Getting Intuitive with Machines: Inside the Music of Lando and Machinedrum

Getting closer to your machines shouldn’t mean getting further from the feelings that drive your work. That sense of instinct is what keeps music moving forward. How do you make that connection? How to you link your musical roots to the track you’re banging out in the studio today, that first intuitive inspiration to the end product? It’s nice to have artists like Machinedrum and Lando for some insight – even if you’re working in a different genre – as they have a terrific handle on the craft of channeling emotion into finished tracks. Odds are better that you know …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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Marcel Dettmann: When Sci-Fi Futurism and Continuity Meet, in Sound [Video]

Techno icon Marcel Dettmann has just released a second full-length. While associated with insistent-symmetrical dancefloor rhythms and phrases, it may be sound and timbre that are worth appreciating here. Dettmann did a wonderful interview for Electronic Beats (released in the summer, shot last winter, below). And the timing of that release makes it a perfect moment to listen to what he has to say. (You do have to get past a distracting faux film effect, an odd choice for the usually-tasteful video productions from EB.) Dettmann’s perspective: Techno “still is music for the future, it’s science fiction.” But to get …

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From Wires: Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Modular Music, Conversation with CDM, 12 Hours of Music

We make music through objects, whether instruments or machines. And so we have this relationship between our ideas and those objects, between our imagination and the imagination of the people who built them. Talking to Keith Fullerton Whitman about his suitcase of modular gear, then, wasn’t just geeking out. It was a chance to understand how he relates his music to those bits of gear, and the community of people who make them. (For another glimpse of that community, see our tour of a booth of a passionate distributor at Musikmesse.) Keith joined us at CTM Festival, Berlin, over the …

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Listen to Albums by Eloui, Lusine, Full of Electronic Craft and Great Songwriting

As electronic musicians craft songs in digital collage, the distinction between “producer” and “writer” has never really made much sense. Samples, synthetic sounds, and the technology used to bring them together are all an extension of compositional imagination. I’m reminded of this when I regularly explain what I do. (This is really fun in crowded, noisy bars.) “I run a site about … music and technology.” “Oh… what?” “Like the technology people use to make music.” [Insert dazed look.] “You know, if you hear music these days, it was all actually produced on computers? So I write about those tools. …

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Hands-on Live 9, with Robert Lippok: Producer Talks Process in Videos

Ableton visits the home studio of Berlin-based producer Robert Lippok (Raster Noton, To Rococo Rot). I’m a great fan of Robert’s work; to me, it’s full of musical imagination, and I like his reflective-but-free approach to his music. I had the fortune of interviewing Robert about iOS over the summer in front of the CDR Berlin crowd. (CDR is an excellent, multi-city event that puts production technique under the spotlight.) I know one of the things Robert probably wanted to talk about was the new stuff in Live 9. Now, he can – and it’s interesting to hear what moves …

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Phoebe in the studio. Photos for CDM courtesy the artist.

Listening, Behind the Scenes: Phoebe Kiddo, Traveling Through Earth and Space

The enchanting, carefully-handcrafted music of Phoebe Kiddo is yet another example of the wonders coming from under-the-radar digital artists in the production Renaissance now underway. We got to host Phoebe on our MusicMakers party last month in Berlin – full coverage of that show, with video, coming soon. Now, Phoebe tells CDM a bit about making music as a globe-trotting nomad, and how she works with monome live and in the studio. Phoebe’s music mixes taut beats and delicate, low-fidelity timbres with dense arrangements and spacey dubs. Her voice cuts dreamy melodic lines across introspective grooves that can then accelerate …

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Not Just Sampling, Studying: Frente Cumbiero and Maschine, 1.8 and Human Upgrades

Yes, the tools are better and shinier – but there is a method to what musicians are doing with them. Maschine 1.8 arrives today, a bit early, a free update. I looked at this release when we went hands-on with the updated software and new color hardware. Whether or not you get the new controller, it features a new transient follower and tube and tape saturation effects, improvements to pitch and time shift, and better file handling. You also get a free serial for NI’s Massive synth. This is a good thing. But let’s back up and talk about what …

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Weekend Listening: Kishi Bashi Shows the Simple, Elegant Art of Looping

For all the sophisticated synthesis and remix tools out there, for a lot of musicians, the best thing sound technology can do is just give them a way to record and play. Looping is a simple technique – it involves recording a snippet of sound, playing it back, and then adding layers. But used masterfully, it can become transformative, producing rhythms and layers and letting solo artists accompany themselves. “How do I get started looping?” is a question I hear from a lot of musicians, particularly those who are already expressive with their instruments and voice. There’s a technical answer …

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Tools and Music Production, as Explained Unwittingly by Chefs

The center of the macular portion of your eye is called the fovea; it’s the portion of your retina that most nearly represents what you’re looking at directly. I adopted from my father the phrase “thinking off the fovea.” It means tackling a problem not by focusing directly on it, but what’s at the periphery. And in any creative question, that can be a great tool for harnessing different ways of thinking. In music production, it’s doubly true: by necessity, working on music production can take large amounts of time and effort, and the more effort you spend, the further …

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