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Egyptrixx x A N F: Audiovisuals as Surface, Texture, and Trip to Alien Volcanoes

It’s real, and yet, it isn’t. It’s the sound of percussion, but it resonates in an otherworldly way. It’s the flaming, blood-red surface of a volcano, but it’s melting before us. Some of the most evocative digital works walk this line, transport us to a place our brains can accept, yet not entirely believe, universes just past the reaches of our imagination. And so the collaboration between Egyptrixx (Toronto’s David Psutka) and A N F (Berlin visualist Andreas Nicolas Fischer) congeals around the notion of texture and surface. In generated geometries, globs of interplanetary resin, space insect innards about to …

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Music and Performance, Made On The Spot: Hacklab, Open Call in Berlin

Inventing technological hacks in short time is one thing. At CTM Festival in Berlin, we want to push collaborative participants to go further. First, invent the technology for performance. Then, invent the performance – and be ready to perform publicly – and it do it all in just one week. It’s time again to join a MusicMakers Hacklab. Last year was the first week-long event hosted with CDM, and the first at CTM Festival. CTM makes a perfect venue, a brilliant and packed showcase for adventurous sound (and in parallel with another digital media fest, Transmediale, in the same city …

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Palette Snaps Together Controls for Music, Creative Software

It seems everyone is thinking in LEGO these days. There’s littleBits, which snaps together analog components with magnetic connections. There’s Patchblocks, which connects digital modules you can then re-program onscreen. And now, there’s Palette, a set of controller blocks that snap together and connect via USB. It gives you knobs, sliders, and X/Y controls for manipulating any software – from music to apps. The crowd-funded project looks smart in both hardware and software design. And software easily extends what it can do – whether you’re playing a DJ set in Traktor or editing graphics in Photoshop. (Smart segues between those …

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iOS 7 is Here; Now, Please Don’t Install It Yet

We’ve been waiting for the moment at which a post-PC, mobile operating system has equaled a desktop OS for serious music making. Well, that moment has arrived — — in that we get to release a dire warning about an OS update breaking music-making apps. Yes, now iOS 7 shares that dubious distinction of countless OS X and Windows upgrades over the years. (Sniff. They grow up so fast.) It’s not a coincidence. Once you do start using a variety of music apps on a platform, you need to be more careful about OS updates – any OS updates. Music …

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Erika: Musical Restraint, Space, Future, BBSes, Detroit [Interview]

From being a long-time mainstay of the Detroit scene to, at last, debuting a proper solo LP with Hexagon Cloud, the one word that can sum up Erika for me is, simply, “inspiring.” And if Hexagon Cloud’s perfectly-calibrated analog sounds and imaginative musical frequencies indulge our futuristic sonic fantasies, here we get the chance to talk to Erika a bit about what lies beyond musical parameters, too. That ranges from Detroit (past the fetishization of ruined buildings, please) to the liberation of early-90s BBSing to the appeal of outer space. You can listen to Erika’s work and revisit some reflections …

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Deconstructed Dance Floor: EVOL’s Strange Experiments with Light, Sound, and Acid

For all the years of “classical” electronic music performance from academia, the experience of entering a club or dance music program can be awfully avant garde and surreal. There’s a barrage of sensory input – flashing lights, strange, repetitive sounds. The Spanish/British duo Roc JimĂ©nez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp, aka EVOL, have taken that feeling to its extreme. And the results are weird, wonderful fun. (The two play Berlin Thursday night at N.K. on a diverse program including Chris Douglas and Bill Kouligas; N.K. is one of Europe’s most consistent venues for electronic experimentalism, and somehow will keep feeding …

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Why Mobile Low-Latency is Hard, Explained by Google; Galaxy Nexus Still Musicians’ Android of Choice

Saying your device isn’t as responsive to sound as you’d want is a bit like saying you’re feeling sick to your stomach. The symptom is easy to describe, and everyone would agree it’s not a desirable state. But the fix can be rather complex. And when it comes to engineers who care about music and sound, experiencing latency – or its equally evil mirror cousin, crackles-and-pops – will make you sick to your stomach. Google I believe is deserving of some criticism over this issue. Years of subsequent updates saw the company largely silent or unresponsive about critical audio issues. …

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Pro Tools 11 Boosts Performance, Video; USB Interfaces Add iOS Support; AVID Uncertainties Remain

Avid has announced Pro Tools 11, the latest version of their flagship DAW. There are no whiz-bang features in this upgrade; instead, it seems Avid was solely focused on performance. Those improvements look promising; real-world performance is one of those things that makes the biggest difference in day-in, day-out use. The engine rewrite is joined here by top-of-class video integration, benefiting from Pro Tools’ sister products in video at Avid. These still will do little to sway users of other DAWs, but that’s not new. What is new is seeing a Pro Tools upgrade overshadowed by uncertainty about its developer. …

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Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …

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What Does it Mean to Be an Electronic Instrument?

The electronic music analog to visual media’s question “is it art?” is clear. “Is it really a musical instrument?” Ableton will this week officially launch its Push hardware with Live 9; we’ll have an online exclusive review alongside that release. I know that the company is fond of calling it an “instrument.” For a profile by the German-language magazine De:Bug, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles even posed with a double bass, the Push set up alongside. The message was clear: Ableton wants you to think of Push as an instrument. We’ll revisit that question regarding Push, but this isn’t only important …

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