlabs’ Senior Software Developer, explains how he did it: I’m using SonicCouture’s Glass/Works Kontakt instrument in a four-part multi-timbral setup in Native Instruments Kontakt. Each key individually controls pitch, velocity and the resonance of …

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Sonically-Rich Compilation for Japan Could be One of the Best You Hear All Year, via Microscopics, More

Artist Mat Jarvis in the studio. Yes, his gear collection is enviable – but more importantly, so, too, is his sound. Courtesy the artist. Musical tastes are fickle and diverse – it’s actually the disagreement that makes musical freedom such fun. So I can only ever speak for myself. But ever pick up a compilation, hear a couple of previews, and think to yourself – yup, this one’s going to be on heavy rotation for the coming months. In an outpouring of love for one of our neighbors, everyone seems to have some sort of benefit for Japan. But Mat …

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Music from Numbers: An Eclectic, Free (CC) Compilation of Numbers Station-Inspired Tracks

Photo (CC-BY) Chris M, of a Very Large Array. Number stations, making their appearance in the post-war radio landscape, were shortwave radio stations of streams of symbols, mysterious to their listeners and apparently code. Here, the idea of lost and indecipherable broadcasts inspires a wonderfully-varied collection of reflective artists, in a free, Creative-Commons licensed compilation by PublicSpaces Lab. That Barcelona-based netlabel has been reliably curating some of the smartest, most forward-thinking music collections around. This time, the artists are impressive not only in their output but in their range of backgrounds and extra-musical sources of inspiration. [PS025] Various Artists – …

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A Beautiful Compilation from 40+ Artists Shows Support for Japan

In a more connected world, we begin to understand more profoundly the life we share on a planet that is both fragile and potentially destructive. I remember the sobering feeling of listening to radio reports from Haiti during NAMM last year. There are countless calls for support for Japan, and I hope that, as in any disaster, people do learn more about disaster response worldwide, since any one of us can wind up as its recipient. But without covering every single one of those calls for aid, CDM contributor Primus Luta brings one wonderful musical compilation you may want to …

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A Gorgeous Compilation Benefits Cancer Research; Co-Creator Explains

“Gem Drops” is a rich, varied compilation covering “experimental electronic hip-hop inspired” music, with artists such as Anenon, yuk., Juj, Devonwho, Shigeto, and Sumsun. The 21 tracks were selected by curator Aaron Meola. It’s the sixth release from the collective Dropping Gems, and 100% of revenue will go to the American Cancer Society. Pay what you want for the download; a “very limited” run of handmade CDs with artwork will go to people who donate US $15 or more. I spoke with Kris Geffen, aka citymouth [SoundCloud page], about the release they put together to find out more.

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We Love DJ Kool Herc: Free Compilation for the Father of Hip-Hop

Saturn Never Sleeps, the band and label, released a new free compilation late last night to send love and thanks to DJ Kool Herc, the pioneering Jamaican-born DJ who gave birth to the hip-hop age in the West Bronx, New York City. I’m honored to have been part of the compilation along with a broad range of artists: DaM-Funk, Damon Bennett, Dego, King Britt Presents Sylk 130, Ursula Rucker, Lushlife, ZIN, Hezekiah, Soul Litchfield, Illvibe Collective, Rucyl, Shigeto, Galapagoose (recently seen here on CDM sporting the monome software he co-created), Ras_G, Chuck Treece, Suzi Analogue, and Stef Eye King Britt, …

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The Artist on Your Playlist: James Blake’s Haunting Voice Owns the Internet

When I asked what albums readers were loving early in 2011, England-based James Blake’s full-length stood out in numerous reader comments. If you haven’t already seen him plugged on radio and online – and at least some of you haven’t yet – it’s a perfect time to check him out, with the full-length this week available for digital download even outside the UK. Blake made a name for himself in some astonishing EPs over 2010, with a haunting but fragile voice singing soulful melodies atop minimal percussion and warm, fuzzy keys in close-fingered voicings. Now, his full-length is here. If …

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At Music Hack Day, Amidst Listening Interfaces, Novel Performance Control a Winner

One top prize-winner: Stringer, which applied Kinect camera magic to simulated strings. More on how it was made below. Photo (CC-BY) Thomas Bonte. With Web data providers offering generous cash prizes and a strong emphasis on harnessing data to transform listening, music consumption took center stage at Music Hack Day’s debut in New York. But it was novel music controllers, the sort that once were commonplace only at academic music conferences, that stole the show. That suggests that whereas building the next MySpace was once the hot music tech, the future might look more like a race to build the …

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