Nov 26, 2015 0
Nov 25, 2015 0
He’s an artist who listens to bats, builds microphones (dubbed “ears”) designed to find the most delicate sounds possible, discovers unexpected beauty in the fiery breath of an oil refinery, and helps a label of unusual sounds.
So it’s our pleasure to invite Jonáš Gruska to Berlin next week, to present a concert (2.12) (with fellow Slovak-born artists Nina Pixel and Triple Sun), as well as an Elektrosluch-building workshop (1.12) for anyone who wants to both get soldering and hearing otherwise-inaudible electromagnetic utterances in their world. Both at are Platoon Kunsthalle, in the heart of Berlin. He will even transform its metal container walls into an instrument. We talk to Jonáš about his unique musical imagination:
What is your approach as a sound artist? Do you listen and record for the experience of a concentrated listening itself, or for sharing sounds from your favorite places with others, or do you use your recordings in our musical projects as well? Or something else?
Over the years, I have discovered that there is no unifying way I like to do things. Sometimes I record for the sheer timbral quality of certain sounds, their rhythms or melodies; at other times, I use the field recording as a type of documentary work. As you mention, I also use my recordings in compositions, where I combine them with my own input (either synthetic of acoustic).
I have to say my favorite field recording of yours are Zvuky Slovnaftu – partly also because you are the only person among the angry sleepless crowd who found a certain beauty in all that mess, and also because of the nice, low frequencies of an industrial fire, merged with the soothing sounds of nature. How did you record this — which devices did you use?
For those who don’t know, Slovanft is a oil refinery based at the outskirts of Bratislava. It is known for foul smells and disturbing noises. One day, I heard these unusual, deep rhythmic noises coming from that area. These noise were heard even in the center of the city. Apparently, it was due to some unusual activity, causing huge flame bursts from the refinery’s flare stacks.
It was very much impromtpu recording session, I wanted to be sure that I catch the oportunity. Rode my bike there in the middle of the night, found a good spot and hit record.
The setup I used is a special foam block I made, fitted with two pairs of microphone capsules in parallel. The foam block arrangement is named SASS and it allows one to capture very realistic stereo image with omnidirectional microphones. I love the way it records quiet ambiances.
The recorder I used was a Sound Devices 702.
You mostly perform. How do your performances look (sound) like? And how do you choose places for site-specific performances?
Most of the time, the places choose me. I am asked by various curators and promoters to try and make something specific for their space. So far, it always worked out very well. I love the idea of creating my work to exact dimensions of space, its imperfections and resonances.
How will you approach the site-specific performance at Platoon Kunsthalle 2nd December?
My plan for Platoon is to try to make a composition/performance for the metallic walls surrounding the main concert hall. I will be using them as speakers, emitting sound from my custom made software, programed at spot.
You’ve founded the LOM label and you do mastering for many of the albums. Since the music varies a lot on these recordings, how do you choose and gather the right artists for the label — how would you define it?
We’re actually a small collective of people and we discuss releases together. Basically, we don’t limit our releases genre-wise, but we focus on the approaches musicians have towards making music. We love people who experiment, cross boundaries and don’t focus all that much on following certain hypes or predefined ways. There is also field recording edition “FIELDS,” which I curate on my own.
Recently, LOM also became a platform for creating new music software and hardware instruments. Who’s behind each of the instruments created?
At the moment, I am the sole designer of these, but there are some instruments in development by my colleague Anagakok Thoth (both hardware and software). At the moment all instrument sold are assembled by us or by robots.
Your microphones, Uši and Uši Pro (uši means “ears” in Slovak) are sold out. What do you think is the biggest reason they’ve got so popular?
It is hard to talk about your own product without sounding like a salesman, but I honestly love these for field recording. The reason is that they are very small, low-noise, and cheap enough. I am not afraid to experiment with these in various situations, drop them in unknown holes or put them in danger. This allows one to discover new recording techniques and methods for approaching the sound in untraditional way. But obviously, they can be used for regular recordings too.
There are new batches of these planned for next year.
How did the idea for Elektrosluch develop, and how was it designed?
I believe it started in 2011, when I saw a performances by Chris Galarreta and Daniel Davidovsky at Audio Art festival in Kraków, Poland. At that moment, I was working with sonification of wireless networks using various hacked tools. Both of these performers were using electromagnetic fields as parts of their performances. The idea got stuck in my head, and a year after that, I designed my own circuit. It was using old cassette tape heads as the sensor. This head was attached to a little preamplifier of my design and allowed me to experiment with the idea a little more.
Short after that, my friends asked me to build some of these for various artistic projects they had, and it slowly grew to an edition of around 25 devices. The construction was very “DIY” and unprofessional-looking, but it did the job.
With growing interest, I designed a second version and decided to crowd-fund it through Indiegogo. The campaign was successful — I raised twice the amount of the funding required. Amongst the people who ordered it I even found Alessandro Cortini. There were around 200 units sold, worldwide.
Last year, I started working on version 3, which has recently sold out as well. Its casing was designed by a wonderful artist from the US named Birch Cooper, who I met during his tour through Bratislava. It’s the most advanced version so far.
You prepared a smaller version of Elektrosluch for our workshop December 1st at Platoon Kunsthalle. What’s the difference between Elektrosluch 3 and Elektrosluch Mini?
The main difference is the lack of casing and the external input. Otherwise, the circuit is identical.
What are your 3 favorite field recording devices / microphones?
Currently it’s the Uši microphones (of course), Sound Devices 702, and my ultrasonic bat detector.
If you’re near Berlin, don’t miss our event.
First, there’s a special workshop to build your own Elektrosluch mini. Register here – spots are very limited. You get one instrument to call your own, plus instruction (beginners welcome):
Second, we have a concert featuring Jonáš alongside Triple Sun and Nina Pixel:
or on Resident Advisor (see, show them you don’t only listen to four on the floor).
The post Finding beauty even in fiery oil refineries: meet Jonáš Gruska appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Nov 24, 2015 0
We’ve stepped into a music party at OHM, the Berlin venue constructed from a power plant battery room. And it’s clear that the label behind the event, Italian imprint Out-ER, is something out of the ordinary.
For one thing, instead of a normal DJ set, we’re treated to what’s described as a “workshop.” And there are regular pauses that announce the link between tracks and the feelings that inspired them.
But then, Out-ER’s Simone Gatto (seen, top) is not your typical label chief. Gatto is a philosophy graduate who has researched emotions and empathy, linking them to music and perception. He draws on the work of Swiss composer/educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze – the man behind Eurythmics (the 19th century movement-based music pedadgogy, not the 80s duo with Annie Lennox).
And Gatto is also researching how musicians emotionally engage with their audience when they play. He’s interested in how DJs can intentionally trigger specific emotions.
With Gatto at the helm, Out-ER defies predictable categorization. The label’s music ranges from energetic techno to ambient depths – eschewing the darkness that’s all the rage these days for more playful twists. That includes jazzier and more percussive notes from collaborators like Marieu (The Analogue Cops) and Christopher Rau (as Colours of Obseration), plus outings by Orlando Voorn, Mirror1, Andrea Santoro, and Regen. If that didn’t catch your attention, bigger names Legowelt and Conforce have authored remixes. This is a label on the rise.
Next: “Nuove Sessioni” (“new sessions”), a four-track EP out on December 10th with three contributions by Alessandro Stefanio (aka Buck) and a remix from Ed Davenport as Inland, Inland’s only remix this year.
Listen in its entirety:
Having staged the oddball debut event earlier this year, Out-ER is returning to Berlin to celebrate that release with a party and panel at OHM. On the eve of the event, Gatto and Buck talk to CDM about what motivates them.
CDM: Where exactly is based your label, when and with who have you founded it?
Simone Gatto: I founded Out-ER in 2011 together with Andrea Santoro, Buck, and other friends. We were a group of Italian producers based in Berlin. We spent every single day together in the studio making music and sharing a common vision, trying to define a new sound — our sound. In 2013, we’ve moved back to Lecce, Italy, but we often are in Berlin because we have to take care of label-related activities.
How would someone grasp the musical direction of your label – can you put it in few words/sentences?
Out-ER music is an uncommon platform extending through various declinations of electronic music (house, techno, ambient). We try to keep a creative imprint in short and long terms because our goal is to release music including everything in between mellow and deep sounds and supporting the artists’ ample inspirations.
How do you choose new artists and collaborators for remixes?
I’ve always chosen artists mostly considering the strong emotions I felt by listening to their productions and performances.
Recently, you joined a conference in Amsterdam, where you talked about how to emotionally manage having a record label. Is owning a label emotionally difficult and what are the main helpers, which conclusions did you get to?
Since 2013, I’ve been running research together with some experts from the University of Lecce about the relationship between music and emotions. In Amsterdam, I talked about this topic explaining various aspects – the relationship between sounds and sensations, the empathic process linking performances and audience, specific notes and chords stimulating specific neural areas. It will convey into a book to be published in 2017 and these findings are my main helpers for my personal career and for Out-ER.
Managing a record label in the right way requires dedication and knowledge of the aspects just mentioned plus many others, everything needs to convey in the concept of the sound that express the platform at its best. Pressing plant, promotion, distribution, all needs to be coordinated. Press and communication might have a strong role for a right push to the label in long term and that’s why I decided to have a dedicated professional who cares about it all. This way I can focus on my music, on the artist relation and on the management of the bureaucracy questions.
You’ve organized two parties in Berlin before. What’s special about the event on 26th November?
This time from 10 pm, I’ll introduce the label’s previous and future activities, releases and researches linked to the topic “Music & Emotions”, kicking off a panel discussion together with all the artists. I’ll ask the artists some specific questions which will let them to expose their emotional side of music. Buck will introduce his second EP on Out-ER and will play an experimental jam session with LIMO (head of Transition LAB and part of Fachwerk Records) in order to gently start the party with Marieu, Aubrey and myself.
CDM: Your newest EP is very energetic and has a positive vibe. Yet comparing to your older work, which I find more minimal, Nuove Sessioni sounds richer and mixes together many different elements (vocal samples, strings, acid bass and synth pads all at the same beat). What was your approach of making it and how do you think you’ve evolved as a producer?
Buck: My earlier work turned out to be more minimal really because at that point, my skills of using the analogue machine were more basic. If the results obtained in producing the tracks on the “Nuove Sessioni” EP feel more complete and full of energy, I am happy because I tried very hard to improve this aspect. The energy you feel is produced by giving vent to my strong desire to experiment and to be able to succeed, to improve and develop myself and my intuitions and become more effective.
Do you have some favorite instruments (real or virtual) you like to use in your music?
It’s true I do have particular ties to some instruments and effects but to be honest I really enjoy myself with all instruments. But more with the ones real than the virtual ones because I’m a little bit fed up a mouse and I prefer to touch the knob to feel the sensations and to have direct physical contact with the instruments.
I read you are an analog enthusiast. Which equipment do you use for music making and performing live?
Yes I have really been in love with the analog machines for some time now and I know how to extract from them my ideas and my enthusiasm. I use the drum machine, synth and external sound effects both live and in the studio.
On the party on the 26th, you will play a new live set with Limo. Is it the first time you will be playing together? How will you approach it?
Yes. It is the first time that Limo and I will do a live set together. We’ve shared a lot up till now as friends, DJs, and producers and now we’ve decided to do a live show together because we work really well together and understand each other very quickly in the studio. Limo similarly really understands my approach and passion for analogue machines, and, in my opinion, he is a real talent in the studio. In fact, Limo will be the first release on my new label.
And before the party, there will be a release presentation and panel with you. What can we be looking forward to?
I really like the idea of being able to share, together with my colleagues and those who will be present on the panel, our different points of view on the sounds we create and on the different types of approach in the studio. Thank you very much indeed, Simone and Out-ER, for giving me this possibility. See you in Berlin.
From January, Mørk display their live chops:
Live in Berlin Thursday, Buck and Limo (Fachwerk) will premiere a new live set together. (Watch for this combo in 2016 as they work together on a release on Substrato, Stefanio’s new label.)
also on Resident Advisor
Author Zuzana Friday P?ikrylová is CDM’s editorial assistant and has been covering the underground electronic music scene for many years, starting in her native Czech. Apart from CDM, that includes contributions to Secret Thirteen, HIS Voice, and Artalk, as well as her own SkyWireBlog. She’s also booking manager for Bükko Tapes.
For more of her recent underground label finds on CDM:
The post Out-ER’s soundscapes, driven by real research into the feels appeared first on Create Digital Music.
There’s probably no more prolific man in the DIY synth scene than Ray Wilson. His Music From Outer Space has a galactic-sized library of projects for electronic musicians. And that’s just part of his contributions.
So that means all of us in this community are hugely saddened to learn that Ray faces serious cancer. With self-employed health care still a major challenge in the United States, that brings with it crippling medical expenses. His kids have turned to crowd funding to try to fight to get him treatment he needs.
You can read through that story on the funding site, but in the meantime, I’ll just refer to Ray’s accomplishments – just a few that he’s shared as a musician and inventor:
Music from Outer Space is an extraordinary archive of materials. (I was just referring to it for a story for MAKE in Germany.)
He’s the creator of projects like the Weird Sound Generator.
He has built an entire soup-to-nuts project for making your own modular analog synth, the MFO.
He’s the author of Make: Analog Synthesizers.
And to top all of this (and many other achievements), he has himself contributed to the health of others, in the research and development of implantable defibrillators and pacemakers. I hope dearly that karma can be returned.
You can contribute here:
And in the United States and around the world, this is another reminder that artists and inventors can give more if health care gives to them.
The latest from Ray’s YouTube channel:
And a look at that amazing DIY synth:
There’s a Facebook page to follow, as well:
The post DIY synth legend Ray Wilson needs help in cancer fight appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Ableton’s Push 2 has a big, beautiful, color display. But what goes on that display is limited to what Ableton has built in – or, rather, it was, until now.
London-based producer/hacker sigabort has already built a Max object that lets you access the display directly as a high-res, color texture. Max boffins, this means you can even use Jitter objects directly. And for those who have no idea what the previous sentence just meant, think of it this way: Max patches will now be able to create their own full-color visual outputs, for practical or entertainment purposes. (Max for Live support is coming, which is the big one.) It’s fast, too – roughly 18 fps rendering and native externals for Mac and Windows.
As if that weren’t enough, a standalone library is coming, too. You can try out a free, time-limited (60-minute) version, or go ahead and donate a minimum of 5GBP via PayPal (more for commercial use).
Yep, we’ll be watching this one – and what you do with it. Just don’t use Comic Sans, okay, unless you work for CERN.
Thanks to @archnerdian / Safet for the tip!
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.
There are a few things that make this one special, even to those of us who have seen such items before.
1. It’s big. It appears that the basis of this is a very large display, cleverly built into a slick-looking table-top interface.
2. It’s visual. A crisp, clear waveform display attractively shows you where you are. Nicely executed, that.
3. It’s physical. Big knobs and faders and a keyboard set this apart from the iPad apps and whatnot that do the same – and also set up the possibility for collaboration.
4. It samples. Built-in sampling is connected to a SuperCollider engine underneath for responsive sonic control.
More here, though they’re a bit scant on details other than it’s a one-off prototype. (And the site is, sadly, orange and full of big ads! But the prototype itself is great!)
Built your own interesting granular controller? We’d love to see it.
Seems this could also be a chance to open up design ideas. Speaking of which, I really should come up with a better interface for my own mangled Pd creation and maybe clean up the patch enough that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to let anyone see it!
But really brilliant and inspiring work, lads! This raises the bar. Or, at least, the table.
The post Collidoscope is a giant table-top granular instrument appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Check out artist Aaron Kramer‘s drawing machine. Using two large cams, a parallel linkage, and a great to deal of experimentation this machine is able to draw the artist’s face with a single line over the course of about 15 seconds. It is still a self-portrait if a machine draws the picture? I think so…
Nov 20, 2015 0
It doesn’t have screens. There are no giant wheels or touchstrips. There’s no complex software integration, or built-in mixer, or pads for remixing.
But what the DJ4 is is what you might be missing in other DJ controllers. It’s got the controls you need in a tiny, tiny footprint that won’t have you hunting for new luggage or scrambling around a venue to find a bigger table because your gear won’t fit in the booth. (Ahem, yes, you know who you are, giant controllers.) And unlike the increasingly branded, computer-tied world of DJ controllers, this one also works with anything – now even as a MIDI controller without a computer in sight. In other words, it’s a Faderfox.
Out of the box, the German-built box does work with the German DJ software of choice, Native Instruments Traktor Pro and Ableton Live. You get eight centered pots for EQ and filter, and three faders in a two channel / crossfader configuration. Effects are unbelievably crammed in there, too, via push-button access, though by the time you’ve gone this small, you could easily map another of the Faderfox range.
What’s new on the DJ4:
MIDI ports, for use standalone with hardware gear (or to make this double as a MIDI interface)
Four additional buttons (filter and kill)
Four saved setups, with programmable behavior, making it easier to map this to other software
Colored caps so you can see controls more easily in low light
The switchable MIDI routings and parameter mappings to me are really appealing. I’m a huge fan of what Ableton and Native Instruments have done with their own hardware. But on the other hand, you’re beginning to see a situation where you’re carrying around a dedicated controller for each app. Faderfox remains a holdout in the industry for general-purpose controls.
Since this runs on 5V power, you can use a standard USB power adapter for standalone operation. For everything else, you can bus power, including via the Camera Connection Kit on iPad.
I haven’t yet got to try those new caps, but otherwise this looks like standard Faderfox stuff, which is to say tiny and indestructible.
Special controller for DJ software (optimised for Native Instruments Traktor Pro)
iPad compatible with camera connection kit
Setup files for Traktor Pro and Ableton Live are shipped with the controller
USB interface – class compliant / no driver necessary
MIDI in and out ports with routing and merge functionality
Controls up to four decks – easy switching between deck A-C and B-D on the fly
Four FX slots available
4 multifunctional push encoders with detents switchable to 7 groups
24 colored buttons
All controls with double function by holding down the shift button
22 LEDs in different colors to display feedback informations
4 internal setups with various programmable functions
USB bus powering – consumption less than 500mW / 100mA
Very compact design in a black, plastic casing (desktop format)
Size 180 x 105 x 70 mm, weight 350 g
Black aluminium front plate with laser inscriptions (abrasion resistant)
High-quality faders, pots and encoders from ALPS
New rubber knobs for best tactile feeling
The UC4 universal controller remains the most interesting generic controller, and standalone step-sequencing on the SC4 is also nice. But it’s nice to see the fourth-generation range finished out.
192€ before VAT (so that’s the price anywhere outside Europe).
The post As other DJ controller gets bigger, this one’s still tiny appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Nov 20, 2015 0
With a little setup, you can integrate a hardware synth with Reaper as if it’s a software plug-in. Check out the video tutorial from The Reaper Blog to see how.
Reaper is a terrific “indie” DAW for the budget-conscious. Just $60 buys you an individual personal license with a bunch of free upgrades. (“Commercial” use is described as anyone making more than $20k a year – plenty of very serious musicians make less than that.)
The price is nice, but an even better reason to respect Reaper is that the developers at Cockos consistently pack in lots of engineering details. The ReaInsert plug-in seen here is a good example. ReaInsert lets you individually map sends and returns for audio, remap MIDI channels, define volume for sends and returns, and even “ping” to automatically set delay compensation, all via a single interface. All of this is possible in other DAWs, but typically with more manual configuration in different locations, not what’s available here in this integrated interface.
And the upshot of all of that is, after configuring the tutorial, you can “set it and forget it” – using any synth as if it’s software. (Kudos to Elektron for their cool Overbridge tech, but this can cover everything else.)
So let’s add up costs: Reaper is sixty bucks, our newest MeeBlip anode will set you back $120 (now, ahem, with free shipping, the Marketing Department would like to remind you, that department also being, erm, me) — throw in an audio/MIDI interface and you’re ready to go.
Thanks, Jon, for the tutorial and the opportunity for some blatant synth promotion. Now I’m going to check out these other tutorials, and consider doing the next track in Reaper.
The post Use a hardware synth like it’s a plug-in – in a $60 DAW appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Nov 18, 2015 0
Five years ago this month, CDM unveiled the MeeBlip project. It was a chance to put our love of synthesizers into a physical form we could share. And we had no idea where it would take us.
Five years later, we’ve sold thousands of the musical instruments, all engineered by their creator James Grahame in Calgary, and all fully open source. In that time, we’ve also worked hard to make the MeeBlip constantly better, and easier for more people to get their hands on and use. Today, we celebrate five years, and what we think is our best MeeBlip yet. We’re also lowering the price.
The newest MeeBlip anode includes all the features the anode has brought (and that has won rave reviews from the likes of Sound on Sound, Keyboard, and Resident Advisor). That includes its edgy bass sound and analog filter, plus updated features like hands-on control of filter and amplitude envelope, improvements to filter performance, and different built-in wavetables for a wide variety of sound possibilities.
Now, we’re making a permanent price reduction on anode to US$119.95. We’re also offering free shipping to the USA and Canada and discounted shipping worldwide, in celebration of five years of MeeBlip.
(We’ll also soon have something to announce for European customers wanting faster shipping and all taxes and duty included.)
We’re just getting started. We’ve learned a lot in those five years, and that’s given us ideas for how we can do everything we do a bit better. So thanks for staying with us, and stay tuned for more.
In the meantime, here’s a look back…
The anode is the second major MeeBlip model. Here are three variations together: the SE generation, the original anode, and the special edition anode with wavetables.
The very first MeeBlip had a quirky faceplate designed by Tasmanian designer Nathanael Jeanneret. If you’ve got one of these, they’re pretty rare.
Building on the simple, hackable, open nature of the instrument, projects over the years have included all sorts of fanciful designs. Gwydion ap Dafydd of Konkreet Labs even placed one inside a cookbook:
And Dutch industrial designer / media artist Arvid Jense, while interning with us, made an incredible DIY sequencer/MeeBlip combination to support jamming (see Instructables:
There have been wild mods, like Shawn Rudiman building an entire control voltage-controlled model and an aluminum, rack-mounted case:
It’s been a frequent guest in hack days and hack-a-thons, talking to plants, or to the Internet at SONAR (even before Internet of Things was such a buzzword):
Countless other models have appeared in wild and novel enclosures, as documented on our Pinterest page.
And then came anode. The goal was to design a MeeBlip that was smaller and had fewer knobs – but felt like it had greater, richer sound potential. That meant lots of attention to how parameters were designed, so that each knob turn was satisfying. And we’ve been pleased that reviews from users and press understood and appreciated what we worked on.
But in the end, this is a personal journey. James and I have learned that making instruments means discovering what musicians can do with devices you imagine. The goal is to create objects that become something more than what we can do on our own. That’s why we’ve stayed with it, and why we’ll keep staying with it. So the best part of this job, without question, is seeing what people do – and hearing the results.
There are many examples like that, like this all-anode track produced by Andrius Mamontovas.
We could use your help. Let us know what you think of what we’re doing, and what we can do to do it better. And if you like the MeeBlip, help us spread the word, and get synthesizers in more hands.
MeeBlip anode is in stock and shipping worldwide right now.
And most of all: thank you.