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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Artists


Exploring a journey from Bengali heritage to electronic invention

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Mon 16 Jul 2018 8:42 pm

Can electronic music tell a story about who we are? Debashis Sinha talks about his LP for Establishment, The White Dog, and how everything from Toronto noodle bowls to Bengali field recordings got involved.

The Canadian artist has a unique knack for melding live percussion techniques and electro-acoustic sound with digital manipulation, and in The White Dog, he dives deep into his own Bengali heritage. Just don’t think of “world music.” What emerges is deeply his and composed in a way that’s entirely electro-acoustic in course, not a pastiche of someone else’s musical tradition glued onto some beats. And that’s what drew me to it – this is really the sound of the culture of Debashis, the individual.

And that seems connected to what electronic music production can be – where its relative ease and accessibility can allow us to focus on our own performance technique and a deeper sense of expression. So it’s a great chance not just to explore this album, but what that trip in this work might say to the rest of us.

CDM’s label side project Establishment put out the new release. I spoke to Debashis just after he finished a trip to Germany and a live performance of the album at our event in Berlin. He writes us from his home Toronto.

First, the album:

I want to start with this journey you took across India. What was that experience like? How did you manage to gather research while in that process?

I’ve been to India many times to travel on my own since I turned 18 – usually I spend time with family in and near Kolkata, West Bengal and then travel around, backpacking style. Since the days of Walkman cassette recorders, I’ve always carried something with me to record sound. I didn’t have a real agenda in mind when I started doing it – it was the time of cassettes, really, so in my mind there wasn’t much I could do with these recordings – but it seemed like an important process to undertake. I never really knew what I was going to do with them. I had no knowledge of what sound art was, or radio art, or electroacoustic music. I switched on the recorder when I felt I had to – I just knew I had to collect these sounds, somehow, for me.

As the years went on and I understood the possibilities for using sound captured in the wild on both a conceptual and technical level, and with the advent of tools to use them easily, I found that to my surprise that the act of recording (when in India, at least) didn’t really change. I still felt I was documenting something that was personal and vital to my identity or heart, and the urge to turn on the recorder still came from a very deep place. It could easily have been that I gathered field sound in response to or in order to complete some kind of musical idea, but every time I tried to turn on the recorder in order to gather “assets” for my music, I found myself resisting. So in the end I just let it be, safe in the knowledge that whatever I gathered had a function for me, and may (or may not) in future have a function for my music or sound work. It didn’t feel authentic to gather sound otherwise.

Even though this is your own heritage, I suppose it’s simultaneously something foreign. How did you relate to that, both before and after the trip?

My father moved to Winnipeg, in the center of Canada, almost 60 years ago, and at the time there were next to no Indian (i.e. people from India) there. I grew up knowing all the brown people in the city. It was a different time, and the community was so small, and from all over India and the subcontinent. Passing on art, stories, myth and music was important, but not so much language, and it was easy to feel overwhelmed – I think that passing on of culture operated very differently from family to family, with no overall cultural support at large to bolster that identity for us.

My mom – who used to dance with Uday Shankar’s troupe would corral all the community children to choreograph “dance-dramas” based on Hindu myths. The first wave of Indian people in Winnipeg finally built the first Hindu temple in my childhood – until then we would congregate in people’s basement altars, or in apartment building common rooms.

There was definitely a relationship with India, but it was one that left me what I call “in/between” cultures. I had to find my own way to incorporate my cultural heritage with my life in Canada. For a long time, I had two parallel lives — which seemed to work fine, but when I started getting serious about music it became something I really had to wrestle with. On the one hand, there was this deep and rich musical heritage that I had tenuous connections to. On the other hand, I was also interested in the 2-Tone music of the UK, American hardcore, and experimental music. I took tabla lessons in my youth, as I was interested in and playing drums, but I knew enough to know I would never be a classical player, and had no interest in pursuing that path, understanding even then that my practice would be eclectic.

I did have a desire to contribute to my Indian heritage from where I sat – to express somehow that “in/between”-ness. And the various trips I undertook on my own to India since I was a young person were in part an effort to explore what that expression might take, whether I knew it or not. The collections of field recordings (audio and later video) became a parcel of sound that somehow was a thread to my practice in Canada on the “world music” stage and later in the realms of sound art and composition.

One of the projects I do is a durational improvised concert called “The (X) Music Conference”, which is modeled after the all-night classical music concerts that take place across India. They start in the evening and the headliner usually goes on around 4am and plays for 3 or more hours. Listening to music for that long, and all night, does something to your brain. I wanted to give that experience to audience members, but I’m only one person, so my concert starts at midnight and goes to 7am. There is tea and other snacks, and people can sit or lie down. I wanted to actualize this idea of form (the classical music concert) suffused with my own content (sound improvisations) – it was a way to connect the music culture of India to my own practice. Using field recordings in my solo work is another, or re-presenting/-imagining Hindu myths another.

I think with the development of the various facets of my sound practice, I’ve found a way to incorporate this “form and content” approach, allowing the way that my cultural heritage functions in my psyche to express itself through the tools I use in various ways. It wasn’t an easy process to come to this balance, but along the way I played music with a lot of amazing people that encouraged me in my explorations.

In terms of integrating what you learned, what was the process of applying that material to your work? How did your work change from its usual idioms?

I went through a long process of compartmentalizing when I discovered (and consumer technology supported) producing electroacoustic work easily. When I was concentrating on playing live music with others on the stage, I spent a lot of time studying various drumming traditions under masters all over – Cairo, Athens, NYC, LA, Toronto – and that was really what kept me curious and driven, knowing I was only glimpsing something that was almost unknowable completely.

As the “world music” industry developed, though, I found the “story” of playing music based on these traditions less and less engaging, and the straight folk festival concert format more and more trivial – fun, but trivial – in some ways. I was driven to tell stories with sound in ways that were more satisfying to me, that ran deeper. These field recordings were a way in, and I made my first record with this in mind – Quell. I simply sat down and gathered my ideas and field recordings, and started to work. It was the first time I really sustained an artistic intention all the way through a major project on my own. As I gained facility with my tools, and as I became more educated on what was out there in the world of this kind of sound practice, I found myself seeking these kinds of sound contexts more and more.

However, what I also started to do was eschew my percussion experience. I’m not sure why, but it was a long time before I gave myself permission to introduce more musical and percussion elements into the sound art type of work I was producing. I think in retrospect I was making up rules that I thought applied, in an effort to navigate this new world of sound production – maybe that was what was happening. I think now I’m finding a balance between music, sound, and story that feels good to me. It took a while though.

I’m curious about how you constructed this. You’ve talked a bit about assembling materials over a longer span of time (which is interesting, too, as I know Robert is working the same way). As we come along on this journey of the album, what are we hearing; how did it come together? I know some of it is live… how did you then organize it?

This balance between the various facets of my sound practice is a delicate one, but it’s also driven by instinct, because really, instinct is all I have to depend on. Whereas before I would give myself very strict parameters about how or what I would produce for a given project, now I’m more comfortable drawing from many kinds of sound production practice.

Many of the pieces on “The White Dog” started as small ideas – procedural or mixing explorations. The “Harmonium” pieces were from a remix of the soundtrack to a video art piece I made at the Banff Centre in Canada (White Dog video link here???), where I wanted to make that video piece a kind of club project. “entr’acte” is from a live concert I did with prepared guitar and laptop accompanying the works of Canadian visual artist Clive Holden. Tracks on other records were part of scores for contemporary dance choreographer Peggy Baker (who has been a huge influence on how I make music, speaking of being open). What brought all these pieces together was in a large part instinct, but also a kind of story that I felt was being told. This cross pollination of an implied dramatic thread is important to me.

And there’s some really beautiful range of percussion and the like. What are the sources for the record? How did you layer them?

I’ve quite a collection, and luckily I’ve built that collection through real relationships with the instruments, both technical and emotional/spiritual. They aren’t just cool sounds (although they’re that, too) — but each has a kind of voice that I’ve explored and understood in how I play it. In that regard, it’s pretty clear to me what instrument needs to be played or added as I build a track.

Something new happens when you add a live person playing a real thing inside an electronic environment. It’s something I feel is a deep part of my voice. It’s not the only way to hear a person inside a piece of music, but it;s the way I put myself in my works. I love metallic sounds, and sounds with a lot of sustain, or power. I’m intrigued by how percussion can be a texture as well as a rhythm, so that is something I explore. I’m a huge fan of French percussionist Le Quan Ninh, so the bass-drum-as-tabletop is a big part of my live setup and also my studio setup.

This programmatic element is part of what makes this so compelling to me as a full LP. How has your experience in the theater imprinted on your musical narratives?

My theater work encompasses a wide range of theater practice – from very experimental and small to quite large stages. Usually I do both the sound design and the music, meaning pretty much anything coming out of a speaker from sound effects to music.

My inspiration starts from many non-musical places. That’s mostly, the text/story, but not always — anything could spark a cue, from the set design to the director’s ideas to even how an actor moves. Being open to these elements has made me a better composer, as I often end up reacting to something that someone says or does, and follow a path that ends up in music that I never would have made on my own. It has also made me understand better how to tell stories, or rather maybe how not to – the importance of inviting the audience into the construction of the story and the emotion of it in real time. Making the listener lean forward instead of lean back, if you get me.

This practice of collaborative storytelling of course has impact on my solo work (and vice versa) – it’s made me find a voice that is more rooted in story, in comparison to when I was spending all my time in bands. I think it’s made my work deeper and simpler in many ways — distilled it, maybe — so that the story becomes the main focus. Of course when I say “story” I mean not necessarily an explicit narrative, but something that draws the listener from end to end. This is really what drives the collecting and composition of a group of tracks for me (as well as the tracks themselves) and even my improvisations.

Oh, and on the narrative side – what’s going on with Buddha here, actually, as narrated by the ever Buddha-like Robert Lippok [composer/artist on Raster Media]?

I asked Robert Lippok to record some text for me many years ago, a kind of reimagining the mind of Gautama Buddha under the bodhi tree in the days leading to his enlightenment. I had this idea that maybe what was going through his mind might not have been what we may imagine when we think of the myth itself. I’m not sure where this idea came from – although I’m sure that hearing many different versions of the same myths from various sources while growing up had its effect – but it was something I thought was interesting. I do this often with my works (see above link to Kailash) and again, it’s a way I feel I can contribute to the understanding of my own cultural heritage in a way that is rooted in both my ancestor’s history as well as my own.

And of course, when one thinks of what the Buddha might have sounded like, I defy you to find someone who sounds more perfect than Robert Lippok.

Techno is some kind of undercurrent for this label, maybe not in the strict definition of the genre… I wonder actually if you could talk a bit about pattern and structure. There are these rhythms throughout that are really hypnotic, that regularity seems really important. How do you go about thinking about those musical structures?

The rhythms I seem drawn to run the gamut of time signatures and tempos. Of course, this comes from my studies of various music traditions and repertoire (Arabic, Greek, Turkish, West Asian, south Indian…). As a hand percussionist for many years playing and studying music from various cultures, I found a lot of parallels and cross talk particularly in the rhythms of the material I encountered. I delighted in finding the groove in various tempos and time signatures. There is a certain lilt to any rhythm; if you put your mind and hands to it, the muscles will reveal this lilt. At the same time, the sound material of electronic music I find very satisfying and clear. I’m at best a middling recording engineer, so capturing audio is not my forte – working in the box I find way easier. As I developed skills in programming and sound design, I seemed to be drawn to trying to express the rhythms I’ve encountered in my life with new tools and sounds.

Regularity and grid is important in rhythm – even breaking the grid, or stretching it to its breaking point has a place. (You can hear this very well in south Indian music, among others.) This grid undercurrent is the basis of electronic music and the tools used to make it. The juxtaposition of the human element with various degrees of quantization of electronic sound is something I think I’ll never stop exploring. Even working strongly with a grid has a kind of energy and urgency to it if you’re playing acoustic instruments. There’s a lot to dive into, and I’m planning to work with that idea a lot more for the next release(s).

And where does Alvin Lucier fit in, amidst this Bengali context?

The real interest for me in creating art lies in actualizing ideas, and Lucier is perhaps one of the masters of this – taking an idea of sound and making it real and spellbinding. “Ng Ta (Lucier Mix)” was a piece I started to make with a number of noodle bowls I found in Toronto’s Chinatown – the white ones with blue fishes on them. The (over)tones and rhythms of the piece as it came together reminded me of a piece I’m really interested in performing, “Silver Streetcar for The Orchestra”, a piece for amplified triangle by Lucier. Essentially the musician plays an amplified triangle, muting and playing it in various places for the duration of the piece. It’s an incredible meditation, and to me Ng Ta on The White Dog is a meditation as well – it certainly came together in that way. And so the title.

I wrestle with the degree with which I invoke my cultural heritage in my work. Sometimes it’s very close to the surface, and the work is derived very directly from Hindu myth say, or field recordings from Kolkata. Sometimes it simmers in other ways, and with varying strength. I struggle with allowing it to be expressed instinctually or more directly and with more intent. Ultimately, the music I make is from me, and all those ideas apply whether or not I think of them consciously.

One of the problems I have with the term “world music” is it’s a marketing term to allow the lumping together of basically “music not made by white people”, which is ludicrous (as well as other harsher words that could apply). To that end, the urge to classify my music as “Indian” in some way, while true, can also be a misnomer or an “out” for lazy listening. There are a billion people in India, I believe, and more on the subcontinent and abroad. Why wouldn’t a track like “entr’acte” be “Indian”? On the other hand, why would it? I’m also a product of the west. How can I manage those worlds and expectations and still be authentic? It’s something I work on and think about all the time – but not when I’m actually making music, thank goodness.

I’m curious about your live set, how you were working with the Novation controllers, and how you were looping, etc.

My live sets are always, always constructed differently – I’m horrible that way. I design new effects chains and different ways of using my outboard MIDI gear depending on the context. I might use contact mics on a kalimba and a prepared guitar for one show, and then a bunch of external percussion that I loop and chop live for another, and for another just my voice, and for yet another only field recordings from India. I’ve used Ableton Live to drive a lot of sound installations as well, using follow actions on clips (“any” comes in handy a lot), and I’ve even made some installations that do the same thing with live input (making sure I have a 5 second delay on that input has….been occasionally useful, shall we say).

The concert I put together for The White Dog project is one that I try and keep live as much as possible. It’s important to me to make sure there is room in the set for me to react to the room or the moment of performance – this is generally true for my live shows, but since I’m re-presenting songs that have a life on a record, finding a meaningful space for improv was trickier.

Essentially, I try and have as many physical knobs and faders as possible – either a Novation Launch Control XL or a Behringer BCR2000 [rotary controller], which is a fantastic piece of gear (I know – Behringer?!). I use a Launchpad Mini to launch clips and deal with grid-based effects, and I also have a little Launch Control mapped to the effects parameters and track views or effects I need to see and interact with quickly. Since I’m usually using both hands to play/mix, I always have a Logidy UMI3 to control live looping from a microphone. It’s a 3 button pedal which is luckily built like a tank, considering how many times I’ve dropped it. I program it in various ways depending on the project – for The White Dog concerts with MIDI learn in the Ableton looper to record/overdub, undo and clear button, but the Logidy software allows you to go a lot deeper. I have the option to feed up to 3 effects chains, which I sometimes switch on the fly with dummy clips.

The Max For Live community has been amazing and I often keep some kind of chopper on one of the effect chains, and use the User mode on the Launchpad Mini to punch in and out or alter the length of the loop or whatnot. Sometimes I keep controls for another looper on that grid.

Basically, if you want an overview – I’m triggering clips, and have a live mic that I use for percussion and voice for the looper. I try and keep the mixer in a 1:1 relationship with what’s being played/played back/routed to effects because I’m old school – I find it tricky to do much jumping around when I’m playing live instruments. It’s not the most complicated setup but it gets the job done, and I feel like I’ve struck a balance between electronics and live percussion, at least for this project.

What else are you listening to? Do you find that your musical diet is part of keeping you creative, or is it somehow partly separate?

I jump back and forth – sometimes I listen to tons of music with an ear to try and expand my mind, sometimes just to enjoy myself. Sometimes I stop listening to music just because I’m making a lot on my own. One thing I try to always take care of is my mind. I try to keep it open and curious, and try to always find new ideas to ponder. I am inspired by a lot of different things – paintings, visual art, music, sound art, books – and in general I’m really curious about how people make an idea manifest – science, art, economics, architecture, fashion, it doesn’t matter. Looking into or trying to derive that jump from the mind idea to the actual real life expression of it I find endlessly fascinating and inspiring, even when I’m not totally sure how it might have happened. It’s the guessing that fuels me.

That being said, at the moment I’m listening to lots of things that I feel are percolating some ideas in me for future projects, and most of it coming from digging around the amazing Bandcamp site. Frank Bretschneider turned me on to goat(jp), which is an incredible quartet from Japan with incredible rhythmic and textural muscle. I’ve rediscovered the fun of listening to lots of Stereolab, who always seem to release the same record but still make it sound fresh. Our pal Robert Lippok just released a new record and I am so down with it – he always makes music that straddles the emotional and the electronic, which is something I’m so interested in doing.

I continue to make my way through the catalog of French percussionist Le Quan Ninh, who is an absolute warrior in his solo percussion improvisations. Tanya Tagaq is an incredible singer from Canada – I’m sure many of the people reading this know of her – and her live band, drummer Jean Martin, violinist Jesse Zubot, and choirmaster Christine Duncan, an incredible improv vocalist in her own right are unstoppable. We have a great free music scene in Toronto, and I love so many of the musicians who are active in it, many of them internationally known – Nick Fraser (drummer/composer), Lina Allemano (trumpet), Andrew Downing (cello/composer), Brodie West (sax) – not to mention folks like Sandro Perri and Ryan Driver. They’ve really lit a fire under me to be fierce and in the moment – listening to them is a recurring lesson in what it means to be really punk rock.

Buy and download the album now on Bandcamp.

https://debsinha.bandcamp.com/album/the-white-dog

The post Exploring a journey from Bengali heritage to electronic invention appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What makes music and creativity? A talk with Susan Rogers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Wed 4 Jul 2018 12:46 pm

What makes creativity work in music? What happens in the brain? Susan Rogers has uniquely contemplated those questions both alongside artists like Prince and in research into the mind.

I got the chance to interview Dr. Rogers at SONAR+D last month, and I found my own mind wandering to how her mind works, as she characterized different kinds of intelligence. She exudes an easy sense of empathy, and in both her talks at Ableton Loop and SONAR, she’s quick to remove her own ego and move her role out of the immediate act of creativity. I imagine the ability to do so would be essential when you’re in the studio with Prince or David Byrne or the various other oversized personalities she’s managed to work with over the years. Even our audience members seemed to immediately trust her – that unique unsung talent of the best kinds of people who work behind the superstars in music.

There was a fair bit of talk about Prince at Ableton Loop. But in Barcelona, we got to focus on the mind itself – and as Susan emphasized backstage, how to define what music is in the first place. And that moves us into her work in cognition and the neuroscience that works to decipher it.

Susan is so uniquely positioned to understand this now, surrounded by young, hungry rising musical stars at Berklee atop her decades of experience.

But I also really hope we start more cross-disciplinary conversations about the topic. There’s a slide bringing up classical greats – musicology has been so caught up in comparing manuscripts and whatnot that I think there’s a vast opportunity for more interaction with fields like neuroscience. And some of what Susan describes about creativity and its variability, its interaction with depression and social isolation, the different kinds of aptitudes and thinking styles and what that means for collaboration, I suspect speaks to a lot of us on a deeply personal level. And that may be true in our lives even if we’re nothing like Prince.

Have a watch – I’m sure you’ll be as engaged throughout as I was onstage.

And I hope we look deeper into this, as what better mystery in music to explore than the mind?

Previously:
Ranging from Neurology to Prince, Susan Rogers’ talk is must-watch

The post What makes music and creativity? A talk with Susan Rogers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch five hours of one of SONAR’s best stages in video

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Mon 18 Jun 2018 5:13 pm

Got some festival envy? Relax, sit back – one of the best stages from SONAR Festival in Barcelona last week is now online.

Of course, there’s no substitute for checking out live music. On the other hand, there’s also no substitute for partying at home, with no queues when you get thirsty and no one around but you. It’s all balance.

CDM will be bringing you a bit of SONAR Festival, but having scoped out the place myself, the Resident Advisor-sponsored night stage – and specifically this particular night of programming from said state – was one of the best programmed. And it seems that’s what our friends at RA chose to put online. So whether you know these artists or not or are getting a first introduction, full endorsement.

Octo Octa’s hair swinging back and forth while she killed that set is actually one of my enduring visual memories of this festival. I think things are currently truncated from the live stream but I’ll ask. Certainly this Saturday night on the RA stage was ideal – like a dream lineup.

The artists – DJ sets from Octo Octa on, but the rest live – with more links to more music and resources:

JASSS

Lanark Artefax

Errorsmith (interview with him coming soon to CDM, finally!)

Ben Klock B2B [back to back] with DJ Nobu

DJ Nobu official Facebook page

Motor City Drum Ensemble B2B Jeremy Underground

http://motorcitydrumensemble.com

The post Watch five hours of one of SONAR’s best stages in video appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Speaking in signal, across the divide between video and sound: SIGINT

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Wed 16 May 2018 5:58 pm

Performing voltages. The notion is now familiar in synthesis – improvising with signals – but what about the dance between noise and image? Artist Oliver Dodd has been exploring the audiovisual modular.

Integrated sound-image systems have been a fascination of the avant-garde through the history of electronic art. But if there’s a return to the raw signal, maybe that’s born of a desire to regain a sense of fusion of media that can be lost in overcomplicated newer work.

Underground label Detroit Underground has had one foot in technology, one in audiovisual output. DU have their own line of Eurorack modules and a deep interest in electronics and invention, matching a line of audiovisual works. And the label is even putting out AV releases on VHS tape. (Well, visuals need some answer to the vinyl phonograph. You were expecting maybe laserdiscs?)

And SIGINT, Oliver Dodd’s project, is one of the more compelling releases in that series. It debuted over the winter, but now feels a perfect time to delve into what it’s about – and some of Oliver’s other, evocative work.

First, the full description, which draws on images of scanning transmissions from space, but takes place in a very localized, Earthbound rig:

The concept of SIGINT is based on the idea of scanning, searching, and recording satellite transmissions in the pursuit of capturing what appear to be anomalies as intelligent signals hidden within the transmission spectrum.

SIGINT represents these raw recordings, captured in their live, original form. These audio-video recordings were performed and rendered to VHS in real-time in an attempt to experience, explore, decipher, study, and decode this deeply evocative, secret, and embedded form of communication whose origins appear both alien and unknown, like paranormal imprints or reflections of inter-dimensional beings reflected within the transmission stream.

The amazing thing about this project are the synchronicities formed between the audio and the video in real time. By connecting with the aural and the visual in this way, one generates and discovers strange, new, and interesting communications and compositions between these two spaces. The Modular Audio/Video system allows a direct connection between the video and the audio, and vice versa. A single patch cable can span between the two worlds and create new possibilities for each. The modular system used for SIGINT was one 6U case of only Industrial Music Electronics (Harvestman) modules for audio and one 3U case of LZX Industries modules for video.

Videos:

Album:

CDM: I’m going through all these lovely experiments on your YouTube channel. How do these experiments come about?

Oliver: My Instagram and YouTube content is mostly just a snapshot of a larger picture of what I am currently working on, either that day, or of a larger project or work generally, which could be either a live performance, for example, or a release, or a video project.

That’s one hell of an AV modular system. Can you walk us through the modules in there? What’s your workflow like working in an audiovisual system like this, as opposed to systems (software or hardware) that tend to focus on one medium or another?

It’s a two-part system. There is one part that is audio (Industrial Music Electronics, or “Harvestman”), and there is one part that is video (LZX Industries). They communicate with each other via control voltages and audio rate signals, and they can independently influence each other in both ways or directions. For example, the audio can control the video, and the control voltages generated in the video system can also control sources in the audio system.

Many of the triggers and control voltages are shared between the two systems, which creates a cohesive audio/video experience. However, not every audio signal that sounds good — or produces a nice sound — looks good visually, and therefore, further tweaking and conditioning of the voltages are required to develop a more cohesive and harmonious relationship between them.

The two systems: a 3U (smaller) audio system on the left handles the Harvestman audio modules, and 6U (taller) on the right includes video processing modules from LZX Industries. Cases designed by Elite Modular.

I’m curious about your notion of finding patterns or paranormal in the content. Why is that significant to you? Carl Sagan gets at this idea of listening to noise in his original novel Contact (using the main character listening to a washing machine at one point, if I recall). What drew you to this sort of idea – and does it only say something about the listener, or the data, too?

Data transmission surrounds us at all times. There are always invisible frequencies that are outside our ability to perceive them, flowing through the air and which are as unobstructed as the air itself. We can only perceive a small fraction of these phenomena. There are limitations placed on our ability to perceive as humans, and there are more frequencies than we can experience. There are some frequencies we can experience, and there are some that we cannot. Perhaps the latter can move or pass throughout the range of perception, leaving a trail or trace or impressions on the frequencies that we can perceive as it passes through, and which we can then decode.

What about the fact that this is an audiovisual creation? What does it mean to fuse those media for a project?

The amazing thing about this project are the synchronicities formed between the audio and the video in real time. By connecting with the aural and the visual in this way, one generates and discovers strange, new, and interesting communications and compositions between these two spaces. The modular audio/video system allows direct connection between the video and the audio, and vice versa. A single patch cable can span between the two worlds and create new possibilities for each.

And now, some loops…

Oliver’s “experiments” series is transcendent and mesmerizing:

If this were a less cruel world, the YouTube algorithm would only feed you this. But in the meantime, you can subscribe to his channel. And ignore the view counts, actually. One person watching this one video is already sublime.

Plus, from Oliver’s gorgeous Instagram account, some ambient AV sketches to round things out.

More at: https://www.instagram.com/_oliverdodd/

https://detund.bandcamp.com/

https://detund.bandcamp.com/album/sigint

The post Speaking in signal, across the divide between video and sound: SIGINT appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Learn how Tennyson translate between Ableton and percussion on kits

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 6 Apr 2018 5:19 pm

One of them likes to solve Rubik’s Cubes, blindfolded, on tour. The other is capable of executing elaborate drum programs programmed on a computer, on live percussion. Meet Tennyson and learn how they work.

As we saw before, Ableton Loop is a place not just for learning about a particular product for musicians, but gathering together ideas from the electronic music community as a whole. And Ableton have been sharing some of that work in an online minisite, so you get a free front row ticket to some of the event from wherever you are.

Tennyson is a good example of how explorations at Loop can cover playing technology as instrument – and everything that means for musicians. Watch:

Tennyson are a young Canadian brother and sister duo, with a unique musical idiom they tested together in live acoustic-electronic improvisations in jazz cafes. Complicated, angular rhythms flow effortlessly and gently, the line between kit and machine blurring. For Loop, they’re interviewed by Jesse Terry, who is product owner for Ableton Push (and has a long history working with the hardware that interacts with Live).

And the sample programming is insane: you get Runescape samples. A baby sneezing. The Mac volume control sound. It’s obsessive Internet-age programming – and then Tess plays this all as acoustic percussion and kit.

In this talk, they talk about jazz education, getting started as kids, Skype lessons. And then they get into the workings of a song.

The big trick here: the duo use Live’s Racks, using the Chain function, so that consistently mapped drum parts can cycle through different sounds as she plays. (I’ll review that technique in more detail soon.) 24 variable pads play all the sounds as Tess is playing.

Working with Chains in Ableton Live’s Device Racks can let you cycle through samples, patches, and layered/split instrument settings.

Part of why the video is interesting to watch is it’s really as much about how Tess has gradually learned how to memorize and recall these elaborate percussion parts. It’s a beautiful example of the human brain expanding to keep up with, then surpass, what the machine makes available.

For Luke’s part, there’s a monome [grid controller], keyboard triggers, and still more electronic pads. The monome loops chopped up samples, sticks can trigger more samples manually — it’s dense. He plays melodic parts both on keyboard and 4×4 pad grid.

The track makeup:

  • Arrangement view contains the song structure
  • A click track (obviously)
  • Software synths each have set lists of sounds, with clips triggering sound changes as MIDI program changes
  • The monome / mlrv sequencer

Here’s an (older) extended live set, so you can see more of how they play:

Here’s their dreamy, poppy latest music video (released March) – made all the more impressive when you realize they basically sound like this live:

More background on the band:

Welcome to the Magically Playful World of Tennyson [Red Bull Music]

New band of the week: Tennyson (No 14) [The Guardian]

Image courtesy the artists.

Check out a growing selection of content from Loop on Ableton’s minisite:

https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/loop/

Bonus: for a quick run-down on chains, here’s AfroDjMac:

The post Learn how Tennyson translate between Ableton and percussion on kits appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Learn how Tennyson translate between Ableton and percussion on kits

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 6 Apr 2018 5:19 pm

One of them likes to solve Rubik’s Cubes, blindfolded, on tour. The other is capable of executing elaborate drum programs programmed on a computer, on live percussion. Meet Tennyson and learn how they work.

As we saw before, Ableton Loop is a place not just for learning about a particular product for musicians, but gathering together ideas from the electronic music community as a whole. And Ableton have been sharing some of that work in an online minisite, so you get a free front row ticket to some of the event from wherever you are.

Tennyson is a good example of how explorations at Loop can cover playing technology as instrument – and everything that means for musicians. Watch:

Tennyson are a young Canadian brother and sister duo, with a unique musical idiom they tested together in live acoustic-electronic improvisations in jazz cafes. Complicated, angular rhythms flow effortlessly and gently, the line between kit and machine blurring. For Loop, they’re interviewed by Jesse Terry, who is product owner for Ableton Push (and has a long history working with the hardware that interacts with Live).

And the sample programming is insane: you get Runescape samples. A baby sneezing. The Mac volume control sound. It’s obsessive Internet-age programming – and then Tess plays this all as acoustic percussion and kit.

In this talk, they talk about jazz education, getting started as kids, Skype lessons. And then they get into the workings of a song.

The big trick here: the duo use Live’s Racks, using the Chain function, so that consistently mapped drum parts can cycle through different sounds as she plays. (I’ll review that technique in more detail soon.) 24 variable pads play all the sounds as Tess is playing.

Working with Chains in Ableton Live’s Device Racks can let you cycle through samples, patches, and layered/split instrument settings.

Part of why the video is interesting to watch is it’s really as much about how Tess has gradually learned how to memorize and recall these elaborate percussion parts. It’s a beautiful example of the human brain expanding to keep up with, then surpass, what the machine makes available.

For Luke’s part, there’s a monome [grid controller], keyboard triggers, and still more electronic pads. The monome loops chopped up samples, sticks can trigger more samples manually — it’s dense. He plays melodic parts both on keyboard and 4×4 pad grid.

The track makeup:

  • Arrangement view contains the song structure
  • A click track (obviously)
  • Software synths each have set lists of sounds, with clips triggering sound changes as MIDI program changes
  • The monome / mlrv sequencer

Here’s an (older) extended live set, so you can see more of how they play:

Here’s their dreamy, poppy latest music video (released March) – made all the more impressive when you realize they basically sound like this live:

More background on the band:

Welcome to the Magically Playful World of Tennyson [Red Bull Music]

New band of the week: Tennyson (No 14) [The Guardian]

Image courtesy the artists.

Check out a growing selection of content from Loop on Ableton’s minisite:

https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/loop/

Bonus: for a quick run-down on chains, here’s AfroDjMac:

The post Learn how Tennyson translate between Ableton and percussion on kits appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Hugo rattled Berghain’s enormous system, talked to us about sound

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 9 Mar 2018 9:41 pm

What do you do when faced with a sound system associated with a very particular techno sound? One answer: push the speakers until they scream, in a good way.

That’s what Hugo Esquinca did last month at CTM Festival – okay, under the watchful eyes of one of the club’s technicians. (That tech seemed happy with the results; I saw him leap over to Hugo after the show, grinning.)

It’s just another creative sound art experiment from Hugo and fits perfectly with the ethos of the collective he’s part of, oqko.

As part of our new series Cues, I’ll be talking to artists about musical creativity and live performance. And so for this one, we get an exclusive live performance – recorded in front of us at Maze, a club underground Kreuzberg – and chatted with Hugo about his work. Listen (I’ll have podcast subscription information for you next week, too):

If you’re tired of commercial boilerplate for electronics, feast your brain on this text Hugo shared on his creation:

Study on (in)operable rigour at this years edition of CTM @ Berghain was a site-specific composition in which the extensive differences and categories assigned as dimension to space and duration to time were but variables among variables in various algorithmic operations which precisely exposed those values to intensive micro temporal variations, where indeterminate modulations produced a multiplicity of events ranging from aleatory amplification of certain room mode resonances, errors in the sound card deriving from random oversampling which produced unexpected sonorous incidents to emerge, and where regarding a recursive mode in the programming where no halt was assigned, the composition could have potentially runned for an indefinite amount of time, as it was precisely by means of my intervention in ‘stopping’ the events that they were prevented and/or terminally halted.

Here’s a closer look at some of the Pd and Max mayhem:

For his site:

dekj.org

And we’ve covered oqko previously:

Transmissions from the magnetic ooze, in new oqko video premiere

How sound takes Lvis Mejía from Mexico to a collective unconscious

Check their site:

oqko.org

The post Hugo rattled Berghain’s enormous system, talked to us about sound appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get that signature jungle filter sweep with Mumdance’s Euro module

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Thu 1 Mar 2018 11:43 pm

Out with vinyl; now anyone who’s anyone releases on Eurorack? Regardless, the Akai S950-inspired module from Mumdance and ALM Busy Circuits sounds brilliant.

There does seem to be a new correlation between people pushing musical innovation and making their own hardware. And it’s no coincidence Mumdance, aka Jack Adams, would get into modules – the man is a certified Eurorack synthesizer nut.

Back in November, FACT were granted an in-depth look at the module and its inspiration and evolution, featuring both Mumdance and ALM’s Matthew Allum:

Mumdance and ALM Busy Circuits have made a Eurorack filter module that can “fucking scream”

Now, they’re back in the studio with Mumdance to have a look:

Unlike some muddled modules, this one is the model of simplicity: big cutoff knob, big resonance knob. From there, you have ample, complete control – dual audio ins, and the ability to control essentially everything via voltage, as you’d desire. Frequency, resonance, and the amplitude of incoming signals are all patchable. Also, standing apart from many modules, you get fine-grained attenuation of cutoff and resonance and a handy manual control for input level. (Sheesh, it’s almost like they think you may know what you’re doing or something.)

There’s also an internal control, as the video notes, that gives you the ability to fully close the filter – something the Akai couldn’t do. (That might be worth the adjustment, simply because now you’ve got CV control over cutoff and not only, like, your hand.)

This comes at a nice time, as Mumdance has made a fine name influencing every aspect of the scene around him in London. There’s his exceptional radio program, which has been on top of some of the best artists operating at the moment. There’s his ability to span genres, from grime to techno to hardcore (nicely embodied in this module, in fact). He’s made Roland presets for their relaunch. And there’s his label.

I point this out because, while it does require the luxury of time (gah!), these are things I think that can’t really be faked. Trying to fill all these different roles certainly isn’t advisable for every artist, but Mumdance does exemplify what’s possible in radical multitasking – when there’s a guiding sensibility.

I hope that this clears the way, meanwhile, for the weirdo modular builders outside of the music in-crowd to get some respect as musicians, too. It should be plainly obvious that the once-separate categories of musician and “modular builder freaks” are no longer distinct.

Keep an eye on Mumdance:

https://www.facebook.com/mumdance

And label (with Logos – more on that Chevel release that’s coming end of the month soon, as it’s brilliant):

http://differentcirclesmusic.bigcartel.com/

Equal credit to ALM Busy Circuits. They’ve stayed nicely focused – and this sort of filter just calls out for the modular treatment, as a color you might want to add to any particular place in your work.

The module:

http://busycircuits.com/alm018/

More of that:

http://busycircuits.com/

The post Get that signature jungle filter sweep with Mumdance’s Euro module appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Admina and the patriarchy-smashing edges of Bucharest’s underground

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 9 Feb 2018 9:51 pm

Call it a second post-Communist Romanian revolution: artists are reshaping the scene just as quickly as they can keep the clubs open. Meet Admina and Corp.

We were inspired by Admina’s performance on the Moogfest stream, and her musical reputation precedes her, as a kind of hero to similar counter-cultural scenes tucked here and there worldwide. Simona Mantarlian, a DJ/critic, Bucharest insider, and native Romanian herself, talks to Admina about the scene and how it connects to musical life . There, finding a space is a matter of personal, creative, real survival – but it’s also working, and that means there’s a lot for us to learn from Bucharest’s fringe frontiers. -Ed.

Bucharest is a fast-paced stellar ride, defying entropy, as its underground dance clubs open — and reach insolvency — and find another way to surface and go on. We’re talking about epic places like Ponton [see here and here for an impression], then Kran, and also the abrupt curve Control Club has followed after its rebranding, where underground bookings came back on the roster after a posh-makeover-phase — we’ll pass.

The constant that drives the process lays in the strong crews of selectors, who never compromise in the quality, levity, and obscurity of their finds. A new crew called Corp. caught our attention through its podcasts and intense activity around the scene. The female and queer collective, founded by [European supported] SHAPE platform resident Chlorys and DJ/ producer Admina, pushed a new generation of musicians whose voices challenge the male-dominated status quo. We spoke with Admina about the context of Corp.’s philosophy, and took a virtual trip to Bucharest’s queer parties, transporting us to a new post-Internet realm, and beyond.

Admina’s video: Destroy Patriarchy.

Simona: First, what is Corp., and what are you up to with it?

Admina: Corp. is a Bucharest-based project and platform. It aims to represent and showcase female-identified musicians and DJs in electronic music, while also being dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sounds, spanning from experimental and traditional forms to contemporary ones. Its activity is dedicated to broadening the focus on female-identified artists within the context of Bucharest’s local scene, as well as beyond the borders of the country.

The main urgent drive behind Corp.’s initiative is to open and sustain a studio where women will have the space and time to further develop their skills and communicate.

Corp. members: Admina, Beatrice Sommer, Chlorys, Cosima von Bülove.

A few weeks ago, you were part of the all-female-identified stream that launched Moogfest. What did it mean for you to be involved in this Moogfest stream, and in the lineup? Is it significant to you that they did choose to feature women and non-binary artists in this context of the stream and announcement?

Being part of [Moogfest] is a good opportunity for me and also for Corp. It’s great exposure; I’m really glad and excited that I’m part of the show.

Can you tell us a little bit about your live performance there?

I thought of myself being most of the time a nostalgic and melancholic person. Music was also a guide for me. It’s hard to show those feelings while you are playing a set for people to dance, but I always try to get that feeling on the stage. So maybe I will use this opportunity embrace this through dark and experimental sounds — a little bit of sadness and nostalgia.

So, “destroy patriarchy.” Is patriarchy at home in Romania? What is the society like?

Every society is to a certain extent patriarchal; each society “encourages” differences between men and women, in the way they are educated, treated, taught, etc. Romania remains a patriarchal society, where women are perceived mainly as wives and mothers and are denied access to more powerful positions in the business world.

How does Corp. as collective relate to that?

Gender inequalities are a reality in our country. Corp. is proposing an incipient ambition to construct a new language for sexual (gender) politics in the Romanian electronic scene and clubbing.

We want to establish identity as power, a collective visibility. Identity as a declaration of the self, identity as claiming and naming common qualities.

There weren’t many women DJing in Bucharest, say, two years ago, and we can rightfully say things have changed. What was the reaction of the guys in the scene? Were they helpful with putting up Corp. gigs at the clubs they were booking?

Parallel to Corp.’s foundation in Romania, in Western Europe and America, voices of women in electronic music began to be heard. And their gender equality statistics were worrying already for many festivals and clubs around the world.

So, when we started Corp platform, let’s say that the idea was well received, the promoters and organizers have begun to pay more attention to gender equality in lineups.

Watching “Destroy Patriarchy”, the video for your first single, I recognized a lot of new DJs from Bucharest who are getting popular right now, beyond the limits of Bucharest-universe (Beatrice Sommer, Paula Dunker, boivoid, Ana Secheres). Some of them learned their skills via Corp. crew. What made you decide to do the opposite of what everybody does – share knowledge instead of putting extra effort to make it even more inaccessible?

The project also aspires to go beyond the performing artists and to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers. We want to share everything we know with others. It’s not a big deal to play music. It’s simple, you just have to enjoy music and have the pleasure to share it with others. Why not be accessible to everyone — especially women and queer people who did not have access to technology, or trust to do it? We want to build that trust together. Let’s remember that music is there to bring people together and to create a community.

Back to “Destroy Patriarchy”, where did you record and mix the music and what’s the gear you used?

“Destroy Patriarchy” is a reaction to an oppressive system, aiming to send out a clear and empowering message. The video was recorded at Kiseleff Park in the specially-designed space for outdoor fitness. The music I made it in Ableton using an Akai MPK Mini MIDI controller.

Your nickname has an early internet / message board-era ring to it. How did it find you? What is your connection to the Internet?

Everything started with the word admin, and that was my first idea of DJ nickname. At that time I managed Facebook pages to make money, and it was just funny to call myself like that. And because in English the word didn’t have a feminine pronoun, I only heard about administratrix, which sounds totally hot, but it was too long and I didn’t want that much to assume a gender since I identify myself as a non-binary. With all of that, my friends have found a way to feminize it. Putting an “a” to the end, made it sound more feminine in Romanian. After that I found out, that Admina is actually a name, a Hebrew name, and it means “Of the red earth.” “People with this name have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause, and to share their own strongly held views on spiritual matters.” I said it was perfect for me.

What is the earliest memory that you track your obsession with music to?

When I was very young, I wanted to play the violin, but I went to fine art school eventually, because my mother had no money to buy me a violin and it was impossible to go to the music school without it. Now I am very glad I didn’t. I consider my visual experience very useful and closely related to how I understood music now.

What is the starting place you’d recommend to someone who never got into electronic music before?

To trust themselves … I don’t know what point is best for someone. Just begin with what they have already, and they will learn on the way what they need. It’s good to have a limited number of tools; it makes you more creative.

Tell us about a fun club experience we missed in Bucharest.

It’s good to know that we have Queer Night. It’s the only fun club experience I really enjoy ever ytime, because we all can be ourselves. Also we intend to organize our own parties in Bucharest so — be prepared!

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Noise generator: a chat with Uchi, as LA celebrates electronic sound

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 26 Jan 2018 12:59 pm

Uchi is a fresh face as LA collective BL_K NOISE meet up with Berlin’s Raster – and that’s a perfect time to catch up with her and reflect.

Dive in, commit. It’s that moment when the mixer fader is up and you start your live set, the let’s-screw-up-our-lives risk-taking bigger moments we make sometimes for musical passion. It’s the willingness to screw up live and screw up life, maybe.

That sums up why a lot of us are here as well as anything. And so that makes Uchi’s approach refreshing. Just as your email promo inbox is full of drab, sound-alike techno and washes of disinterested distorted ambience, Uchi kind of doesn’t follow any rules. Her DJ sets are diverse and daring, her live sets going deep and abstract and back again. And she talks to us a bit here about that abandon.

It’s also paying off. Born in Venezuela but making her name as a came of age in tbe Miami scene, Uchi has made a recent move to new Germany and become a regular at Berlin’s most sought-after slots – including Berghain’s upstairs Panorama Bar and its darker, weirder new ground floor Säule. But the best part is, I think we don’t know quite what she’ll do next. There’s a couple of EPs, a full-length album, and various podcasts coming and … well, the hell with predictability. The artists you want to watch are the ones that will surprise you.

January is definitely when we celebrate new music gear, thanks to Anaheim, California’s massive NAMM convention show. But then why not celebrate new noises, too? BLK_NOISE has assembled for Saturday a party made up of artists willing to push their electronic instruments until they hurt. From team USA, you’ve got Richard Devine, Surachai. From Germany, label Raster – the imprint formerly known as Raster Noton – Grischa Lichtenberger, and label co-founder Byetone. (Carsten Nicolai aka Raster Noton is going solo again, reverting his label to Noton.) And then there’s secretive BLK_NOISE anchor Belief Defect, who have feet in both Berlin and LA.

And then there’s Uchi. Let’s get a soundtrack: here’s a CDM exclusive debut, off her upcoming EP. Ingredients: KORG ElecTribe ER-1 [synth], Moog Minifooger [MF] Delay, Eventide Space reverb and “rat distortion.” (I think she means Pro Co RAT, but — this is New York, so…. it could have been, like, an actual rat.)

PK: What’s the set you’re preparing for LA? I loved this noise set that just streamed from Halcyon [in New York].

Uchi: I don’t know what happened there! It’s so weird! I have the recording of it myself; I gotta hear it and see!

I think for this show I’m going to use somewhat similar setup I’ve been using for most noise shows these days, a narrow selection of stuff, and complete improvisation — or zero preliminary sequencing. It’s the first time I’ll try an AV setup, which is exciting!

It seems like you’ve had some pretty significant shifts in your life, your musical direction … especially as some of the folks who will be hearing you in LA as well as our readers may not know you yet, what’s the trajectory been from Miami to Berlin? How did you get where you are currently?

Yeah, I guess there’s been a lot of changes the last couple of years. I lived in Miami since age 10, up until college. After I finished a degree in Computer Science, I took DJing (obtained from radio hosting at University) more seriously, as well as actually working on something I used to do for fun — (Ableton fiddling) making music.

The Boiler Room set came about from Juan Del Valle, now a friend. His influence was to convince me to make a live set. That being said, it was my first live set ever, and it was on Boiler Room – lol! BUT it was a great way to learn how to use hardware! Then Berlin came after the release on Plangent Records, which made the first gig in Panorama Bar happen. That made me decide not to get a flight home, basically.

The interesting thing is that just before I left Miami, everything had already started changing. I was pretty active in the noise scene, which was a whole different level of exploration in music, the exact opposite of composition and programming or what I used to make the Boiler Room set. Noise changed also the way I record, too. It seems I find single takes, and master out mixes more interesting than spending hours on a single detail or mixing down. I guess trying to finish ideas in one day if the case has a lot of details, otherwise just simple pressing record (mistakes included) and room recordings.

I made the album and the last couple EPs basically playing them. Since moving to Europe, which changed literally everything about what I knew, and also playing for promoters in different cities, I’ve had the chance to do something different. Nowadays, I’m combining all influences together — noise improvisation, changing patterns, speed, writing melodies or lack thereof, depending on so many different things. For instance where, when, and for whom each show is prepared for, relative to time, and where things are for me at the moment — it’s never the same. I’m still figuring it out, but if there is something to expect, it should be to expect something new.

These Saüle appearances have been great … in this age and (city!) people can cling to a somewhat narrow and clasutrophobic view of genre, so that’s a relief. Can you talk a little bit about you’ve been playing lately?

Well, I guess Säule was a bit of the turning point. It made me realize its not far-fetched to combine everything into one presentation. Funny you say claustrophobic view of genre! That puts it a bit better in perspective actually. I think the first time was probably one of the most liberating DJ sets of my life, the first time I felt like myself. The struggle of genre has been real for a really long time, but thanks to that lately, I reeeally don’t care for dance floor “rules” too much, and follow just, whatever feels right at the time. I’m curious to what you would describe those gigs as.

Mmm, eclectic? This is why I wouldn’t really call myself a music journalist, just a musician. So to that — what are you using to play for this live set? Not just to sort of get gear-focused, but instead — what does this mean as far as instrumentation, as composition?

For sure, it will be a Moog Mother [Mother-32 synthesizer] running, pitching it sporadically, plus vocal whale sounds … maybe some screaming. Also some Koma Elektronik noises generated from the Field Kit [“electro-acoustic workstation”] and BD101 [analog gate-delay pedal] as main effects, messing with any signal sent to the aux [input] of the Field Kit.

I guess as “composition,” I suppose breaking it down by frequency – the vocal stuff is a lot of mid-range melodic, of course, with a ton of reverb and delay, the Moog for low-end and the Koma stuff for texture, high-pitch screeching, and pulsating static. These have been my favorite pieces of gear to use for noise shows. I made the last album using the Moog heavily, so it’s kind of been my main instrument for almost two years, along with Koma stuff which is heaven for noise freaks — the Moog sounds on another level! And some classic reverb and distortion pedals, Boss DS-1 [distortion pedal, since 1978] and Eventide Space.

What do those instruments mean to you; how do they impact how you play spontaneously?

They are my children!!! I supposed their user interface totally affects how they are played. For example, the large knobs of the Mother and the semi-modular part for patching and combining it with it with the BD10 light sensor (which kind of acts like a theremin), and putting that in the Field Kit mixer, which has got a life of its own. The signals kind of bounce with each other. Feed-backing is waaay fun. Also, the continuity of LFO’s makes it easy to do multiple things at once. Whatever instruments I’m using at the moment play a really large role in every live set, if not the biggest role. I hope to be switching to full-on modular this year! Wish me luck.

Thanks, Uchi!

If you’re in LA, check out the event! I wrote about Belief Defect’s live rig here and for Native Instruments; now it’s America’s turn to get that live. Co-hosted with Decibel Festival:

[BL__K NOISE]: Raster Label Showcase

https://www.facebook.com/uchpuch/

Photos courtesy the artist.

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Here’s the music in 2017 that gave us strength

Delivered... David Abravanel | Artists,Labels,Scene | Tue 2 Jan 2018 8:46 pm

Music can make us stronger, helps us face challenges. So forget talking about which music was “best.” Here’s some music that made us better.

For guidance, CDM turns to its resident music contributor David Abravanel, whose background spans music writing and technology alike. He walks us through some selections for challenging times – some of which you’ve no doubt seen elsewhere on lists of stand-out music from the year, but some of which you probably haven’t.

And if this is electronic music in many cases, that’s not just because we’re nerds (though indeed we are), but because new times and new expressions call for new sounds, and we’re lucky that machines give us a pathway to find them.

Framed this way, of course, this is immensely personal – but that’s by design. These lists should always be filled with blank pages at the end for you to fill in and reflect, holes where we missed music, because music discovery should never become a competition for a limited number of slots. It should always be boundless. So sound out on comments.

Here’s David:

2017: A … ??? Odyssey?

It’s hard to think of a good person for whom 2017 didn’t feature a bevy of turmoil and stress; as such, music was more important than ever. As an agitator. As a uniting force. As a challenge. As comfort. As sense in a confusing world. As further confusion to prove that, yes, things could always be worse. As celebration to remind us of the good that still happens among the bad. As love, hate, and everything in between.

For me, 2017 was also the year when music technology finally caused me to retreat a bit and pause. Since my early teens, I’ve obsessively followed new music, seemingly devouring more each year. This year was the first time that I took a step back and tried to refine my focus. As such, there are pillar albums from this year that I perhaps just flat-out missed, or ones which I could appreciate but didn’t force myself to come back to. There’s a lot on this list that is personal – perhaps it’s a sign of 2017, turning to the voices of friends, or perhaps it’s also that so many acquaintances live in similar worlds.

While I listened to fewer albums this year, I formed stronger attachments to more of what I heard. As such, pairing this list down to 25 was an unforeseeably difficult endeavor. I’d love to just list all 116 albums that I heard this year, but that wouldn’t do for a list, would it?

B12 – reissued.

As per usual, I haven’t ranked the lists, but if I had to pick number ones, it’d probably be Alexi Perälä’s Paradox for album, B12’s Electro-Soma I & II Anthology for reissue, Patten’s Requiem for EP, and KiNK’s “Yom Thorke” for track.

A/T/O/S.

The award for “I do not understand how they aren’t huge” goes, much as it probably did in 2014, to A/T/O/S. Outboxed one-upped the debut as a leaner affair with a looser and more frantic feel, climaxing with the overwhelming vocal effects on “Blackout”. People, Mala has great taste. He signed this duo for a very good reason and we all owe it to ourselves to pay more attention to them.

Speaking of which, bass – didn’t it take some new shapes this year? Emptyset tweaked the formula to embrace new instruments and produced some intensely sandy rattles, while Jana Rush continued her slingshot back from a 20-year hiatus for an album that proves that anyone getting “tired” of footwork just has lazy ears. This makes a good segue to Jlin, whose own album just missed the list, and who appears alongside an ensemble cast including Scratcha Dva, Zora Jones, Sinjin Hawke, and more on Visceral Minds 2, a sequel to Fractal Fantasy’s 2016 compilation which managed to Empire Strikes Back the whole formula. And hey, let’s see Sophie’s “Ponyboy” sounds on cheap bass stacks.

Ed.: Shout out to say these artists – and Jlin, and Emptyset – were all just as thrilling live, and easily make my live highlights of the year, naturally. Assume that’s true of many of the others I didn’t see. Kudos to Atonal Festival and CTM Festival Berlin, Lunchmeat Festival Prague for some real highlights. -PK

Jana Rush.

Zora Jones.

Some of 2017’s best also reduced (or outright eliminated) percussion to focus on atmospheres. It was an especially daring move for King Britt’s Fhloston Paradigm project, and one that seriously paid off. Elsewhere, Dopplereffekt further the Calabi Yau Space mythos with arpeggiated science fiction, and GAS showed that Wolfgang Voigt still had plenty of ambient classical … gas in the tank (sorry for the pun).

Aleksi Perälä.

Aleksi Perälä is a fascinating fellow with an intriguing premise and insane release diarrhea. Even the two Colundi Sequence compilations couldn’t stop the feeling that we were hearing the arpeggiated bells experiments of a person who couldn’t quite separate the wheat from the chaff. Then came Paradox, where just a little more adherence to techno structure resulted in magic. Further, let’s have some hands up for [record label] трип this year. Kudos to [label boss] Nina Kraviz and her collaborators for bringing forth such a consistently enjoyable stream of experimental dance music (hey PTU!).

I’ve read a bit about the demise of indie rock, and while I don’t much have an opinion there, I heard plenty of brilliant songs this year – whether from the aforementioned A/T/O/S, the ever-reliable Goldfrapp, or returning champs Slowdive.

Lastly, for certain Gen-Xers and Millennials, 2017 was definitely “The Year We Started To Feel Old Because Of Anniversaries And Stuff™.” The bright side was that we got a steady stream of excellent reissues – from Roni Size to Underworld to Leftfield, it was a dynamite time to be a 90s “electronica” classic.

Oh, and listen to that COH Cohgs album too. There’s some real minimalist beauty, plus a wrenching collaboration with Jhonn Balance.

(all lists in alphabetical order)

Selections

Fhloston Paradigm, by John Kaufman.

Top 25 albums

Actress – AZD (Ninja Tune)
Artefakt – Kinship (Delsin)
A/T/O/S – Outboxed (Deep Medi)
Biosphere – The Petrified Forest (Biophon)
Björk – Utopia (One Little Indian)
Call Super – Arpo (Houndstooth)
COH – Cohgs (Editions Mego)
Dopplereffekt – Cellular Automata (Leisure System)
Duran Duran Duran – Duran (Power Vacuum)
Ekoplekz – Bioprodukt (Planet Mu)
Emptyset – Borders (Thrill Jockey)
Fhloston Paradigm – After… (KingBrittArchives)
GAS – Narkopop (Kompakt)
Goldfrapp – Silver Eye (Mute)
Robert Hood – Paradygm Shift (Dekmantel)
Aleksi Perälä – Paradox (трип)
Jana Rush – Pariah (Objects Limited)
Shed – The Final Experiment (Monkeytown)
Slowdive – Slowdive (Dead Oceans)
Special Request – Belief System (Houndstooth)
Steffi – World of the Waking State (Ostgut Ton)
Tobias – Eyes in the Center (Ostgut Ton)
Alan Vega – IT (Fader)
Various – Visceral Minds 2 (Fractal Fantasy)
Zomby – Mercury’s Rainbow (DDS)

10 Great Reissues

B12 – Electro-Soma I & II Anthology (Warp)
Thomas Brinkmann – Retrospective (Third Ear)
Leftfield – Leftism 22 (Columbia/Hard Hands/Sony)
Theo Parrish – Parallel Dimensions (Sound Signature)
Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain (Warner Bros.)
Radiohead – OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997-2017 (XL)
Ron Trent – Word, Sound & Power (Rush Hour)
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead (Warner Bros.)
Roni Size/Reprazent – New Forms (UMC/Mercury/Talkin’ Loud)
Underworld – Beaucoup Fish (Warner Bros.)

Top 10 EPs

Burial – Rodent (Hyperdub)
Inner8 – Myths (In Silent Series)
Kuyawow – Dark Days (Kuyawow)
Lorenzo Senni – “XAllegroX” / “The Shape of Trance to Come” (Warp)
Lrusse – Part of the Plan (Nite Owl Diner)
Nu Era – Geometricks (Omniverse)
Objekt – Objekt #4 (Objekt)
Patten – Requiem (Warp)
PTU – A Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day (трип)
WK7 – Rhythm 1 (Power House)

Top 10 tracks/songs

Björk – “Sue Me” (One Little Indian)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – “Resist Much Obey Little” (‘a’)
The Bug vs. Earth – “Snakes vs. Rats” (Ninja Tune)
Goldie – “Horizons (ft. Swindle)” (Metalheadz/Cooking Vinyl)
Robert Hood – “Nephesh” (Dekmantel)
Jack Peoples – “Song 05 Vocal” (Clone Aqualung)
KiNK – “Yom Thorke” (Runningback)
Peter Kirn – “This Circle in All” (The Establishment)
Shackleton & Vengeance Tenfold – “Dive into the Grave”
Sophie – “Ponyboy” (Transgressive)

Ed.: Ha, I really did NOT put David up to including me or expect that, so … here it is so you know what the heck he’s talking about!

Listen Now on Spotify

The post Here’s the music in 2017 that gave us strength appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here’s what artists in the 50-hour Moogfest live stream have to say

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Wed 6 Dec 2017 11:30 pm

As Moogfest runs an international, 50-hour livestream of women and transgender artists, here are those voices talking about music, technology, and inspiration.

We’ll update this piece as we hear from more artists, so keep reloading in the next couple of days for more. (At top: Ana Paula Santana.)

See also our full writeup of this project and the first wave lineup announcement from the festival. All images courtesy Moogfest and the artists.

Ana Paula Santana (Guadalajara, Mexico)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it – and did you find any obstacles to doing so?

I started to do experimental sound compositions when I was working for a Mexican radio as an editor. In the beginning I was doing soundscape with some electronic instruments in Ableton Live, and then I integrated different keyboards and voice. After a wile doing this I went to Barcelona to study a master degree in sound art, and there I met electronic musicians with whom I collaborated. From this last experience I learned many tricks and techniques to create with.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the stream, and where in it do you draw inspiration?

I’m going to play with a Microkorg synthesizer, four contact microphones and one midi interface. I also do atmospheres with my voice and I use the feedback in the space as a frequency generator to play with in the midi keyboard.

I’m inspired by constant machine sounds, the sound of the city and the speed in contrast with natural and random soundscapes. I’m also inspired by love stories; ’cause what I do I think it has a lot of melancholy in it.

3. What does it mean to participate in this stream for you?

I’m very happy, it’s a great opportunity to share my work and I love the idea of it being a festival to celebrate the creation of female sound; also I feel very honored to share my work together with artist who I admire.

FARI B (London, UK)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it – and did you find any obstacles to doing so?

Through sewing and knitting I learned algorythmic thinking, and I studied acoustic music and later journalism which taught my how to edit sound. But at 12 I had a ZX Spectrum…! I used to load the games with a cassette player…
Obstacles were there was no culture among my friends to learn this stuff, or my schools or colleges, I had to find my interest group by volunteering at an arts music radio station called Resonance 104.4FM in 2004 as an engineer.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the stream, and where in it do you draw inspiration?

A whole load of found objects and hand made instruments and keyboard…inspiration comes from the many journeys and performances Ive done around the world, from Novi Sad to Isle of Wight.

3. What does it mean to participate in this stream for you?

That something’s shifting in interest and perception, about whose voices we are listening to. Mainstream can’t cater for everyone! Humanity is starting to reflect itself back at itself in media properly, at last.

Maia Koenig (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it? Did you find any obstacle to doing it?

In 2008 I started playing in Mielcitas Trash Me where I played bass, I did not have money and I needed a distortion pedal, I found a friend who helped me build it, from there I relate to electronics in a very intuitive way. It’s a little complicated at the beginning, but after you let go, encouraging a new project “D.I.Y” is always an enriching challenge.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the broadcast and where is it inspired?

In the last few years I have been playing mostly Gameboy with the LSDJ tracker, I also incorporate a casio pt80 keyboard, a cacophonator (DIY), and something else that comes up in the moment, I like to improvise with the environment and energy that instant in the only one that I live, the present.

3. What does it mean to participate in this current for you?

The electric current, the action / reaction, an impulse, an expansive flare, the electromagnetic network that unites us in a sometimes very destructive world, where music and other arts are part of a transmutation, that’s why noise is necessary as a protest aware that we can change things a little.

Nesa Azabikhah< (Tehran, Iran)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it? Did you find any obstacle to doing it?

My first access to electronic music would be purchasing a software by the name of “FL Studio“. I started working with the software and getting more familiar and involved with electronic music. Also, before I purchased this software I also started working with CDJ and DJ mixer. In addition, I also started learning from people around me who also played at that time. So I started using FL Studio, Logic, Reason, and now I work with Ableton.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the broadcast and where is it inspired?

What I have chosen for this steam is a one hour dj set from different music genre. I’m using my laptop, cdj and mixer. I’m not using any instruments, because I’m not playing live and I’m only playing a one hour dj set. Because, since I have more than one play I didn’t have the opportunity to prepare a live for this stream and that’s why my only choice was a dj set.

3. What does it mean to participate in this current for you?

Lastly, I have to say I am very excited and mostly honored to be part of the 50 artist for this live stream. I’m also happy to be part of this team. This a new and interesting experience for me. I am also looking forward to see even more growth and accomplishment for the women artists and artist who are part of the transgendered and non-binary community.

Caz9 (Dublin, Ireland)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it? Did you find any obstacle to doing it?

The first time I sought access to learning about electronic music technology was after I discovered some female artists using Ableton LIve and Push. I started to research it, and found the Ableton website, and videos on youtube etc. The Irish Rights Music Organisation (like PPI) sent me an invite to to a talk and discussion on Ableton and Push with Create Sound, and I started learning at home and got some of their crew to give me a couple of one-one sessions to get started. The biggest obstacle was that I had to pay to learn how to use it, and I didn’t really know where to start in terms of doing my own research online; there’s so much content that it’s difficult for a beginner to find appropriate tutorials.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the broadcast and where is it inspired?

I’m using Ableton Live and my Push controller. I only started learning how to use music software about 2 years ago, and in that time I’ve become really comfortable with the software and the controller. My setup for the stream is my laptop, controller, and I have my good buddies Stephen Byrne and Danni Nolan accompanying me with live guitar and drums. Ableton is has been instrumental in drawing inspiration for my EP ‘Phase II’ and the rest of the set I’ve put together especially for ‘Always On’ – I’ll debuting six new songs during my stream. Being able to create any sound that I hear in my head and then arrange it so I can trigger loops and play electronic instruments in conjunction with live ones is the dream.

3. What does it mean to participate in this current for you?

It’s such an honour and special full circle moment for me to be involved in this stream. Before I discovered Ableton I had taken a massive step back from music and hadn’t written or performed in years. As a young woman in the irish music industry, I had gone years without meeting a female producer, engineer, or DJ and it never seemed like something I was allowed to participate in. So it makes me feel so lucky that I am now a part of such a wonderful community and project, celebrating female, female-identified, trans and non-binary sonic artists in such a fun and inventive way. Bring on the stream!

The post Here’s what artists in the 50-hour Moogfest live stream have to say appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch Moogfest kick off with epic 50-hour livestream, lineup – minus men

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Events,Scene | Wed 6 Dec 2017 6:20 pm

Women and transgender artists have too often seen their work in electronic music pushed to the margins. Moogfest’s launch this year puts them first.

Moogfest this year promises to have the mix they’ve been brewing in the latest editions: part music festival, part conference, with music and music technology meeting up with larger themes around science and innovation. The difference is, instead of the presence of female and transgender artists being just another box for curators to tick — “hey, look, we booked some women” — here, they’re leading the announcement. That includes both a 50-hour livestream of back-to-back sets from a pretty amazing and diverse set of artists, plus the first wave announcement of artists.

Here’s Madame Gandhi explaining the idea:

The result is a mixture of people you know really well (legends like Suzanne Ciani, Moor Mother) alongside a lot of artists who are almost certainly new to you – particularly as they’ve been drawn from disparate genres and geographies. Indeed, these are the kind of people who have been quietly pushing music in new directions, but who might get lost in the fine print of music programs, or pushed to the side in music headlines. In fact, I think the upshot is a potential victory not only for gender equality, but for independent and out-of-the-mainstream music, too. And knowing CDM readers, irrespective of your gender, I think that’s a value you’re likely to enjoy seeing represented.

As Ciani tells The New York Times:

For Ms. Ciani, the theme for Moogfest 2018 is only natural. “Women have long been intimately connected to electronic music, perhaps because it offered a path outside male-dominated conventional music worlds,” she said. “What has changed is an awareness of women in the field historically as well as a huge influx of contemporary talent.”

Moogfest Shines a Spotlight on Female, Nonbinary and Transgender Musicians

To that I’d add that it’s worth noting that the “influx” and “contemporary” parts are also closely tied to international artists. Our own CDM contributor will have a conversation with a fellow Romanian woman in the Bucharest scene for one link to that; I’ve also had conversations recently with a some Iranian artists about the situation for women making music there (and the resulting international scene as they travel), and … well, look down the list of countries below.

Moor Mother, the ground-breaking experimental project of Philadelphia’s Camae Ayewa, is one of many people deserving of first-wave headliner recognition – and now getting it.

We’ll have some interviews with artists shortly, so Moogfest’s lineup is your gain, wherever you are.

To watch the livestream:

You can watch from anywhere beginning at 12pm ET on Wednesday December 6 until 2pm ET on Friday December 8.
http://AlwaysOn.Live

Or watch here:

I’m also cross-posting to our CDM Facebook page.

The beginning is – starting very radical, in a nice way! Unfortunately, upstream bandwidth / encoding looks … very choppy. Hoping some of the artists sort that out better. (This is a real roadblock of livestreaming, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Livestream artists:

Admina
(Bucharest, Romania)
Adriana T
(Athens, GA, USA)
Alissa Derubeis
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Amy Knoles
(Valencia, CA, USA)
Ana Paula Santana
(Guadalajara, Mexico)
Andrea Alvarez
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Annie Hart
(Brooklyn, NY, USA)
Awaymsg
(Durham, NC, USA)
Aseul
(Seoul, South Korea)
Bells Roar
(Albany, NY, USA)
Caz9
(Dublin, Ireland)
Club Chai (8ULENTINA & FOOZOOL)
(Bay Area, CA, USA)
Despicable Zee
(Oxford, UK)
DJ Haram
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Dot
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Ela Minus
(Bogota, Columbia)
Elles
(London, UK, USA)
Emily Wells
(New York, NY, USA)
Fari B
(London, UK)
FOSIL
(Chile, Santiago)
Galcid
(Tokyo, Japan)
Jil Christensen
(Durham, NC, USA)
KALONICA NICX
(Bandung, Indonesia)
Kandere
(Melbourne, Australia)
Katie Gately
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Kim Ki O
(Istanbul, Turkey)
Lauren Flax
(New York, NY, USA)
Lilith Ai
(London, UK)
Lucy Cliche
(Sydney, Australia)
Lya “Drummer”
(London, UK)
Madame Gandhi
(New Delhi, India)
Mileece
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Moor Mother
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Nazira
(Almaty, Khazakhstan)
Nesa Azadikhah
(Tehran, Iran)
Nicola Kuperus
(Detroit, MI, USA)
Nonku Phiri
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
OG Lullabies
(Washington, DC, USA)
OTOMO X (Fay Milton & Ayse Hassan)
(London, UK)
PlayPlay
(Durham, NC, USA)
Pulpy Shilpy
(Pune, India)
SARANA
(Samarinda, East Borneo)
Sassy Black
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Stud1nt
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Sui Zhen
(Melbourne, Australia)
Suzanne Ciani & Layne
(Bolinas, CA, USA)
Suzi Analogue
(Miami, FL, USA)
Therese Workman
(New York, NY, USA)
Vessel Skirt
(Hobart, Tasmania)
Zensofly
(Durham, NC, USA)

Of course, even better than live streaming is – being there in person. (No buffering issues! Or… if there are, seek medical attention!)

Here’s the first-wave lineup announcement, including a couple of friends (and a couple of idols)!

Amber Mark
Annie Hart
Armen Ra
Aurora Halal
Bonaventure
Carla Dal Forno
CEP (Caroline Polachek)
Caterina Barbieri
DJ HARAM
Ellen Allien
Emily Sprague
Fatima Al Qadiri
Fawkes
Gavin Rayna Russom
Helen Money
Honey Dijon
Jamila Woods
Jenny Hval
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Karyyn
Katie Gately
Kristin Kontrol
Kyoka
Lawrence Rothman
Madame Gandhi
Maliibu Miitch
Midori Takada
Nadia Sirota
Nicole Mitchell
Noncompliant
Pamelia Stickney
Sassy Black
Shanti Celeste
SOPHIE
Stud1nt
Umfang
Upper Glossa

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Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Thu 28 Sep 2017 6:50 pm

Deerful is the singer-songwriter imagined by mobile developers, found in real life. She’s not just another producer, but an earnest lyricist.

You can follow Emma on her YouTube channel, crooning covers to Game Boy accompaniment or deftly playing with a Novation Circuit in place of guitar. And now she’s got a full-length LP to her name, called Peach, released on London indie label wiaiwya (CD/vinyl/download).

Ed.: With Emma’s unique take on music production with apps and mobile gear, we turn over interview duties to the writer who turned us on to her work – and who foresaw just this kind of creative application for such tools. Ashley Elsdon, recently joining CDM and helming our Apps channel, having built the influential Palm Sounds blog on mobile tech, understands the advantage of mobile instruments, apps, battery power, and simple design empowering creativity. So, he’s the ideal person to lead this conversation with fellow UK resident Emma Winston. -PK

I’ve been following Deerful for some time now. Mostly people who make music with the kind of gear she’s using tend to electronic and dance genres, rather than the kind of singer-songwriter material she’s creating – producing more melodic output than you might associate with apps and mobile gear. And I’ve found her lyrics quite unusual, and her musical voice unique.

So, I took the opportunity to ask her about reflect her creative process, how tools fit in, and her sources of musical inspiration.

CDM: How do you make the decision to use a particular technology or instrument in your music?

Deerful: I am actually not very logical or rational about this. Almost every instrument I own, I own because I fell in love with it. (I think the only exception is the [KORG] Electribe 2 I use live – it’s a bit of a pain, but I absolutely could not find a practical alternative which wasn’t wildly expensive.) Consequently, my gear collection is pretty quirky. Nobody needs a [Teenage Engineering] OP-1 or a Pocket Operator or a [Critter & Guitari] Septavox or a Game Boy, but I adore all of them, and it makes me even more excited to make music. It’s also because I feel like a lot of staple gear can be covered by software much more cheaply, so if I’m going to buy hardware, I want it to be special.

You seem to use a lot of mobile gear in your music. Is that a conscious choice?

It’s more that I really love miniature things, and also producing in bed and on the sofa. I definitely like not having to think about wires/speakers. It’s cool to be able to get down ideas with very little gear, but I think it’s more that the tiny, compact, quirky gear I gravitate towards is often mobile, rather than that I consciously look for mobile gear.

Being able to run off batteries also helps when I’m dealing with a live sound engineer who’s never seen an electronic instrument before and wants to have as little to think about as possible, but again, a lesser consideration!

How do you approach the writing process in technology terms? Do you start with a device or a specific technology, or does the song / track come first and the technology support it?

It depends. Sometimes the song comes first, and I’ll decide later exactly how it gets made or arranged. But if I have absolutely no ideas and a deadline to meet, my first recourse is always to pick up a device and see where it takes me. Something always comes from it.

This also varies from device to device and app to app – Korg Gadget, for instance, is an app I pretty much always go to when I already have an idea and want to flesh it out fast – I use it pretty much entirely as an ultra-fast DAW. The Pocket Operators are the opposite – I think of them primarily as idea-factories and a jumping-off point.

Aside from Gadget, do you use other iOS, or indeed Android apps? What’s your motivation for using them? How differently do you find using apps from using hardware?

I definitely use Gadget more than anything else. It’s funny, because I see people talking about it as a groovebox app that’s best for looping, and that’s not how I use it at all. It essentially replaces Ableton for me when I don’t want to haul my laptop around, or if I need to get something that sounds fairly polished together fast and don’t have much time to do lots of production on it.

For actual idea-generation and more groovebox-type applications, my favorite app at the moment is Studio Amplify’s KRFT; it has a really nice interface that’s flexible enough not to just lock you into endless looping, which is what I feel like a lot of iOS apps veer towards. (They also have a more stripped-down free version called NOIZ, which is fun). For more experimental stuff, I love Samplr. I made my first EP mostly in Nanostudio, so that one’s worth a shout-out, although I’ve had a bit of a break from it since – it was the thing that was finally both flexible enough and un-intimidating enough to stop being scared of trying to produce and actually do it.

Every app is different, just as every piece of hardware is different, which is one reason I find the idea that one is somehow inherently better than the other and that you have to pick to be extremely strange. The fastest thing I can do to generate ideas when I’m stuck is switching to a new interface, whether that’s on a touchscreen or on my laptop or boxed up as a dedicated synth. It depends how I’m feeling and where I am and what I need.

I don’t own an Android device entirely because of the relative lack of music apps. I’m really hopeful that will change as their issues with audio improve – mobile music was a huge part of getting me into production and I would love it if that experience was available to more people on a platform with broadly much lower-cost hardware. I said this in an iPad music forum once and people were amazingly defensive about it. As far as I am concerned, all access to music-making is good, and if the 70% or so of smartphone users who own an Android device had a music market as rich as the App Store available to them, I would be stoked about it.

If you could design an app that would be perfect for you, what would it look like and what would it do?

Terrible response, but it would honestly just be Ableton optimized for a 10” touchscreen. Ableton, if you’re reading this, I’m your mobile market.

How do you approach writing lyrics? Do the lyrics come as part of your overall inspiration for a track, or is that something you find separately? What makes you feel like you have a great lyric?

I have recently started referring to myself as a singer-songwriter-producer, because honestly that’s what I am. I’m a songwriter who tells my own stories in performance, but does it with a box with buttons on it instead of a guitar. The lyrics and the song itself and the details of how it’s put together are equal parts. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord sequence – sometimes they’re simultaneous.

It’s very much a symbiotic thing. I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the abstract and the specific in my songs – describing moments and fragments of time in detail, but without so much specificity they become alienating.

Who are your influences musically, and who do you find inspiring in terms of technology and approach to process?

The Postal Service was the band that started me out wanting to make electronic music, and I still adore them. I feel like there’s still this idea that electronics are not particularly well-suited to singer-songwriters, which I find so strange because it gives you so much opportunity to design, right down to the sonic building-blocks which make up the song. It becomes part of the storytelling, and I think the Postal Service did that in such a beautifully tactile and warm way. I can literally point to the sample that comes in at 0:28 of ‘Nothing Better’ as the moment I realized I wanted to make electronic music myself – it acts almost like a third vocal melody but also this kind of plaintive emotional punctuation, warm and bit-crushed and sad.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that’s come out of the label PC Music over the last couple of years. I feel like a lot of what they’re doing is almost the polar opposite to Deerful, which is an almost embarrassingly honest project – they’re very self-aware, very detached, very cool, all things I’m not. A lot of people seem to respond to their artists as if the whole thing is completely ironic, but I hope (and believe) it’s not, because they’ve released some of the most intensely joyful pop music I’ve ever heard, and I desperately want that intensity of happiness to be real on some level.

EasyFun’s “Full Circle” is the track I’ve had on repeat for the last few days. It’s hyper-fun EDM-pop, but there are all these odd details thrown in, strange pitch-shifted samples, bizarre non-functional harmonies that are thrown into the chord and never repeated, weird, unnatural reverb tails and a lead vocal that’s chopped up and treated like a synth. I don’t sound anything like EasyFun, but I really want to get to the point where I can marry full-on unashamed fun with bizarre experimentalism in a similar way and have it all hang together.

In terms of process, I also find Grimes hugely inspiring – she made Visions in three weeks, in GarageBand, because it was what she knew, and she smashed it. She works fast when she needs to, but she knows when to zoom in, when to work on detail, when to really hone in on sound design and tone and tempo. (There’s a great interview where she talks about using samples of dentist drills to add aggressiveness to an 808 in ‘Venus Fly’, and it’s something I never would have even thought of.) I find her confidence and adaptability and willingness to move between pop and noise really impressive. It seems like she’s never held back by limitations or expectations; she just ploughs in and makes what she wants to make and it’s always brilliant.

Finally, let’s talk about your new album. When you set out to create it, what were your specific inspirations? What were you looking to achieve and how successful do you feel you’ve been?

Stylistically, Emily Reo’s gorgeous fuzzy alt-electropop has been a huge influence on all my releases so far (I also accidentally stole the album title, Peach, from one of her songs – it genuinely was an accident, but I think it probably speaks of how much her work has lodged itself in my creative brain.) I credit her music with finally giving me the push I needed to start writing and performing myself. Owen Pallett’s songwriting and storytelling has also always been a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure if that really comes through in the resultant album – I wish it did!

What was I looking to achieve? God, I’ve no idea. Everything is an experiment and an exploration. Everything I release, I do so having no idea how anyone’s going to react to it, and being excited to find out. It’s a brilliant lesson in exactly how bad at mind-reading I am. In general people seem to have liked it; I’ve no idea how it’s sold, and from an artist perspective that doesn’t really matter. When I listen to it now three months after release, I hear a lot I would do differently – I’m very proud of it but also excited to move on to the next thing!

CDM: Thanks, Emma!

It’s been an enlightening experience talking to Deerful. It’s shed light on her music and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to whatever the ‘next thing’ is she’s got planned, and also understanding how it was put together.

Deerful’s latest ablum can be found at wiaiwya and is available as a download, CD, or vinyl.

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How magnetic oscillations of a comet became a new album of music

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 15 Sep 2017 8:45 pm

In Francesco Novara’s new EP Astron, space exploration is both inspiration and the literal source of all the sounds you hear.

There are few moments in our generation of spaceflight quite like the Rosetta mission – buzzing past Mars and asteroids to land on a comet. And sound played an unexpected role in the discoveries of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) investigating the comet.

Indeed, you can think of the comet – that’s Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko or “67P” for short – as a kind of oscillator. The magnetometer on board the Rosetta spacecraft detected a major variations in the magnetic field around the comet.

Translate those oscillations into sound, and 67P “sings”. This isn’t an artificial thing to do, either. Just as a lot of space imagery translated unseen spectra (infrared, for instance) into visible colors so we can see, reinterpreting magnetic oscillations as audible sound means we perceive this reality much in the way the magnetic detector does.

ESA’s Marco Trovatello explains to CDM: “It’s being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the
frequencies have been increased.”

German composer Manuel Senfft created that first sonification, in collaboration with the Technical University Braunschweig:

You can read a detailed explanation of the physics involved:

WHAT MADE THE COMET SING? [European Space Agency]

Working with the European Space Agency, and CDM’s label Establishment, we released an EP of music derived from that experiment by Italian composer Francesco Novara. The music makes use of the Creative Commons-licensed data and sonification – and, in turn, is available to you to share, remix, and reuse under a Creative Commons license.

What’s stunning is that Francesco didn’t just pluck a couple of samples on top of some music and call it a day. Instead, pretty much everything you hear (minus one vocal) is created from that one singing comet sound. (There’s also some audio from the mission on one of the tracks.)

The result is a cool, collected downtempo album with one earworm single at the end. It’s to me the perfect musical embodiment of ESA and modern spaceflight – less Major Tom trip, more mission control.

It’s also some seriously awesome sound design work. Francesco, apart from having been the first composer to score an ESA launch, is a gifted sound designer and prolific TV and film composer. It’s part of what I wanted to do with Establishment – shine a light on musical craft and not just musical personalities.

So, I asked Francesco to walk us through just how he turned this one eerie sample into a full meal of music. We get a nice quick master class in Ableton Live:

Take a listen to the full musical release on Bandcamp:

It’s been great to have an ongoing collaboration with European Space Agency, as well as a friendship with ESA’s resident music lover and Creative Commons advocate, Marco. Open licenses for materials from space bring together the handful of explorers, engineers, and scientists with the public and with artists.

“Collaboration with artists as well as free and open access to scientific information and data are important building blocks of ESA’s Space 4.0 strategy to innovate, inform, inspire and interact,” Marco says about the project. The license here opens up other possibilities – “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike”.

We really do appreciate your support for this album and independent music. Because the music is all under a Non-Commercial license, any proceeds from sales we’re using to cover our costs on design and mastering, and then using the rest to fund more Creative Commons-powered space music projects. Of course, that means we’d also love to hear any remixes of this music, if you’re so inclined. (There’s a lot of talent in our community, I know.)

Comet photo: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.

The post How magnetic oscillations of a comet became a new album of music appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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