Fract, Synth Studio as Game, Looks Better, Sounds Better, Wants Your Vote [Video, Gallery]

Amidst its future-arcade, glowing 3D architecture, Fract is a game. In a broken-down “abstract world,” you are piecing together puzzles, reconstructing machinery. But Fract is also a synth studio, one that promises the ability to create your own synth instruments, design your own sounds, and eventually piece together your own music. If Tron let you imagine a fantasy inside the computer, Fract takes you inside your synth. It’s like getting sucked into Reason. (Damn, now I want to meet Thor and Redrum…) I called it Myst meets music making when we saw it last year. Since then, the Montreal-based indie …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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Discovering Analog, Visually: Meet the Oscillator, in Video Synths

Hearing synthesizers is great. But being able to hear and see – that’s another experience. And for all the renewed interest in analog modular synthesis for sound, a small but passionate scene is beginning to rekindle interest in visual analog synthesis. I find it inspiring even in how you might think about generative processes and synthesis in the software domain. And – well, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun to look at and use. In the latest example, we get to tour the basics of synthesis itself through video. If you’re new to this stuff, a promising …

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Tested: MS-20 Mini versus Original MS-20, in the Studio [Discussion, Audio, Photos]

MS-20 mini, on the left, next to the original, on the right. Photos: Peter Kirn and Benjamin Weiss for CDM and DE:BUG. It’s the news collectors of vintage synths on eBay probably didn’t want to hear. For $599, Korg has made a new MS-20 that the company says has “perfectly reproduced its circuitry” for an “authentic” sound. You can read our full review of the MS-20 mini, and watch a video, whether or not you’ve ever used the original. But if you are curious how a new MS-20 mini stacks up against the vintage MS-20, we hauled both into the …

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ipolysix1

Classic KORG Polysix, Reimagined for iPad, Becomes All-in-One Workstation

In designing for Apple’s mobiles, KORG has again turned to equipment from their past. Having reinterpreted the ElecTribe and MS-20, their newest target is the versatile, classic Polysix. The 1981 original brought programmable polyphony to keyboard lovers, with analog oscillators, memory storage, six-voice polyphony, and various effects and modulation. For iOS, Korg models that sound (having done so already with the desktop Legacy Collection), and mimics the front-panel. But even more so than on the DS-20 rendition (iMS-20), they pack in modern features that make this a production tool as much as a synthesizer. That should be welcome news for …

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Mission accomplished. Photo (CC-BY) Thoth God of Knowledge.

Create (Really) Analog Music: Music Video Made on Historic Edison Wax Cylinder

The miracle of recording is somehow no less extraordinary in this digital age – the ability to capture sound, the revolution that transformed music making worldwide, for better and for worse. In fact, if anything, the abundance of digital music is causing some people to rediscover the recording techniques that preceded it. Andy Deitrich of Chicago’s Mucca Pazza writes to share the experience of returning to that means of recording. I love the saturated quality of the sounds you get: it’s really evident how much the medium here colors the sound. Andy writes:

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Yep, this is about to get as awesome as you think it is. Time for some Belgian bots banging beats.

Shiny Robot-Jamming Gear Pr0n, Cassette Labels: The Future Is What It Used To Be [Awesome Video]

Disappointed our electronic music present didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to when it was still the future? Sad you didn’t get shiny, knob-laden synths, robot masks, blindingly-colorful lens flares, funky-crisp electro jams, and beloved music distributed on cassette? Well, you could sit around getting all wistful, or you could simply make that future happen. Belgian synth collective Chrome BrulĂ©e chose action over nostalgia, constructing the universe seen in glossy Roland and Sequential ads from Keyboard Magazine, circa 1983. And the music video they’ve produced is just the teaser: stay tuned for music on, of course, cassette tape. …

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Gotye to Queen to Radiohead, The Songs of Hard Drives, Robotics, and Retro Gear

Beyond the viral-ready novelty, listen to the serenades of defunct hard drives, flatbed scanners, and garage sale-rescue computers and you might just hear a sense of urgency. As the discs whir, the chips bleet, and the solenoids ping percussion, this chorus of obsolete electronics seems to plea, save us from landfill doom. The latest breakout hit from repurposed retro machines is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Here, it’s covered by a set of glockenspiel-playing solenoids and an HP ScanJet as the angst-ridden whine of the now-infamous vocals. An Amiga rounds out the band. Even the robotics can be …

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The Hive synth. Photo: Q.Smith, Yes Dear Ltd.

Of Bees and Oscillators: Bioni Samp’s EP Full of Eco-Influences, Homebrewed Gear [Listen, Gallery]

If electronic music sometimes seems to contain the secret dance language of insects, mysterious coded rhythms and swarms of sound, an EP released this summer by an English producer makes the connection explicit. Bioni Samp sends us his strange and wonderful sonic journey into the colony. In tunes alternately atmospheric and danceable, at least of the sort to which you might wiggle your thorax in a deep, dark hive, The Island uses every possible sonic resource. Artist Bioni Samp is a producer and video artist from Leeds, Yorkshire now living in London. He points CDM not only to these wonderful …

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clapbox

Vintage Clap Trap Synth, Now a Unitasker iOS App; I Love the 80s

Here’s an iOS app antidote to those desktop plug-ins that do everything, to elaborate virtual synths with eighteen separate modulation envelopes. It’s an app that just … makes clap sounds. And it brings your iPhone or iPad boldly into the 1980s. The handclap sound you hear in so much electronic music, particularly that originating from the 1980s, is none other than the Simmons Clap Trap. And soundware boutique / developer Puremagnetik, the folks who have built a reputation sampling classic instruments for the likes of Ableton, has emulated that tool on iOS. It’s certainly … specific. But that could make …

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