If a DJ mixer could be anything you wanted, what would it be? That question isn’t actually that easy to answer. DJ mixers have a fairly defined set of functions, and not a lot of obvious room for variation. They have become more or less a commodity product as a result. And even as we’ve seen high-end mixers, those have tended to be simply a spendier version of the same commodity. So, maybe the news that Richie Hawtin was working on a new mixer, teased out over the past few months, didn’t interest you at first. But, having had a …
As part of a collaboration with Novation, we spoke with artists Shawn Rudiman and My Panda Shall Fly about how they’re working with Novation’s Circuit. Both artists got their hands on the updates to the Circuit hardware in advance – providing drag-and-drop sample loading and sample editing. They talk a bit about what that’s meant to them – and what they think about working with hardware in general.
In the age of the algorithm and overabundant streams, the mix might be more important than ever. Mixes can give us insights into tastemakers’ and producers’ imagination; they can be intimate and human at a time when so much of our music stream is faceless. But then, with so many mixes out there, who curates the curators? Meet a new feature on CDM, finding mixes across various genres. To kick off the series, CDM’s Zuzana Friday gives us her seasonal picks. The mixtape may have gone digital, but it’s no less relevant. -Ed.
Call it music for Internets. Brian Eno has a new album coming, and you can listen to 21 minutes of gently undulating sonic seas, a weary plodding deep melody bobbing atop it, in the stream of “The Ship.”
In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.
There are artists who are remembered for their cultural impact, for the power of their identities or their musical output. But David Bowie always struck me as one of those few larger-than-life personalities whose sheer force of productivity was staggering itself. From the tiniest details of a stage production to ground-breaking concepts in fashion to an exhaustive approach to studio work, Bowie was king of workaholics. He was a person who made, and made some more. If he had done so in total obscurity and you happened to unearth the output of his imagination, you would be staggered. And everything …
Once, weird instruments only made the rounds at exclusive academic conferences. Now, they go viral on Facebook. Such is the case with Collidoscope, the creation of a UK-based mixing and mastering service (out of London label Sunlightsquare Records) and Queen Mary researchers – Ben Bengler and Fiore Martin. It’s a massive tangible table-top interface to a granular instrument.
For many of us, there’s a special pleasure to seeing someone play live – and dancing to someone playing live. And by “live,” I don’t mean “a bunch of your tracks cued up as scenes in Ableton Live or on an Elektron.” I mean genuinely improvised. Electronic dance music naturally lends itself to on-the-spot creation. A rigid grid, easily-understood conventions around instrumentation and form, and the fact that styles like techno are built around machines all add up to natural experimentation.
If you’ve never heard of UK producer Powell, it’s maybe even more important that you watch this video now. There’s a lot I want to say, but I’d give away the ending. Let’s keep it to this: an adventurous electronic producer, making a raucously stuttering, intense, punk-digital record, talked to his rock idol Steve Albini. And something happened. What happened on email turned into a music video by director Guy Featherstone, and the results are pure poetry. Very large epilepsy warning: this video strobes sickeningly. But, if like us, you rather like that sort of thing, you may … enjoy …
Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power. We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.