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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://teenage.engineering/

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

Enter the freaky trippy acid 90s German synth world of Air Liquide

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Wed 22 May 2019 12:02 pm

If you need a break from buttoned-up techno, dance music as business and fashion statement and morose wallpaper – take a holiday with some “trippy mindfkk-muzzikkk.” Here, we’ve got 170 tracks from 1991 Cologne to today to get utterly weird.

In 1990s Cologne, if the techno scene was spread too thin, you could just manufacture a few dozen aliases and DIY the whole thing. At least that seems to be the approach taken by our friends Air Liquide, aka Cem Oral and Ingmar Koch, and a half dozen or so core artists – a band of buddies making weirdo sounds. See the full alias list at bottom, but DJ DB (aka DB Burkeman) traced the history of the duo for the now-defunct THUMP from VICE:

DB’s No School Like the Old Skool: Air LiquideMeet the German analogue techno duo that rocked the 90s underground with a hundred different pseudonyms.

Now, just when you thought it was safe to go back to Germany, Air Liquide have returned to make European electronics mindfkked again.

We’ve got over 16 hours – 170 tracks – on streaming services like Spotify, chronicling the evolution (or whatever it was) of Air Liquide from 1991 through today. The sounds are futuristic, spacey, hyperactive, bizarre – everything in turns. You know you need some broken ultra-fast acid piping through Spotify on your next workout, of course:

via Spotify playlist

Details:


“AIR LIQUIDE – almost complete” – spotify playlist with over 16 hours of trippy mindfkk-muzzikkk

It includes, for instance, tracks inspired by the TV show Robot Wars:

Or here’s a track compiled by Loveparade founder Dr. Motte:

If you like what you hear, you can download those releases now, on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/air-liquide/5352330#see-all/full-albums

and on Beatport:
https://www.beatport.com/artist/air-liquide/7230/releases

But in addition to that history, their label Blue is back.

Maybe this comes at an ideal time. With so many records sounding like generational loss – copies of copies of 90s records, watered down and sanitized and fed through Instagram – the new Air Liquide project is both real media archaeology and real invention. You get remasters and rereleases of the actual original records, and – this is important – they’re making new stuff.

Air Liquide are back.

So albums like Liquid Air and Mercury EP are returning on colored vinyl and cheap-for-everybody digital. But you can also expect new creations, like a mini-album called “ALTR” which they’ve let CDM know they’re finishing now with German rave legend t.raumschmiere. And there’s upcoming collaboration with American poet Mary S. Applegate – yes, the cousin of Christina Applegate – later this year, along with other releases.

There’s even some unreleased 1992-93 era stuff in store, they tell us.

They’re also acting as our guides through other freaky sounds, as on this new Spotify playlist “Der lärm der stille“.

Included is “some crazy tripmusic we love – paired with some of our own brain fkk trax” – up to 94 tracks and over 8 hours so far, from around the world and the years:

Their favorite machines

One thread through all this music is a real, profound love for sound and electronics – and synths and noisemakers and effects, like, everywhere.

CDM asked for some of the duo’s favorite stuff, and here’s what they’ve come up with:

dr walker:
drummachines:
erica synths technosystem
akai mpc3000 (modded)
akai mpc60 mk 1 (modded)
ensoniq asr x (modded)
superpocketoperator build by doc analog with 2x teenage engineering po32, ipad with patterning2 and erica synths fusion valve filters. all in an old army flightcase
roland tr8s
endorphin.es black noir with twisted electrons crazy8beats

synths
acd666
polyend medusa
erica synths liquid sky dada noise system
acl system 1
native instruments thrill
erica synths bassline
twisted electrons therapkid
gamechanger audio motorsynth
izotope iris 2

effects:
ninja tune zendelay
erica synths & gamechanger audio plasmadrive
bastl instruments dark matter
crazy tube circuits stereo splash mk III
snazzy fx wownflutter
catalinbread csidman

on the wishlist:
sequential rev2
korg prologue 16
emu e II+ (modded)
roland 750 (modded)
superlatives sb1 spacebee

Postlude: namedrop this, m************:

Yeah, okay, starting a sentence with “maybe you’ve heard of” with Air Liquide could take a while if you want to check on all their aliases. From the VICE report – amazingly, possibly even incomplete:

Madonna 303, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, Unit 700, Acid All Stars, Der Tote, DR. Echo, Free Radicals, Flüssige Luft, G 104, Message, Oral Experience, Alpha Unit, Basstards, The, Bionic Skank, Cipher Code, Cube 40, Denpasar, Electronic Dub, Ethik II, Even Brooklyn Grooves, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, Futuristic Dub Foundation, G.L. Posse, German Electronic Foundation, M.F.A., Mental Bazar, Multicore L.T.D., Non Toxique Lost, Outernational Steppers, Restgeraeusch, Rub-A-Slide, Set Fatale, Slime Slurps, , Time Tunnel, Titanium Steel Screws, Tone Manipulators, Trancemagma, Dzeta Walker, Ultrahigh, UMO, Vene, View Point Odyssey, Zulutronic, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Dr. Walker, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, 370°, Acid Force, Air Liquide, Alternate States, Atlantic Trance, Bleep, The, Brotherz In Armz, Cipher Code, Commando, The Creature, Denpasar, Dr. Walker & Electro Atomu, Dr. Walker & M. Flux, Electrochic, Electronic Dub, Elevator 101, Ermionis Phunk Crew, Ethik II, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, German Electronic Foundation, Gizz TV & Walker, Global Electronic Network, Helden Der Revolution, House Hallucinates, GEF, Khan & Walker, Lovecore, Mental Bazar, Mono-Tone, Multicore L.T.D., Pierrot Premier, Planet Love Ink, Planet Lovecore, Psychedelic Kitchen, Radiowaves, Recall IV, Red Light District, Rei$$dorf Force, Resist 101, South 2nd, Stardate 1973, Structure, Tantra-M, Technoline, Time Tunnel, Trancemagma, Trip 2001, Unbelievable, Unlimited Pleasure, Vermona, View Point Odyssey, Dr. W and X-911.

They have shared this new short bio/history with us, to give you the full story:

AIR LIQUIDE

Born out of innovation & originality, Air Liquide are for many people one of contemporary electronic music cultures most pioneering, important and inspiring projects.

Cem Oral aka Jammin Unit and Ingmar Koch (Dr.Walker) first met in 1989 in a Studio in Frankfurt Main, in Germany. As it often is when like attracts like, it wasn’t long before they recognized their mutual love, not only for experimental, abstract and lo-fi musics but also for Alien, Bigfoot, Telepathy stories of Parallel Universes and Fairytales with a somewhat darker side. So it was just a matter of time before the two were getting together in the studio at the end of their respective dayshifts, to commence their own nightshift recording sessions of abstract noise, cut-ups and experimental soundscapes.

As well as Techno itself, likewise Acid, Industrial Noise, Ernste Musik, Ambient, Kraut Rock, Space-rock, 70s Psychedelia Underground Hip Hop and Musique Concrete were all somehow present and in the mix of the evolving Air Liquide sound, sitting comfortably and perfectly at home with elements of Turkish and Arabian traditional Music’s. The production process took on board a similar innovative and pioneering approach in its fusion of Modern Dub paired with the intensity of the all important groundbreaking Roland 909, 808, 303 and 101 must have technology of the day.

In 1991, they formed Air Liquide.

The fusion that was created boldly incorporated a past it was proud of, free of revivalism or plagiarism, clearly created in and reflecting undeniably a soundscape for the here and now that proclaimed uncompromisingly and assuredly, welcome to the future!

In keeping with every other aspect of their venture, Cem and Ingmar followed their intuition and instincts rather than established tradition, and immersed themselves in freestyle jam sessions, recording the entire one or two hours that they lasted. Upon later listening it would be decided if any parts of the jam session were up to the pairs criteria to be edited out and tweeked into tracks for release.
This is the paradigm within which the Air Liquide creative process birthed “Neue Frankfurter Elektronik Schule”, their first record, released in 1991 on their own label ”Blue”. The first pressing of 1000 copies, released on coloured vinyl, sold out in the first hour after its release!

This was a remarkable achievement, for an unknown band without any direct link to the House Music Scene. Via experimentation Air Liquide reintroduced a living breathing life affirming energy into contemporary music culture, much the same as techno and house did via rave and most importantly dancing. No surprise then that in a very short space of time, accolades like ‘The true heirs to Can’, ‘The Greatful Dead of Techno’ & ‘The spearhead of German Techno’ were incoming thick and fast from the International Music press. Their mixture of Hip Hop, Psyche & Krautrock, Acid & Techno endeared them to a rapidly established and increasing fan base around the Cologne area.

Their eclecticism, originality and self respect, as apparent in a seemingly “no respect for any rules” approach endeared them to that international music press, fans and professionals alike, especially as those professionals were born of the same spirit, as it had been in their own break through years. Like attracts like, the true fans of such musics, such fusions and the spaces that are created for and by these musics, of course could and can feel that, and step up to support it without question.

Then you have guests at your live jams like Michael Rother, Holger Czukay, Luke Vibert, Helmut Zerlett, Craig Anderton, Arno Steffen, Caspar Pound, Fm Einheit. Then your 100% improvised live shows successfully bring surprise, ecstasy, the unexpected and exactly all that people are wanting from you, as well in ways they are not expecting, all in a guaranteed we deliver way, regardless however it may be presented. Then you will be invited to join the roster of USA sm:)e records, the cult sub-label of Profile, that being the label of Run DMC. Likewise in UK, being asked to release on Casper Pounds all important Rising High Records.

And when your fusion of the experimental soul of contemporary electronica and krautrock creates such a superb and flawless fusion that fans from both sound spectrums love you for it, well then one of the all time forward thinking labels ever, Harvest records, will come out of retirement and re activate solely for the purpose of releasing your recordings.

Which is exactly what happened in 1993. That happens if you mean what your doing and if what you are doing is truly valid and unquestionably relevant.

Air Liquide were inspired, moulded by and arose from within that timeless borderless creative Freezone that births truly great Sound & Vision in every respect. It is where they still reside, and it is from there that they now re-emerge to mark 3 decades of living on the frontiers of International ground breaking contemporary ahead of the curve Music, Art, and attendant Technology subcultures.

Air Liquide represent the ultimate fusion of ideals, not believing the hype, not being swayed by past or present dogmas and staying true to their innermost aims and feelings, without question. The real thing if you will. Air Liquide were since their inception in 1991, always have been and still are very much the real thing, through and through!

Modern photos by George Nebieridze; all pictures courtesy Air Liquide.

The post Enter the freaky trippy acid 90s German synth world of Air Liquide appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 17 May 2019 7:18 pm

Pioneer and Beatport this week announced new streaming offerings for DJs. And then lots of people kind of freaked out. Let’s see what’s actually going on, if any of it is useful to DJs and music lovers, and what we should or shouldn’t worry about.

Artists, labels, and DJs are understandably on edge about digital music subscriptions – and thoughtless DJing. Independent music makers tend not to see any useful revenue or fan acquisition from streaming. So the fear is that a move to the kinds of pricing on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple services would be devastating.

And, well – that’s totally right, you obviously should be afraid of those things if you’re making music. Forget even getting rich – if big services take over, just getting heard could become an expensive endeavor, a trend we’ve already begun to see.

So I talked to Beatport to get some clarity on what they’re doing. We’re fortunate now that the person doing artist and label relations for Beatport is Heiko Hoffmann, who has an enormous resume in the trenches of the German electronic underground, including some 17 years under his belt as editor of Groove, which has had about as much a reputation as any German-language rag when it comes to credibility.

TL:DR

The skinny:

Beatport LINK: fifteen bucks a month, but aimed at beginners – 128k only. Use it for previews if you’re a serious Beatport user, recommend it to your friends bugging you about how they should start DJing, and otherwise don’t worry about it.

Beatport CLOUD: five bucks a month, gives you sync for your Beatport collection. Included in the other stuff here and – saves you losing your Beatport purchases and gives you previews. 128k only. Will work with Rekordbox in the fall, but you’ll want to pay extra for extra features (or stick with your existing download approach).

Beatport LINK PRO: the real news – but it’s not here yet. Works with Rekordbox, costs 40-60 bucks, but isn’t entirely unlimited. Won’t destroy music (uh, not saying something else won’t, but this won’t). The first sign of real streaming DJs – but the companies catering to serious DJs aren’t going to give away the farm the way Apple and Spotify have. In fact, if there’s any problem here, it’s that no one will buy this – but that’s Beatport’s problem, not yours (as it should be).

WeDJ streaming is for beginners, not Pioneer pros

This first point is probably the most important. Beatport (and SoundCloud) have each created a subscription offering that works exclusively with Pioneer’s WeDJ mobile DJ tool. That is, neither of these works with Rekordbox – not yet.

Just in case there’s any doubt, Pioneer has literally made the dominant product image photo some people DJing in their kitchen. So there you go: Rekordbox and and CDJ and TORAIZ equals nightclub, WeDJ equals countertop next to a pan of fajitas.

So yeah, SoundCloud streaming is now in a DJ app. And Beatport is offering its catalog of tracks for US$14.99 a month for the beta, which is a pretty phenomenally low price – and one that would rightfully scare labels and artists.

But it’s important this is in WeDJ as far as DJing. Pioneer aren’t planning on endangering their business ecosystem in Rekordbox, higher-end controllers, and standalone hardware like the CDJ. They’re trying to attract the beginners in the hopes that some of those people will expand the high end market down the road.

By the same token, it’d be incredibly short-sighted if Beatport were to give up on customers paying a hundred bucks a month or so on downloads just to chase growth. Instead, Beatport will split its offerings into a consumer/beginner product (LINK for WeDJ) and two products for serious DJs (LINK Pro and Beatport CLOUD).

And there’s reason to believe that what disrupts the consumer/beginner side might not make ripples when it comes to pros – as we’ve been there already. Spotify is in Algoriddim’s djay. It’s actually a really solid product. But the djay user base doesn’t impact what people use in the clubs, where the CDJ (or sometimes Serato or TRAKTOR) reign supreme. So if streaming in DJ software were going to crash the download market, you could argue it would have happened already.

That’s still a precarious situation, so let’s break down the different Beatport options, both to see how they’ll impact music makers’ business – and whether they’re something you might want to use yourself.

Ce n’est pas un CDJ.

Beatport LINK – the beginner one

First, that consumer service – yeah, it’s fifteen bucks a month and includes the Beatport catalog. But it’s quality-limited and works only in the WeDJ app (and with the fairly toy-like new DDJ-200 controller, which I’ll look at separately).

Who’s it for? “The Beginner DJs that are just starting out will have millions of tracks to practice and play with,” says Heiko. “Previously, a lot of this market would have been lost to piracy. The bit rate is 128kbs AAC and is not meant for public performance.”

But us serious Beatport users might want to mess around with it, too – it’s a place you can audition new tracks for a fairly low monthly fee. “It’s like having a record shop in your home,” says Heiko.

Just don’t think Beatport are making this their new subscription offering. If you think fifteen bucks a month for everything Beatport is a terrible business idea, don’t worry – Beatport agree. “This is the first of our Beatport LINK products,” says Heiko. “This is not a ‘Spotify for dance music.’ It’s a streaming service for DJs and makes Beatport’s extensive electronic music catalog available to stream audio into the WeDJ app.” And yeah, Spotify want more money for that, which is good – because you want more money charged for that as a producer or label. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the locker, the other thing available now:

WeDJ – a mobile gateway drug for DJs, or so Pioneer hopes. (NI and Algoriddim did it first; let’s see who does it better.)

Beatport CLOUD – the locker/sync one

Okay, so streaming may be destroying music but … you’ve probably still sometimes wanted to have access to digital downloads you’ve bought without having to worry about hard drive management or drive and laptop failures. And there’s the “locker” concept.

Some folks will remember that Beatport bought the major “locker” service for digital music – when it acquired Pulselocker. [link to our friends at DJ TechTools]

Beatport CLOUD is the sync/locker making a comeback, with €/$ 4.99 a month fee and no obligation or contract. It’s also included free in LINK – so for me, for instance, since I hate promos and like to dig for my own music even as press and DJ, I’m seriously thinking of the fifteen bucks to get full streaming previews, mixing in WeDJ, and CLOUD.

There are some other features here, too:

Re-download anything, unlimited. I heard from a friend – let’s call him Pietro Kerning – that maybe a stupid amount of music he’d (uh, or “she’d”) bought on Beatport was now scattered across a random assortment of hard drives. I would never do such a thing, because I organize everything immaculately in all aspects of my life in a manner becoming a true professional, but now this “friend” will easily be able to grab music anywhere in the event of that last-minute DJ gig.

By the same token you can:

Filter all your existing music in a cloud library. Not that I need to, perfectly organized individual, but you slobs need this, of course.

Needle-drop full previews. Hear 120 seconds from anywhere in a track – for better informed purchases. (Frankly, this makes me calmer as a label owner, even – I would totally rather you hear more of our music.)

There should be some obvious bad news here – this only works with Beatport purchased music. You can’t upload music the way some sync/locker services have worked in the past. But I think given the current legal landscape, if you want that, set up your own backup server.

What I like about this, at least, is that this store isn’t losing stuff you’ve bought from them. I think other download sites should consider something similar. (Bandcamp does a nice job in this respect – and of course it’s the store I use the most when not using Beatport.)

The new Beatport cloud.

Beatport LINK Pro – what’s coming

There are very few cases where someone says, “hey, good news – this will be expensive.” But music right now is a special case. And it’s good news that Beatport is launching a more expensive service.

For labels and artists, it means a serious chance to stay alive. (I mean, even for a label doing a tiny amount of download sales, this can mean that little bit of cash to pay the mastering engineer and the person who did the design for the cover, or to host a showcase in your local club.)

For serious users using that service, it means a higher quality way of getting music than other subscription services – and that you support the people who make the music you love, so they keep using it.

Or, at least, that’s the hope.

What Beatport is offering at the “pro” tiers does more and costs more. Just like Pioneer doesn’t want you to stop buying CDJs just because they have a cheap controller and app, Beatport doesn’t want you to stop spending money for music just because they have a subscription for that controller and app. Heiko explains:

With the upcoming Pioneer rekordbox integration, Beatport will roll out two new plans – Beatport LINK Pro and Beatport LINK Pro+ – with an offline locker and 256kbps AAC audio quality (which is equivalent to 320kbps MP3, but you’re the expert here). This will be club ready, but will be aimed at DJs who take their laptops to clubs, for now. They will cost €39,99/month and €59,99/month depending on how many tracks you can put in the offline locker (50 and 100 respectively).

You’ll get streaming inside Rekordbox with the basic LINK, too – but only at 128k. So it’ll work for previewing and trying out mixes, but the idea is you’ll still pay more for higher quality. (And of course that also still means paying more to work with CDJs, which is also a big deal.)

And yeah, Beatport agree with me. “We think streaming for professional DJ use should be priced higher,” says Heiko. “And we also need to be sure that this is not biting into the indie labels and artists (and therefore also Beatport’s own) revenues,” he says.

What Heiko doesn’t say is that this could increase spending, but I think it actually could. Looking at my own purchase habits and talking to others, a lot of times you look back and spend $100 for a big gig, but then lapse a few months. A subscription fee might actually encourage you to spend more and keep your catalog up to date gig to gig.

It’s also fair to hope this could be good for under-the-radar labels and artists even relative to the status quo. If serious DJs are locked into subscription plans, they might well take a chance on lesser known labels and artists since they’re already paying. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, though – a lot of this will be down to how Beatport handles its editorial offerings and UX on the site as this subscription grows. That means it’s good someone like Heiko is handling relations, though, as I expect he’ll be hearing from us.

Really, one very plausible scenario is that streaming DJing doesn’t catch on initially because it’s more expensive – and people in the DJ world may stick to downloads. A lot of that in turn depends on things like how 5G rolls out worldwide (which right now involves a major battle between the US government and Chinese hardware vendor Huawei, among other things), plus how Pioneer deals with a “Streaming CDJ.”

The point is, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that. And there’s no rush – smart companies like Beatport will charge sustainable amounts of money for subscriptions and move slowly. The thing to be afraid of is if Apple or Spotify rush out a DJ product and, like, destroy independent music. If they try it, we should fight back.

Will labels and artists benefit?

If it sounds like I’m trying to be a cheerleader for Beatport, I’m really not. If you look at the top charts in genres, a lot of Beatport is, frankly, dreck – even with great editorial teams trying to guide consumers to good stuff. And centralization in general has a poor track record when it comes to underground music.

No, what I am biased toward is products that are real, shipping, and based on serious economics. So much as I’m interested in radical ideas for decentralizing music distribution, I think those services have yet to prove their feasibility.

And I think it’s fair to give Beatport some credit for being a business that’s real, based on actual revenue that’s shared between labels and artists. It may mean little to your speedcore goth neo-Baroque label (BLACK HYPERACID LEIPZIG INDUSTRIES, obviously – please let’s make that). But Beatport really is a cornerstone for a lot of the people making dance music now, on a unique scale.

The vision for LINK seems to be solid when it comes to revenue. Heiko again:

LINK will provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists. The people who are buying downloads on Beatport are doing so because they want to DJ/perform with them. LINK is not there to replace that.

But I think for the reason I’ve already repeated – that the “serious” and “amateur”/wedding/beginner DJ gulf is real and not just a thing snobs talk about – LINK and WeDJ probably won’t disrupt label business, even that much to the positive. Look ahead to Rekordbox integration and the higher tiers. And yeah, I’m happy to spend the money, because I never get tired of listening to music – really.

And what if you don’t like this? Talk to your label and distributor. And really, you should be doing that anyway. Heiko explains:

Unlike other DSP’s, Beatport LINK has been conceived and developed in close cooperation with the labels and distributors on Beatport. Over the past year, new contracts were signed and all music used for LINK has been licensed by the right holders. However, if labels whose distributors have signed the new contract don’t want their catalog to be available for LINK they can opt out. But again: LINK is meant to provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists.

Have a good weekend, and let us know if you have questions or comments. I’ll be looking at this for sure, as I think there isn’t enough perspective coming from serious producers who care about the details of technology.

https://www.beatport.com/get-link

The post No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Experimental Ukrainian music, through a looking glass

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Sun 7 Apr 2019 5:19 pm

April is a generous month for fans of unusual Ukrainian compilations – now having covered new braindance from the country, we’re directed by readers to another set, giving a tour of experimentalism and electronic composition.

Flaming Pines is a wonderful label for experimental music, also setting up its virtual home on Bandcamp, that last best hope for underground digital downloads and physical releases. Check their full catalog for adventurous sounds from 9T Antiope (great stuff) to Kate Carr (seriously, just go give those a listen). The label, a transplant from Sydney to London, has also taken on a number of tours of experimental electronic scenes in far-off locales, including a gorgeous Iranian compilation called Absence, and up-and-coming Vietnamese avant garde in Emergence.

It’s not so much exoticism the label seems to find as threads connecting kindred spirits. And now, having plumbed the depths of mystical sound in Ukrainian duo Gamardah Fungus, the label brings back half of that duo to curate a selection of sounds from that motherland. Igor Yalivec is the guide here, leading us in just twelve tracks to some highlights of established compositional voices and younger contributions alike. Igor you’ll also find showing off modular musicianship as a solo artist in addition to working in the duo:

Guitar and electronics yield magical metallic timbres like a lucid dream, in the work of Gamardah Fungus – some potent brew of remembered folklore and time-warped futurism. It’s Slavic spirit ambient, but always inventive – modal melodies tensely wandering about layers of tape and sound:

So this was a perfect starting point for Kaleiodoscope. That leads to Alla Zahaikevych (aka Zagaykevych) – her work spanning traditional concert music training, historical folk singing technique (with over a decade singing in an ensemble dedicated to the practice), and founding the Electronic Music Studio of Kyiv’s National Music Academy of Ukraine. I can’t think of many composers covering that many directions in a single career worldwide, making her a leader on that stage as well as in Ukraine.

Or there’s Andrey Kiritchenko, obsessively prolific generation X-aged composer who founded the cutting-edge Nexsound label – and has worked with names like Kim Cascone, Francisco López, Andreas Tilliander, Frank Bretschneider, Scanner, Charlemagne Palestine, and many others.

But thinking in generations or separating academy from disreputable underground – it’s fitting that we cross those borders freely now. So it’s an easy step to a younger artist like Motorpig, a visceral, dark project spanning techno, industrial, and experimental veins – and things that are none of those, but rather ambient, undulating merry-go-rounds of texture. (Been a while since there was new Motorpig, so I’m up for any new track):

To come full circle, understanding the reason for this journey out to Ukraine, it’s worth hearing the terrifically nuanced sound world of Flaming Pines’ own Kate Carr. These are ambient soundscapes that breathe and ache, as precarious and fragile as evidently the artist was recording them – “sliding about in freezing mud on steep inclines.” And maybe that’s what this is all about – music that invokes deep spirits and puts itself in positions of extreme difficulty, all to catch fleeting moments of beauty.

So the compilation promises great things – like this utterly chilling vocal composition by Alla Zagaykevych, some evidently convolved, ghostly sound that seems to be about to blow away like frost:

Also in future-vocal territory, Andrey Kiritchenko delivers a chanting vocoder:

The art, at top, also comes from Ukraine – artist Alina Gaeva. I look forward to the compilation coming out on April 22 – but there’s plenty of link holes to drain our PayPal accounts on Bandcamp in the meantime.

https://flamingpines.bandcamp.com/album/kaleidoscope

And all of this makes a nice contrast to that naive nerdy braindance business from a couple of days ago. Previously, on “there’s a lot of really cool music from Ukraine on Bandcamp now and it’s worth dropping doing other things to talk about it”:

From Ukraine, a compilation to resist normality and go braindance

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From Ukraine, a compilation to resist normality and go braindance

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Thu 4 Apr 2019 5:02 pm

The letters titling the release spell out, in Cyrllic, “sh**s.” And more than just another dull compilation, this collection of tracks is a statement – in opposition to commercialism and homogeny, in favor of “braindance” weirdness.

The earnest voices of the ШЩЦ creators intone their explanation in an ‘intro’ track you get with the download. “We have power to … make it not commercial, to make it true, to make it native,” they explain – “emotional music, true music from true people.” 23 artists were picked out of hundreds, and the result is a pay-what-you-will Bandcamp release plus a DVD physical copy. (Just got a confirmation – the DVD I impulse-bought is coming in the mail. This should complete my antiquated release format bingo, alongside floppies and game cartridges and VHS tapes and so on….)

ШЩЦ is a party in Kyiv as well as this first music release, and so in addition to lots of new names, you’ll see the likes of Stanislav Tolkachev. The collective itself is based in the capital city, but connects a group from around the country.

You’ll find some magical and surprising arrangements here. And in an age that so often trends between molasses-thick irony and nostalgia on one hand, or dark dystopia on the other, this is music that that’s free, experimental, and optimistic. Just to name a few favorites, and I like this top to bottom – Xtal’s “A-Body” shimmers with cascades of glistening tunes across a frosty-rich percussion bed. Sztvo’s “Heaton” is equally gorgeous, sunlit-warm stuff. “Famergame” is total insanity, by Potreba – please, please DJ with this and invite me. Jubex “Pass In The Dust” feels almost like the Detroit-Kyiv electro connection, with some dry digital newness thrown in. “Hibernation” by S+ is frenetic and urgent. And yeah, Tolkachev’s contribution sounds like there was a transporter accident on the disco floor. Everywhere there are rhythms that range from frantic digital streams to dorky awkward irregularity.

We’ve heard these timbres and rhythms before, but to me ШЩЦ is a sign that what was once high-falutin’ computer craft has become downright punk – and just as easy and spontaneous, rather than sounding overworked or off-putting.

Ukraine now post-revolution is like UK 90s, they argue. But hey, UK or not, why not go oldschool by making connections just by putting together some tracks and being decidedly weird. More of that, please.

“Listen on Bandcamp … and also, wherever in Internet.”

Word.

http://ssshitsss.bandcamp.com/album/various-artists-01

I also dig that their description reads like a manifesto:

ШЩЦ (SHITS) is a new Ukrainian label that started as a club night in December 2016. It was founded by A-Body, Bodya Konakov and their friends and promotes ‘Braindance’ — a much loved and misunderstood genre of electronic music, forgotten by some and indeed new to others, especially in Ukraine. Label founders want to show a kind of ‘family’ of ukrainian artists (by no means a monopoly) who introducing more freedom and versatility to music. These artists feel that there is a void in the country’s dance music that few were attempting to fill so ШЩЦ (SHITS) aims to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Ukrainian braindance music can be entirely original. Also, it disregards the all-to-common commercial genres and wants to show alternative side of dance music.

They tries to demonstrate this in VARIOUS ARTISTS ШЩЦ01, a DVD compilation.

The compilation features 23 musicians from Ukraine, which makes innovative, but at the same time emotional music. This is the friends of the label who have repeatedly performed at concerts and parties of the ШЩЦ (SHITS), including such names as Stanislav Tolkachev, A-Body, Wulffius, Potreba, Sommer, Tofudj, Sasha Very, Acid Jordan, etc.

Also label places equal importance on the evolution of fresh artists on the scene and aims to offer a fair contract for everyone.

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Two free plug-ins and a music label take you into ambient worlds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Thu 28 Mar 2019 6:42 pm

What’s to say a music idea can’t be both a tool and a tape, an instrument someone could play or an album they can get lost in? Puremagnetik are launching their new experimental label with two free tools that let you keep the drones and grains and ambient soundscapes flowing.

There’s a bunch of hype this week because Warner Music signed an algorithm. And in turn with everyone abusing the term “AI,” you might well think that a computer has automated a composer’s job. Except that’s not what happened – in the long tradition of algorithmic music, a group of composers applied their ideas to the development of software. One of the first apps launched for the iPhone, in fact, was the Brian Eno – Peter Chilvers “Bloom.” Endel has more in common with Bloom, I’d argue, than it does some dystopia where unseen, disembodied AI come to rob you of your lucrative ambient music recording contract. (At least, we’re not there yet. Endel is here in Berlin; I hope to talk to them soon – what they’ve done sounds very interesting, and maybe not quite what the press have reported.) Bloom in turn was a follow-up to Eno’s software-based generative music releases. Ableton co-founders Gerhard and Robert released software in the 90s, too.

So let’s talk about the role of musician as blurred with the role of instrument builder. Soundware and software shop Puremagnetik is made by musicians; founder Micah Frank was moonlighting in sound design for others as he worked on his own music. While this may come as shocking news to some, it turns out for many people, selling music tools is often a better day job than selling music or music performances. (I hope you were sitting down for that bombshell. Don’t tell my/your/anyone’s parents.)

But there are many ways to express something musically. Many of us who love tools as we do love playing live and recording and listening do so because all of these things embody sound and feeling.

It’s fitting, then, that Puremagnetik are launching their own record label to house some of the recorded experiments – Puremagnetik Tapes, which already has some beautiful music on cassette and as digital downloads.

And the perfect companion to those albums is these two free plug-ins. Like the label, they promise a trip for the mind.

The two first tapes (also available as digital)… gorgeous sound worlds to lose yourself in on loop.

The label announces it will focus on “experimental, ambient and acousmatic music.” That already yields two enchanting ambient forays. “Into a Bright Land” is in turns crystalline and delicate, warm and lush as a thick blanket. It’s Micah Frank himself, releasing under his Larum moniker. The musical craft is a digital-analog hybrid, part synths and tape machines – the kind the company has been known for sampling in its sound work – and partly Micah’s intricate custom coding work in the free environment Csound.

https://puremagnetik.com/collections/tapes/products/larum-into-a-bright-land

To accompany Into a Bright Land, there’s the plug-in “Expanse,” a “texture generator,” with a combination of “texture tone” filter, spectral blurring, adjustable pitch shift, and a healthy supply of noise generation and space.

Its drones and sonic landscapes draw from that same world.

Tyler Gilmore aka BlankFor.ms has crafted “Works for Tape and Piano,” pushing each instrument to its most vulnerable place, the tape itself becoming instrument, sounding almost as if at the point of a beautiful breakdown.

https://puremagnetik.com/collections/tapes/products/blankfor-ms-works-for-tape-and-piano

Since you can’t just borrow Tyler’s tape machines and such, Driftmaker is a digital equivalent – a “delay disintegration” device. Add your own audio, and the plug-in will model analog deterioration. The artist himself supplies the presets. Again, you have plenty of control – “parse” which sets the record buffer, “chop” which determines how much to recall, and then controls for delay, modulation, filtering, and wet/dry.

Both plug-ins are free with an email address or Gumroad login.

…and the plug-ins, each created to aesthetically accompany the albums.

There’s a pattern here, though. Far from a world where artists remove themselves from craft or automate the hard work, here, artists relish in getting close to everything that makes sound. They make music the hard way because each element of DIY is fun. And then they share that same fun. It might well be the opposite of the narrative we’re given about AI and automation (and I suspect that may also mean artists don’t approach machine learning for music in the way some people currently predict).

Or, well, even if you don’t believe that, I think you’ll easily lose whole evenings with these albums and plug-ins alike.

Details:

https://puremagnetik.com/blogs/news/two-free-plugins-expanse-driftmaker

Requirements: macOS X 10.8 (AU, VST) or Windows 10 (VST) 64-bit plug-ins

The post Two free plug-ins and a music label take you into ambient worlds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside the esoteric moon music of Doc Sleep, underground connector

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Mon 4 Mar 2019 6:57 pm

Leftfield grooves, cycles inspired by the cinematic qualities of lunar and natural world – welcome to Doc Sleep’s “Your Ruling Planet.” I talked to the Room 4 Resistance resident and Jacktone Records co-owner about her work.

Doc Sleep is a San Francisco-to-Berlin transplant, and apart from her prolific production career and packed DJ schedule, she’s someone who makes connections and creates space for others in an underground scene so often overlooked for solitary solo artists. So that has meant broadcasting on the legendary Intergalactic FM, collaborating and remixing across labels from Twirl to Discwoman, and more recently being a resident and curator of Room 4 Resistance, the activist, queer collective.

And her music productions mirror the thoughtful, eclectic materials of her label Jacktone. “Your Ruling Planet” is comfortably odd, relaxing into organic rhythms that dance hypnotically through the stereo field, gentle ambiences and field loops feathering into one another. She tells us a bit about how this came about and where she’s headed.

Take a listen:

Cover image: album art by Sonja of Lisbon’s LABAREDA label.

Lunar eclipses and whatnot – can you share a bit with us the cosmic narrative for you in this music? What brought it on; how does that translate to the music?

I have a lot of memories from childhood connected to seasons and nature. I’m from a rural area, so it’s all tied up with a bit of colloquial wisdom, farmers almanac kind of context. Something like the harvest moon or spring equinox – these were all part of the vernacular, but in a practical, matter-of-fact way. These memories were on my mind when I was working on the music in January because of the eclipses (partial solar, total lunar). As I was recalling memories and stories, the natural and ‘otherworldly’ elements were always so strong in beautiful cinematic ways – the look of the sky and moon, colors at dusk, constellations, northern lights glimpsed through the trees, and so on. I started to record and structure the release as a narration and soundtrack for these fragments and how to bring them into the present. Sonja (the amazing artist who designed the cover), sent along artwork and referred to it as ‘celestial’ – and it was solidified.

What’s your toolset like for this album? There’s a really organic sound to these elements; how are you working?

I was feeling stuck last year with the DAW tools I had, and a pal made some specific suggestions to spice it up in Ableton – Reaktor, Max for Live, etc. You know, things most people have been using for ages, ha! Since moving to Berlin, I’ve been producing ‘in the box’, so between using a Push, experimenting with Reaktor and just generally getting more comfortable in Ableton – I’m finally able to be more spontaneous. Lots of accidents are happening all that good stuff. Being able to record and manipulate audio out of Reaktor added an imperfect, unwieldy element I was missing from my setup and I use it heavily these days. I also mangle samples and sample packs, use field recordings, analog synth plug-ins, piano and guitar plug-ins – lots of warmer-sounding instruments. I add plenty of effects (reverb, space echo, tape distortion) to give the sounds a bit of depth and character. I am still learning and experimenting with every session, so we’ll see where I end up with the next EPs later this year.

Doc Sleep. Photo: Lydia Daniller.

I’m particularly interested in the element of time – there’s a sense of cycle, but without being too fixed to a grid. How many layers are we hearing at once / how much is real time versus worked out after the fact? There’s a particularly hypnotic sense for me on the last cut (“Emerado Falls”).

I love that you mentioned a sense of cycle. This all fits nicely with the themes and I’m glad this came out in the music.

In general, I like to layer melodic elements and play with the phasing/fading in and out with the different layers… actually, maybe cramming is a better word. I will manipulate a sample or record audio out of Reaktor over percussion and then record several versions of what I want, but all slightly different with effects and then layer it and work on the arrangement from there.

In these tracks, for some of the more ‘ethereal’ parts, I was layering vocals and having them interplay with synths that mirrored the melody line. There are probably four or five mid- to higher-register melodic elements at one time in “Emerado Falls.” I wanted them to be indistinguishable at times, or sometimes the different sounds coming in and out of focus – my friend at Grippers’ Tips referred to it as ‘smudged ambience’, which I really like. As far as the pianos that come in and sort of collide at the end, this was difficult to get them timed in a way that didn’t sound ‘off’ or distracting. I’m not seeking perfection with the music, but I also don’t want it be so off-grid that it pulls the listener out of the moment.

I hear various field recordings. Does that figure into the story of this music for you?

I was very interested in bringing these elements into the music, yes. In the mid 2000s I made music with a friend who had gone to school for sound art, so this is when I started to learn what was possible mixing field recordings into music. Before that, I didn’t really understand how producers were doing it – magic, I guess. For this release, I was very particular about the sounds I used as I was trying to recreate and reconstruct situations / memories that represent something meaningful for me personally. For the listener, I wanted to share these personal experiences, draw them in and see if it would also resonate.

That said, maybe saying “ambient” is really the wrong term – there is some real groove here, too, on “Nim” or even “Your Ruling Planet.” Usually when we start talking DJs and production, we slip into the realm of tools and whatnot – are you feeding your life into a DJ into this, even when it is less obvious dancefloor material?

My first two releases, I wanted to make dancefloor material and hoped some pals would play it out in sets. This time around, since it was at home on Jacktone and I hadn’t released in awhile, I was more focused on realizing and executing ideas. There are dance tempos present, but I didn’t write with the dancefloor in mind, which feels like real progress for me. I’m glad a groove comes through, though – I would be sad if it didn’t!

You’re now in my impression really active DJing. What has the move to Berlin, and to Room 4 Resistance meant for that side of your career – and how do you fit in time for the label and production?

Being part of R4R, I’m surrounded by fantastic, experimental, bold artists that I’m lucky to play with and learn from. Being part of the collective has pushed me to try new things in sets and I’m a better and more confident DJ because of it. Because we now have the experimental/ambient room at Trauma Bar, the events will push even further out of the box of what a club night can look like in 2019. It’s an exciting time and I’m fortunate to be part of it.

As far as time management and prioritizing projects, it’s definitely difficult. I have about 3 hours before work (if I don’t hit snooze) and 3 hours after work to make headway on the various things I’m involved with and working on, so I have to be focused, disciplined and…very boring these days.

For those new to your label, any tips as far as where to begin?

If you poke around the Jacktone Bandcamp store, you’ll find everything from kosmische and dark ambient to pummeling acid and dub techno, psychedelic house to rhythmic noise, concept albums, soundtracks, IDM, lo-fi, breaks, electro… and so on. We’ve collaborated with such a beautiful variety of folks producing in different genres the past 5 years, it’s difficult to single out any one release. I will say, our next release, from a prolific artist named Le Scrambled Debutante from Tennessee, is offering what is probably our most experimental release thus far. I think he best described it: sonic Dada. After that, we’re back in the Bay for another psychedelic house release, and then our first vinyl collaboration of the year with Beacon Sound in Portland (artist TBA). 🙂

https://jacktonerecords.bandcamp.com/

Oh, lastly, I love this artwork – can you tell us about Sonja and how the visual came about?

I’m so glad you like it! Sonja is a fabulously-talented designer, DJ, and label owner from Portugal. I’ve loved her aesthetic for so long and the music she puts out on Labareda is bold and imaginative and I thought she would be a great person to collaborate with for an image. Because it’s a digital-only release, we wanted it to be eye-catching and I think it works beautifully and captures the narrative perfectly. We liked it so much we also made it into a t-shirt.

Thanks! Yes, we’ll be watching for more from you and your label…

https://www.facebook.com/djdocsleep

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The words most used to describe releases at Hard Wax

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Mon 21 Jan 2019 9:37 pm

“Now that’s one fine and classy, atmospheric, big room tool, son.” Here’s the data when you crawl Berlin electronic music shop Hard Wax for descriptive keywords.

Friend of the site (and one-time CDM Web developer) musician-and-hacker Olle Holmberg has crawled Hard Wax’s website. That’ll be the legendary record purveyor opened by Mark Ernestus back in 1989 in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and still a leading destination for vinyl lovers today.

hardwax.com has accordingly accumulated a lot of words about music on their Internet portal, since each time a release like this Drexciya side project comes out, you get a whole bunch of language, too.

Olle collected the most important words, and he’s shared his data set.

I wrote some Processing code to visualize all of this as a word cloud, and here’s what you get (details on how to do this yourself below):

Since the data is available as a CSV, you could probably refine it more. For instance, one flaw is that singular and plural versions of words aren’t combined, so the rankings are slightly off. “Banger” and “bangers” he’s manually combined so that one gets a solid ranking.

The top 25, with number of appearances in a description:

1. tool (1848)
2. atmospheric (974)
3. fine (941)
4. big room (928)
5. classy (904)
6. deep (872)
7. effective (858)
8. killer (858)
9. heavy (851)
10. leftfield (798)
11. minimalist (744)
12. original (734)
13. excellent (720)
14. crafty (647)
15. trips (598)
16. recommended (594)
17. raw (590)
18. spaced (585)
19. rooted (574)
20. hard (567)
21. dark (526)
22. banger/bangers (520)
23. excursions (516)
24. tripping (508)
25. leaning (506)

“It’s atmospheric, yet also a banging big room tool.”

Next challenges: build a random keyword generator, train some machine learning on this, or … try to make music that fits the most popular words?

Oh, and if you’re interested in the code, I’ve got that, too. I worked with free and open source, multiplatform artist-friendly coding tool Processing. (Other Web-based tools exist, too, but then you miss out on the fun and flexibility of coding things yourself.)

Ah, word clouds – remember when we thought those were the bee’s knees? (To misquote Douglas Adams, it harkens to a headier, more innocent time when we were “so amazingly primitive that we still thought word clouds were a pretty neat data visualization.”

Dan Bernier’s free library gives you some tools for free:
http://wordcram.org/

Here’s a simple code template to get you started, loosely inspired by Dan Shiffman and Dan Bernier examples:


import wordcram.*;
import wordcram.text.*;

Table table;
Word[] wordArray;
WordCram wordcram;

void setup () {
size(1280, 1020);
background(255);
table = loadTable("data.csv", "header");
int numRows = table.getRowCount();
wordArray = new Word[numRows];
int rowCount = 0;
for (TableRow row : table.rows()) {
float weight = row.getFloat("count");
String mWord = row.getString("phrase");
wordArray[rowCount] = new Word(mWord, weight);
rowCount++;
}
wordcram = new WordCram(this)
.fromWords(wordArray);
}

void draw() {
wordcram.drawAll();
}

It’s quite slow to run by comparison, but here’s the code that makes the record-shaped visualization:

// image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disque_Vinyl.svg
// author: Muel, CC-BY-SA
// https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

import wordcram.*;
import wordcram.text.*;
import java.awt.*;

Table table;
Word[] wordArray;
WordCram wordcram;

PFont georgia;

void setup () {
size(1000, 1000);
background(255);
PImage image = loadImage("vinylicon.png");
image.resize(width, height);

Shape imageShape = new ImageShaper().shape(image, #000000);
ShapeBasedPlacer placer = new ShapeBasedPlacer(imageShape);

table = loadTable("data.csv", "header");
georgia = createFont("Georgia", 1);
int numRows = table.getRowCount();
wordArray = new Word[numRows];
int rowCount = 0;
for (TableRow row : table.rows()) {
float weight = row.getFloat("count");
String mWord = row.getString("phrase");
wordArray[rowCount] = new Word(mWord, weight);
rowCount++;
}
wordcram = new WordCram(this)
.fromWords(wordArray)
.withFont(georgia)
.withPlacer(placer)
.withNudger(placer)
.angledAt(0)
.sizedByWeight(10, 90)
;
}

void draw() {
wordcram.drawAll();
save("wordcloud.png");
println("Finished.");
stop();
}

With both code examples, you’ll need to slightly modify the csv file. Open the file in a text editor and add this line to the top:

sep=;

And remember to add the data file, and the image file (if you use the shape variation), to your Processing sketch (Sketch > Add File).

If you want to check out Berlin’s record shops and you happen to make it to town, here’s a good guide. It’s impressively only a little bit dated in terms of locations – Berlin is a weird haven where record shops mostly survive. Hard Wax is a must. Space Hall has become a huge music venue. And digger heaven The Record Loft has recently reopened next to the Sonnenalle S-Bahn stop.

The definitive guide to Berlin’s best record shops [The Vinyl Factory]

If Olle’s name is familiar, it’s because he also crawled Berghain’s site, though we were later informed both by resident DJs and the booking office that the data crawled there wasn’t really representative. (Still, it was a fun project – and we did wind up learning more about Berghain booking data in the end. Science!)

Berghain, by the numbers: data on the relentless Berlin techno club

If you have any time left after tinkering with Processing, of course, go buy up some records!

https://hardwax.com/

The post The words most used to describe releases at Hard Wax appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A year overflowing with electronic sound: 2018 music we loved

Delivered... David Abravanel | Artists,Labels,Scene | Tue 1 Jan 2019 1:11 am

Happy weird rockin’ New Year’s Eve. In a continuing tradition, CDM invites back resident music curator David Abravanel to single out some beloved music of 2018. We live in fortunate times; that job is deliciously hard. But it’s a chance to discover and rediscover some great sounds.

Without exaggeration, I cannot remember the last time I’ve had such difficulty paring down a year-end list. It’s not that I necessarily heard more music in 2018 – rather, it really did seem like everything was just that much better musically. Most likely it’s the product of turbulent times – and certainly, many of these albums are neither fun nor relaxing.

Getting this down to 35 has taken me far longer than any task should take any person. I’ve removed albums which, on any random day, I might decide is the best thing I’ve heard in a decade. But here’s what’s hit me the hardest in 2018 – all lists alphabetical:

Albums

Actress x London Contemporary Orchestra – LAGEOS (Ninja Tune)

Aisha Devi – DNA Feelings (Houndstooth) Pictured, top

Aleksi Perälä – Moonshine (AP Musik)

Alva Noto – Uniqav (Noton)

Autechre – NTS Sessions 1 – 4 (Warp)

Beans – Someday This Will All Be Ash (Hello L.A.)

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Something Else (‘a’)

Concubine – 2018 (self-released)

Derek Carr – Contact (Subwax Excursions)

DJ Healer – Nothing 2 Lose (All Possible Worlds)

France Jobin – Intrication (No.)

GAS – Rausch (Kompakt)

GusGus – Lies are More Flexible (Oroom)

Inigo Kennedy – Strata (Token)

Jason Forrest – Fear City (Cock Rock Disco)

Low – Double Negative (Sub-Pop)

Meat Beat Manifesto – Impossible Star (MBM)

Mika Vainio + Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto – Live 2002 (Noton)

Morphology – Traveller (Firescope)

Noah Pred – Homeworld (Modular)

Positive Centre – Forever Optimum (Horo)

Pulsewidthmod – Serpentine Servitude (Detroit Underground)

Robert Lippok – Applied Autonomy (Raster Media)

Shinichi Atobe – Heat (DDS)

Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones – Vicious Circles (Planet Mu)

Skee Mask – Compro (Ilian Tape)

Stefan Goldmann – An Ardent Heart (Macro)

Steven Julien – Bloodline (Apron / LuckyMe)

The Black Dog – Black Daisy Wheel (Dust Science)

The Breeders – All Nerve (4AD)

The Field – Infinite Moment (Kompakt)

Thomas Fehlmann – Los Lagos (Kompakt)

Tom Mudd – Gutter Synthesis (Entr’acte)

V/A – Air Texture Vol. VI (Air Texture)

Wanderwelle – Gathering of the Ancient Spirits (Silent Season)

EPs / Singles

Alis – Begin (Complete) (self-released)

Aphex Twin– Collapse (Warp)

Barker – Debiasing (Ostgut Ton)

Fanu– Black Label EP (Metalheadz)

LA-4A – Slackline (Central Processing Unit)

Róisín Murphy – “Jacuzzi Rollercoaster” / “Can’t Hang On” (Vinyl Factory)

Rothko String Quarter & Kaan Bulak – “Hain I” / “Hain II” (Feral Note)

Steven Rutter & John Shima– Step Into the Light (Firescope)

umru – Search Result (PC Music)

Underworld & Iggy Pop– Teatime Dub Encounters (Caroline)

Reissues & Retrospectives

B12 – Time Tourist (Warp)

Higher Intelligence Agency & Biosphere – Polar Sequences (Biophon)

Pixies – Come On Pilgrim…It’s Surfer Rosa (4AD)

Max Richter – The Blue Notebooks (Deutsche Grammophon)

Susumu Yokota – Acid Mt. Fuji (Midgar)

This Heat – Repeat / Metal (Modern Classics)

Tin Man – Acid Acid Acid (Acid Test)

The 7th Plain – Chronicles (A-Ton)

VA – Scopex 98/00 (Tresor)

V/A – 3AM Spares (Efficient Space)

Zeitgeist

There were a number of common trends and feelings with some of the best music of 2018. Some stray observations:

  • Outrage fatigue was on full display with Low’s magnificent Double Negative and Beans’ personal Someday This Will All Be Ash.
  • Exciting new explorations of Electro came courtesy of LA-4A and Morphology, coupled with reminders of classics from the Scopex label.
  • Taken together, Róisín Murphy’s four incredible single releases (in collaboration with left-field house/ambient stalwart Maurice Fulton) could make an AOTY candidate. Eight tracks of solid gold that should be on every dance floor.
  • Fantastic year for reissues of classic ambient techno – B12, The 7th Plain, Higher Intelligence Agency, Biosphere, and Susumu Yokota all still sound vital.
  • The 3AM Spares compilation was a fun discovery – picking gems from the after-hours house and breakbeat sounds of early-mid 90s Australia.
  • At the risk of understatement, it’s difficult to keep up with Aleksi Perälä’s overwhelming output. That said, Moonshine was a real winner, combining his spiritual Colundi Sequence with classic jungle rhythms.
  • Speaking of spiritual, it took a while to come around to it past the hype, but that DJ Healer album was something special. A real mood and atmosphere from start to finish – listen with your eyes closed.
  • Some real sleeper gems from Inigo Kennedy, GusGus, The Field, and Derek Carr – RIYL techno with feels.

So dig it. And here’s to some hope in 2019! Love to you and yours.

Listen now

Want more of a sampling? David has put together a Spotify list, too:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4KmdnTetEPFrt9fiqqcDbG

Of course, buy stuff you love from the labels.

Bonus: editor’s picks

As an addendum, I will re-gift the lineup I’ve sent to BTS / Behind the Stage, the Poland-based collective. It’s worth following their whole series, in fact:

https://www.facebook.com/btscollective/

We actually had to cut that list a little, so here’s my lucky number (13) worth / directors’ cut:

ИНФХ – Fences of Metal (ГОСТ ЗВУК Records)
BC: https://bit.ly/2QeqZ9n

Richard Devine – Opaque Ke (Timesig)
BC: https://bit.ly/2SxhGTW

Wiktor MilczarekUntitled (Brutaż)
BC: https://bit.ly/2CHiZdj

Robert LippokApplied Autonomy (Raster)
BC: https://bit.ly/2Tk5shs

Barker – Debiasing (Ostgut Ton)
BC: https://bit.ly/2LD8bzT

KATE NV – для FOR (Rvng International)
BC: https://bit.ly/2Rph4Ch

The AllegoristHybrid Dimension I (DETROIT UNDERGROUND)
BC: https://bit.ly/2BQmOLF

Christina VantzouNo. 4 (Kranky)
BC: https://bit.ly/2AlWOrk

Gabber Modus Operandi – Puxxximaxxx (YES NO WAVE MUSIC)
BC: https://bit.ly/2CGEXgr

Debashis Sinha MusicThe White Dog (Establishment)
BC: https://bit.ly/2LKiz92

Senyawa – Sujud [Sublime Frequencies]
Bandcamp

Lara Sarkissian – Disruption [Club Chai]
Bandcamp
Nadia StruiwighWHRRu [Denovali Records]
Bandcamp

The post A year overflowing with electronic sound: 2018 music we loved appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Mix up a year in music, with a guide to weird, under-the-radar Poland

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Mon 31 Dec 2018 9:06 pm

Oramics, the DIY collective run by and focusing on women and queer artists, have put together an all-hands mix and a guide to everything wild and wonderful from Poland and beyond. You can’t pick a better way to end 2018 than with strange, new, and different sounds.

We met Oramics in October:

In Poland, a collective for women and queer artists becomes an agency

In many ways, it’s a strange moment for electronic music across Europe and the global scene. True, it’s now in fashion to look beyond centers like London, to make lineups with more women or more queer artists. But while that’s a welcome development – not just politically, but musically – that still doesn’t mean it’s easy for anyone to break through. The very fact that some artists have become commercial commodities can mean an even steeper road for artists who don’t fit in, whatever their identity. Media outlets have ceased print publication. Blogs have shuttered, and music journalists struggle to make ends meet – while having to chase links and followers. And too often, the demands of commercial DJ booking even in this more left field-friendly age are at odds with what makes unique producers and live performances tick.

It’s tough. It’s frustrating. It’s okay to need some friends – even just someone to listen to your music.

I like what Oramics are doing precisely because they’re giving that support to one another outside of the usual system of PR and booking – totally DIY. And even if you’re not a Polish queer woman (that’ll be a small percentage of our readership in that exact intersection), I think you’ll dig these sounds and discover some new things – and perhaps a model for taking your own weird stuff that fits in, and finding some other people to share with.

Oramics this time team up with another Polish DIY effort, Behind the Stage and their superb podcast series. They turn over the helm of the BTS series to Oramics for a team effort – roughly 20 minutes per person – and give you a total 105 minutes of music:

Running order: Monster, ISNT, FOQL, Mala Herba, dogheadsurigeri.

They’ve also selected their own favorite under-the-radar resources for unique Polish music for CDM. It’s your guide to the Polish underground:

Monster Poly chain sanatory of sound festival photo – Paulina Adaszek.

Monster

https://musicofstoriestold.bandcamp.com/ – great lively releases by Seltron 400, some of my favorite Polish producers
http://www.kholetrax.com/ – people behind Olivia’s fantastic debut EP
https://flauta.bandcamp.com/ – a club night focused on helping refugees, they released a really impressive VA compilation
https://soundcloud.com/pilpl – a vinyl label from Poznan, focused mostly on underground house

FOQL & Copy Corpo @ Cafe Oto. FOQL is the alias of Polish artist Justyna Banaszczyk.

dogheadsurigeri

Zaumne, nadziej, julek ploski — young wolves of polish electronic scene 😉

https://czaszka.bandcamp.com/album/emo-dub

https://enjoylife.bandcamp.com/album/nie-lubi-my-le-o-niemi-ych-sprawach-gdy-nie-jestem-w-staniehttps://julekploski.bandcamp.com/

Mala Herba

https://www.facebook.com/3szostki/ – tape label from Poland investing a lot of love and effort into supporting pure weirdness

Girls to the Front
https://www.facebook.com/allgirlstothefront/ Warsaw-based pro femme and queer initiative organizing concerts and putting up beautiful zines

FOQL

Debut album by our very own ISNT:
https://vanitypilltapes.bandcamp.com/album/world-is-full-of-electric-chairs

I would like to recommend Pointless Geometry label and especially this one exceptional VA tape.

It is a very special charity compilation and you will find everything what is interesting in polish underground right now inside. Whole label is one of the best in Poland!

https://pointless-geometry.bandcamp.com/album/va-ardea-cinerea-benefit-compilation-for-adam

I am also exploring eastern and central european underground in my Noods Radio residency show

http://noodsradio.com/residents/interferencje-w-foql

ISNT on tape!

ISNT photo by Magda Szafrańska (Instytut)

ISNT

We Will Fail – amazing polish producer and very successful artists running her own label!

https://wewillfail.bandcamp.com/album/we-will-fail-dancing

DYM – label and collective from smaller Polish town (my home town!) Gorzów Wielkopolski. We need more initiatives likes this one. They also do their own festival two times a year. It’s like 2 hours from Berlin – you should visit!

https://dymrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Watch futuristic techno made by robots – then learn how it was made

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Wed 12 Sep 2018 5:48 pm

Roboticist, composer, and futurist Moritz Simon Geist has made an entire album using robotic machines. It’s stunning to behold – and he tells you all about how it developed. Let’s watch:

This is more than a gimmick: there’s a real difference in approach and process here. Moritz’s work is truly mechanical-acoustical and electro-acoustic, using mechanical, kinetic machines to produce sounds.

And Moritz has been working on this background for some time, including making an entire oversized TR-808 drum machine that replicates sounds not with analog circuitry or digital code, but by actually hitting percussion. (The claps even required a cluster of stuff to clap together.)

An extended making-of video walks through the behind-the-scenes process of how this came about and evolved.

It’s as much an exercise in kinetic sculpture as music, but then the album organizes those raw materials in an eminently listenable, musical manner. It’s quirky grooves, true to its mechanical-robotic nature – that is, even if you didn’t know what this was, you might quickly imagine dancing bots. The materiality comes through, in subtly off rhythms and precisely-placed organic sounds.

Moritz’ ongoing collaborators Mouse on Mars co-produced both an EP (“The Material Turn”, out October 12) and LP (“Robotic Electronic Music”, on November 16). And Moritz extends the musical role here, by being both inventor/builder/maker and musician – not to mention label head.

It’s great to see Moritz starting a new label devoted to this medium – Sonic Robots Records – but also getting the help not only of Mouse on Mars but legendary German label Kompakt to handle global distribution.

You can preorder the EP already, in both digital and vinyl forms:

… with the LP to follow soon.

Here’s our look at how Moritz is working with Mouse on Mars:

Here’s how Mouse on Mars are using robots to expand their band

And here’s how we first got to meet Moritz, through his robotic TR-808:

A Robotic, Physical 808 Machine Advances Weird Science of Music, Tech Alike

Want to try making your own robotic music? Dadamachines is an easy way to start, and you can explore sound and musical arrangement without having to know about the building side right away:

dadamachines is an open toolkit for making robotic musical instruments

Don’t miss Moritz’ talk, too, for our MusicMakers Hacklab this year, discussing speculative futures for machine learning:

https://moritzsimongeist.bandcamp.com/album/the-material-turn

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Cues: Detroit innovator Alan Oldham talks to us about techno, creation

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Fri 24 Aug 2018 5:14 pm

It’s easy to forget if we get too deep into hero worship and seriousness, but real creativity is fun and boundless. So nothing energizes like talking to people like Alan Oldham, the multidisciplinary Detroit techno artist.

Oldham, sometimes DJing as DJ T-1000, had a multifaceted series of roles in techno. So he’s served in Underground Resistance – including as “Minister of Information.” He did artwork for Derrik May’s legendary Transmat label. He’s a comic artist as well as a producer, savvy enough to interact with the art market and not only the music industry. A lot of us in the USA got our first introduction to techno and the full story behind it through his story “Fast Forward” on National Public Radio. But then, in this age of overabundant production, we need those kind of voices now more than ever – people who can narrate what’s happening in music, DJs in the club sense and DJs in the radio sense.

Meanwhile, as CDM finds its evolved voice this year, I got to invite Alan (now a Berlin transplant) to talk about his process, to jam a little, and to chat about music, aesthetics, and futurism.

Alan is a big Native Instruments Maschine fan, and it’s nice to see how the MPC and other hardware workflows have made the transition to the computer age. I think immediacy is important to tapping into that creativity.

Have a look:

Off camera, it was also great that Alan got to hang out with our other guests, HRTL and Oliver Torr and their live project Windowlickerz. Growing up in Detroit, meet growing up in Czech Republic.

Alan Oldham in the studio.

Making beats (MASCHINE MIKRO), making comics (paper and pen).

Since January, Alan has been busy, in the studio and in the club (as well as continuing his visual art work). Message Discipline is the EP dropping in October on Pure Sonik Records.. The timbres, the tech are decidedly future-looking, not nostalgic. But as a lot of techno gets cold and clinical, overthought, or overly … well, dreary (not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that) — this is none of those things. It’s “up,” as Alan says. Maybe it’s hard to find words for that funky, groovy feeling because it’s better to describe it me moving my body around than it is just wiggling my fingers over the computer keyboard.

You know you’re in for something special when you’re dancing around to the damned excerpts on SoundCloud. Tell me I’m wrong:

Even that last cut swings, like a nice makeout slow dance. And the title track sounds ready to blast into orbit to some, uh, really sexy space lounge, I would imagine.

Message Discipline is all bangers, but for a more tripped-out experience, DetroitRocketScience is the ticket:

Alan and Ellen Allien can often be caught side by side, so expect more on Ellen’s BPitch Control, like this excellent remix:

He’s also got a great remix of Sky Deep’s “In This,” but looks like I can’t share that – take my word for it.

Now who wants to don an Andy Warhol wig and dance around a bit? Yeah? Have a great weekend, y’all.

Related – in summer 2011, Wax Poetics provided us with this article they ran exploring early Detroit techno history, and even talked to Alan. of course, now you meet the Detroit artists in Berlin.

Future Shock: The Emergence of Detroit Techno, Told by Wax Poetics

Photos courtesy Native Instruments.

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Live techno after Polish punk and communism: Dyktando of Brutaż

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Tue 21 Aug 2018 6:14 pm

Dyktando aka Wiktor Milczarek is turning out dark, hard-hitting music and live sets that are brutally groovy. We got to join him in Sweden for our Conspiracy of Planets event – and to get a tour of his music, and the Polish scene.

Conspiracy of Planets was a debut event organized by myself with SONA [Pommes 94, Potent Pussy, GLUK] – her underground collectives (complete with a skate park) in Malmö Sweden getting mixed with Polish collective/label Brutaż, as represented by Wiktor. With the support of Inkonst, club and cultural center, we took over a Saturday night earlier this month.

And all of this meant the pleasure of, among other people, getting to know Wiktor, his unique approach to techno and live playing, and his perspective on the scene in Poland and beyond. Check out a hard-hitting live set from last year. (We’ll have his set from Sweden to share with you soon, too, hopefully.)

And his EP (under his real name) for the label:

Can you tell us a little about your relationship to Brutaz? How did you come to be involved in this collective?

So I was going to the Brutaż parties almost since the beginning. It was started by Piotr Kurek, Michał Libera, and Alessandro Facchini, in the club called Eufemia in the basement of the Art Academie in Warsaw. Then I’ve played once and together with Jacek (rrrkrta), starting to be much more involved in the party. Now I’ve released on Brutaż record label and I’m playing occasionally.

What’s the significance of that collective to you – has that shaped who you are musically?

Yeah, in a really big way. Not only because of what was happening at the parties, but also because we were talking a lot about records, artists, the way they were playing. We kind of have been discovering club music together. What was somehow unusual is the fact that most of us started with an experimental, noise, or modern classical music background and then went to techno, not the opposite.

Ed.: Well, yeah, I can relate to that bit! Maybe it’s the new thing.

Your sound I think is really powerful, really your own. How have you evolved to that point – or how is it continuing to change now?

I think I learned how to produce – and developed my sound – when I was doing my previous project called Souvenir de Tanger. I’ve also found my way of recording tracks, using a Tascam 644 cassette recorder. So almost all the music I make nowadays is just a one-take recording. That gives the opportunity to test ideas fast and also makes this punk-y sound.

I really enjoyed your live set. What’s your onstage rig; what are you playing with?

I’m using a Cyclone TT-303, Dave Smith Instruments Mopho, Boss DR-660 and MFB 522. All of those things are put through various overdrives, delay, and pitch-shifting units. My main sequencer is an MPC 1000 that I’m also using for samples.

How much do you find you plan your sets ahead? Apart from practicing – do you have in mind a sense of what you’ll play? Have you parts pre-programmed?

I do have a prepared melodic structure of the set. I also have pre-made sequences of the different percussion parts (samples and DR-660) that I’m mixing one with another. With this, I’m improvising with MFB-522 and with the sound of Mopho.

You’d talked a bit about these elements from 80s Polish punk that you’re using – what’s the story there; how did you come to make use of those materials? What’s their significance to you?

My mother used to be involved in a Polish punk and post-punk scene in the 80’s. So I’ve been listening to this music since I was a child. She also has a lot of demo and bootleg tapes of really obscure bands, some of them I was sampling for this project. Some of those bands are really interesting, some of them not so, but the way how those tapes sound is really inspiring. Their sound quality is quite unique because of the sound equipment used to record them wasn’t the best and also tape degraded itself during the time.

One band to check out from Polish punk is WC – and yeah, Wiktor got some tapes from his Mom.

On some level, this seems like a split in electronic music – whether some of techno and experimental music continue to take on a punk aesthetic, right? Do you identify with that element in how play at all?

I think European techno has strong roots in punk and especially the post-punk scene. All those bands like Palais Schaumburg or A.G. Geige in Germany — also, the whole scene around Factory Records in the UK — were where many techno artists have started their music careers. So the binding is quite strong and it’s nice that some younger producers are trying to combine those two aesthetics. I find it kind of refreshing after those all years of chasing the perfect sound, that the opposite attitude starts to take over.

It’s also interesting to me to get to dig into Communist-era history of music, art, media, electronic arts … I find I’m doing this as an outsider, and have been personally inspired by what I’ve gotten to learn about Polish culture across these generations, but also that friends from the former eastern bloc are finding out more about one another’s histories, their own countries histories. This seems really different from a moment 20-25 years ago when it seems west and east were ready to just discard that past. Do you feel something has changed here? Are we somehow informing the new stuff we make partly by learning a bit more about what the generations before were doing?

I was born just after communism collapsed in Poland. So this is somehow an exotic past that is fascinating to explore. I think discarding the past is impossible – for many people, there’s still a need to align bills, making justice for people who were involved in the previous political system. (Basically, all of Polish politics you can describe with this conflict). I think what is quite unique for people of my age is the ability to making a less biased assessment of products of that era and rediscover them for our own cultural needs.

I know Polish society faces some real tension and challenge – well, as does my own American society, and it feels these are related. What’s the place of music for you in that sense? Is music something that can help you reach other people?

There is a big conflict in the Polish scene about how club music should be involved in politics. We in Brutaż are thinking that you can make some impact with music and parties. And because of a privileged position – in terms of cultural capital, the ability to reach many people – we should act. I don’t really believe in some magical power of music to change the world, but you can use it to build people’s awareness about political matters, or just to collect money to help people in need. It is, of course, working on a microscale, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not important.

Lastly, inside or outside Brutaż, who are other people from the scene around Warszawa or elsewhere you feel you relate to, that we should know?

Some of my favorite initiatives are:

Dunno. A great party and label run by Lutto Lento and Filip Lech, worth checking their last release of Aldona Orłowska. Polish pop-opera diva and a swimming champion)

https://www.facebook.com/dunnorecordings/

Syntetyk. A terrific local party with really talented DJs, focused mostly on new/synth/etc wave music/

https://www.facebook.com/syntetykk/

Oramics. Polish techno-feminism collective.

Moli Siabadaba, Sasha Zakrevska / Poly Chain of Oramics.

https://www.facebook.com/oramics/

Check out their podcasts archive.

https://www.oramics.pl/

Radar. Great crew from Cracow run by Olivia, Chino and Kinzo.

https://www.facebook.com/radarkrk/

https://soundcloud.com/radarkrk

And of course, don’t miss Dyktando / Wiktor / Brutaż – thanks for this opportunity to chat, and stay tuned for more!

https://soundcloud.com/l-s-c-135346057

Label of the month: Brutaż [Resident Advisor did a nice feature, by Elissa Stolman, in May]

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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.

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.

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