bowie_magicshopstudio

Remembering David Bowie’s legacy, in videos

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 …

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collidoscope

Collidoscope is a giant table-top granular instrument

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.

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liverig

14 videos to remind you why it’s fun to play techno live

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.

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Watch Powell’s genius, glitching music video made from email

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 …

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circuit hands on 3

Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

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.

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dirtmodule

Meet Eurorack modules with literal dirt, radiation, coded viruses

If you like dirt in your distortion, now you can have … literal dirt. Like, a big pile of Earth inside a Eurorack, conditioning an amplifier circuit and producing distortion. That kind of dirt. I don’t want to say that Eurorack buyers will now buy anything, but you be the judge: 40 buyers sold out the first run of the ERD/ERD “Earth Return Distortion” and filled up the wait list. (What I don’t know is whether anyone took the manufacturer up on the sale offer – send dirt from a cool place, get a discount.)

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soundcloudhq

As PRS battles SoundCloud, what does it mean for your own music?

PRS for Music, a UK performing rights organization, at the end of last month sued SoundCloud for copyright infringement on behalf of its members. The action may prove a decisive moment for the Berlin-based streaming service. It represents a collision between SoundCloud’s approach and the organizations involved in administering copyright, and more broadly, between the conventional models for sharing and monetizing music and those evolving on the Internet. I spoke to representatives from PRS and SoundCloud to try to get greater clarity. Those responses were naturally a bit guarded, as the two are actively engaged in legal action. However, there’s …

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A new ROLI instrument wants to make expressive control mainstream

We are all slaves to the piano. Two or three centuries after the instrument rose to dominance, and well over a half century after it became intertwined with the synthesizer (hello Minimoog!), it’s still something of a challenge to work out some alternative. And I love the piano. One of my great frustrations with some advocates of expressive new interfaces is their disregard for my favorite instrument. But let’s look at it this way: we’ve got beef. Beef is fantastic. We still really ought to have some chicken, some duck, and some vegan options. The formula for solving this in …

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Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code. You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

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silhouettes

Dreamy music videos take you under the sea, light painting in air

Floating Points – Silhouettes (official video) from floating points on Vimeo. Two videos for us today transport us to other imagined worlds. ‘Silhouettes’ from Floating Points is already lush and fantastic, synths crooning atop buttery strings and vocals, cinematic extravagance for a new generation. It’s sexy stuff. And for the video, Barcelona-based experimental filmmakers Pablo Barquín, Junior Martínez, Nathan Grimes, and Anna Diaz Ortuño make some optical fireworks in the form of some seriously sophisticated light painting. At one point in the video the camera pulls back on the rig, and you see that, while the process goes digital, it …

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