Technics turntables return, but for DJs or aging audiophiles?

Panasonic, the company that still owns the Technics name, is engineering what it says is an all-new direct drive turntable. And it certainly looks beautiful. Looks are all we get, as a prototype shown at Berlin’s IFA electronics show is just a futuristic aluminum slab with a platter on it. But as far as aesthetics, the company isn’t messing around: this thing looks like something you’d find in the listening lounge of a flying saucer. Also interesting: just as Pioneer has done with their (excellent, by the way) new turntables, with the Technics model there’s a whole lot of new …

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recuejam

The Joy of Little Boxes, and Lovely Music by Recue x Jolea

From small boxes, big sound, and enormous fun… Something has happened in the evolution of electronic music production. What was once so often a slow process has become a jam, what was carefully orchestrated on screens finds itself embodied in gear. And small and affordable “toys” can often deliver the greatest “switch-on-and-play” satisfaction. Helsinki’s Recue and Jolea first found their way to their album by playing live, so it’s fitting we start with a live set from them. Their fusion is beat-driven, left-field pop – settling into moody, experimental grooves with effortless hooks over top. It’s melancholy surfaces with sparkling …

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vinylize

Can QRATES Make Vinyl Pressing More Accessible?

Talk all you like about the “feeling” of something physical, something tangible, about having a real object, about ownership. There’s a cold reality behind selling physical goods: it’s hard. Before you can sell something, you need money to buy the physical stuff you want to sell. Digital “solves” that by making the good intangible, but in the material world, you need materials. Before “capitalism” came to mean some complex international system of speculative markets, this, of course, was what we meant: you got some capital to start a business selling stuff. Then, once you have that stuff, you better hope …

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verbatim

If Record Store Day is Dead, Maybe We Can Celebrate Music

Record Store Day has come and gone over the weekend. But 2015 will surely be remembered as a year in which Record Store Day did less to increase the visibility of vinyl records so much as to increase the visibility of how much everyone has grown to hate Record Store Day. And that seems it’s time for a post mortem – and a call to action. I watched closely the reports from this weekend, just to see if there was anything positive – and there was. For every Foo Fighters (Grohl was this year’s ambassador, weirdly), there’s something with more …

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nilsstudio_Alexander Schneider_06

Hear Beautiful, Melancholy Christmas Mixes from Nils Frahm

Nils Frahm is a gem in music right now, a sensitive and reflective voice. And infused into everything he does is an unwavering sense of taste. If you’re feeling the weight of the endless rotation of overplayed saccarine-sweet Christmas tunes, Nils can cure what ails you. For the second year in a row, he’s released an achingly mellow mix of favorites he’s dusted off from his vinyl collection. Curl up under the crackling analog fuzz of those records and settle in. Each has obvious touchstones of piano inspiration; last year’s he described as “your mobile campfire.” We have this year’s …

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Vinyl’s Resurgence Thanks to Indie Stores, DJs – And It’s Growing

For years, pundits have wondered what physical form would accompany the ephemeral nothingness of digital downloads. Maybe it would be USB sticks, or t-shirts, or big coffee table books, or strange sculptural totems, or USB sticks shaped like cassette tapes. Funny story. What if it turned out just to be the vinyl record? What if vinyl, reborn, really is what today’s digital music scene looks like in tangible form? The counter-narrative, domain of the naysaying cynic, is that the vinyl record is an ill-conceived throwback, a punchline to the joke of valueless music. Vinyl as hipster parody, as Portlandia sketch, …

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rodhad

Dystopian Bearded Techno: Watch, Listen to Rødhåd Play and Talk Music [Listening]

The phenomenon of techno’s growth right now can’t even be confined to one corner of Berlin. Rødhåd and Dystopian Records demonstrate not only the uncontainable nature of their own particular brand of shadowy dance creations, but perhaps this folk quality of electronically-produced music generally. And if you happen to like that flavor, we have quite a lot of media for you to gobble up. Dubby, dark, and distant, it’s all as always perfectly constructed, reserved in its trajectory as it builds energy. I suppose it’s predictable that getting Berghain’s stamp of approval brought Rødhåd to an international audience, but it’s …

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Listen to This: Mute Speaker’s Jong Wuk Charity Album, Available on Liquid Noise

Enough gear. Let’s get some music to hear. From the UK to Cambodia, Rob O’Hara is making beautifully-crafted music we never want to miss. So a new record is absolutely time for attention – and time to bring in our friend and regular columnist Matt Earp, aka Kid Kameleon, to give a listen. I’ve written about Rob O’Hara before for CDM, about this time last year – he’s mega-talented and makes excellent, no-frills hip-hop head-nodders under the name Mute Speaker. All his tunes just kick and punch and spin in all the right ways. You can grab most of his …

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Pioneer, The Company That Made CDJ a Hit, Teases a Turntable

The vinyl comeback couldn’t hit much more of a high note than this: it seems Pioneer, the company that popularized digital DJing and CDJs, is building phonographs. Pioneer isn’t saying anything about the hardware that’s under plexiglass at Musikmesse, only that it’s a concept prototype. But they hardly need to. The hardware looks like someone took the most popular DJ turntable of all time, the legendary Technics SL-1200, painted it black, and re-lettered it with Pioneer markings. I don’t think they literally did that, though it almost doesn’t matter; the effect is unreal, like entering a bizarro universe where Pioneer …

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submerged

Submerged Turntables, Art Phonographs Underwater, and Life After Records

Submerged Turntable from Brian Lilla on Vimeo. Once upon a time, Romantics dreamt of ruined architecture, rubble and stones on hillsides and whatnot. Today, we imagine ruined technology as our artifacts of culture lost. We don’t need a burning library of Alexandria. We can wait until our machines go out of warranty and go kaput. That subconscious seems to flow in the literally-murky pool of “Submerged Turntables,” an art installation by Evan Holm. But the results are oddly beautiful, making the physical quality of the record enduring. And here’s the upbeat bit: in those dark waters, the record still plays. …

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