LegoTechno: Sliding Lego Blocks Make Music with littleBits, Maschine, Arduino

Keep watching: this LEGO sequencer, playing a littleBits synth kit, does something amazing. Sliding tiles around actually changes the sequence, all reading the blocks, in a terrific real-world, physical user interface. (Well, it certainly pleased the crowds at the Music Hack Day at SONAR in Barcelona.) And yes, this means the team we saw earlier keeps working on this. Intrepid hackers can use the just-barely-hidden Lua back-end of Maschine to do their own custom scripting. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the details:

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littleBits Synth Kit Will Add USB Audio, CV, and MIDI; See Snap-Together Modular Live in NYC

littleBits has already won over some synth enthusiasts with snap-together modules you can combine via magnets, and a collaboration with KORG. But until now, the open source gizmos have been largely a world unto themselves. You could route audio in and out, but that’s it; any expansion was dependent on buying more littleBits modules. Over the course of this year, that will change. Already, there’s a US$36 Arduino module, opening up custom-coded functionality and computer connectivity. And by the end of the year, littleBits will add three modules that make the Synth Kit into more of a synth (or controller, …

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BearAndSea

New Leaves: A Mix of 2013 Artists and Music to Inspire Your 2014

Ed.: If you, like those of us at CDM, find yourself again at the precipice of new musical possibilities, now is a wonderful time to get you bearings. It means as producers and music lovers that we try to find sounds not just to imitate or accept passively, but that can push us further. In German, there’s a wonderful New Year’s greeting that has no direct translation – “Guten Rutsch!” means literally a good “slide” into the new year. Matt Earp aka Kid Kameleon helps us navigate that slide, from the old to the new, that’s at the heart of …

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Grid Tricks: How Launchpad S Differs, Emulate Push with Launchpad, 11 Launchpad Display, More

Life on the grid gets better and better. Yes, these blinky, lighty arrays of squares do continue to proliferate. But musicians are also hacking away to make them more useful. And they do that with perhaps nothing as much as the Novation Launchpad, a kind of workhorse of the grid world. While one of the simpler grid controllers available, Novation’s hardware is also uniquely affordable – and uniquely rugged, standing up to plenty of abuse. Here, we get to see how the Launchpad S differs from the original, how both Launchpads can emulate Ableton’s flashy-new Push, and what happens when …

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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 Jiménez 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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Begone, Mouse: The Latest Upcoming Ableton Live Touch Controllers [Gallery]

The “live” in Ableton Live suggests making musical decisions in real time – not slowly with painstaking editing, stopping and editing and drawing, but as you listen and work. But while the onscreen interface is built around the mouse, and the precision of the mouse, focusing on those settings in performance, DJing, or studio work really wants something else. So, you have two choices. One is to use external physical control, like a conventional MIDI controller or the just-released Ableton Push. And that works very well for many people. Or, you can use a touchscreen. The advantages of the screen …

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Bhoreal Makes Grids Color, Open, Controls Robots and Lasers; Final Hours of Funding

BHOREAL gets ready from MID New Media Design on Vimeo. It’s been almost a decade since the monome first began making appearances. Now, grids are everywhere – and that raises the question, where will the next innovation come from? What’s exciting about Bhoreal is that, far from simply cloning the monome, it realizes potential frontiers that the original monome couldn’t. And as Bhoreal reaches the final hours of crowd funding, the last chance to be first in line for the first hardware, it’s performing a lot of tricks to show off. Think lasers and robots. See the video at top …

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From Spain, Abstract, Ambient Mix and Transcendent Images [Listen, Gallery]

If your ears and spirit need an ambient reboot, you could do worse than this gorgeous, abstract wash of sound pieced together from two wonderful Spanish artists. From bzzzbip, aka multimedia artist Antònia Folguera, and about:blank!, a photographer/filmmaker/artist, comes this project in sonic exchange. Antònia writes: About:Blank! and I exchanged songs via email and dropbox in order to put together an abstract ambient mixtape. When we were done with the selection I mixed the first half, and he did the other half. If it were an actual mixtape that would be side A and side B. this is the result. …

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Bhoreal: RGB Grid as Open Source Hardware – Kit or Ready-Made, Wired or Wireless

We are Bhoreal from MID New Media Design on Vimeo. Grids are suddenly everywhere – in music control, but also in visuals and art. And they’re lighting up in RGB. But Bhoreal promises to do some things other grids aren’t. Whereas the monome is a truly beautiful, handmade and rare object, its rarity – by design – means it’s hard to get. And readily-available commercial products aren’t open source, and while they fit certain needs elegantly, they’re designed to stick to those needs rather than allow easy modification. Bhoreal is this kind of blank-slate, do-anything colored grid you can turn …

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Reactable as Artist Instrument: On Mobile, Live, and Tangible

Milivingroom.com presenta Carles López-Reactable from Milivingroom on Vimeo. Can the Reactable be artistically meaningful, as well as technologically impressive? New performances, and new releases – interactive “label” releases for your iPad/iPhone and updated hardware for those of you wanting to try the whole experience yourself – might just answer that question. Listen to designers of futuristic musical devices talk about what they hope to create, and a common theme recurs again and again. They want to make musical instruments – something you’d practice, something for which there would be virtuosos and performances that would knock your socks off. It’s tough …

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