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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2019 » May » 23


Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 9:08 pm

Playdate is a Game Boy-ish gaming handheld with a hand crank on it, wired for delivering indie and experimental games weekly. And it comes from an unlikely collaboration: Mac/iOS developer Panic with synth maker Teenage Engineering.

Yes, that svelte retro industrial look and unmistakable hand crank are the influence of prolific Swedish game house Teenage Engineering. And TE have already demonstrated their love of cranks on their synths, the OP-1 and OP-Z.

This isn’t a Teenage Engineering product, though – and here’s the even more surprising part. The handheld hardware comes from Panic, the long-time Mac and iOS developer. I’ve been a Panic owner over the years, having used their FTP and Web dev products early on in CDM’s life, as did a couple of my designers, and even messing around with Mac icons obsessively back in the day.

But now Panic are doing games – the spooky Wyoming mystery Firewatch, which has earned them some real street cred, and an upcoming thing with a goose.

The really interesting twist here is that the “Playdate” title is a reference to games that appear weekly. And this is where I might imagine this whole thing dovetailing with music. I mean, first, music and indie games naturally go hand in hand, and from the very start of CDM, the game community have been into strange music stuff.

The obvious crossover at some point would be some unusual music games and without question some kind of music creation tool – like nanoloop or LittleGPTracker. nanoloop got its own handheld iteration recently – see below – but this would be a natural hardware platform too.

Even barring that, though, I imagine some dovetailing audiences for this. And it does look cute.

Specs:
400×240 (that’s way more resolution than the original Game Boy), black and white screen
No backlight (okay, so kind of a pain for handheld chip music performance)
Built-in speaker (a little one)
D-pad, A and B switches
USB-C connector
… and it looks like there is a headphone jack

Not sure what the buttons on top and next to the display do – power and lock, maybe?

Involved game designers are tantalizing, too – and have some interesting music connections:

Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy)

Zach Gage (SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing)

Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and – music lead again, he was the bassist in Cut Copy, remember them?)

Shaun Inman (also a game composer, as well as a designer of Retro Game Crunch, The Last Rocket, Flip’s Escape, etc.)

This takes me back to that one time I hosted a one-button game exhibition at GDC (the game developer conference) with Kokoromi, the Montreal game collective. That has accessibility implications, too, including for music. (Flashback to their game showcase at the same time.) So there is crossover here, I mean – and intersecting interests between composers and game designers, too.

US$149 will buy you the console and a 12 game subscription. Coming early 2020.

Music connections or no, it looks like a toy we’ll want to have.

https://play.date/

EDGE, the print mag, has an exclusive – with an excerpt of that feature online:

https://play.date/edge/

Thanks to Oliver Chesler for the tip.

Obvious marketing campaign, though only for Panic wanting to market to Americans of my age or so…

The post Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Teenage Engineering has a record label and a pocket modular pop music video

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 8:38 pm

Dear young Buster: why do you look so sad and lonely? Don’t you know that having a yellow Teenage Engineering pocket modular is all the love you need?

Okay, so Buster is in fact Millenial Swedish pop star up and comer Emil Lennstrand, and he is the first face of a record label (really) from the perpetually-open-to-creative-distraction crew of Teenage Engineering. You see, having done cameras for IKEA and marketing campaigns and various synthesizers and … bicycles and lamps and other things … the Teenagers are now getting into a record label.

It’s surprisingly silky-smooth pop from this otherwise fairly hypernerdy and experimental Stockholm shop. But it does predictably feature Teenage Engineering instruments – in this case the pocket operator modular.

They bill the song as “partly produced” by that system 400 (what – the modular isn’t used on the vocals?). But it’s slick stuff, for sure.

The other star of the music video is this – TE’s pocket operator modular series.

So what’s up with the record label? It’s tough to tell from this one track, but here’s what the Teenagers say for themselves:

first teenage engineering started their own band to field test their instruments. now they are taking the next step starting a record label for songs made with teenage engineering products. there are just two rules, it needs to be a good song (easy) and have at least one of teenage engineerings instruments used in the song. the main distribution platform for their releases will be spotify.

Now that’s some serious Swedish loyalty, going Spotify only.

I’m slightly confused, but intrigued. To my mind, the OP-Z remains the best thing recently from Teenage Engineering hands down, but stay tuned for my explanation of why I feel that way.

And there’s more Teenage Engineering stuff to come, including me joining them in Barcelona during SONAR+D this summer – which means a chance to grill them for more information, of course.

https://teenage.engineering/

The post Teenage Engineering has a record label and a pocket modular pop music video appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A Buchla synth repair turned into an LSD trip, and made the evening news

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 5:18 pm

It seems the legends are true – there really was LSD added to vintage synths. A Bay Area, California Buchla 100 reportedly triggered an acid trip decades later.

The equipment in question is a Buchla Model 100, 1960s vintage – the modular that defined what now some people call the “West Coast synthesis” style. I learned on one of these, too, though don’t recall any particular hallucinations.

The report comes from a local CBS television affiliate in San Francisco, KPIX, and their broadcast operator Eliot Curtis. (Synthtopia beats me to this one, though I’d seen the video last night – karma for when I was writing up Elektron news next to them this month!)

The LSD itself was located inside the machine, looking like crystals, and while we don’t have the specifics of the test, was apparently tested for authenticity. Finger contact with that substance triggered a nine-hour trip.

You may be wondering how this LSD lasted this long. I haven’t been able to find any data on that – which might suggest whether or not this LSD originated at the Buchla’s manufacture or whether someone added it later, or even if the story is true at all (CBS or not). The only study I could find deals with decomposition in urine, not storage of the chemical itself. But the synth should at least have kept the substance away from light and most likely also humidity, reducing its rate of deterioration. (Eliot also seems… well, fairly convinced!)

Whether you believe the LSD here is from the 60s or not, there is a verified association of Don Buchla and LSD and the use of the drug at some events. (That doesn’t mean everyone was tripping – I heard the Joshua Light Show creators explain that they needed to stay sober for their work, and the optical effects were effectively trippy enough!)

From the CBS report:

In 1966, some Buchla modules ended up on an old school bus purchased by LSD advocate Ken Kesey and his followers known as the Merry Pranksters.

During the last of Kesey’s acid tests — LSD-fueled parties — at Winterland on Halloween in 1966, electronic sounds, possibly from the Buchla, appeared to interrupt an interview of Kesey.

Buchla used LSD and was friends with Owsley Stanley, the genius behind the Grateful Dead’s sound system. Stanley, also known as Bear, was a masterful sound engineer and legendary hero of the counterculture. He was also famous for making the purest LSD to ever hit the street and kept such a low profile that not many photos of him exist.

What is in question here seems to be the exact provenance of these modules, which might locate the history of the alleged LSD discovery. Knowing who reads CDM, I imagine our readers may have some idea.

Also, while Synthtopia and others say this means the ‘red panel’ myth was true, that may be a stretch. The story is, the red paint on Buchla’s red panels had LSD in it – so you could, perhaps, lick the panel if you needed a little extra creative flow in the studio. I had also heard this story related when I was researching the Moog recreation of Keith Emerson’s modular – don’t forget, the East Coast was into some strange trips in the 60s and 70s, too. But those stories notwithstanding, it at least sounds like this particular acid had been stashed inside the machine, not in the paint as the legend goes.

Then again, who cares where it was – synths that can make you literally hallucinate are a pretty wild discovery, let alone the possibility that they might do so decades later.

As for the TV report, it’s worth watching just to see their reporter do the open in front of the synth – this is not your normal evening news special interest story, so thank you, Bay Area, you’ve still got it:

Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer

Having just returned from Russia, let me say on behalf of people repairing Soviet instruments, “ah, lucky Americans, they get actual LSD causing their hallucinations, not old Communist chemicals…” (I’ll try to inhale deeply while I’m in Riga near some Polivoks and can let you know what happens. Seriously, don’t lick any eastern bloc electronics. Or… some of our current stuff, for that matter!)

For more Buchla 100 history, here’s an unboxing by the Library of Congress – though no word on whether this got the US government or this University of Chicago researcher high:

Unboxing the Buchla Model 100 [Library of Congress Blogs]

This song seems … literal now:

The post A Buchla synth repair turned into an LSD trip, and made the evening news appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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