Michal at work.

Conversations in live techno from the Polish underground

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.

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Add a Free Softube Saturation Knob, Anywhere: Plug-in for Mac, Windows, or Reason

The Christmas gifts keep coming. On top of an excellent free NI delay, a free clap plug-in, and a free retro-inspired Max for Live drum machine, now you can add a free saturation effect – anywhere. Softube are making, simply put, some of the best amp and saturation models anywhere. I’m routinely using their stuff, as I’m sure many of you are, in Ableton and Propellerhead releases on top of dedicated Universal Audio UAD plug-ins. But having the convenience of a single saturation effect, with adjustable parameters, means you can create custom effect chains quickly. Toss some saturation on just …

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OS X Mavericks Compatibility with Music and Audio Software: Updates, Resources, Advice

The usual advice applies: if you’re thinking of rushing to update to a major new OS, and you’re a musician, take your time. That’s the advice for OS X Mavericks as it would be for any big update to OS X, Windows, Linux, and now even iOS. But with that disclaimer, OS X Mavericks is so far looking like an uncommonly smooth release. The impact of App Nap, a new power-saving feature, appears to be negligible. (Presumably, it isn’t getting aggressive with apps using the audio system. We’ll need to do more testing, and as always it’s worth keeping your …

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Propellerhead’s Thor Synth on iPad, Redesigned for Touch (And Why That’d Be Nice on PC)

Propellerhead Reason, imagining a virtual rack of gear inside the computer, wouldn’t be successful if the instruments it contained were lacking in personality. Producers like this package partly because of the feeling of using something distinctive. Thor is one of the favorite instruments from that package. Now, it’s more mobile and a lot more touchable. Thor already shows signs the Swedish developer has been learning from its past iOS outings. ReBirth, the techno studio-in-a-box that made the company famous, initially had a shaky launch on the iPhone. The tool, ported almost directly from desktop PCs, was cramped and uncomfortable to …

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Daft Presets? Reason 7 Effect is Instagram for Music; How to Use – or Misuse It – and Why [Video]

Propellerhead’s latest cheeky tutorial makes no apologies. Reason 7’s Audiomatic Retro Transformer is, they say, the equivalent of tapping a filter on a phone camera app like Instagram, bundling lots of different sound attributes together into a single push-button setting. Ironically, their example is a send-up of the distinctive sound of Daft Punk’s poppy, fuzzy disco – meaning, they’ve got a preset for the band that says the problem with computers is presets. (And to think, you didn’t need to pay for all that high-end studio time.) This seems likely to produce some controversy. In fact, I’d for some time …

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Reason 7’s New Tools for Slicing, Stretching, Retiming Audio: Q&A, Tutorial Vid

Far beyond the simple sampling that first appeared in hardware, slicing, re-timing, and stretching audio keeps getting more sophisticated, manipulating recorded sound in musical ways. But a lot of the popularity of this technique traces back to Propellerhead and their ReCycle tool. By bringing together smart digital slicing with its REX file format for loops, ReCycle helped launch the looping craze in software. REX support has always been part of Reason, since the start. But the way sound works in Reason has gradually evolved, particularly as Swedish developers Propellerhead made Reason into less of a rack of synths and more …

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Reason 7 Arrives: Slicing, External MIDI, More – And All Rack Extensions Work [Details, Videos]

Reason 7 is available now, in the full version, upgrades, and entry-level Essentials editions. You can download the new release right away – including, intelligently enough, as a torrent for downloads even if Reason users get overexcited. (Cough, Ableton. Hope you’re paying attention.) There are lots of improvements, but the banner features are clearly integrated slicing and external MIDI sequencing. Those features have been a long time coming. The ability to sequence external MIDI gear seems a no-brainer for a tool with so many great sequencing tools and robust MIDI input control support. And integrated audio slicing is, oddly enough, …

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When Reason Met MIDI Out: How MIDI, Virtual CV Work in the New Reason 7 [Pictures, Details]

It’s been a long time coming, to say the least. But you can be sure that even when Propellerhead do something as basic as MIDI output, they’ll do it in, well, a Reason way. So, it was intriguing to hear Reason was adding MIDI out precisely because in Reason it’s integrated with virtual patch cords and connections that make it work differently than in other hosts. And that means we wanted details. Propellerhead’s Leo Nathorst-Böös answers some of our questions, as CDM awaits the beta version. Most helpfully, we have some new images, so you can see better what’s going …

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Propellerhead Reason 7: External MIDI, Integrated Slicing Get Serious, Overdue Love [Preview]

Happy 2013, everyone! Here’s CDM with the latest news. It seems there’s a new synth called the Korg MS-20! Or you can have a monosynth with filter saturation – that arrangement of three oscillator knobs looks cool. All of these things use a ground-breaking format called MIDI that allows digital instruments to talk to one another. And you can even get software for your computer that now supports MIDI output. So, you can use your computer to talk to your synth – that is, if you aren’t busy taking advantage of the computer’s ability to slice up audio. In case …

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2 Heads, Good Habits: New Collabs from False Image, A Guy Called Gerald and a Wunderkind [Listen]

January may be the season of New Years’ Resolutions and detox routines. But rather than force yourself into promises you can’t keep, why not find a friend with whom you can form good habits together? It’s definitely working for two pairings in Berlin. After the apocalypse-obsessed December 2012, and some end-of-year music reviews that seemed nearly as pessimistic, there’s plenty of music and musicians to make you feel optimistic. And one of these two creative marriages gives us reason to wake up bleary-eyed Thursday morning: I love the idea of dedicating every Wednesday night to music making. Oscar Burnside, born …

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