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


Hear Jan Wagner’s intimate piano electronics, before they enter a planetarium dome

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 5 Feb 2020 9:48 pm

Maybe now is a perfect time for a moment of calm contemplation – premiering Jan Wagner’s “Kapitel 36” on the eve of a new album and a spatial planetarium premiere.

Kapitel, out on March 20 on the Quiet Love Label, is “autobiographical” ambient music. These are spontaneous, personal sketches that began as piano improvisations, but have sometimes had those piano imprints removed – a kind of lost wax approach to composition, piano molds for electronic textures.

“Kapitel 36” is an especially poignant, reflective moment in that series. Listen:

Berghain would be probably the last thing you’d expect to associate with this sound, but this sense of space and exploration also comes from an artist who has frequently mixed albums for the well respected Ostgut Ton label attached to that club. And maybe that’s an ideal Berlin connection – piano sentiment, engineering precision, and ambiguous spaces for personal reflection all come together here.

But we’ve had plenty of music in industrial nightclubs. Now, Jan is joining a new wave of artists realizing music for immersive contexts, with fully spatialized sound made for particular architectures. Jan was invited by Spatial Media Lab to collaborate – that’s a recently formed artist/tech collective founded by Andrew Rahman and Timo Bittner. With Jan’s music – and a full-sized acoustic grand piano hauled into the space – they’ll transform the environment of the Zeiss Grossplanetarium Berlin into a unique listening environment.

I got the chance to work with Spatial Media Lab on their first planetarium outing in November 2018. What makes their effort unique is that they’re working to de-mystify the delivery technology for spatializing sound, along artists to be more hands-on and collaborative. That frees them to spend the significant time to finely tune their music material to the space, and play creatively, rather than just wrestle with tech or turn over control to engineers. (You can read up on the collaboration I joined in 2018, Contentious Constant II – and we’re overdue for a check-up here.)

Jan has shared some thoughts with CDM on how this process worked:

What was the process for you, reworking material for a spatial context?

It was a totally new approach for me. The difference between stereo and immersive sound is enormous. I had to rethink the whole album and detach the production from the well-known stereo panorama cage. It wasn’t that simple, because everything was [originally] made in stereo. From the synth to the DAW, it’s all made for a stereo environment. So we had to [mix] the signals into mono, which we later scaled up to ambisonic sound.

After exporting all of the tracks, we imported them into the DAW Reaper … [which is able to] handle up to 64 outputs of each track, needed to play all the signals into the dome. We used the IEM Plugin Suite to build our scene and then mixed the tracks from scratch. [Ed.: SML used this combination before, and it’s great to work with artistically. IEM is free and open-source and easy to manage, and Reaper, of course, has some superb multichannel support and is fast, efficient, free to try, and inexpensive to own.]

Once I realized how far I could go when it comes to the production and writing process, my head almost exploded. There is no longer a stereo cage. You basically can do whatever you want. The signals can start right at the top of your head and fall down to your knees, surrounding you! This changes the whole process of how you create music.

Your musical process I know shifted for this record; can you describe what changed?

I started recording in the same way. The piano improvisation is still the root of it all, but it is no longer necessarily the main part of the production. I didn’t want to be constricted by the piano and often I just muted it after adding some synth layers. The piano is no longer the lead voice.

How did Tobias Preisig get involved in the project – and now on the same bill?

Last year I produced Tobias Preisig’s solo debut Diver. He wanted to concentrate on the essence of his music and dive deeper into his instrument and discover the real needs of his art. Tobias and I share the same approach to music, and while planning this event I wanted him to be part of it. His music is so immersive by default and it fits perfectly into the planetarium environment.

If you’re in Berlin, you can catch the “Spherea” program with both artists at the Zeiss-Grossplanetarium in Prenzlauer Berg.

Spherea präsentiert von Jan Wagner & Tobias Preisig

More on the Spatial Media Lab:

https://www.facebook.com/quietloverecords

https://janwagner.bandcamp.com/

The post Hear Jan Wagner’s intimate piano electronics, before they enter a planetarium dome appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Alternate African Reality: reorient your listening with this terrific electronic compilation

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 31 Jan 2020 7:02 pm

Don’t miss out on music – speaking of getting Africa back on your listening list, here’s an extraordinary, wide-reaching compilation of some of the most adventurous sounds from Africa and the diaspora.

Africa, it goes without saying, is a big place – uh, really big, 30.3 million km² or so, even before you get into artists moving elsewhere. (To misquote Douglas Adams, “you just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Africa.”) But maybe thinking of music on the scale of continents and hemispheres is well suited to today’s interconnected age, as networks of artists and interchange span even bigger areas.

In any event, don’t expect this is some tokenized, surface-deep look at music duct-taped together from a massive land area. Alternate African Reality is but the latest in a series of superb compilations from Cedrik Fermont, aka C-drík (Belgium/DR Congo). There are few people as voracious and refined in their musical diet than Cedrik – even though he makes music as a solo artist, he’s constantly deep into discovery. To me, he’s emblematic of the best of how we can redefine what it means to be an artist in the Internet age – where creativity isn’t shut off from the outside, but partly about what you support and connect.

And that also means that Cedrik has had some chance to iterate on how to make a compilation on this scale, and where to find music.

The whole beauty of this sort of project is that the work is never done, there’s always too much music, the cup overflows with sound, and all of that is brilliant. But that means you should not only grab this comp, but also check out Cedrik’s platform Syrphe, “mostly but not exclusively focused onto experimental, electronic, noise music from Asia and Africa.”

The regional focus can shift all over the place in those categories, including the Middle East – Lebanon I see on the top of the list – but it’s all just generally great music, and stuff that often gets missed. Press in London focuses on musicians around London, and so on. I don’t even know that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, in that it is meaningful for some writers to talk about the scene around them. But it is equally essential that someone like Cedrik can balance out your inputs and give you fresh perspective, for anyone who loves musical discovery.

Here’s where to go for that – there’s a blog (time to dust off the RSS readers, folks):

https://syrphe.wordpress.com/

The blog is the best, but since we are on Facebook, it’s also nice to let electronic music take over what the Algorithm gives you, so see the Facebook group and page, too:

Syrphe – Experimental, noise, electronic, avant garde in Africa & Asia

https://www.facebook.com/Syrphe/

There’s so much stuff on Syrphe that it deserves another post, but meanwhile, have at the compilation. Just going to paste the full text, as it’s all worth reading. It’s been great to work with someone like Joseph aka KMRU a few times now, and equally nice to get some new names in here.

Alternate African Reality is a follow-up to several compilations I have published on Syrphe since 2007 (the first one, Beyond Ignorance and Borders included various artists from Africa and Asia), and even earlier on my defunct tape label in the 1990s (the last tape, Archives Humaines vol.1, was published in 1996 and included 25 artists from 25 countries, including non-Western ones : South Africa, Japan, Chile, Brazil).

Alternate African Reality could be seen as a drastic improvement of 30.2, a compilation released in 2012. The CD included nine artists from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mauritius, South Africa, Réunion and Madagascar/France. But even if I was very happy with the result, I always thought I should do a deeper research, and another issue I faced was the fact that I didn’t manage to include any women in the project.

Travelling and touring throughout parts of Africa allowed me to meet many more artists than what I ever expected and pushed me to work on this new release.
This time, the end result reveals a more global compilation that could be compared to Uchronia, a compilation that includes 49 artists and bands from 32 Asian countries and the diaspora in the field of so called experimental music.
Alternate African Reality is nonetheless musically more diverse, including abstract but also beat-oriented music such as ambient, electronica, electroacoustic, noise, singeli, bass music, industrial hip hop, etc.

It includes 32 artists and bands from 24 African countries and the diaspora, and last but not least, 14 women are among those vibrant musicians and composers.

Of course the artists included on the compilation only represent a fraction of the African electronic music world, and the listeners should not believe that nothing exists outside of those countries.
Electronic, and, at a lower extend depending on where you look for, experimental music do exist in many other African countries.

I wish that this project will open some eyes and ears and also create more connections and networks.

You will find more information, contacts, biographies and a short essay in a PDF available with the whole compilation if you purchase the CDs or digital files.
Biographies, contacts and websites are also available on this page when you click on “info” next to each track.
You can also have a look at this database that contains more than 3000 references about African and Asian composers, musicians, labels, magazines and so on. syrphe.com/african&asian_database.htm

If for some valid reasons you cannot afford to buy this release, you can send a message and explain why and I might send you a download code.

I deeply thank all the artists involved and also those who for one reason or another could not participate this time as well as all the people who supported me and provided help and advises to make this project happen, those who hosted and invited me during all the travels I made throughout Africa : the Nyege Nyege team in Kampala, Mass Alexandria/Berit Schuck in Alexandria, East African Records Studios/David Cecil and his family in Kampala, Esaete (Naomi) in Kampala, Houdini in Kampala, Lukas Ligeti, Ignacio Priego, Rhéa Dally, Yebo! Contemporary Art Gallery in Ezulwini, the Rock House in Mbabane, Ground Zero – Marley Coffee in Cape Town, Chiharu Mizukami, Chihiro Sato, Paweł Kuźma, Lynda Kansas, Tengal Drilon, Jamir Adiong and his family, Vilho Nuumbala, Kamila Metwali, Sharon Tan, Olivier Moreau, Christopher Kirkley/Sahel Sounds, Nenad Vujić, David Kerr/Sign Records, Memory Biwa, Essia Mestiri, PJ/slowfidelity and many more, you know who you are !

Cedrik Fermont

The track order on the physical release differs from the one of the digital release.

Mash (Tunisia)
Pö (France/Ghana)
[MONRHEA] + Ejuku (Kenya/Uganda)
Jako Maron (Réunion)
Robert Machiri (Zimbabwe)
Ujjaya (France/Madagascar)
Ibukun Sunday (Nigeria)
KMRU (Kenya)
Cobi van Tonder (South Africa)
Redha M (Algeria)
Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman (Belgium/Rwanda)
Shadwa Ali (Egypt)
Tiago Correia-Paulo (Mozambique)
Jacqueline George (Egypt)
AMET (Cameroon/Germany)
Hibotep (Ethiopia/Somalia)
Aragorn23 (South Africa)
The Age Of Heroes (South Sudan)
Beko The Storyteller (eSwatini)
Catu Diosis (Uganda)
Yao Bobby & Simon Grab (Togo/Switzerland)
Mario Swagga and DJ Silila (Tanzania)
AFALFL (Mauritania)
Rey Sapienz (DR Congo)
Ibaaku (Senegal)
Sukitoa o Namau (Morocco)
Victor Gama (Angola)
Luca Forcucci featuring Cara Stacey and Mpho Molikeng (Italy/Switzerland/South Africa/Lesotho)
C-drík (Belgium/DR Congo)
Emeka Obgoh (Nigeria)
Chantelle Grey (South Africa)
Ski Crime (South Africa)

Similar releases :
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/uchronia
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/not-your-world-music-noise-in-south-east-asia
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/pekak-indonesian-noise-1995-2015-20-years-of-experimental-music-from-indonesia
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/art-of-the-muses
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-ignorance-and-borders
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/pangaea-noise
syrphe.bandcamp.com/album/302
onemoretapeblog.blogspot.com/2015/02/title-archives-humaines-vol.html

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KORG starts a new instrument division in Berlin, focusing on sustainable “things that matter”

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Dec 2019 10:38 pm

Former KORG Chief Engineer Tatsuya Takahashi is leading a new division in Berlin, alongside COO Maximilian Rest. And it sounds like a different kind of synth business.

It’s not clear just what exactly KORG Germany will do, apart from design instruments in Berlin. But the fact that “Tats” and Max are in charge, and that they’re writing some lofty mission statements, is enough reason to take notice. And they’re hiring, too, largely across engineering roles – mechanical, electrical, and software.

Tatsuya was at the engineering helm at KORG through some of the most innovative synth industry accomplishments of recent years. That includes the monotron and monotribe series, which helped kick off a boom in affordable modular and compact synths, followed by a string of volca hits (beats, bass, keys, sample, kick, fm), the collaboration with open source magnetic snap-together kit maker littleBits, the ARP Odyssey and MS-20 remakes which helped push the historical clone concept, and the fresh monologue synth.

Then Tats went to Yadastar, the independent marketing company that ran the Red Bull Music Academy program before Red Bull pulled the plug. And what we got from Tats was interesting, but nowhere near as accessible as his work for KORG – the Granular Convolver, for instance.

Well, now Red Bull’s loss is the synth world’s gain, because Tatsuya is back full-time with KORG. (He continued consulting for the company in the interim, as I understand it.) And he’s bringing with him collaborator Maximilian, who has long been a champion of making more sustainable products and reflecting on issues like labor practices. Max has also run his own independent business making modular and timekeeping pieces, E-RM; I’m unclear on what its future will be as he steps into the role at KORG.

So, what we get is a new enterprise that these two promise will engage both in new instruments and partnerships, and investigate “things that matter” and are made sustainably. With some flux at Behringer, ROLI, Native Instruments, and others, they may find some talent becoming free agents, too.

Team building is a big deal, and it’s worth noting that all those KORG products were possible because of collaborative, team-driven engineering efforts. So this talk of collaboration is itself compelling – even as some of Tats’ own private projects like audio-rate triggering a TR-808 are also rather cool and I suspect may figure into this, as well. (One of my highlights of 2019 was definitely making loud noises in a Latvian warehouse and then partying to Tats’ set!)

From their statements –

Tatsuya is CEO and says the company will make instruments with a core team “but also through per project partnerships and collaborations. “

Maximilian talks about sustainability and getting out of business as usual: “We will only market the things that matter, because the key to our way of great business is to respect each other as humans and the resources of our planet.”

More, plus job applications:

https://korg-germany.de

The post KORG starts a new instrument division in Berlin, focusing on sustainable “things that matter” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Techno to terraforming: this ex-Berlin collective is planting 27,027 trees in Portugal

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 17 Oct 2019 9:22 am

Could techno makers wind up shifting to rural landscapes from the usual urban ones? One collective imagines “terraforming … a sustainable green oasis.”

Liquid Sky and ringleader Ingmar Koch aka Dr. Walker began life in Germany, but recently migrated to southwest Portugal. They are reforesting the land, as Ingmar joins with local architect Carina Guerreiro and others, planting and maintaining some 27,027 trees.

It could at least be a novel way for frequent-traveling DJs and producers to acquire carbon offsets, as the project needs significant investment in time for weekly maintenance of the trees. But once planted, these trees not only suck carbon out of the air, but will provide some fruit (for humans and animals), shelter for indigenous wildlife, and resistance to brush fires.

That promises a more self-sufficient, ecological, pleasant environment for the Liquid Sky collective, but Ingmar also says he plans working with neighboring areas in the future.

You can track the project here:

https://www.facebook.com/liquidskyproject27027/

It’s a small project, but it could also be an early sign that the techno scene of the future might have new associations, not just its perpetual post-industrial, toxic cliche.

More environmental projects we should know about? Let us know.

All photos courtesy Liquid Sky.

The post Techno to terraforming: this ex-Berlin collective is planting 27,027 trees in Portugal appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Where is NI headed? Some official and unofficial answers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 12:31 pm

Native Instruments has responded to our request for more clarity on recent layoffs and how this impacts their future plans. Other sources tell us there have been deep cuts into teams managing products, marketing, and design.

As I wrote late last night, NI has publicly stated they’ve cut 20% of their workforce. I should clarify that that number represents the layoffs executed just on Thursday of last week. Multiple sources have confirmed additional layoffs over the summer push the number closer to at least 150 rather than 100. This includes a leaked departure of the existing desktop TRAKTOR team in July, and additional product owners and designers, including the previous Director of Design.

This isn’t entirely a shock, though the scale and concentrated timing may be. It does seem cuts at NI were a long time coming. Native Instruments has a massive and complicated array of products, many of them now legacy products, and an over-complicated structure around them – both from a marketing and organizational standpoint. I think it’d be tough to find anyone to disagree with that, even in a week when people’s emotions are riled up by watching major layoffs.

And this isn’t just about the business – there’s a direct line to your experience using the products. If NI has too many products and a complicated organization that makes it hard for people to work together, that impacts users. It means it’s tough to execute new ideas and make the tools you use better.

It also stands to reason that even in any significant reorganization means staffing changes and cuts. The questions customers and partners might ask then is – why these cuts, why so deep, why now, and what’s the plan going forward?

The picture I’ve gotten from Native Instruments officially is convoluted. NI says they’re working on an integrated platform, but the cuts have hit UI, UX, design, and engineering, and late in the apparent timeline for whatever project that would be. We’re also now in year three of NI’s push to get us to think about services, but we’re not much closer to understanding what that’s supposed to mean than when we started. Here are some landmarks in that timeline:

March 2017: NI acquires Metapop, founded by former Beatport CEO Matthew Adell. Adell becomes Chief Digital Officer.

October 2017: EUR50 million in investment from a private equity firm focusing on digital services growth.

January 2018: NI reveals Sounds.com.

August 2018: Adell is out as Chief Digital Officer. (I believe this role also is eliminated at the same time.)

July-August 2019: Roughly 150 people, or 30% of the workforce, laid off. 20% are cut on August 29 in a single day.

The Thursday round of layoffs are part of a string of changes through 2019, many as high as Director level – including, to be fair, some hiring as well as firing. The main question I had is, beyond CEO / co-founder Daniel Haver and Chief Innovation Officer / President Mate Galic, who is running the new product effort, now that existing leadership of Traktor and Komplete are gone and the Chief Digital Officer is almost a distant memory.

That person appears to be Nicholas Goubert, who has this year gone from VP Digital Services to VP of Products to – as of this month – Chief Product Officer. Streamlining the organization under a single product leader instead of separating digital/services from the organization at least makes sense. It means NI is realigning themselves as a services-driven company.

The obvious parallel would be to a company like Adobe, although while Adobe offers extensive services, it has kept a bunch of complex product teams and silos. In fact, that parallel itself may be apt – Adobe’s complexity reflects the fragmented and specific needs of designers. Musicians are even more particular, which speaks to the difficulty of this process. (And… I’m not sure all of you are entirely in love with Adobe, either.)

The business of being NI is selling stuff to us music makers, though, so – what service? Do we want it?

Here are official answers from NI to CDM. They don’t give me a much more solid grasp of what they have in mind or how they intend to execute it. (And as you see in the timeline above, they’re effectively announcing the business structure in September 2019 that delivers the services they first talked about at the start of 2017.)

But they at least confirm that they’re not exiting hardware or the DJ market, contrary to rumors, and that the future services are intended to connect to products you use now. Note that saying “we’re committed to Komplete” doesn’t also mean something like Reaktor. Those silos actually appear to remain. I’d be optimistic about something like Reaktor, which powers tons of sounds and products. So I don’t think you should panic about any major products, based on what we’re seeing here.

CDM: If Native is building a new platform, why were resources cut?

NI: Our new organization aims to break down functional and brand silos that have developed over time through the continuous expansion of our portfolio. Given our broad spectrum of products and the overlap between roles, it means that certain areas of product development are affected more than others by the redundancies. In the past, we have simply been doing too much at the same time and this strategic change as well as internal remapping of talent will allow us to move forward in a more effective and collaborative way.

With the focus on a platform strategy, do users need to be concerned about support for and investment in existing products?

We are fully committed to our existing brands Komplete, Maschine and Traktor. The reason why we are focusing on a platform strategy is actually to improve the experience for all users of our products. We strongly believe that by improving accessibility and usability of our portfolio, we will be able to provide an enhanced and more cohesive experience, both for existing and new customers. Rather than releasing more and more products, we want to ensure that users are getting the most out of our current products through a connected and unified experience.

Will Native Instruments continue to release integrated hardware?

Creating deeply integrated experiences between hardware and software remains at the core of our vision. However, we want to deliver more value to users of our hardware by implementing new features in the software that will allow for a better overall experience of our ecosystem.

What about the future of Traktor?

We continue to be fully committed to our DJ platform Traktor and its passionate users. Also within the DJ domain, we are focusing on improving the software experience, building on the creative and modular legacy of Traktor for both desktop and mobile. Supporting this, we are also continuing to evaluate the right accompanying hardware products. In fact, Traktor users can expect a new hardware controller this year.

Okay, so the most we can come out of this is, Traktor hardware and products remain. The leaked firing of the Traktor desktop team suggests that future Traktor products will take a different form, and won’t be based on the legacy Traktor codebase (which is what powers Traktor 3).

Other than that, we mostly have to wait.

I wish the new teams at NI the best. Before the layoffs, I’d heard from the current Metapop team, wanting to show what they’re working on. And with SoundCloud failing to deliver innovation for creators, and Alihoopa dead (the Propellerhead-created online music making service, later spun off), there’s a vast space for someone to show a way of using social features for music making.

However, I can only echo the overwhelming buzz I’m hearing from the larger community. Large layoffs are unsettling, not only because of the people lost, but because of the presumed disruption to the organization. Some talent in music tech is very specific – and the departure of these 150+ NI employees over recent months has competitors eager to hire. (Behringer went as far as posting their headhunting call publicly; other companies – inside and outside this industry – are being a bit more discreet.)

For now, what Native Instruments are announcing is mainly layoffs, not products. Their main job now, to regain trust after a shaky end to this summer, would be to turn that begin to say how this relates to the people who rely on them.

I know a lot of you are deeply invested in this company – some even in your businesses as partners as well as in your music making careers or passions. I’ll do my best to keep you informed.

The post Where is NI headed? Some official and unofficial answers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

You can make music with test equipment – Hainbach explains

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 12 Jun 2019 11:27 pm

Before modulars became a product, some of the first electronic synthesis experiments made use of test equipment – gear intended to make sound, but not necessarily musically. And now that approach is making a comeback.

Hainbach, the Berlin-based experimental artist, has been helping this time-tested approach to sound reach new audiences.

I actually have never seen a complete, satisfying explanation of the relationship of abstract synthesis, as developed by engineers and composers, to test gear. Maybe it’s not even possible to separate the two. But suffice to say, early in the development of synthesis, you could pick up a piece of gear intended for calibration and testing of telecommunications and audio systems, and use it to make noise.

Why the heck would you do that now, given the availability of so many options for synthesis? Well, for one – until folks like Hainbach and me make a bunch of people search the used market – a lot of this gear is simply being scrapped. Since it’s heavy and bulky, it ranges from cheap to “if you get this out of my garage, you can have it” pricing. And the sound quality of a lot of it is also exceptional. Sold to big industry back in a time when slicing prices of this sort of equipment wasn’t essential, a lot of it feels and sounds great. And just like any other sound design or composition exercise that begins with finding something unexpected, the strange wonderfulness of these devices can inspire.

I got a chance to play a few days with the Waveform Research Centre in Rotterdam’s WORM, a strange and wild collection of these orphaned devices lovingly curated by Dennis Verschoor. And I got sounds unlike anything I was used to. It wasn’t just the devices and their lovely dials that made that possible – it was also the unique approach required when the normal envelope generators and such aren’t available. Human creativity does tend to respond well to obstacles.

Whether or not you go that route, it is worth delving into the history and possibilities – and Hainbach’s video is a great start. It might at the very least change how you approach your next Reaktor patch, SuperCollider code, synth preset, or Eurorack rig.

Previously:

Immerse yourself in Rotterdam’s sonic voltages, in the WORM laboratory

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In Adversarial Feelings, Lorem explores AI’s emotional undercurrents

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Fri 7 Jun 2019 12:05 am

In glitching collisions of faces, percussive bolts of lightning, Lorem has ripped open machine learning’s generative powers in a new audiovisual work. Here’s the artist on what he’s doing, as he’s about to join a new inquisitive club series in Berlin.

Machine learning that derives gestures from System Exclusive MIDI data … surprising spectacles of unnatural adversarial neural nets … Lorem’s latest AV work has it all.

And by pairing producer Francesco D’Abbraccio with a team of creators across media, it brings together a serious think tank of artist-engineers pushing machine learning and neural nets to new places. The project, as he describes it:

Lorem is a music-driven mutidisciplinary project working with neural networks and AI systems to produce sounds, visuals and texts. In the last three years I had the opportunity to collaborate with AI artists (Mario Klingemann, Yuma Kishi), AI researchers (Damien Henry, Nicola Cattabiani), Videoartists (Karol Sudolski, Mirek Hardiker) and music intruments designers (Luca Pagan, Paolo Ferrari) to produce original materials.

Adversarial Feelings is the first release by Lorem, and it’s a 22 min AV piece + 9 music tracks and a book. The record will be released on APR 19th on Krisis via Cargo Music.

And what about achieving intimacy with nets? He explains:

Neural Networks are nowadays widely used to detect, classify and reconstruct emotions, mainly in order to map users behaviours and to affect them in effective ways. But what happens when we use Machine Learning to perform human feelings? And what if we use it to produce autonomous behaviours, rather then to affect consumers? Adversarial Feelings is an attempt to inform non-human intelligence with “emotional data sets”, in order to build an “algorithmic intimacy” through those intelligent devices. The goal is to observe subjective/affective dimension of intimacy from the outside, to speak about human emotions as perceived by non-human eyes. Transposing them into a new shape helps Lorem to embrace a new perspective, and to recognise fractured experiences.

I spoke with Francesco as he made the plane trip toward Berlin. Friday night, he joins a new series called KEYS, which injects new inquiry into the club space – AV performance, talks, all mixed up with nightlife. It’s the sort of thing you get in festivals, but in festivals all those ideas have been packaged and finished. KEYS, at a new post-industrial space called Trauma Bar near Hauptbahnhof, is a laboratory. And, of course, I like laboratories. So I was pleased to hear what mad science was generating all of this – the team of humans and machines alike.

So I understand the ‘AI’ theme – am I correct in understanding that the focus to derive this emotional meaning was on text? Did it figure into the work in any other ways, too?

Neural Networks and AI were involved in almost every step of the project. On the musical side, they were used mainly to generate MIDI patterns, to deal with SysEx from a digital sampler and to manage recursive re-sampling and intelligent timestretch. Rather then generating the final audio, the goal here was to simulate musician’s behaviors and his creative processes.

On the video side, [neural networks] (especially GANs [generative adverserial networks]) were employed both to generate images and to explore the latent spaces through custom tailored algorithms, in order to let the system edit the video autonomously, according with the audio source.

What data were you training on for the musical patterns?

MIDI – basically I trained the NN on patterns I create.

And wait, SysEx, what? What were you doing with that?

Basically I record every change of state of a sampler (i.e. the automations on a knob), and I ask the machine to “play” the same patch of the sampler according to what it learned from my behavior.

What led you to getting involved in this area? And was there some education involved just given the technical complexity of machine learning, for instance?

I always tried to express my work through multidisciplinary projects. I am very fascinated by the way AI approaches data, allowing us to work across different media with the same perspective. Intelligent devices are really a great tool to melt languages. On the other hand, AI emergency discloses political questions we try to face since some years at Krisis Publishing.
I started working through the Lorem project three years ago, and I was really a newbie on the technical side. I am not a hyper-skilled programmer, and building a collaborative platform has been really important to Lorem’s development. I had the chance to collaborate with AI artists (Klingemann, Kishi), researchers (Henry, Cattabiani, Ferrari), digital artists (Sudolski, Hardiker)…

How did the collaborations work – Mario I’ve known for a while; how did you work with such a diverse team; who did what? What kind of feedback did you get from them?

To be honest, I was very surprised about how open and responsive is the AI community! Some of the people involved are really huge points of reference for me (like Mario, for instance), and I didn’t expect to really get them on Adversarial Feelings. Some of the people involved prepared original contents for the release (Mario, for instance, realised a video on “The Sky would Clear What the …”, Yuma Kishi realized the girl/flower on “Sonnet#002” and Damien Henry did the train hallucination on “Shonx – Canton” remix. With other people involved, the collaboration was more based on producing something together, such a video, a piece of code or a way to explore Latent Spaces.

What was the role of instrument builders – what are we hearing in the sound, then?

Some of the artists and researchers involved realized some videos from the audio tracks (Mario Klingemann, Yuma Kishi). Damien Henry gave me the right to use a video he made with his Next Frame Prediction model. Karol Sudolski and Nicola Cattabiani worked with me in developing respectively “Are Eyes invisible Socket Contenders” + “Natural Readers” and “3402 Selves”. Karol Sudolski also realized the video part on “Trying to Speak”. Nicola Cattabiani developed the ELERP algorithm with me (to let the network edit videos according with the music) and GRUMIDI (the network working with my midi files). Mirek Hardiker built the data set for the third chapter of the book.

I wonder what it means for you to make this an immersive performance. What’s the experience you want for that audience; how does that fit into your theme?

I would say Adversarial Feelings is a AV show totally based on emotions. I always try to prepare the most intense, emotional and direct experience I can.

You talk about the emotional content here and its role in the machine learning. How are you relating emotionally to that content; what’s your feeling as you’re performing this? And did the algorithmic material produce a different emotional investment or connection for you?

It’s a bit like when I was a kid and I was listening at my recorded voice… it was always strange: I wasn’t fully able to recognize my voice as it sounded from the outside. I think neural networks can be an interesting tool to observe our own subjectivity from external, non-human eyes.

The AI hook is of course really visible at the moment. How do you relate to other artists who have done high-profile material in this area recently (Herndon/Dryhurst, Actress, etc.)? And do you feel there’s a growing scene here – is this a medium that has a chance to flourish, or will the electronic arts world just move on to the next buzzword in a year before people get the chance to flesh out more ideas?

I messaged a couple of times Holly Herndon online… I’m really into her work since her early releases, and when I heard she was working on AI systems I was trying to finish Adversarial Feelings videos… so I was so curious to discover her way to deal with intelligent systems! She’s a really talented artist, and I love the way she’s able to embed conceptual/political frameworks inside her music. Proto is a really complex, inspiring device.

More in general, I think the advent of a new technology always discloses new possibilities in artistic practices. I directly experienced the impact of internet (and of digital culture) on art, design and music when I was a kid. I’m thrilled by the fact at this point new configurations are not yet codified in established languages, and I feel working on AI today give me the possibility to be part of a public debate about how to set new standards for the discipline.

What can we expect to see / hear today in Berlin? Is it meaningful to get to do this in this context in KEYS / Trauma Bar?

I am curious too, to be honest. I am very excited to take part of such situation, beside artists and researchers I really respect and enjoy. I think the guys at KEYS are trying to do something beautiful and challenging.

Live in Berlin, 7 June

Lorem will join Lexachast (an ongoing collaborative work by Amnesia Scanner, Bill Kouligas and Harm van den Dorpel), N1L (an A/V artist, producer/dj based between Riga, Berlin, and Cairo), and a series of other tantalizing performances and lectures at Trauma Bar.

KEYS: Artificial Intelligence | Lexachast • Lorem • N1L & more [Facebook event]

Lorem project lives here:

http://www.studio-frames.com

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Someone built a strangely accurate Berghain in Minecraft

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 4 Jun 2019 10:12 am

From Garderobe to dark rooms to toilets to dance floors, jbkrauss has lovingly built a Minecraft recreation of Be– uh, I really don’t want this to be taken down. Of some Berlin club. Looks like Tresor, probably.

Anyway, this strangely Tresor-ish Berlin club sure does, let’s say, lend itself to the cubic block architecture of Minecraft. (Always said that place was really the Borg cube, on so many levels.) Watch:

ceiling is quite high

No doubt it is.

No Halle, but you do get an Eisbar. Erm, sorry – this is definitely not that club. Some club that has something up some stairs. Maybe it’s fourbar at Tresor. Yes.

I have no doubt that when we’re all stuck in an old age home, we will be visiting techno festivals and clubs inside some sort of virtual reality, whether it’s this in Berlin, or a VR Movement Festival, or MUTEK from our retirement home. Here’s our future. So we better start mining materials.

Source: posted by the creator to the techno subreddit today.

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You need this groovy Noncompliant techno mix in your life now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 31 May 2019 5:05 pm

Noncompliant has some sexy-cool techno bounce going in her mix for WHOLE Festival. It’s the perfect link between midwest techno and the coming queer-focused blowout in the countryside near Berlin.

Press play for some forward moving music (track listing at bottom):

Our friends over at KALTBLUT magazine invited Lisa aka Noncompliant over to their recent podcast. That “midwest techno” moniker isn’t just an in-the-know way to say, erm, which state a DJ came from while name dropping. It’s a byword for a particular breed of DJ who has clocked untold hours in the mud – sometimes literally – making the rave circuit for years on years, often booking their own gigs, hustling their own … cables/everything, and generally surviving on love of the music alone.

But the important thing about that is, you can hear it in the mixing. And we love listening to music that sounds confident partly because it gets us moving and confident ourselves. Oh yeah, and when you know what you’re doing, you can also drop a crowd-pleaser and classic now and then and totally stick the landing, like Lisa evidently did in Detroit at Movement last week:

More where that came from:

Now, yes, America is still recovering from Movement, but Europe has stuff like WHOLE coming up. The queer-organized, queer-focused festival has a massive lineup, partly because it pulls together LGBTQ and open-minded collectives from both sides of the pond. So you get the likes of The Black Madonna (who met Noncompliant back in said 90s rave scene before anyone knew who they were), Dr. Rubinstein, rRoxymore, Shaun J. Wright, our very own Jamaica Suk (also my studio mate), and lots more.

And Noncompliant will shift gears from headlining Detroit to headlining … a massive campsite queer fest.

And you know, for all the sense some people have that somehow queer culture is ‘hyped’ in music right now, the festival scene can still be a place where a lot of people feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and unable to be themselves. WHOLE promises to make a template for how the summer camp-out festival can be something different – not just a dark, smoky club, but a proper outdoor long weekend. And that could inspire all of us.

As KALTBLUT puts it in their intro:

WHOLE is the only festival of this kind in Europe creating an inclusive environment for the acceptance of all gender identities & sexual orientations, in a relaxing, outdoor environment, far from the hectic confines of the city. A festival by the queers for the queers, where feminine representation and persons or colour are not underrepresented, where not only electronic music, but also workshops, performances, and discussions have been planned all along.

Podcast: Countdown to WHOLE festival – Noncompliant [KALTBLUT Magazine]

There’s more music from WHOLE, too, over at KALTBLUT:

And here’s their fantastic promo video:

And you thought everyone in Berlin only wore black.

Check the festival, and maybe pitch a tent, but definitely keep dancing wherever you are in the world:

https://wholefestival.com/

Noncompliant’s track listing

Here’s what you’re hearing. Study up / support artists and buy music! (Every single one of these is an artist and label who could use your support, in fact.)

01. Sharp Felon – Cyber Fex [Lone Romantic]
02. Steve Murphy – Ray Gun [Lobster Theremin]
03. The Hacker – Body Electric (Remastered) [Klakson]
04. Solid Blake – Soap Cube [Seilscheibenpfeiler Schallplatten]
05. Dennis Quin – Love Peace [Soft Computing]
06. DJ Deep – Mandrum Dub [Deeply Rooted]
07. Truncate, Chambray – Trax 4 The Club [Figure Jams]
08. Player – 006 B1 [Player]
09. Owen Sands – Purple Noise [Ill Bomb]
10. Blenk – Cells [Enemy]
11. Leandro Gamez – Primary [Analog Solutions]
12. Steffi – 1E-4 [Mistress]
13. Antigone – The Melody (Remix by ROD) [Children of Tomorrow]
14. Robert Hood – Dancer (Remix) [M-Plant]
15. Nikola Gala – Slide B [Teksupport]
16. Truncate – TRNCT_7_2 1 (Untitled) [Truncate]
17. Cheap And Deep – Beautiful [Modular Cowboy]

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10 hours of live drones celebrate Drone Day, a noise round the world

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 29 May 2019 1:47 pm

Ready to drone the f*** out? Here’s your own personal all-night chillout stage, full of ten hours of drones. It’s all part of a growing international annual celebration of drone sounds.

Oh sure, if you’re American you probably had Memorial Day weekend on the mind last weekend. But there was another holiday, too, dedicated to ambient and experimental music.

“Every year we make a noise together that stretches around the world,” proclaim the organizers on the site.”The answer comes through tiny vibrations in our skin and between our bones,” they say. “Gather and drone with friends, with the public, or alone (though you are never truly alone in the drone).”

Drone, community, and experimental sounds are all welcome. The ritual began a few years ago with organizers Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan and Weird Canada. This year’s edition had some 60 drone events worldwide.

But if you missed Drone Day on Saturday, don’t worry – you didn’t miss out. We’ve got a full ten hours recorded (and streamed live) in Berlin for your droning needs.

The details of this broadcast, plus the (very lovely) performing lineup:

For Drone Day, May 25th 2019, a live studio broadcast and deep listening session was held in Berlin with funding support from the Musicboard Berlin GmbH. An audio broadcast was also streamed with kind thanks to Radio nunc from 14.00-22.00CET.

0:00:00 improvisation with diane + vida vojić
0:31:00 DuChamp
1:13:00 sn(50)
1:58:00 -akis
2:22:30 adsx
3:34:10 vida vojić
4:28:31 improvisation with diane + DuChamp
5:15:30 Auguste + Nina Guo
5:55:30 Nina Pixel
6:58:32 Inter Lineas
7:44:05 improvisation with diane + Alexandra Macià + sn(50)

It’s not actually shot in black and white murk; we just live like that in Berlin – it follows us around, like a fog.

Happy droning.

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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.

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Gorgeous electro-acoustic instruments mix sculpture and noise

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 21 May 2019 5:56 pm

Forget analog pedals or digital boxes – 10cars have made a series of electro-acoustic inventions covered in wires and springs. And they sound wild and strange.

“10cars” is a Berlin-based multimedia artist. He presented these works at the mighty trade show Superbooth, but these pieces are something else – part sculpture, part experimental noise instrument. And they’re one of the more compelling inventions to appear this month.

The lovingly handcrafted pieces meld collage with wires and springs and metal grates, as if someone were making a mouse trap and got distracted and crossed it with a kalimba and a spring reverb. These pieces are dubbed “autumn soundboxes” and range in price from 120 to 360 euros – yes, you can have your own.

10cars is part of the Liquid Sky collective (which now spans Berlin and other bits of Europe, ringleader Ingmar Koch having fled to Portugal). Liquid Sky have made some sound demos to give you a sense of what these are about.

Really lovely stuff.

You get plinks and plonks, otherworldly hums like lost Communist-era student sci film soundtracks or possibly what college radio sounds like on the planet Venus. There’s humming and creepy metallic bits and spacey madness. Well, listen:

Unrelated to anything, but I love that SoundCloud suggested this track when I was playing the sound demos.

More information (for real), plus an email address through which you can order:


lovely experimental noisemachines: 10cars “autumn soundboxes” – available 3rd week may 2019
[liquid sky]

The post Gorgeous electro-acoustic instruments mix sculpture and noise appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Heard it all before? Talking sound, discovery, and inspiration

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Tue 14 May 2019 8:37 pm

Sometimes lost in conversations about technology or specific musical genre or minutia of social media is the fundamental question of what sound is and what we can discover. From Berlin’s tech/culture conference re:publica, we got to tackle some of those questions.

I got to ask three fascinating individuals about their connection to sound and where future sounds might be discovered. On the panel last week:

Kathy Tafel, now at Native Instruments, has one of the broader backgrounds in the entire music technology realm, spanning the birth of the DAW (Deck II!) to key roles at Apple to her ground-breaking multimedia band D’Cückoo. And now she’s charting the course of projects like Sounds.com and TRAKTOR and – I have to say, I’m optimistic about the direction she’s taking them. (Kathy probably merits a separate story on this site if I can compel NI to agree to it.)

I don’t know whether Kathy wants this trip down memory lane, but let’s go there – a MIDI ball:

Valentin von Lindenau has diverse work across audio and music, and with his firm kling klang klong has established himself as a rare leader in audio interaction experience and design, in a way that leads this medium internationally.

Lucrecia Dalt has come from Colombia to making a name for herself in the packed artistic landscape of Berlin, with unique poetic-musical hybrids. Maybe better to let her speak for herself:

We tread lots of ground here – I can’t take credit for either the topic/theme or the selection of panelists, but I’m grateful to have participated in the program.

And actually – I’m glad to even flounder on this sort of topic, but ask ourselves those kinds of deeper questions. I have my own opinions, naturally, but I was keen to get these fresh perspectives.

The full topic:

Can music and sounds be developed infinitely, or is everything at some point composed and tried out? If we follow John Cage and reserve the word “music” for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century instrument, the contemporary “organizer of sound” will not only be faced with the entire field of sound but also with the entire field of time. Matthew Herbert on the other hand stands with his manifesto for a kind of artistic self-limitation, demanding for instance that the sampling of other people’s music is strictly forbidden and that the use of sounds that exist already is not allowed (No drum machines. No synthesizers. No presets). For our reality check, we want to discuss what sound engineers, designers and artists are working on right now. Which sounds actually sound new and why? And also – which new applications for such sounds are in the works or theoretically conceivable?

+++

Sources / inspirations:

John Cage
«The Future of Music – Credo»
http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/source-text/41/

Matthew Herbert
P.C.C.O.M.
https://matthewherbert.com/about-contact/manifesto/

And I’m interested to hear your reflections, too – do let us know your answers, whether the sound that first inspired you as a kid or the way you get in the flow for new sounds now.

I’m still pondering some of the ideas all three of our panelists raised about flow and inspiration. Keep listening.

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One big, open standalone grid for playing everything: dadamachines composer pro

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 9 May 2019 12:58 pm

Various devices have tried to do what the computer does – letting you play, sequence, and clock other instruments, and arrange and recall ideas. Now, a new grid is in town, and it’s bigger, more capable, truly standalone, and open in every way.

composer pro makes its debut today at Superbooth. It comes from what may seem an unexpected source – dadamachines, the small Berlin-based maker known for making a plug-in-play toolkit for robotic percussion and, more recently, a clever developer board. But there’s serious engineering and musical experience informing the project.

What you get is an enormous, colored grid with triggers and display, and connectivity – wired and wireless – to other hardware. From this one device, you can then compose, connect, and perform. It’s a sequencer for outboard gear, but it’s also capable of playing internal sounds and effects.

It’s a MIDI router, a USB host, a sampler and standalone instrument, and a hub to clock everything else. It doesn’t need a computer – and yeah, it can definitely replace that laptop if you want, or keep it connected and synced via cable or Ableton Link.

And one more thing – while big manufacturers are starting to wake up to this sort of thing being a product category, composer pro is also open source and oriented toward communities of small makers and patchers who have been working on this problem. So out of the box, it’s set up to play Pure Data, SuperCollider, and other DIY instruments and effects, extending ideas for standalone instrument/effects developed by the likes of monome and Critter & Guitari’s Organelle. That should be significant both if you’re that sort of builder/hacker/patcher yourself, or even if you just want to benefit from their creations in your own music. And it’s in contrast to the proprietary direction most hardware has gone in recent years. It’s open to ideas and to working together on how to play – which is how grid performance got started in the first place.

Disclosure: I’m working with dadamachines as an advisor/coach. That also means I’ll be responsible for getting feedback to them – curious what you think. (And yeah, I also have some ideas and desires for where these sorts of capabilities could lead in the future. As a lot of you have, I’ve dreamt of electronic musical performance tools moving in this direction – I love computers but also hate some of the struggles they’ve brought with them.)

The hardware

I hope you like buttons. Composer Pro has a 192-pad grid – that’s 16 horizontally by 12 vertically. Add in the rest of the triggers for a grad total of 261 buttons – transport and modes on the top, and the usual scene and arm triggers on the side, plus edit controls and other functions on the left.

For continuous control, there’s a touch strip. And you get a small display and encoder so you can navigate and see what you’re doing.

There’s computational power inside, too – a Raspberry Pi compute module, and additional processing power that runs the device.

Connections

You get just about every form of connectivity (apart from CV/gate, even though this is Superbooth):

Sequencing and clock:

MIDI (via standard DIN connectors, 2 in, 2 out)
DIN sync (for vintage analog gear like the Roland TR-808)
Analog sync I/O (for other analog gear and modular)
USB MIDI (via USB C, for a computer)
USB host, with a 4-port USB hub
Ableton Link (for wireless connections, including to various Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS software)
Footswitch jack

(There’s a dongle for wifi for Link support.)

Audio:

Headphone jack
Stereo audio in
Stereo audio out

The USB host and 4-port hub is a really big deal. It means you can do the things that normally require a computer – connect other interfaces, add more audio I/O, add USB MIDI keyboards and controllers, whatever.

Sequences and songs

At its heart, composer pro focuses on sequencing – whether you want to work with custom internal instruments, external gear, or both.

You have sixteen slots, which dadamachines dubs “Machines.” Then, you can work with simple step-sequenced rhythms or mono-/polyphonic melodies, and add automation of parameters (via MIDI CC).

Pattern sequences can be up to 16 bars.

There are 12 patterns per Machine slot. (16×12 – get it?)

Patterns + Machines = larger songs. And you can have as many songs as you can fit on an SD card (which, given this is MIDI data is … a lot).

The beauty of dadamachines’ approach is, by building this around the grid, you can work in a lot of different ways:

Step-sequence melodies and rhythms in a standard grid view.

Play live – there’s even a MIDI looper – and use standard quantization tools, or not, to decide how much you want your performance to be on the grid.

Trigger patterns one at a time, or in scenes.

Use the touchstrip for additional live control, with beat repeat functions, polyrhythmic loop length, nudge, and velocity (the pads aren’t velocity sensitive, though you can also use an external controller with velocity).

Now you see the logic behind having this enormous 16×12 grid – everything is visible at once. Most hardware, and even devices like Ableton Push, require you to navigate around to individual parts; there’s no way to see the overall sequence. You can bring up dedicated grid pages if you want to focus on playing a particular part or editing a sequence. But there’s an overview page so you also get the big picture – and trigger everything, without menu diving.

dadamachines have set up four views:

Song View – think interactive set list

Scene View – all your available Patterns and Machines

Machine View – focus on one particular instrument and input

Performance View – transform an existing pattern without changing it

And remember, this can be both external gear and internal instruments – with some nice ready-to-play instruments included in the package, or the ability to make your own (in Pd and SuperCollider) if you’re more advanced.

It’s already set up to work with ORAC, the powerful instrument by technobear, featured on the Organelle from Critter & Guitari:

– showing what can happen as devices are open, collaborative, and compatible.

When can you get this?

composer pro is being shown in a fully working – very nice looking – prototype. That also means a chance to get more feedback from musicians.

dadamachines say they plan to put this on sale in late summer.

It’s an amazing accomplishment from an engineering standpoint, from the hands-on time I’ve had with it. I know velocity-sensitive pads will be a disappointment, but I think that also means you’ll be able to afford this and get hardware that’s reliable – and you can always use the touchstrip or connect other hardware for expression.

It also goes beyond what sequencers like the just-announced Pioneer Squid can do, and offers a more intuitive interface than a lot of other boutique offerings – and its openness could support a community exploring ideas. That’s what originally launched grid performance in the first place with monome, but got lost as monome quantities were limited and commercial manufacturers chose to take a proprietary approach.

Stay tuned to CDM as this evolves.

https://dadamachines.com/products/composer-pro/

Press release:

dadamachines announces grid based midi performance sequencer composer pro

composer pro is the new hub for electronic musicians, a missing link for sketching ideas and playing live. It’s a standalone sampler and live instrument, and connects to everything in a studio or onstage, for clock and patterns. And it’s open source and community-powered, ensuring it’s only getting started.

Edit patterns by step, play live on the pads and touch strip, use external controllers – it’s your choice. Sequence and clock external gear, or work with onboard instruments. Clock your whole studio or stage full of gear – and sync via wires or wirelessly.

Finally, there’s a portable device that gives you the control you need, and the big picture on your ideas, while connecting the instruments you want to play. And yes, you’re free to leave the computer at home.

composer pro will be shown to the public the first time at superbooth in Berlin from 9-11th of may. Sales start is planned for late summer 2019.

Play:

Use a massive, RGB, 16×12 grid of pads
192 triggers – 261 buttons in total – but organized, clear, and easy
Step sequence or play live
Melodic and rhythmic/drum modes
MIDI looper
Work with quantization or unquantized
Play on the pads or use external controllers
Touch strip for expression, live sequence transformations, note repeat, and more

Stay connected:

MIDI input/output and sync (via USB-C with computer, USB host, and MIDI DIN)
Analog sync (modular, analog gear)
DIN sync support (for vintage instruments like the TR-808)
USB host – with a built-in 4-port hub
Abeton Link support (USB wifi dongle required for wireless use)
Stereo audio in
Stereo audio out
Headphone, footswitch

Onboard sounds and room to grow:

Internal instruments and effects
Powered by open source sound engines, with internal Raspberry Pi computer core
Includes ORAC by technobear, a powerful sequenced sampler
Arrange productions and set lists:
Full automation sequencing (via MIDI CC)
Trigger patterns, scenes, songs
16-measure sequences, 12 scenes per song
Unlimited song storage (restricted only by SD card capacity)

The post One big, open standalone grid for playing everything: dadamachines composer pro appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Andreas Schneider on the significance of synths, just before Superbooth

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 7 May 2019 11:17 pm

Look past the modulars and wires: connecting people who make instruments and those who play them is at the heart of all Andreas Schneider’s endeavors. With Superbooth looming, we check in on Herr Schneider and his vision of what electronic instruments are about.

I got a chance to talk to Andreas during this final lead-up to this week’s festival. Superbooth has become trade show-cum-cultural happening, one of those chances to take a community that lives globally and online and make it face to face. Things you can expect:

  • Makers like Doepfer, WMD, Macbeth, Make Noise, Dadamachines, Polyend, and Erica Synths rubbing shoulders with the likes of Moog, Roland, and NI
  • Soldering workshops with Verbos Electronics, DIY kits from makers like Befaco and Birdkids
  • Lecture-concerts from makers (SoundHack’s Tom Erbe, not just modular makers), and artists (Caterina Barbieri, Richard Devine, Mark Ernestus, Mathew Jonson, Johanna Knutson)
  • The legendary boat cruise – now with a set by Daniel Miller, Mute Records founder (among other things)

With that event upcoming, I got to turn to how Schneider got started.

“The idea with Schneidersladen was, from the beginning – my client is not the one who’s buying the stuff, my client is the one who’s making this stuff,” says Andreas. “I met a guy who was not able to show off his drum machine and smile. And then I met another one who was not able to explain his synthesizers in the way that I understand it.”

“And I understood by talking to party people – this is what everybody needs. You have a drum machine, you have a synthesizer, you need a MIDI cable – push start and have fun. And I took this little setup in a suitcase and ran around Europe and visited all the shops and said – hey, look here, what kind of fun is this?”

Andreas and his shop have gotten a reputation around modular synthesis, and Superbooth with them, but Andreas says he never set out to build this empire around modular. “No, modular was happening to me,” he says. “It started with Doepfer, and Doepfer was opening his system to everybody else’s visions and said – build whatever you want. I helped him promoting that to the size where it is.”

I think Andreas is being modest here, in that he has unquestionably been an articulate advocate and salesperson for the format – filtering out the best stuff, managing distribution with often-unreliable tiny makers, and evangelizing a mindful embrace of music making on the instruments. He has been the public face of a project that has both ignited passion for these instruments and helped make people comfortable with them.

But at the same time, he shies away from making the format the message – even as the format has dominated his shop. “Modulars became so big that nearly all my staff in the shop is a modular nerd,” he says. “I think making music is not just modular.”

What he is about, though, is hardware. “It’s that haptical experience – even if it’s a knob to turn or a key to push,” he says. “Mono functional editing – on/off. Down/up. In/out.” He keeps only one computer – an Atari ST (the one PC, incidentally, with built-in MIDI).

It makes sense that Andreas found fertile ground in Berlin’s party-rich landscape:

“In the beginning it had nothing to do with musicians – educated musicians. It was those people who were coming from spinning records and understanding how to make people dance and have a good time.

“And that’s why I never had a keyboard in my shop. It was about the machine and the desktop unit and the concentration on the sound source. You need to listen – and you can’t disturb with your experience on playing a melody.

I had a thought that it could have been better if I wouldn’t have pinned this little niche to the musical instrument people, but perhaps to the furniture people or the DJ people. In the end, it’s decoration for our living rooms – or it could be. Or it could also be seen as something like a slot machine. Why not? And it would have been better. Because now those musicians – those ‘now we now how to make music people’, you have to do it this and that way – they dominate this thing at least by a certain percentage.

Modular will take center stage at Berlin’s FEZ this week. And that means another year in which the world of modular makers has become more crowded.

Andreas says he hopes the added pressure will push back against having too much of the same stuff. “The quality is getting higher,” says Andreas. “The pressure that you need to have good ideas is increasing.” What about rumors of a modular bubble? “I try my best to prevent the burst,” he says, “- by getting new audience to the scene.”

That scene will unquestionably grow this week – some examples of the DIY and workshop elements:

We’ll be reporting from Superbooth.

https://www.superbooth.com

Novation have done a video interview with Andreas out this week, too:

The post Andreas Schneider on the significance of synths, just before Superbooth appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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