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Berlin warms up for techno and visuals in a Portuguese castle

Techno lineups don’t have to be scraped off of the top of DJ charts and Google searches. And visuals don’t have to look like a screensaver that got drunk. Festival Forte, set for the end of August at the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, between Porto and Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is a glimpse of something different. Already last year, it ran against the grain of dumbed down summer festivals with some of the bleeding edge of concert visuals, set to an exceptional lineup. And it appears to be set to do that again. So, let’s check in on what’s happening …

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reaktor

Reaktor Blocks works with modulars, Maschine, adds drums

Native Instruments keeps adding to Reaktor Blocks, the patch-and-play toolkit they’ve built atop Reaktor. And… it’s turning into kind of an awesome product in its own right. Reaktor Blocks 1.2 adds a bunch of the sort of stuff I think you or I would add to it were we in charge of the product. It’s suddenly got drums. It’s got a new sequencer that you can power with Maschine. It’s connecting via MIDI and CV to outboard gear and analog modular. In short, it’s something you actually want to play with.

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Shazam’s app matches your music to other songs

You’ve probably used Shazam. If you’re a dance music fan, you’ve probably even both used Shazam to get a track ID at a club and cursed someone else for using Shazam to get a track ID at a club. What surprisingly few people know, though, is that Shazam has desktop clients as well as the phone apps. And unlike the phone apps, these apps will lurk in the background listening to everything on your computer’s mic, and pops up a notification when it “hears” something it recognizes. This is presumably useful at those times you’ve sat at a coffee shop …

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Now you can practice getting into Berghain in your browser

Well, it’s official: viral online jokes about Berghain, Berlin’s club venue, occur with the same frequency as its Klubnacht. But this deserves some mention, in that it says perhaps less about Berghain as it does about Berlin’s culture of obsessive-compulsive technologists. Because this throwaway joke about getting into the club is actually a pretty impressive interactive video game.

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JIMMY EDGAR - DREAMZ COME TRUE

Quick listen – love the new Jimmy Edgar ULTRAMAJIC sound

In the dark, damp swamp that is the stream of dance music that press get in their inbox, Jimmy Edgar has consistently been a rainbow-colored lighthouse. Apart from the tropically-hued surrealist work of Pilar Zeta literally making that true, Jimmy has been an aesthetic compass at the helm of his ULTRAMAJIC label. Basically, stuff this label puts out is worth listening. (Ditto their label showcases… there’s a Friday morning I found myself at Panorama Bar when they were turning the lights on. Thursday is the new… oh never mind.) What I like about the latest direction is, you get pared-down …

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joey

Here are 3 epic performances on modular that aren’t noodling

We revere the modular synthesizers of the past, but that ignores important innovations both in how modules are designed and how people play. Apart from the fact that Eurorack is quite a lot slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than its predecessors, we have vastly expanded the range of what modules do in ways that lend themselves to live performances. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – a modular performance still involves a lot of pre-patching for people, and there’s clearly something to be said for computers and standalone gear. But that’s perhaps partly the point: the modular solution can stand …

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mattvideo

Premiere: Lose yourself in these cutting-edge modular productions

Twirling timbres of Tiptop titillate, tantalizingly… a modular synth maker has made its own music label, and to kick things off, CDM gets the premiere of a hypnotic music video. First, the music video, made for the compilation’s opening track by Matt Lange. It’s the work of director Nicola De Luca, and I have to admire its simplicity: an entrancing rotating blossom, sculpted in video in a series of horizontal delays and three-dimensional transformations. Description: The video is a metamorphosis of forms that investigates kinetic connections between the motions of rotation and material decontextualization of objects. It takes inspiration from …

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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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shreds

This amazing video proves that live techno is always better

So, today one of the Internet’s targeted millennial marketing conglomerate – cum – music press outlets decided to ask if anyone likes live techno sets as part of a series that could be titled “We Troll The Internet to Increase Click Revenue.” I really wanted to argue with the content of the article, but – well, it’s a bit too easy. Watch: you can’t even make it past the headline. Headline: “Has Anyone Ever Actually Enjoyed a Live Techno Set?” Some voice in the back of the room from a guy named Steve: “Uh, me. Once.” And we’re done. All …

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legoweltdrums

Legowelt turned Amiga floppy samples into a free drum kit

Enough with pristine, immaculate in-the-box digital production. Let’s get back to grime and dirt. Gorgeous distortion is on offer any time Legowelt is on a sound system live. So it’s great to see the same approach in a free sample pack. This is not a “Top Deep House Production Kit.” It’s samples Legowelt dragged off of old Amiga discs, cranked to be even more evil.

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