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raster-noton founders on how they found visual inspiration

Few electronic labels or acts have an identity as well defined as raster-noton, and its co-founders Bytone (Olaf Bender) and alva noto (Carsten Nicolai). And I don’t just mean single cycle waveforms or quick bursts of noise, hard-edged projected high contrast geometries or digital aesthetics, though those associations will certainly spring to mind. Even as the label has expanded in its musical scope in recent years, it has retained a sense that aesthetics themselves matter, that its artist roster are capable of painting with sound and exposing the process of using technology.

Understanding where that comes from visually is key to appreciating what it means to be raster-noton. At Barcelona’s SONAR festival last month, I got to sit down with Carsten and Olaf and talk about this visual side, nicely coinciding with the label’s twentieth anniversary year.

I have to say I enjoyed this as much as any panel I think I’ve done; Carsten and Olaf are also exceptionally thoughtful and easy to talk to (contrary to whatever stodgy German stereotype people may imagine).

As evidence of the visual life of the label, there has been recently the “white circle” installation, which I saw at the Halle of Berghain. The visual component was understated – a choreography of a circle of lights, vaguely recalling a birthday cake.

white circle /// raster-noton 20 anniversary /// zkm karlsruhe from Michael Wolf on Vimeo.

To me, a high point in the raster-noton visual oeuvre was alva noto’s unitxt/univrs around 2010, partly because it exposed its own workings (a Touch Designer collaboration with Markus Heckmann).

Alva Noto – unitxt/univrs (Derivative Version) from Derivative on Vimeo.

Or here’s Olaf at SONAR in 2009. (Olaf spoke really highly of the SONAR experience over the years).

A few themes emerged from our talk.

I was especially intrigued by the way their visual background influenced their take on music. (That’s especially informative to me, as I feel a bit biased the other way – tending to try to apply musical filters to whatever I see in visual composition, for instance.)

So dealing directly with the visual materials of music itself was important. They talk about using extreme sounds, then viewing those on an oscilloscope in order to work with them – that clearly is inspired in some way by a tendency to process sonic information in the visual spectrum.

They also describe minimalism as a kind of reaction to growing up to DDR broadcast media that centered on propaganda.

It’s interesting to counterpoint the attitudes in the West. In post-War America, the CIA could back abstract expressionism as counter to Soviet social realism.

And maybe you could view visual performance culture on both sides of the former Cold War as a reaction to that era. If the raster-noton artists sought to expunge propaganda from a minimalist visual language, artists like Emergency Broadcast Network turned instead to cut-ups, remixes and mash-ups (which went on to influence VJ culture worldwide), drawing themselves on hip hop culture and its own criticism of the dominant narrative. This Desert Storm-era video is a good example of the response to the government-tailored propaganda packages that aired on cable news (and is especially ironic, considering the cast of characters and the more recent controversies over the second invasion of Iraq, use of drones and “smart” weapons, and surveillance):

But the other conclusion to draw from our conversation is the way that raster-noton has managed to be outward looking, how it continues to grow and evolve rather than take the easy route of being a museum piece version of itself.

I especially appreciate the dynamic new performances of Robert Lippok and Frank Bretschneider (of the “old guard”), and Kyoka, Dasha Rush, and Grischa Licthenberger (of the newer additions), among others. That includes new visual directions, whether it’s Robert and Frank recently creating immersive sensory overload by filling the Roter Salon in Berlin with fog and brilliant strobes, or the team of Stanislav Glasov and Margo Kudrina adding visionary Touch Designer-powered visuals at festival appearances and the recent Berghain showcase. There’s more to say here, so I’m sure we’ll loop back on that. But this is the mature raster-noton: one comfortable enough in itself that it can make a statement without a rigorously-defined aesthetic.

In fact, we didn’t even get a chance to talk about Carsten’s robust career in the art world, which could easily have been a talk all itself (I decided to stick mainly to the work inside the sphere of the label).

CDM's Peter Kirn speaks with Carsten and Olaf, courtesy SONAR Festival / SONAR+D.

CDM’s Peter Kirn speaks with Carsten and Olaf, courtesy SONAR Festival / SONAR+D.

Audience at this year's stage, courtesy SONAR Festival / SONAR+D.

Audience at this year’s stage, courtesy SONAR Festival / SONAR+D.

But it’s humbling to get to know this community of artists, from the label co-heads to all their collaborators. I think what they’ve done to build the label and their own performance careers can be an inspiration to a lot of us – particularly to any of us who have been told “you don’t mix this with that” (to quote the classic track “Transition”), as far as working across media.

Here’s to the next projects – and the next twenty years.

http://www.raster-noton.net

http://sonarplusd.com

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Sail to Samos with vintage BBC to find Pythagorean tunings

Speaking of tuning, before there was Cosmos and Carl Sagan, there was BBC’s Ascent of Man. (Make that “humankind” now, of course.) And there’s something charming about its breathless reminder of the mystical magic of Pythagorean tuning, and its mythical discovery in folklore. Fact check – as the film sort of suggests, we don’t really know how this discovery took place since our knowledge is fragmentary. It may not have involved any individual named Pythagoras, or indeed taken place on Samos. But the power associated with the harmony of mathematics, sound, and perception does have historical basis – in the Classical era, in the resurrection of those ideals (in the Middle Ages and Renaissance), and in modern times.

BBC Ascent of Man – 04 – Music of the Spheres von infinitradiant

Actually, interestingly, it may be the notion of “Western,” if anything, that’s breaking apart. The disclaimer the BBC attached to what is or isn’t pleasing in tuning may artificially separate western European civilization from everything else. In reality, tuning systems were historically diverse up until the belated standardization on 440Hz A and 12-tone-equal temperament in modern times – and even those aren’t universal across America and Europe in classical concert music, let alone when you take into account everything else. To look at it the other way, the audiences watching this BBC documentary in the UK were already used to harmonies in popular music that contain far more complex sonorities than whole tone ratios would suggest.

Likewise, I’ve never read any convincing argument that any particular tuning is definitively pleasing to the ears. Our ears are, however, sensitive to tuning, and can learn to appreciate alternative tunings just as they can learn to hear different rhythmic or metrical structures.

But what is more consistent is the sense of wonder about Pythagorean findings and the early human understanding of the world. And why not? The Pythagorean Theorem and the discovery of tuning is pretty darned cool, fellow humans.

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Enjoy the sweet sound of guitar just intonation on this album

Sorry. I’m terrible at writing headlines, actually. I’m also mostly terrible at writing reviews. So let me just say that if you haven’t heard Horse Lords, the Baltimore-based indie band, since their 2010 founding, you deserve to. And they make a great argument for why alternative tunings really do matter in music.

They do so not so much in the sound of just intonation as the interplay of tuning and rhythm. Those two are, of course, interlinked in the view of physics and the science of sound. What we hear as pitch actually is rhythm, the result of our perception fusing successive oscillations into a tone. But they’re also culturally linked, from the use of beating in Indonesian music to the association of certain tunings with certain rhythmic practice. Like spice and texture working together in food, tuning and rhythm tickle our brains with their forward flow.

As for Horse Lords, their work is best described as a hybrid – one aware (and crediting) its roots in Western African music as well as Western band structure and experimental composition. The quartet is Andrew Bernstein (saxophone/percussion), Max Eilbacher (bass/electronics), Owen Gardner (guitar), and Sam Haberman (drums). Evidently the likes of La Monte Young helped encourage them to explore just intonation, with Owen refretting instruments as needed. But as for the polyrhythmic structures, I think it’s significant to note this isn’t just appropriation of a particular culture – on the contrary, it’s finally that Western music has woken up to the language of the polyrhythm in musics from different corners of the world.

But don’t take my high-falutin’ Ivory Tower take on the matter – just listen. Because this spring Horse Lords released a spectacular latest record, and I think it’s their best yet.

Interventions by Horse Lords

I get lots of promos but buying this on Bandcamp is a no-brainer.

But if that isn’t enough to inspire you, there’s more. For one, us European residents (ahem) get to catch these Americans at Unsound Festival in Poland in October, so there’s that news. (No secret lineups in Krakow this year.)

And two, the boys have put together a nice Spotify playlist of compositional and microtonal/non-equal-tempered inspiration – suitable if you’re thinking of working with musical technology acoustic, analog, digital, or any combination. Love this one:

Your next four hours twenty minutes are sorted on that playlist alone.

https://www.facebook.com/HorseLords/

So if nothing else, guys, this does remind me that we really need to get on this matter of allowing easier alternative tunings in our software and electronic projects – a discussion a lot of us are having lately. Oh, that and — you can always reboot your musical influences to create wonderful new experiments.

Huge tip of the hat to Philip Sherburne on Twitter for picking this up.

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Watch a wild Loop Station performance made in one shot

Can you whistle? Can you hum? Sing? Dance? Let’s assume for a moment that the problem isn’t your musicality, because you have something to express. The point of technology and music skill is really to express that inner musicality.

For a beautiful demonstration of that, watch one guy roam the streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood with one piece of gear – and make an amazing song just from looping.

It’s a film by Arthur Moore of Berlin-based artist Rico Loop. Rico is a master looping artist – working with computers (Native Instruments) and hardware alike – and has performed with the likes of Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea.

Gear used:

Sound: BOSS Loop Station RC-505? – that easy access to mixing five tracks here really excels

Image: Ronin gimbal (for stabilization, actually costs about as much as the camera body!) with a Panasonic LUMIX GH4 (fairly inexpensive 4K camera)

There’s more. Rico Loop sometimes shows up in Mauerpark (the park formerly marked by the Berlin Wall):

Here’s Rico Loop back in 2012 demo’ing the RC-300 Loop Station. Actually, for all we deal with music tech in terms of news, I think some of the most effective hardware has a longer shelf life – it’s something that people get to know over time. (Think about guitars, by contrast.)

It’s not just about virtuosity; Rico is really doing some sophisticated one-person-band act here, and clearly has a real feel for groove:

More:
http://www.ricoloop.com/about/

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Meet Skram, the free iPad app full of patterns and synths

We’ve reached the mature age of music apps. You’re likely to use fewer of them, and the landscape is saturated with the most popular ideas. It’s also clear that iPad, not Android, is the viable tablet platform. But the few apps that are left standing as serious music tools are better than ever. They’re easier to integrate with your computer and standalone hardware, and they feel more like instruments and less like toys. They walk some line between making music production more accessible to beginners, and offering refreshing simplicity to people who are mixing them with other gear. And Skram, free with free add-ons, is a nice microcosm of that in its update.

We’ve already seen a glimpse of what the iPad app Skram might become, when we broke the story in March. The basic conceit was familiar: provide some fun synths and drum machines and a way to play them quickly. And it caught our attention as it comes from Liine, developers of the must-have Lemur controller app.

But where Skram set itself apart then was in offering some compelling sound quality, and in allowing you to generate sophisticated rhythms and melodies. It did each of these quickly with consolidated knobs: shift this, and change the mode/key, or the rhythmic pattern (including some nice syncopations), or vastly impact sound.

Compelling proof of concept, yes. But the first release was limited in the synths it offered, and didn’t have easy connections to other apps.

That changes with the update that just now went live.

Skram 1_2_2 White iPad

There are four new devices, part of a new pack called “Riot” that emphasizes urban/trap styles (although they could just as easily be used for some heavier/darker techno, too). These for me really fill out the sound of the original (particularly the somewhat vanilla initial drum machine – nice to have more than bread and butter):

Neon: Rave-y, trance-y synth (though also with enough parameter range that you could go somewhere else with it)
Jade: “Miami” style sub bass
Crimson: Edgy new melodic synth, capable of “sharp leads” and “short bleeps”
Azure: My favorite new addition, a really heavy, dirty 808 kit

All the new synths are great, especially once combined with the batch from the first go-around.

You might expect those would be in-app purchases, but Liine are now up to eight devices completely for free. (Presumably they’ll add some paid ones later on, or else I’m going to have to go down to their offices and bring them food.)

These are nice, but it’s connectivity that moves Skram from “ah, cool” into must-have. There’s now a somewhat ridiculous complement of functionality for a free app:

Inter-App Audio (IAA) – which means it works with Modstep, GarageBand, Cubasis, Elastic Drums, and the like
AudioCopy Support
Ableton Link

Link for me is the big one, since it means you can jam with these instruments and add to, say, an Ableton session or play with friends.

And not only are there eight devices from which to choose, but you can now mix and match as you like – so up to four of one device if you really want.

Here’s a very quick demo session I shot from an iPad with one of the developers, just to show you how it comes together. As you’ll see it’s really easy to get interesting rhythms and melodies and sounds going.

Previously:
Skram app sounds great, navigates rhythm and harmony

More:
https://skramapp.com

or on the App Store

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Lee Gamble tells us why UIQ is more than just a label

File under artists who inspire us: Lee Gamble is for us the embodiment of thoughtful, adventurous sound making. CDM’s Zuzana Friday talks to him about his latest project, UIQ – one that brings rich discourse and dimension to music. -Ed.

You could say that Lee Gamble has a degree in making abstract music – using samples, snippets, and elements of styles ranging from jungle to techno. The master producer ‘sound wizard’ contributed to PAN Records’ discography with a number of releases combining his musical roots and sound phantasmagorias.

For his own record label UIQ, he merges similarly volatile music from various parts of the world with his other lesser-known interests – his work in philosophy, art, and (as a part of the Cyrk Collective) curating. UIQ, the new imprint of this Birmingham-born, London-based artist, goes beyond the usual label business by exposing talent from unexpected parts of the world, visual artists and philosophers, and on to real (terrestrial) radio waves.

Gamble’s choice for the first EP on the label was Martin Rokis (aka N1L) – a Latvian artist working with sound, performances, and installations. Rokis’ earlier musical production under his real name tended more to digital squeaks and fluctuating noises more than anything resembling dance music – listen here:

But as N1L, those creative bursts are formed into beat structures, happily without restraining his aggressive and experimental approach. It’s an enjoyable combination of his earlier work, deep house / dub techno elements, post-jungle/grime beats, and bass.

The second release on UIQ is the EP Bionic Ahmed by Ahmed El Ghazoly, alias Zuli, a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and DJ. Bionic Ahmed is Zuli’s debut record, but he’s been an important figure of the Cairo’s underground scene for over ten years. He’s a co-founder of VENT, a music space and club, connected to the London-based record label of the same name. That series has hosted names like Ben UFO, Aurora Halal, and Lee Gamble himself.

For a debut record, the sound of Bionic Ahmed is QUIte UnIQue. Rusty metal vibrations echo over hissing sounds of electronic fauna; beats fluctuate between post-grime/DnB and percussive rhythms in claustrophobic loops with occasional ghost-like glimpses of a human voice… all sculpted with an outstanding sense for composition and sound design.

As UIQ’s purpose is to draw wider attention to new, emerging artists, Gamble created a sublabel called ‘UIQ Inversions’ for his own music, where the first EP Chain Kinematics was just released in May. Gamble’s reconnection with his multimedia/interdisciplinary past is underlined by the fact that the music video for his fourth track of the new EP, called “004,” is made by Dave Gaskarth, another Cyrk member.

Just this week, UIQ0005 – Glasz by Lanark Artefax dropped, by 22-year-old Glaswegian producer Calum MacRa. (More on that release from Juno Download.)

I asked Lee Gamble about his past, present, and future activities, his love for radio and the artists he releases on UIQ.

Friday: You yourself release music on PAN Records, a label founded by your comrade Bill Kouligas, which released many other great musicians such as Mika Vainio, Objekt, and Visionist. When have you decided to start your own imprint, and do you plan to release something of your own on UIQ?

Lee: Well, having a label was always something I’d liked to have done earlier. It just wasn’t that easy. I used to be be involved in curating and running a collective called Cyrk. There was the Cyrk radio series, featuring the likes of Russell Haswell, conceptual sound artist JLIAT, Peter Rehberg (MEGO), Mark Stewart of Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Perc, Mark Fell, EVOL, Phil Niblock. There were lots, we organised events in galleries, music events, radio, film events and this would have naturally been a place to begin a label from. But there was no cash available. Simple, really.

So, I have just released a 12” of my work on UIQ Inversions – Chain Kinematics. This will be a side label of the main UIQ that will release my stuff only. I basically want UIQ to be a free space for newer artists, so I felt putting my own work out on it would mean me getting in the way somehow. Also, I wanted for a long time to do a series of 12”s of my own. It’s great to have some control of my work and a release schedule that’s my own too. I can get stuff out there fairly quickly on Inversions. Working with labels is great and I’ll continue to do that, but it’s interesting at this point for me also to direct myself too.

Lee Gamble. Courtesy the artist.

Lee Gamble. Courtesy the artist.

You mentioned you were part of Cyrk. Does UIQ in any sense follow your activities or ideas within the collective?

Sure, UIQ is like the bifurcated offspring of Cyrk — like its older brother. As I mentioned, Cyrk was responsible for several music events, a couple of curated film events, three radio series, an event in a concert hall with Phill Niblock, conceptual stuff… I’m a bit more established as an artist now, so I have contacts to make things happen, and a little more resources. I had zero access to money when I was doing Cyrk stuff. This is why some of it ended up as radio, people would do a radio show/mix for free! And there weren’t as many podcasts back then, so it did OK. People liked them.

Some of the Cyrk nights were quite mental though. The idea was to really clash stuff. In London at the time, I really remember either being able to go to an improvisation/experimental event, or an academic event or a rave/club. So Cyrk just threw all of this together, we’d have some lowercase improv, then we’d DJ in between, like at club volume, mixing A Guy Called Gerald on top of Florian Hecker records or whatever. Then there’d be someone doing some spoken word thing about food, then back to DJing. UIQ of course follows this system of clashing — the attempt to cross-pollinate, non-hierarchical hybrids.

You’re a resident on London-based NTS Radio, where apart from your regular monthly shows, you’ve recorded UIQ Session, where you invited multi-disciplinary artist Mark Fell and philosopher Thomas Metzinger to talk about perception, hallucination, silence and other subjects overlapping music and art. How are these topics connected to what UIQ is about? Who would you invite for the next session in case you plan to do so?

I’m really keen to continue my interest in radio with UIQ. I moved to London from Birmingham in 2001 and got involved with Resonance 104.4 FM pretty soon after that. Before that, in Birmingham, as a teenager, I played sometimes on pirate radio there – as you say, I now have my monthly NTS show for a couple of years. So radio has always been a feature for me.

To be honest, I’d love to do a lot more radio art stuff. For me now, time is a problem, these things take a long time to make but I have a lot of ideas for it as a medium. UIQ is open. So, the Metzinger interview came about naturally as my friend Mark (Fell) had invited him over to do a talk in London. I knew Thomas’ work, so we hooked it up. It’s nice to push music’s boundaries out a little in relation to ‘journalism’, or conversation. I had a long for conversation with Robin Mackay last year too.

https://www.urbanomic.com/

Sam, who works on UIQ stuff with me, is an amateur radio operator/nerd (I cleared the use of the term ‘nerd’ with him by the way ???? ) and we’re part-way assembling our own VLF (Very Low Frequency) receiver and SDR (software-defined radio) stream. The monitoring station will be at my house, and we’ll be able to stream the signal anywhere with internet. VLF refers to the section of the RF spectrum between 3kHz and 30kHz — basically picking up natural (lightning, electrical storms) and man-made signals. Submarines, communication systems, the national grid can be also be accessed via our UIQ VLF Stream. So, yeah – we’re going to be using radio for sure. I plan to do more UIQ radio interventions on NTS too.

UIQ seems to be more than a regular music label. You cite Jean Baudrillard as one of the inspirations for UIQ, the first release is by a conceptual artist and for the radio session, you invite a philosopher rather than a musician. It seems like you’re striving for a space where complex topics overlapping the music scene can be discussed and elaborated. How far from the truth is this assumption? And is one of UIQ’s aims to give people from rather non-musical fields the exposure and chance to promote their work beyond academic or art world?

Yeah, it’s not only a record label, I mean, it’s releasing records, but I don’t want to think of it as just a label. There’s this initial part of it that is and that’s really important, but it will morph and allow itself to flip. Music in some way is like the connecting bond for it. It’s possible to get into all sorts of things using music as an anchor point. That takes time, and it will involve itself in activities when either the opportunity arises or there feels a need for a project to be related to UIQ.

The thing with technology is that we’re not sure what’s happening around the corner, where it’s going etc. So, UIQ has to be onto that, it has to be malleable.

My interests in philosophy will bleed into UIQ, as will my other interests. At this point, I’m working with Dave Gaskarth, who is a designer and video artist / animator, and Sam Keating-Fry, who is a web programmer and radio tech nerd – so there are those feeds too. I see it as a platform really, a ‘portal’ for me to explore this and that, with and without other people. I know myself and Bill (Kouligas) share a feeling that narrowing down to a ‘record label’ can just be inhibiting, so I’m keen to let ideas move in via music, and those things can be extra-musical but related.

Did you know Martins Rokis first as an artist or as a musician? And how have you decided that his first EP as N1L will be the first release ever on UIQ?

Me and Martins met online around 2005/6-ish. We came across each other’s work – we were both working in ‘computer music’ – using computer languages and other forms of non-standard synthesis to produce sound. There weren’t too many people into it outside of academia, really, so a few of us knew each other online as it was. He wasn’t doing anything like N1L as far as I knew then! He sent me this stuff a lot later. I had been planning UIQ – I didn’t want to release my own work as the first one, I wanted to release people who weren’t known. So, once I heard these N1L tracks (he sent me a few) that got the wheels turning. ???? He’s sent me a whole bunch of new N1L stuff that’s amazing. He’s got some skills. Watch out for the next N1L EP…

ZULI, or Ahmed El Ghazoly, runs an art space/ club VENT in Cairo, where he hosted a show of yours. Is this how you two first met? Which aspects of Zuli’s work were the decisive ones that made you want to release his EP under your new label?

ZULI was sending me stuff over the last couple of years, mainly for my NTS show, I think. I used to play bits, so as soon as I started UIQ I chatted to him about an EP. For me, like N1L, ZULI has his own sound, the way he writes patterns, his influences, where he’s from. The fact that these guys aren’t well known interests me too, also their geographical locations. But ultimately their tracks. I have the next batch of ZULI too, which is also amazing ???? I’d like to work over time with artists if possible, I’m not in a position to officially sign acts with deals (as most small labels aren’t), but I’d like to develop with them, alongside them if possible. Like a two way thing. That instinctively feels good…

Could you reveal next artists, releases or activities connected to UIQ?

Hmm, no. I want to keep them quiet until they drop. But, there are two EPs imminent – UIQ005 is out on 21st July, and UIQ003 is out on 12th August. All people with little or relatively no profile as yet. It’s great working this way, then these ‘new’ artists help UIQ to develop an identity as well as their own, or something like that!? It also encourages me to keep moving as a listener. There are artists out there I love, and would love to release, but this way I have to do more work, more listening, but also am forced to make choices that aren’t based on what I know to work, so it’s more interesting/ challenging this way and helps UIQ to build its identity alongside these artists. We’ll be looking to launch the VLF stream soon, and are curating some events hopefully this year.

For more:
Official website with newsletter: http://u-i-q.org/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/uiqmusic

Lee Gamble’s shows on NTS Radio:
http://www.nts.live/shows/lee-gamble

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A Richard Devine soundscape from a crazy modular nest

Richard Devine’s Vimeo account is something special. It’s certainly partly theater – there’s something entirely alien about seeing a nest of gear, tangled in cables and blinking, as if modules have achieved sentience and starting interconnecting themselves. But behind that facade of nerdy chaos is some real thought about how to make sounds by creating unexpected combinations of signal processors. It’s something I’ve been discussing with a lot of people lately – this interplay between stability and instability, automaton and entropy.

Mutant Mesh Drums Patch from Richard Devine on Vimeo.

Richard explains what’s happening here:

Short Patch experiment with a few new modules, including the Mutant BD9, Mutant Snare, Pico Drums x 2, running through various effects. The main CV modulation sources in the patch are the Modcan Quad LFO, and the new Forge which was used to create a fast quick modulation bursts to the Amp decay Pitch etc on the BD9. Drones via the Music Thing Radio Music, playing a feedback drone wave going through the Tiptop Z-DSP “Halls of Valhalla card, program 7.
I ran the BD9 through the new black hole DSP module by Erica Synths, and the Mutable Instruments Clouds running a unreleased firmware, and finally some Rainmaker X 2 for the snare processing, pitch delays. There is also a bit of Z-DSP, Eventide H9, AD Reverb, OWL, and ErbVerb too. Enjoy, download to the audio file below. ????
track download: bit.ly/29VjOOS

I love the track, so thanks, Richard.

Actually, maybe what’s really significant about modulars is it makes the otherwise unseen world of signal processing and sound design visible to people. I think that’s wonderful. At the same point, you could easily miss the point here, which is that part of what you’re getting isn’t about the gear at all – not on a superficial level anyway. It’s about the design that went into the individual modules and how they connect to one another, and how Richard thinks about sound design. It’s actually striking to me that there’s a clear compositional link between the sounds and structures Richard is getting with this rig and his voice on software from years ago.

For something with a different feeling, here’s a more melodic groove from just under a year ago – as easy-going and relaxed as the other track is dystopian scifi lounge.

Harmonic Symmetry from Richard Devine on Vimeo.

That also has a download and explanation of signal flow.

It’s nice to see the walkthroughs of how things are routed, too, for the curious.

Lots more:
https://vimeo.com/richarddevine

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Ableton Live 9.7 in beta, with slicing and beatmaking news

Ableton Live 9.7 is right now in public beta – just days after the latest 9.6 release went final. Most of the functionality announced so far is related to Push and beat making; 9.7 brings features that let you play, record, and slice more easily from Ableton’s hardware. But that shouldn’t mean you should despair if you’re not a Push user; as with each Push release so far, there are parallel improvements in the software itself.

The biggest news is that you get new slicing functions. So now you can chop samples in one of four ways:
1. Beat division
2. Region
3. By transient
4. Manually

That’s a big deal if you’re a Push user, because it means improvisatory beat slicing just got far easier – and more like what you’d expect from other drum machine/samplers.

But it’s just as relevant even if you’re not using Push, because the Beat, Region and Manual Slicing modes have also been added to the Simpler device. So if you’re at home on the couch sampling with your pet cat next to you instead of the Push 2 hardware, you can still make use of these features. (Well, until the cat climbs on top of your laptop and you have to give up production for the night.)

If you do have Push, though, you get a lot of additional playability right on the hardware – stuff that further deepens the feeling that using Push is like using a standalone instrument.

Ableton-Live-9_7-Beta_2_web

Playing your beats live? Now you can see count in on the display, plus clip “phase” (an indication of where the clip ends), so you’ve got some visual feedback on when to start and stop playing when recording clips.

On the same lines, there’s a new drum layout, with 16 set velocity levels so you can play beats with actual dynamics. (Okay, turns out you weren’t all making minimal techno with everything on a fixed grid and no dynamics.)

For sampling from external gear, you can now select and record ins and outs right from Push, whereas that previously involved digging into your computer menus. Monitoring, input, and output are on the hardware (also Pre FX, Post FX and Post Mixer routings were reorganized).

You can now color your pads, tracks, and clips right from Push rather than on-screen, so that’s yet another on-screen workflow that’s been moved to the hardware. Those colors will look better, too, as there have been numerous improvements to color and how it’s matched between pads, the screen, and (if you have Push 2) the Push display.

There are also some adjustments to playability and sensitivity, to do with improving the way the pads behave inside particular layouts.

Also, I like the way the record button has been adjusted:

The Push Record button now takes into account Live’s focus on Arrangement and Session View. If the focus is on Arrangement View, the Session Record button will trigger Global Recording, while the Shift + Record button will trigger / stop Session Recording. The logic is reversed when focused on Session View.

So there you have it: you get a bunch of new ways to sample, you can now more easily see what you’re doing with sampling and live performance, you can play drums with (pre-set) dynamics, and the integration of hardware and software is improved.

9.7 is a relatively minor update overall, but it is also a major update to Simpler. So while we may be waiting on other improvements in the Live host, if you’re a Simpler fan, this is still a big update.

Release notes

To try 9.7 now, you can try the beta program.
Ableton Beta

As with all Live releases, you can (and should) keep a copy of your old version of Live next to the new one. But note that because of the changes to Simpler, any projects you save in Live 9.7 beta then require 9.7 or later. So you should be careful before beginning any mission critical work in the beta.

To illustrate their interest in working with beatmakers and live performance, Ableton shot a video with TecBeatz showing off playing with Push:

And here he walks through how he’s working:

The post Ableton Live 9.7 in beta, with slicing and beatmaking news appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

So Behringer’s analog synth is a poly, and other revelations

Behringer continues to leak out teaser videos about its upcoming analog synth – and with the rest of the industry out on summer vacation, they’ve got pretty much everyone’s full attention. There’s a few things you can learn from their latest video – not least that I was dead wrong, and this is a polysynth, not a monosynth. (Oops.)

There’s an arpeggiator.

It’s got at least four voices – you can see them lighting up. In fact, those voices are lighting up a bit like it’s swapping voices from an arpeggiator, like KORG’s Mono/Poly.

There are separate LFOs (at least as evidenced by the differing LFO rates mentioned in the video.) You can see clearly marked LFO 1 + LFO 2.

You can use it in unison mode with a poly unison detune (see that big fader).

The previous video set this one up, but didn’t show quite as much (though some more on the LFOs, oscillator settings…)

I’m going to just go around now saying …

” … Peaceful … ”

Correction: he’s saying “beautiful,” evidently. I felt peaceful, though, so maybe I was projecting.

Here’s our previous still grab of the full synth (it flashes for just a moment in the first video):

behringersynth

The post So Behringer’s analog synth is a poly, and other revelations appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool

Don’t like clicks or beeps or other sounds when using a metronome? Try some haptic feedback instead, with this free utility.

First, you’ll need an Apple trackpad that supports haptic feedback. Pretty soon, I suspect that will be all the new MacBooks – most of the line is badly in need of an update (another story there). For now, it’s the 2013 MacBook Pro, and so-called “New MacBook.”

Alternatively, you can use the Magic Trackpad 2. That’s perhaps the best option, because it’s wireless and you can position it anywhere you like – say, atop your keyboard or next to your Maschine.

Then, fire up this free utility, direct MIDI to the app, and you’ll feel as if someone is tapping you with the beat. No annoying sounds anywhere – perfect.

Since it listens to MIDI Clock, you can use any source, from Ableton Live (in turn synced to Ableton Link) to hardware (if it’s connected to your computer). It uses start/stop events to make sure it’s on the beat, then taps you on quarter notes.

The app is open source if anyone wants to check out the code. And you’ll find complete instructions. (Don’t download from the links at the top of the page; look at the beginning of the documentation for a ready-to-run app.)

https://github.com/faroit/magiclock

Genius.

magiclock

Next, Apple Watch? (Also with “Taptic Engine™” support.) There are some entries out there, like this one, though they seem to be slightly hampered by the current restrictions on apps from Apple. (I like my Pebble, too!)

The haptic feedback-specialized Basslet, upcoming after a Kickstarter campaign, might actually be the best bet – and I could see people who didn’t buy into the music listening application still buying it for this.

The post Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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