machine quotidienne


Sound check: here’s TM404’s hybrid hardware set from Loveland at ADE

If there’s one thing that can bring more feeling and humanity to club music, it’s improvisation. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to meet people like TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander of Sweden.

Andreas’ latest antics included opening up for Richie Hawtin at Loveland at this week’s Amsterdam Dance Event. That’s a regular gig for TM404, playing alongside Rich – and a reminder that you need not underestimate mainstream club audiences. They can enjoy a diet of adventurous dance music, too.

And what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable two hours, one that starts easy and hypnotic and dials up to some energetic disco exercise in no time at all – all thickly acid coated. It manages to stay spacey and dreamy but it’s never without groove, never sleepy. Listen:

As for the gear used:

If you are playing a bill alongside Richie Hawtin, of course you want the PLAYdifferently Model1 mixer to mess about with, too.

Beyond that, this is of course acid-centric fare. Masking tape-marked 303s are front and center. There are also starring roles for the Elektron Analog Rytm and Octatrack. In effects, you get the KORG KAOSS Pad Quad, plus the usual Eventide goodness.

Here’s a nice view of the gear lineup from sound check:

Maybe the most unique gear is the Pearl Syncussion SY-1, a vintage percussion synthesizer, which Andreas uses for improvised melodies. Here’s a closer look at that original gear from a YouTube tryout (not Andreas’):

Here, Andreas is using the DIY recreation of the Syncussion – a new project from this summer:

Full gear list, roll call:

Elektron Octatrack
Elektron Analog Rytm
Roland TB-303 (two)
Roland TR-606
DIY Syncussion
Teenage Engineering OP-1
Eventide H9
Digitech Polara
Korg KP Quad
Boss BX-4
Everything went thru the PLAYdifferently Model1

Thanks, Andreas, for this one.

Tilliander on Facebook

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Comparing all the 303 recreations to each other and the original

Someday, I’ll realize my dream of gathering ethnomusicologists and neuroscientists and engineers and we can finally sit down and work out why it is that the 303 is so damned pleasing. In the meantime, we can obsess over the nuances of different 303 recreations.

Kudos to ADSRsounds for putting that together. They not only compare the original Roland box to the new TB-03 and AIRA TB-3 renditions, but also the analog clone TT-303.

These sorts of comparisons are ultimately subject to your own bias as you watch. But there’s still a lot to glean.

The first video is interesting. The knobs closed test for whatever reason seems to be a punishing test for emulation; I’d heard some die-hard 303 users complain that Roland hadn’t quite gotten it right.

But there are a number of interesting details here. I think you can at least hear the improvements between the TB-3 and the TB-03; the move is generally toward closer accuracy. Also, I think the TT-303 performs pretty poorly as a direct clone – for all the complaints about digital emulation, it seems to do a fairly effective job of recreating the original. That’s not a dig at the TT-303 — on the contrary, it suggests that this “clone” has a little bit of its own character, which might be desirable.

The key is, watch to the end. I think there’s a marginal improvement in sound on the TB-03 over the AIRA TB-3 – on sound alone, I’d choose that.

But generally, you’d be okay with any of these four. The original TB-303 might be something you have a special personal relationship with. But in the music, any one of them works. This is really about what these mean for the music.

That means I think the choice is really down to usability and price (particularly if you find a TT-303 or AIRA TB-3 used deal).

The AIRA is still a great buy, and worth choosing if you like its clever touch note programming. Personally, I would much rather have the direct synth parameter control on the TB-03. The less-clever part of the touch interface was that Roland decided per-preset what parameters you’d control, rather than giving you dedicated knobs for everything. But… that’s if it was an even choice. If someone were, say, parting with an old TB-3 at a good price and I were on a budget, I might well go that way.

The TB-03 meanwhile has a lot going for it in its connectivity, dedicated controls, and compact size.

In other words: stop worrying and go make some acid.


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Watch an amazing unboxing and jam with MeeBlip triode

Working in the synth business is basically one of the most fun things you can do. So in addition to the pleasure of getting reports from owners, we wake to total surprises like this video from Olivier Ozoux, who has made a terrific stop motion unboxing video and live jam with the synth.

MeeBlip joins the Korg electribe sampler and Squarp Pyramid sequencer for a rather fine all-hardware setup. You watch the triode emerge from its box, where it’s been hand-packed by MeeBlip creator James Grahame, then dive into the jam. (He manages to make the resonance sound like an extra percussion part at one moment.)

Wait for it – around 1:13 the sub kicks in. I do this for a living and I still get irrational glee out of bass.

The second batch of MeeBlips triode are about to hit assembly and shipping now.

I hadn’t seen Olivier’s series, and now realize it’s full of charming videos like this. Subscribed – for real.

For instance, speaking of open source hardware, here’s a film of the PreenFM2, assembled into a gorgeous, futuristic white 3d-printed case:

Subscribe to his Musique Électronique on YouTube

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PiDeck makes a USB stick into a free DJ player, with turntables

There’s something counterintuitive about it, right? Plug a USB stick into a giant digital player alongside turntables. Or plug the turntables into a computer. What if the USB stick … was the actual player? In the age of rapid miniaturization, why hasn’t this happened yet?

Well, thanks to an open source project, it has happened (very nearly, anyway). It’s called PiDeck. And it radically reduces the amount of gear you need. You’ll still need an audio interface with phono input to connect the turntable, plus the (very small, very cheap) Raspberry Pi. But that’s just about it.

Connect your handheld computer into a turntable, add a control vinyl, and you’re ready to go. So your entire rig is only slightly larger than the size of two records and some gear the size of your two hands.

You have a rock-solid, Linux-based, ultra-portable rig, a minimum of fuss, essentially no space taken up in the booth – this all makes digital vinyl cool again.

It works with USB sticks (even after you yank them out):

And you can scratch:

Their recommended gear (touchscreens these days can be really compact, too)

  • A recent Raspberry Pi (only Pi 3 model B tested so far) and power supply. First generation Raspberry Pi’s are not supported, sorry
  • Touchscreen (single-touch is enough), or a HDMI monitor and keyboard
  • Stereo, full-duplex I2S or USB soundcard with a phono input stage, or line input and an external pre-amp, soundcard must be supported by ALSA
  • Micro SD card for the software, at least 2GB in size, and an adaptor to flash it with
  • Control vinyl, Serato CV02 pressing or later recommended
  • USB stick containing your favourite music. FLAC format is recommended (16-bit 44100Hz format tested)
  • Non-automatic record player that can hold speed, with a clean, sharp stylus. It helps scratching if the headshell and arm are adjusted correctly
  • Slipmat, made from felt or neoprene
  • Sheet of wax paper from the kitchen drawer, to go under the slipmat

Previously from this same crew (more just a fun proof of concept / weird way of DJing!):

This is how to DJ with a 7? tablet and an NES controller

Check out the project site:

And you can download this now – for free.



Developer Daniel James writes us with more details on what this whole thing is about:

Chris (in cc) and I have been working on the project in spare time for a couple of months, here on the Isle of Wight. Chris built the hardware prototype and did most of the work on the custom Debian distro.

The idea behind the PiDeck project is to combine the digital convenience of a USB stick with the hands-on usability of the classic turntable, in a way which is affordable and accessible. The parts cost (at retail) for each PiDeck device is currently about £150, not including a case or control vinyl. There is no soldering to do; the hardware screws and clips together.

I used to run DJ workshops for young people, and found that while the kids were really happy to get their hands on the decks, a lot of them were put off by having to use the laptop as well, especially the younger kids and the girls. The teenage boys would tend to crowd around the laptop and take over.

Then there’s the performance aspect of real turntables which some digital controllers lack, and the sneaking suspicion that the computer is really doing the mixing, or worse still, just running through a
playlist. PiDeck doesn’t have any mixing, sync or playlist features, so the DJ can take full credit (or blame) for the sound of the mix.

We’ve deliberately put no configurable options in the interface, and there are no personal files stored on the device. This helps ensure the PiDeck becomes part of the turntable and not unique, in the way that a laptop and its data is. This makes the PiDeck easier to share with other DJs, so that there should be no downtime between sets, and should make it easier for up-and-coming DJs to get a turn on the equipment. If a PiDeck breaks, it would be possible to swap it out for another PiDeck device and carry right on.

Although the DJ doesn’t have any settings to deal with, the software is open source and fully hackable, so we’re hoping that a community will emerge and do interesting things with the project. For example, multiple PiDeck devices could be networked together, or used to control some other system via the turntable.

Yeah – this could change a lot. It’s not just a nerdy proof of concept: it could make turntablism way more fun.

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The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future

What would your future clone think of you now, looking back across an apocalyptic reshaping of humanity? That’s the question posed by the 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island, and it resonates in Franz Kirmann’s new album Elysian Park.

This might sound bleak, but it isn’t. Kirmann’s new record paints a science fiction sound portrait in dense textures and hyperreal washes of color. There are stuttering and spectacular rhythms making bold shuffles across the music. It’s headphone stuff for sonic dreaming, relentlessly futuristic and endlessly engaging. It’s a world you’ll want to enter and reenter, an addictive time warp. There are occasional nods to the fragmentary remains of our media-saturated present, calls of machinery (or are those surviving seagulls?) clicks and cuts of radio and even, I’m told, Simon and Garfkunkel digitally warped beyond recognition.

To give you some small taste, for me the boldest single gesture comes in “Hypertrance” (a fitting name for the whole album). And so we get to premiere that exclusively on CDM.

Based in London, but originally French (yes, he read that book in its original language), Kirmann has now completed his third solo album. This is his second for Denovali Records, the German label. But for me, it reaches another creative level.

I don’t want to overstate the book reference, but for me the frame is perfect, and it’s irresistible fodder for closing your eyes and imagining fanciful future worlds. It’s also telling, though, that the original material came from a sound installation. “Hyper Trophies,” mounted in Berlin with visualists ZEITGUISED, was described as “moving still portrait sculpture.” It involved Kirmann’s sound for the fashion label Franzius and production company ProdCo Stink. An that clearly formed the original source material, the DNA, and the guiding spirit of what we hear now.

Hyper Trophies – "QRQQQQZZZZCKQQQ" from ZEITGUISED on Vimeo.

(more and more)

Techno was once science fiction, if now it sometimes seems laden with baggage either nostalgic or goth. But this is something different. So I got a chance to talk to Franz about how it was made and why.


CDM: Let’s talk about Hyper Trophies. What stage was the visual at when you came in on the musical side? Do you find you work differently when there’s a visual inspiration in a commission like this? (Or do you tend to imagine visuals on your own with music?)

Franz: All the clips were completely finished when they asked me to do the sound design.

And yes, it totally influences the sounds and the music when I have visuals to work towards. And also there is a brief — we talked a lot with Zeitguised about the sound world, what they were imagining. It had to be quite minimal, sparse and give a sense of a physical space. In the clips, the people and clothes are real, but the environment is digitally created. I wanted to reflect that mix of artificial and real, so I used my own voice and speech processors as well as noise of my saliva, organic things like this…

But when it comes to my own music, I don’t really have precise visuals, but more ideas, loose directions and a feel. It’s not super precise, but more instinctive.

I want to touch as well on the influence from The Possibility of an Island. I mean, with something this evocative sonically, it’s really beautiful to have a programmatic layer there, whether people choose to refer to it or not. What was the point were you decided that you wanted to go there? Did you flip a page of the book and say, “I need to make an album out of this”?

Not really, no. And yes you’re right, it’s important that people have the freedom to follow that narrative or not. It’s actually quite important to me that the music has enough ambiguity for people to put their own feelings / thoughts into it.

I read The Possibility of an Island” a while ago, a few years before I started putting the recordings together. But it stayed in my mind. I found it so relevant to so many things I was observing about society, people, and media. So I think it found its way naturally in the music. And then I realised that the music was about the book! Or more precisely some aspects of it. And then I read it again to be sure.

I was very interested in the central idea of the book, human clones looking back at us from a post-apocalyptical distant future, and the portrait of a selfish, success-driven society.

It made me think about music… I was thinking what would people think hundred of years from now when they listen back to some of the music we produced at the dawn of the 21st century, what will it say about our civilisation. And the answer is quite similar to Houellebecq’s, it’s a pretty sordid portrait of our world, if you think about it. A lot of today’s relevant music deals with chaos and noise and fear and amongst that searches for some kind of kindness, tenderness, or beauty. Most modern music is pretty confused, actually and also sometimes pretty happy with itself — comfortable. It’s quite telling of our times. And I found most of mainstream chart music quite frightening, to be honest. It’s like Disneyland, you know? No alarm, no surprises… everything the same.

But there was no big moment where I went: “my album is about the book”; it’s more a spiritual influence. A certain vision of the world.

How narrative is that programmatic element? Did it structure the tracks?

No, it didn’t really structure the tracks, but the overall arc of the book I suppose had an impact on the sequencing of the tracks. It gets more and more naked and peaceful towards the end. It’s like a story. On the record, the tracks are very static, they don’t really have breakdowns and build ups, but the overall record has a structure, a journey.

It also helped me accept that it was okay to have a record visiting different sonic worlds. The book borrows to science fiction but is not really a sci-fi novel per se.



There’s all this dense and creative sound through the record. What’s your toolset like for sound design? (Be as specific as you like; our readers will follow.) Do you have some go-to tools you come back to for inspiration?

I use a few granular things, Omnisphere 2, Guitar Rig, some Reaktor patches, CS Grain and CS Spectral on an iPad. For Elysian Park, the first pieces are quite old, and I don’t quite remember how I did them, but it was mainly recording voices and speech processors and then manipulating them, lots of time stretching and things like that.

Everything is sampled on that record or generated by random midi players. I use GRM tools as well. And some hardware, but mainly pedals and effects such as Eventide Space, Roland tape echo, Mooger Fooger pedals. I don’t have a go to thing, it depends on what I do. On Elysian it’s very digital and sample based. And then layering, layering, layering! I have realise that most of the processing I use in music is about slowing down, freezing time etc… Because it is so digital I got it mix and mastered with a sound engineer, and the stems went through Manley and Neve stuff.

I know you’re sometimes starting with a sample … is the process in working toward creating timbral elements a matter of doing a string of things, layering processes, or are you sometimes finding a single process that yields a sound right away? And if it’s unrecognizable, why start with something like Simon & Garfunkel?

I very rarely create timbral elements with sampling, so it’s more multi processing of audio.

I’m interested in the traces left by music, a piece of music is like a memory to me, it takes you back somewhere, that’s why I tend to use known pieces such as Simon and Garfunkel or old 50’s / 60’s songs because popular music touches everybody, it’s like in the collective subconscious. And even if you can’t clearly hear it, you might subconsciously hear it, it’s there, somewhere under the layers!
I’m also into in re -purposing sounds, re-using, recycling. In the case of Elysian, it was trance music. Because to me Trance is associated to this mass raves, and also to loosing yourself. It takes me back to horrid holidays in Benidorm years and years ago. And I like the idea of decomposing that, exploding that sound, depriving it of its euphoria to turn into something introspective. Elysian is about being sedated, and I find this massive big trance tunes kind of annihilate thinking in a way. They are about forgetting.



Out of this sound palette, there’s of course a lot of form – some of it seeming to be very freely composed or dreamlike, other bits more structured. How do you go from the sound material into a finished track?

It’s like painting I suppose. I keep on adding things. And then I live with the piece for a while, or forget about it. And then I come back to it and what’s missing jumps at me, or I realise it’s boring, or I realise it’s actually done! It’s finished when I feel there is nothing more to add. And the older I get the less I add!

The character in the book is leading a privileged, rockstar lifestyle of sorts – maybe not so much what the life of an adventurous musician lives. Have you ever struggled to carve out space and time for making music like this, or getting attention for it?

Hmm… yes, sure. Elysian Park took almost 4 years to make. It’s shaped from experiments I made on and off in between other projects, commercial ones or other artistic collaboration. It’s only at the end of the process that I really edited everything onto an presentable album form. So yes, I have to make time for it and it’s sometimes difficult.

And then getting attention is also difficult. There is so much out there! How do you get heard? How do you stand out?

For those not familiar with Denovali, how has it been working with them – where you see your place on that label?

Denovali are a great label to work with because they give me total creative control. So that’s pretty amazing and they take great care in the finished product. They also very nice people, very real. And they are not afraid to take risk, to put out different kind of music. I’m not sure about my place on the label! First it is my project Piano Interrupted that caught their interest. And I’m very grateful to them for also giving me a chance with my own work as well.



What’s next for your – live shows, new projects?

There is a couple of live shows, at Golem in Hamburg on December 10th and in Berlin at Roter Salon on the 11th. Subheim will be part of the line up and David Sagberg is doing the visuals live.

Right now I started working with Piano Interrupted on a soundtrack for a documentary as well as new material for a possible 4th album, but that’s all early stages! And my club project Days Of Being Wild is now developing into an all analog, computer less live act and we are working on that too. Busy times!

We’ll be watching for the final release Friday. Thanks!

Studio photos courtesy the artist.

The post The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Mechanical Automata House handmade between 1890 and 1930 now on eBay

 Check out this amazing automaton house now available on eBay!

From the eBay listing:

Mechanical Automata House: handmade between 1890 and 1930, this rare mechanical house displays a tableau of a working estate. A cart pulled by a goat rides in a track around the perimeter. People work various jobs outside and on the balcony, animals frolic and the waterwheel rotates in the center. Powered by a hand crank it is possible this machine was clockwork driven and still contains a mainspring that may have snapped. Evidence of an original clockwork mechanism exists in the form of an on/off switch, brass gearing and a ratchet and pawl.

The vintage lithographed cutouts are applied to thin wood backing. Some are damaged by age and wear. Although we do not know the exact origin of this house it appears to have been made at the turn of the century. It is possible this is a limited edition toy or a one of a kind folk art tableau made from Victorian paper cutouts. Many parts of the house are hand carved. The origin of the house is unclear. It could be from Europe or the US. The condition of the figures in very good and the lithos contain most of their original color. There are a few things to replace, a few things to repair and depending of the buyer things to restore. There is a wooden stair missing, no harness for the goat, an arm needs replacing. Chickens need some maintenance to get them moving, the clock movement needs fixing, friction in the machine needs to be eliminated. The mechanicals need work but the belts and string pulleys are in good shape.

Here is where you can see the listing for the Mechanical Automata House

This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument

You can get the feeling of “pushing into” an iPhone as of the iPhone 6S. It’s an expressive, intimate gesture, which is generally used for … wait, really, shortcut menus? That’s pretty boring.

Ever since I saw the feature, I wanted to see it used for music applications. And one obvious fit is an emerging standard for sending expressive pressure-based control over MIDI.

The futuristic, sleek black ROLI Seaboard does it. The lovely, wooden Madrona Labs Soundplane does it. Roger Linn’s innovative grid-covered Linnstrument does it. It’s all a (draft) specification for control called MPE – Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. (Early on, people wanted to dub this “expressive MIDI,” but that might imply that MIDI is somehow not normally expressive, when it is.)

MPE is cool because in addition to velocity (when you hit a note) or only monophonic pressure (like channel aftertouch), it lets you send additional control data for everything. Maybe your pinkie is pushing a little less than your ring finger, and so on.

Aftertouch is an app that uses the iPhone’s 3D Touch capability to send both velocity and polyphonic pressure messages. So instead of just feeling like your fingers are pressing glass, you can actually use all those different fingers as nature intended.

On its own, Aftertouch lets you play, in the author’s words, “a silly little phase mod synth.”

But you can also send actual MPE data, making this compatible with instruments like Apple’s Sculpture in Logic. (Dear Apple: why oh why is Sculpture not available on iOS?) For each finger, you send pitch bend, modulation, and pressure via MIDI. That’ll work with a MIDI interface if you’ve got one, or wirelessly with Bluetooth MIDI.

The one and only R. Kevin Nelson created the app. It’s yours for 99 cents.

And there’s a little site for it:

I’d actually been talking for some time about wanting to make a little app like this, but Mr. Nelson beat me to it. That said, I notice there are actually some things this doesn’t do or does differently, so I’m curious to hear readers talk about what they want or how they imagine using this!

And if you have a compatible device with 3D Touch, you should absolutely also download ROLI’s own app. “Noise” is actually like having a virtual Seaboard on your phone or iPad. You can use it as a sound bank for the hardware, or take it on the go and practice the keyboard technique in miniature. It’s really clever, and I’m happy to own it along with my Seaboard RISE.

Noise is free and native both on iPad and iPhone. (If you’ve got an iPad Pro, by the way, Apple Pencil supports 3D Touch, though I’m not sure it’ll make so much sense here!) The ROLI app lacks MIDI output, though, so it’s not direct competition for Aftertouch. It’s worth having both.

Noise on App Store

ROLI have written up a little guide to recommend apps for Seaboard owners which is worth a look:

The post This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets

The beautiful thing about software is that it’s flexible. You can reconfigure an entire live rig on the fly. But it’s still necessary to channel that flexibility into consistency, especially playing live. Reuse the stuff you need most so it’s always there. And train your hands and muscle memory so you can play fluidly.

Savages – the Chicago/Dallas duo of Ted “TJ” Pallas and Alexandra Hartman – have shared their go-to channel strip full of all their favorite tools. And while they were at it, they recreated a unique EQ.


EQ differently

PLAYdifferently’s Model 1 mixer takes a different approach to EQ. The best way to describe it is as an “isolator” – designed for dialing in specific frequencies. Created by Richie Hawtin and Xone mastermind Andy Rigby-Jones, you can see the marriage of Rich’s fine-tuned approach to sound sculpting with Rigby-Jones electronics and design chops.

Here, it’s delivered as a set of macros, using the built-in Auto Filter so it’ll work with any flavor of Ableton Live. Now, this is hardly a replacement for the actual mixer. Those filters don’t sound the same as Rigby-Jones’ creations, for one. And the conveniences of the mixer are a separate thing.

But this is all a reminder of how useful it is to encapsulate sonic tools in channel strips for live and DJ use. In fact, I’m thinking about running with this idea but substituting some custom Reaktor filters. And it’s still enough to play with. (In fact, what I noticed was that I needed to practice with this just to get some technique together.)

TJ and Alexandra aren’t the first to recreate this. You can read a detailed tutorial from May by DJ Soo for DJ Tech Tools:

Recreating The EQ Section Of Richie Hawtin’s Model 1 Mixer In Ableton Live [DJ Tech Tools]

That’s a good guide, too, if you don’t know how to create the sort of rack TJ and Alexandra have here.

And a nice channel strip

Speaking of encapsulation, I found the channel strip just as useful. It’s all about reuse: having a spectrum to check on what’s happening on a channel, useful effects, and an EQ.

So, use as-is, free. See what you like and don’t like. Then set about making your own dream channel strip.

MODEL 1 EQ Ableton Rack

Hungry for more freebies? Why — here’s a Lemur template from Savages for controlling that swanky new step sequencer in Traktor 2.11, in case you’ve got an iPad but no controller:

Traktor v2.11 Sequencer Lemur Control Interface

And for a very select audience, a Lemur template for the wonderful Axoloti hardware:

Axoloti DJ MultiFX And Lemur Controller

The post Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The mash-up of an 808 and the US elections no one asked for

I’d wager at this point 100% of you would rather think about drum machines than the American elections. But somewhere, vintage voting machines – they of the hole punch and hanging chads – await retirement. Here, they get a second lease on life. Instead of gloomily voting for Trump or accidentally for Pat Buchanan, they can produce sliced-up audiovisual jams. (Hey, if you’re going to have to watch debate clips ad infinitum, why not turn it into something you can dance to?)

Maybe beat box voting machines would be the answer to get Millennials to the polls.

So, basically what you get is an instrument made from the booth. It’s the work of artist/professor Mike Richison, of New Jersey’s Monmouth University (in the Department of Art and Design).

I think these machines probably want DJ Pierre for President, but that’s just a guess.

Fortunately, since at their heart they’re just punch drum machines, they could be re-engineered for non-political purposes.



Full description:

What do you get when you combine news footage from this year’s election cycle, hanging chads, and the machine responsible for the birth of techno? New Jersey artist Mike Richison has spent the last few months designing, programming, and constructing the answer to that question. He calls his new piece Video Voto Matic, and he wants everyone to have one.

Richison, a professor in the department of Art and Design at Monmouth University, is a multimedia artist that has been working with found video since the early 2000s. Every four years he makes presidential-themed video art as a way to make sense of the glut of video clips and sound bites saturating the media. Video Voto Matic is a mashup of the legendary drum machine – the Roland TR 808, and the Votomatic voting booths that were used during the 2000 Bush vs. Gore Florida election debacle. The project lets participants build musical video loops with footage and sound from the current presidential race.

At first glance, Video Voto Matic resembles what a voter would see in a typical polling site. There are multiple stations – banal, suitcase-style voting booths with wobbly aluminum legs and flimsy plastic dividers. As viewers draw closer, they will notice that each station has an embedded iMac with an accompanying external flat screen TV. The iMac displays a custom-programmed musical interface, while the TVs play what appears to be severely edited and looped versions of some familiar faces. There’s Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Tim Kaine, Mike Pence, Bernie Sanders, and even Barack Obama. However, once viewers decide to interact with one of the stations, they make a transformation from spectator to participant.

To experience the installation, participants insert a specially-designed paper ballot into the Video Voto Matic polling device. Like the real Votomatic from 2000, they use a stylus to punch holes through the voting booklet into their ballot. However, instead of a providing the names of candidates, the booklet is filled with sample drum patterns. And rather than encouraging a single vote for a single presidential hopeful, the booklet helps users create a beat from short video clips stored in the computer. Debate footage and rally speeches were dissected into small sound bits – “t” and “s” sounds become high hats while “ch” and “sh” sounds translate to snares. Rather than standing for a set of issues, each nominee mutates into a set of sounds, which users can manipulate at will to create unique loops. Users can follow the tablature in the booklet to re-create rhythms from 80s era hits like Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, Cybotron’s Clear, and Run-D.M.C.’s Tricky – or they can improvise.

The resulting track is continuously fed to a set of speakers and the video monitor, completing the participant’s transformation from disenchanted voter to amateur electronic music producer. When they’ve had enough, users remove their ballot (complete with hanging chads) and take it home as a keepsake. To see documentation of the work on, please visit:

Richison has exhibited and demonstrated Video Voto Matic in New York and Washington, D. C., and has most recently installed it on 14th Street in New York during the public art festival Art in Odd Places. Additionally, he will exhibit the piece in at the Internet Yami Ichi Market at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, NY on Sunday November 6. He has begun to post his plans online – complete with his custom-programmed interface so anyone with copious amounts of free time can take democracy into their own hands. You can get the plans for Video Voto Matic and see Richison’s election-themed artwork (including an absurd loop of Trump drinking a lot of water) on his website, his Instagram accounts @mikerichison and @videovotomatic, and his tumblr archive

The post The mash-up of an 808 and the US elections no one asked for appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together

Computer DJing: it should solve problems, not create them. Because you can also mix vinyl or use phonographs to Rekordbox-formatted USB sticks, computer DJing also absolutely, positively has to open up creative possibilities. It has to justify its existence. And because we play music – like, it’s supposed to be something fun we do with other people – computer DJ tools ought to play with one another.

So, Traktor 2.11 delivers a lot of little things. But these details both make playing solo potentially more creative, and playing with others and plugging into gear in a booth a whole lot easier.

And I think that’s what the computer needs to do. The point isn’t whether using a computer in a DJ set is “professional” or not – it’s there, and you’ll see great sets with them. This isn’t about DJs proving themselves. It’s about the technology proving itself to the DJ. And there, computers can’t just be “as good” as a couple of CDJs on their own, because then you’ll just skip the computer. They have to offer something else.

So, here’s what Traktor 2.11 is offering you, right now, out of beta. Some of these things are new (the step sequencer, Link, and hardware support). Some of them are pieces that have been evolving for a while (Remix Decks, STEMS).

But maybe it doesn’t matter whether these have taken DJ booths by storm or not – that’s someone else’s concern. The point is, these general evolutionary improvements do give you some reason to consider computer DJing again as a producer-friendly DJ option. So of course there are a lot of times that a couple of USB sticks and CDJs are the best route for a night. But here there are some reasons to use the computer for hybrid-style, producer-friendly sets — especially if you’re playing your own music or you’re a bit bored by just mixing.

Link is working, and it’s perfect for back-to-back and hybrid sets. Link’s open jamming approach makes sharing a studio more fun. You still have to sort out wiring connections to a mixer, but at least tempo synchronization can now be spontaneous and automatic. Back-to-back with Serato and Traktor? Done. Want to bring in that fun drum machine you downloaded to the iPad and jam along? Easy. Want to transition from your set into your friend’s Ableton Live live set? Simple.

I’ve been testing this lately. NI going to a public beta was a great choice; I’ve watched them smooth over some issues and improve performance.

Adding in DJ decks in general isn’t quite as seamless as adding in production tools or drum machines, because of the way tempo is handled. So in Serato, you have individual “Link” buttons per deck. NI has chosen a more Ableton-like Link toggle on the master tempo – and this is consistent with how they’ve handled transport and sync in the past, including with MIDI clock.

The key is setting sync in a way that does what Link expects — that is, creates a consistent underlying tempo. As NI explains: “For sustainable synchronization you need to switch to BeatSync mode.
Tempo Sync mode is by nature ignoring phase adjustments and therefore accumulates offset over time.”

I definitely want to test this more over the coming weeks, especially as what I tend to try is ambitious.

MIDI clock is still a reasonable option, even though in Traktor it’s output only. It’s still your best bet if you’re just syncing to some outboard hardware, and by design it’ll work just fine with, say, a long techno set that doesn’t really focus on a lot of tempo changes. I’m glad that while Serato (cough, cough) currently requires the DJ-808 for any MIDI clock output, Traktor will use whatever output you like.

You can use a step sequencer in your sets easily. As originally seen implemented by our friend Tomash GHz, the samples on the Remix Decks in Traktor are a natural for step sequencing. Now, that functionality is built in. And it works with a variety of hardware, too.

On the F1, for instance, you’re already mapped to STEMS control in the default mapping. Now, 2.11 adds step sequencer control as a user mapping. Add both in the Controller Manager, and you can switch by using Shift+Browse on the hardware. The F1 is nice because it’s cheap and tiny and light. The D2 and S8 work, too; the D2 already is a full-functioning view of your deck. But you can also map to your own hardware; you’re not locked into something particular (cough).

This is a boon, because you’re not toting or connecting extra hardware, and you don’t need something crazy like the Roland DJ-808 introduced last month, either. You can just add some creative improvisation to an existing set. (Thanks to Enzo Pietropaolo for setting me straight on template swapping on the F1; I’ve just tried it.)


STEMS make more sense than ever – for your own music, actually. The combination of Link and STEMS solves what I imagine is a common problem.

See if this sounds familiar. You’re working on a live set. You have some already-produced tracks, some partially-produced tracks, and you want to leave space for improvisation. The improvisation might be convenient in hardware or using Ableton Live or Maschine as a host. The partially-produced tracks work well as loops, so those are in Ableton. The already-produced tracks, though, sound better actually playing; breaking them back into loops doesn’t make much sense and then you lose the narrative of the arrangement.

Now, you can play tracks in Ableton Live. But if you leave it as a stereo mix, it’s fairly boring. And if you break down into stems, you can mix the different bits, but they’re then out of sync with one another.

Enter STEMS. They actually solve a number of issues at once. In Traktor, routing and mixing is already set up – with hardware mapped, too – all the same stuff you’d want to do with stems generally (lowercase, now). Also, transport between the four tracks is synchronized, making looping a lot more logical. And when you create STEMS in NI’s Stem Creator Tool, you also resolve the balance between the stereo mix and the individual stems. Once you’re done, you’re also dealing with just a single file, rather than keeping track of four clips that you need to manage and trigger at once. (That seems a small thing, but it adds resistance.)

The thing is, you might not want to do this all inside Traktor. With Link support, it’s easy to have Traktor running in the background synced to Ableton Live, whenever you want to drop your finished sets into the larger performance.

Remix Decks can make sense, too. Remix Decks are all already instantly cooler thanks to step sequencer support, if you hadn’t already hacked this yourself. But in general, it’s worth a second look at Remix Decks. The inimitable Mike Henderson (DJ Endo), perhaps one of the savviest users of NI’s beat and DJ products on Earth, notes that there’s a really elegant workflow now possible between Remix Decks and Maschine.

Mike, copying from your comment thread:

“What you do is set a loop in a deck, drag the deck header to a remix deck slot, then you have to play the slot 3 times and it saves it to “all samples”. Go to the all samples folder and scroll to the bottom to get the sample you just made, right click on it and choose “show in finder”. There is your sample, beatgridded. Drag that into machine and slice!”

(Substitute “show in Explorer,” Windows users.)

It’s really a nice combination. Right now, you can run Maschine in Ableton Live and sync them; hopefully someday soon we see Ableton Link support in Maschine itself.

And you can look at this either way. If you’re a producer who happens to have Traktor around, Traktor becomes a nice production tool. If you’re trying to spice up your DJ sets quickly, it could work that direction, as well.


You can plug and play with more hardware – essential when you bring your laptop to the booth. Yeah, toting a laptop and some massive controller is the opposite of fun. It works if you have live setups or stages, but not in booths. So working with industry-standard hardware is everything.

The newest Allen & Heath and second-generation Pioneer nexus gear now works out of the box.

Now, of course, you’re still at the mercy of what’s available at a gig. But it means you have choices. And I certainly can see touring with a basic laptop setup, a lightweight controller or two, and some USB sticks as backup. Then if you do happen to luck out with a club with the second-generation Nexus, for instance, you get this:

DJM-900NXS2 mixer.

  • Plug-and-play vinyl control.
  • Connect via USB – no audio interface needed. (Oh yeah, and it’s a top-loaded USB port, meaning Pioneer heard our cries of pain when we went digging behind a mixer before playing.)
  • High-quality output and routing. That interface means you can easily route your computer outs however you like.


  • Scratch and control without a control disc / timecode disc.
  • Loop, tempo adjustment, play/cue all linked from hardware to software.
  • On-screen information: text, artwork images, waveform from Traktor 2 show up on the CDJ – no staring at your laptop or shifting focus from the hardware.
  • And USB audio output on the CDJs, too, via their USB audio card.

More details from Pioneer

And hopefully where we go from here…

The no-brainer: more Link. So, obviously the more places Ableton Link support shows up, the more this makes sense. I’d like to see an iPad app with both STEMS and Link support, for instance; then you could just drop your track stems there and have them at the ready. Maschine with Link is a no-brainer, clearly – doubly so with the release of Maschine Jam. Reaktor, too (though once you had Maschine, you could just host Reaktor inside Maschine). And the more third parties that add support, the nicer this gets.

How are you using Traktor? (or a competing DJ tool) Is it part of your production workflow? Are you making hybrid setups? Do you use Traktor live? We’d love to hear from you.

The post Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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