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


Maracaibo to Berlin, Hyperaktivist on MESS, love, and music community

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 25 May 2018 4:36 pm

From Venezuela to Europe, DJ/producer Hyperaktivist’s passion for music has been about connecting people as it has about connecting music. She talks to us about that process of community building, even in the face of resistance – and shares hours of music mixed with Mohajer at her side.

MESS is “Mindful Electronic Sonic Selections.” It’s advertised as techno, as house, as “adventurous sounds.” The party itself is once every third month at Ohm, the intimate club built in the former battery room of the power plant that now houses Tresor and Atonal Festival. But follow the connections of this party, and you get a decent map to a range of inspiring DIY, collective efforts of artists around Europe and Latin America. For any of us struggling to put together our own musical lives, our own parties, our own collectives and communities, it’s a terrific instructive effort – not least because of the personality and will of Hyperaktivist, aka Maracaibo, Venezuela-born, Berlin-based Ana Laura Rincon.

I’m personally indebted to Ana Laura in the time I’ve known her, in that in a sometimes mercurial, transient Berlin scene, she has consistently been someone whose vision and friendship I’ve known I could always trust. Of course, maybe it’s better though to first listen to how she communicates musically. She shares with us a mix she made B2B with Mohajer (aka Melinda Mohajer), her Iranian-born partner.

The magical thing about music and perhaps specifically techno is, when someone makes a confident sonic statement, it makes that feeling of strength infectious:

Hyperaktivist went B2B with Mohajer for MESS in February – a perfect Valentine’s Day pairing. Listen to their full mix. Photo courtesy Ana Laura Rincon.

The Hyperaktivist B2B Mohajer set comes to us from the last edition, in February. MESS is never advertised as female-only lineups; it’s a completely mixed crowd, and it never uses artists’ gender as a selling point. For her part, Ana Laura just refers to “chemistry and style.” But the fact remains: some of the most significant forces on the musical scene are female, transgender, and non-binary. And a lot of those figures are still often very underground. So let’s let Ana Laura guide us.

For the edition coming up on Berlin Saturday May 26, we get to meet two special artists:

Nastya Muravyova (Celestial, Kyiv)

“She’s a rising, yet brightly shining star of Kyiv’s underground scene,” Ana Laura says. “She’s balancing on the edge of pumpy 4×4 techno and sharp breakbeat, slightly aggressive — and all the way sexy.”

facebook.com/vsehzhdetsmert

Jessie Granqvist (Esperanto, Stockholm)

Ana Laura: “She’s a product of the vibrant underground-scene that’s currently growing rapidly in Stockholm. With roots grounded in illegal raves and open airs, she has gained notoriety for her style of dark and meditative sounds merged together into a very danceable mix. With both technicality and an eclectic selection of records, she has the talent to truly build and build a long lasting vibe on every floor that she appears on.”

facebook.com/jessie.granqvist/

PK: I find it interesting that you’re pulling people connected to collectives, parties, scenes in other cities. What’s important to you about doing that?

Hyperaktivist: For me, at the moment, I’m really not finding my inspiration so much from the scene in Berlin. So I always try to invite and collaborate with people from other places – so we can experience something fresh and different for us here in Berlin. With bookings, I take my time to know that everyone is going to have a chemistry that will work through the night and that it will add something new.

I mean, it seems like that’s been a big part of what defined the scene in Berlin – bringing in influence from elsewhere, whether it’s Detroit or Latin America or another part of Germany. So that’s a problem if it becomes just an export culture, if it’s all the same, right?

Hype has taken over Berlin; that’s a fact. People come here to live that “Berlin experience.” What scares me is the effect this might have on some of the artists that reside in Berlin. I worry some DJs feel pressured to play what’s expected from them more than what they feel at the time. And I worry about the consequences of that for the people who actually live in Berlin – whether they’re feeling that they’re going to the same party over and over, or that there are actually new things happening.

At this point I’m trying to go back to the roots a bit, thinking about why I started DJing and organizing parties in the first place. For me it all started in Venezuela, a country with few electronic music affiliations.

I discovered the electronic music scene when I was about 16 or 17. That happened to be around the first time I saw a DJ playing – there were maybe three or four people in my whole city who owned turntables.

It might sound funny, but for me it was a revelation. I knew right there, this is something I wanted to do. I was collecting music already; my mom had a great music collection and she was among other things a radio host. I was already completely fascinated about music and how we needed it to express ourselves and how we naturally feel like sharing it with others. So for me, seeing a DJ – “the master of ceremony” – was a turning point.

I started to get into it, but the scene was small and many people wouldn’t really have access to it. I first started organizing parties and eventually I even opened the first club in my city dedicated to electronic music only. I did it with my three best friends; we ran it for four years. During this time, we would also throw free parties in the streets. We had the intention of making electronic music more accessible to anyone and somehow contributing to the development of this scene that had already become a very important, determinant part of my life

That’s why I try to work with collectives that I feel are working to develop the scene in their own countries. When you start to do this in a place that’s not like Berlin, that’s not well developed, where the industry is not like here, you know that people are doing this because they love it. And they love it so much that they need it and if it doesn’t exist, then they do it. They need it to be part of their lives, so they make it happen.

So I like to work with people I feel are involved in music for these reasons, and doing something with heart and that is honest. Not only because of hype or because they want to be famous. It’s more because we fucking love it.

How do you describe what MESS is about? I know you aren’t explicitly talking about this being female + non-binary only, as far as lineups – so how would you express that dimension?

First of all, I feel the concept of MESS is ever-evolving. We need to pay attention to the necessities of the electronic music scene, what needs work and what’s overlooked.

Berlin is such a masculine city in many ways, music scene included. I’ve met some of the most amazing women and the most strong personalities in Berlin. So I have a hard time accepting why women still need to fight very hard and prove themselves over and over in order to be accepted and sometimes even welcomed.

I think about MESS as a space where I don’t want to make a political statement. I have come to understand the best points are made when you don’t have to explain too much but instead you let things speak by themselves. Actions speak louder than words, right?

So I put together bookings based on chemistry and style. I invite super talented artists and I let them do their thing. And slowly but surely, people are realizing that there’s something different. And I get feedback on it – sometimes at the party, people come to me and say, like, ‘this is really cool, what you’re doing, there’s something different about the party.’ So it’s great to let people see by themselves.

I also always try to put together bookings where people are from diverse cultural backgrounds, so you see different approaches.

In my utopian world, we shouldn’t even be having these discussions between each other. At the end of the day, more than anything else, it should be about the music, about friendship, acceptance, respect — about the feeling you are part of something special.

And this is what MESS is at the moment.

Ana Laura aka Hyperaktivist. Photo by Melinda Mohajer.

So when you go to find these artists, these collectives and other scenes – how are you connecting with them?

Research. [laughs] I spend time – a lot of time, listening to the music. Not only once. You know how it is with music – this day you hear this and you think, oh wow, I love this … next day you hear the same and it’s like, this is actually fatal. I give myself time to hear it, in different moods, see how I feel about it. I hear it with friends. There are different things that catch me. Usually, the things that catch me are related to attitude — when I see that this person wants to say something, there’s something there.

It takes time. That’s why I do MESS every three months, because I need time to prepare and I also want to have a good reason to make the party. For example, the last edition happened on February 17th, the weekend after Valentine’s Day. We decided to make a “Club Affair” and have only couples playing, as in back to back. So we invited Isabella from Colombia B2B Bella Sarris from Australia, Johanna Schneider with Philippa Pacho from Sweden with their B2B project Sthlm Murder Girls, and I played with Melinda Mohajer from Iran. I saved our recording specially for you at CDM.

Схема. Via Facebook.

Hyperaktivist vs. Maricas Maricas, Barcelona.

I’ve been collaborating with various collectives / parties. For a few examples:

Maricas, a queer party collective from Barcelona, run by Isabella, a Colombian DJ who played at our last edition, along with Uruguayan friends

www.facebook.com/pg/maricasmaricasmaricas
www.instagram.com/maricasmaricas/

Fast Forward from Copenhagen — these guys are making exciting new techno and crazy illegal parties, and you feel their collective really has these family vibe, which I love.

www.facebook.com/fastforwardcopenhagen/

Esperanto music from Sweden – they’re pushing up-and-coming Swedish artists.

https://www.facebook.com/EsperantoMusic/

esperantomusic.net

Cxema from Ukraine, where they are taking abandoned locations and throwing badass raves and putting the Ukraine scene on the international radar.

www.facebook.com/cxemapage/
http://www.c-x-e-m-a.com/

How does that experience compare to when you were running a club in Venezuela?

It was the same – collaborating with the development of the scene and the culture of electronic music. It’s what I’ve been working for, always.

I had this friend, and he had this house downtown in my city Maracaibo, the second largest city in Venezuela. And he was like, ”I want to do something here, what should I do?” I didn’t even think for one second — I turned around and told him, we’re gonna do a club.

And then we started the club, and it was amazing. It became a meeting point for all the scene in the city and across the country. So we started to do the same – invited collectives from Caracas and all the other cities from Venezuela to come to play, and then we would go to play their parties in their cities. And then it grew, and it started to happen between Colombia, Brazil, Argentina. Then we started to bring artists from Europe, but at this point the political situation of the country started to critically worsen. We had an exchange control that started to happen and wouldn’t allow us to access any foreign currency anymore, so buying records, equipment, or making international bookings became impossible. The whole country started to go down down and boom – it was gone. And that’s when we stopped.

But now one of the best clubs in Bogota, Video Club, is run by a good friend of mine Enrique Leon with I used to have the club with in Venezuela. And he’s putting together great bookings, making showcases with everyone. Dekmental Sound System, Aurora Halal, etc….

If you’re in Berlin, don’t miss MESS tomorrow at Ohm, Saturday 26 May. Or see you in the scene in your neck of the woods.

MESS at OHM
Facebook event
Resident Advisor

More from Hyperaktivist / Mess

www.facebook.com/Hyperaktivist/
www.soundcloud.com/hyperaktivist
www.soundcloud.com/messberlin
www.facebook.com/messberlin

At top: Hyperaktivist – Pic by Honza Kolář.

The post Maracaibo to Berlin, Hyperaktivist on MESS, love, and music community appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 May 2018 2:24 pm

It’s the size of a cassette tape, has buttons and pots so you can play it as a handheld instrument, it’s open and hackable – and it sounds like 8-bit mayhem.

8BitMixtapeNEO is very, very lo-fi synth built around the Arduino-compatible ATTINY85 chip. But what’s interesting about it is that all that hackable, programmable mayhem is accessible to anyone curious, not just coders.

It sounds mental:

And it’s got some weird and clever features:

Pocket mods: Just like the KORG volca sample, an audio protocol works for upload. So you can send firmware code just by playing a sound file from an audio playback device. Flash with your phone on the fly. (They also suggest a SONY Cassette WALKMAN, of course.)

Lite-Brite: Eight RGB LEDs work as a sort of 8-pixel screen / feedback / Knight Rider display.

Upcycle: Since the PCB is the shape and size of a cassette tape, a re-purposed cassette shape shell works as a case.

Arduino-compatible chip.

Visual programming. There’s a visual, drag-and-drop programming interface you can use as an alternative to uploading code. Have a look:

User mixtapes. They’ve built their own custom community for user-generated tools, including visual effects, sequencers, sounds, and other hacks. It’s here – http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/mixtape – and since audio playback upload is easy, you can just flash from any computer or phone or tablet with speakers!

Pricing stars at 65EUR (with that beautiful, artsy PCB). There are various ways to buy, including getting it in person in Berlin – and workshops from Hong Kong to Zagreb to Taoyuan. Check it out:

http://wiki.8bitmixtape.cc/#/XXX-Shop

http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/

The post 8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

All the best new gear and modules from Superbooth, in one place

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 9 May 2018 12:21 pm

If you love synths, you’ll want a guide to Berlin’s Superbooth. What was still just an actual booth a few years ago has grown into one of the world’s biggest synthesizer showcases. There was so much new, it’s actually hard to keep track. Here’s some assistance.

About the festival: Superbooth, held in a former East German children’s community center in the city’s Köpenick suburb, was more packed in 2018 than ever.

That’s partly a sign of the growth of modular makers. This event calls Berlin home thanks to Schneidersladen (née Schneidersbüro), the boutique synth shop that became a landmark and a beacon to lovers of electronic instruments, particularly as analog circuitry and Eurorack modular synths have seen major growth in the 21st century. Andreas Schneider and his team, and later their ALEX4 distributor and the Superbooth operation itself, have helped champion those instruments.

But like that shop, Superbooth also gathers boutique makers of many stripes, plus big manufacturers like KORG, Elektron, and Roland, each of whom had commanding presences (among others).

The overall feeling is of a place where synth makers and musicians come together, with gear at center stage. (There are panels and performances, too, but they feel a pleasant side show to the workshops and booths.)

This year’s themes: There are still wires everywhere. But “analog” sound sources aren’t the major concern they once were – or, for that matter, classic gear as models (even if Behringer clones were a big buzz). Now, you’ll see plenty of computer-like sequencers in racks, digital oscillators (including FM synthesis), more alternative control interfaces (from touch to gestures to biosensing), and fresh ideas built around digital tech.

Actually, maybe the openness of ideas is a big part of Superbooth’s easy-going atmosphere. Because modules aren’t complete products in themselves, they often seem as much a physical embodiment of an idea as a product. Even with some builders marketing complete “systems,” there was a hunger to connect gear.

But even if you’re not into modular… Here’s the funny thing. Superbooth has managed to become the world’s premiere synth show, not just modular show. Computers were mostly eclipsed, and you didn’t see a lot of guitar- or vocal-focused gear, but every other object that generates sound – from desktop synths to Theremins – was on hand, with some pretty big news.

The List.

Okay, there’s so much stuff – I’m going to make this a really fast log with some in-a-nutshell descriptions.

Things I left out of this list:

1. Stuff introduced earlier / shown before (as at NAMM in the USA, earlier this year)
2. Things I forgot / didn’t see

On #2, please feel free to remind me or make a case for something you found interesting. There’s actually way too much stuff to cover everything, though, so I did intend to pick highlights but …. I’m sure there’s more.

The show-stealers

Erik Norlander (also creator of the Alesis Andromeda) shows us the IK Multimedia UNO he worked on with Soundmachines’ Davide Mancini.

I’ve covered these already, as they made some of the biggest impact at the show (and on general audiences), perhaps with the exception of the Behringer clones (more on that in a bit).

MFB’s Tanzbär-2 was instant drool-worthy stuff, combining analog drum sounds, digital drum sounds with sample loading, and an analog bassline with easy access to sounds and faders. And it’s made in Berlin, so – score one for the home team.

The Polyend/Dreadbox Medusa is a deep synth paired with an expressive grid and extensive live recording and sequencing features. And as with the MFB, pretty much everyone I talked to instantly wanted one, so there’s that.

The $199 IK Multimedia UNO. Combining a powerful analog synth with a sequencer and lots of modulation, all in a battery-powered unit you can play right away at a low price, is an easy win. It’s also the work of a collaboration between soundmachines and IK.

Erica Synths Techno System just does everything you need for percussion and bassline and distortion and mixing thereof, and sounds amazing.

Roland’s SYSTEM-500 modules strike a nice balance between features of the 100m line, the SH-5, and newer ideas. Plus, again, Roland got to stake out the super-cool space-themed part of the building.

Bastl’s modules are noteworthy, even if not the most buzzed-about gear at Superbooth this year, for two reasons: one, I think they’ve got waveshaping interface down with Timber, and two, the 1983 MIDI-to-CV module does clever automatic tuning, for polyphony across modules.

Desktop synths and toys

The Center for Haptic Audio Interaction Research chair.audio. This is perhaps the most exciting innovation shown at Superbooth. Vibration-based sensing and haptic technology produces a control interface that behaves more like an acoustic instrument. It’s the result of a research team based in Weimar, Germany – check their complete site for an explanation, but more on this on CDM soon, for sure. The results are stunning – suggesting a new kind of performance interaction, and a window to the worlds of electronic sound that descends more from acoustic percussion and less from organs and keyboards. Watch – it’s jaw-dropping:

Dave Smith Instruments Prophet X. Dave Smith have gone to the high end with this one – it’s a new flagship Prophet, combining a digital 8-voice stereo digital synth, a new sample-based sound engine, and those signature DSI analog filters and circuitry. Basically, you get a Prophet workstation – part Prophet synth, part sample engine with 150 GB content, and all the extras. And it costs four grand, though this seems like a new generation of workstation keyboard / computer sample engine replacement. (Dave Smith for Hans Zimmer?) DSI have posted a complete product page. It’s sort of a shame Keyboard Magazine (USA) is no longer printed on trees, as obviously this would be on the cover.

Soulsby Atmultitron. This is like the 8-bit workstation to DSI’s high-res one. No gigs of samples or high resolution here – just a keyboard packing all of Paul Soulsby’s brilliant and weird 8-bit creations into a single keyboard with joystick and controls.

Pittsburgh Modular Electronic Sequence Designer. Sequencers were all over the place at Superbooth, but perhaps the most useful was Pittsburgh Modular’s entry – a 4-channel, 32-step sequencer with loads of performance and composition options. It’s a little like having a KOMPLEX Sequencer from KOMA, but in a more manageable form factor.

Twisted Electrons introduced some toys in the best sense. The 8-bit uAcid8 borrows from their bigger acid8 wavetable synth, while the 4-voice hapiNES is “inspired by” the NES game synth. Both have push-button access to some clever features like filter wobble, and both cost just 99EUR. The inspiration of the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators was left in the open – they even had a couple of those plugged into these, jamming together.

A hardware tool for the Prologue. KORG hinted that they were bringing hardware SDKs to play with that would allow developers to make stuff for their Prologue polysynth. KORG’s Etienne Noreau-Hebert talked to us about it. It’s basically one Prologue voice on a board (with cute lasercut side stands), with audio in and out jacks so you can hear what you’re doing, and exactly the circuitry you’d have on the full keyboard. Writing in C (with limited C++ extensions), you can make your own oscillators and effects, then ship them to the Prologue user base. There’s not much to this other than that, apart from a handful of conveniences like lookup tables, but it still seems like fun. And it’s the first instance I can think of that a hardware platform worked in this way.

Holon bio interface. This was crazy fun to play with. Using an Apple Watch or a custom wristband sensor (or just your iPhone), this interface tracks your pulse as well as movement. The upshot: jog around, and music responds. It’s like having a generative composer following you around, writing music for your workout – so that even when you pause to wait for a light to change at an intersection, the music answers accordingly. They also have a modular interface for this. Awaiting Apple approval. (holon.ist site seems not to be up quite yet, either).

Soundmachines Arches. Touch interfaces were everywhere, but Soundmachines’ Arches was a standout. Not only does it provide touchable strips, but you get light-up feedback, recording and looping, pressure sensitivity and z-axis control, and tons of patchability in addition to MIDI and USB. It’s really a gestural sequencing instrument as well as control interface, with loads of pattern controls for automating as you play. See the full product page for more.

Snazzy FX pedals. If you feel a bit left out of the fun as an instrumentalist looking for pedals, Snazzy has you covered – some brilliant and completely weirdo guitar pedals from the USA, found in the Erica Synths booth.

Modular

u-he Civilization. With lite-brite rainbow colors and just a few pots, the entry of plug-in developer into the modular world was a strange one. This module is a 4×4 matrix mixer – but, with some taps of those pots, it’s also a quantizer and sample & hold module – and all of that is color coded. Basically, a single space lets you command a bunch of connections and modules quickly, making Civilization an interesting choice for saving space.

It’s a bit nuts, but it also shows some of the advantage of multi-functional thinking from software blurring over into hardware.

Humble Audio Quad Operator. Hailing from San Francisco, Humble Audio have delivered a four-operator FM synth in a Eurorack module – complete with a matrix of pots. Everything can be modulated – and you can patch in audio signal. You can choose algorithms, or mix together your own sound shapes. It’s basically everything you’d want from a software FM synth, but in modular form – brlliant stuff, and hope to look at it more.

NERDSEQ is a chip music-style tracker in a module. It’s not new – I saw some pre-modular prototype years ago even at Musikmesse – but each year, its developer takes it further. This year, cartridges containing open source synths, including the full MeeBlip anode with analog filter, were available. So you can plug in an entire synth and use it in the tracker, just as easily as you would play Excitebike. Don’t blow on the synth cartridge, though.

You can plug in a game controller, too.

Hexinverter Mindphaser. Well, this is basically your dream oscillator – an analog “complex oscillator” with phase modulation and waveshaping. And in addition to beautiful controls and patching, it just sounds ridiculously good:

In a way, maybe this is one of the best Superbooth moments. It demonstrates analog circuitry, behaving futuristic – voltages making those computer bits a little jealous. (I may seem like I’m now anthropomorphizing numbers whilst my hypocrisy takes down the very name of my site, but just remember the CDM motto – the ‘d’ stands for whatever you want it to.)

I just wish I hadn’t failed to get on the Eurorack manufacturing craze or the cryptocurrency thing, because now I … can’t afford all that mindphasing. (Or at least, thinking about it is causing some mindphasing.)

Insane Clone Posse

Behringer have gone clone mad – with Roland Corporation circa 1980 (give or take a couple of years) being a particular target.

Roland’s SH-101 synth (1982), VP-330 vocoder (1979), TR-808 (1980), and even two pedals based on the JUNO-60 (1982) were on the show floor, not to mention the announcement that Behringer’s cut-rate Eurorack line will be based on the SYSTEM-100 module line. And no one can argue that Behringer are bringing back products that Roland won’t, since Roland has unveiled the SH-01, VP-03, TR-08 (and TR-8S and TR-8), and JU-06, plus their own SYSTEM-500 Eurorack, respectively. Behringer aren’t just copying Roland from decades past, in other words – their whole brand strategy comes straight out of the 2017-2018 Roland product catalog.

Behringer’s offerings are cheaper, yes. But those aren’t profits going to some rich fat cats: they pay for the marketing and support operations of Roland worldwide, which arguably helps create the market Behringer can then come in and exploit (and certainly which pays for some jobs).

It’s not just Roland. Behringer copied Sequential Circuits (now Dave Smith Instruments) Pro-One, though the prototype on the floor copied the look and feel more effectively than the architecture. There was also the ARP Odyssey, which had recently been re-engineered and re-released by KORG. And Behringer also showed the Neutron, which looks suspiciously in board layout like Moog’s Mother-32 semi-modular.

Nowhere to be seen: the DeepMind, the one synth Behringer created that’s actually new.

On the other hand, maybe what makes this less remarkable at this point is that the 101 and 808 in particularly already have countless clones in software and hardware. Behringer is, perversely, almost trading on their reputation for being the clone maker.

Behringer’s strategy (via parent Music Tribe) and its impact on the industry deserves more investigation. Past clones have landed the company in legal trouble with Roland/BOSS and Mackie. I’m researching that story and will report more separately.

But were there new products from Behringer? Well, no – not unless you’ve been in cryogenic stasis since 1982.

Meanwhile, the oddest reaction to this has to be this, from Synthtopia’s comments:

It justifies Behringer’s hardware clones with a reference to all the human … cloning … going on. Really, human cloning? Wasn’t aware.

Weirdness

Oh, so much weirdness. Want a beer tap in a module, for instance?

Or laughing gas (via Errorinstruments)? (Makes me think about dentists.)

What did we miss?

It’s not possible to cover everything. But let us know if there was anything that particularly excited you – and that was new around this show.

(It was great seeing the Teenage Engineering OP-Z, the Snyderphonics Manta, the Polivoks, the Synthstrom Deluge … but none of those was exactly new, I think!)

The post All the best new gear and modules from Superbooth, in one place appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MIDI Polyphonic Expression is now a thing, with new gear and software

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 May 2018 5:37 pm

MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) is now an official part of the MIDI standard. And Superbooth Berlin shows it’s catching on everywhere from granular synths to modular gear.

For decades now, it’s been easy enough to add expression to a single, monophonic line, via various additional controls. But humans have more than one finger. And with MIDI, there was until recently no standard way of adding additional expressiveness for multiple notes/fingers at the same time. All of that changed with the adoption of the MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) specification.

Here’s a nice video explanation from our friend, musician and developer Geert Bevin:

“Oh, fine,” naysayers were able to say, “but is that really for very many people?” And sure enough, there haven’t been so many instruments that knew what to do with the MPE data from a controller. So while you can pick up a controller like the ROLI Seaboard (or more boutique items from Roger Linn and Madrona Labs), and see support in major DAWs like Logic, Cubase, Reaper, GarageBand, and Bitwig Studio, mostly what you’d play would be specialized instruments made for them.

But that’s changing. It’s changing fast enough that you could spot the theme even at an analog-focused show like Superbooth.

Here’s a round-up of what was shown just at that show – and that isn’t even a complete list of the hardware and software support available now.

Thanks to Konstantin Hess from ROLI who helped me compile this list and provided some photos.

Polyend/Dreadbox Medusa. This all-in-one sequencer/synth is one I’ll write up separately. That grid has dedicated X/Y/Z movement on it, and it’s terrifically expressive. What’s great is, it uses MPE so you can record and play that data in supported hosts – or presumably use the same to sequence oteher MPE-compatible gear. And that also means:

Polyend SEQ. The Polish builder’s standalone sequencer also works with SEQ. As on the Medusa, you can play that live, or increment through, or step sequence control input.

Tasty Chips GR-1 Granular Synthesizer. Granular instruments have always posed a challenge when it comes to live performance, because they require manipulating multiple parameters at once. That of course makes them a natural for MPE – and sure enough, when Tasty Chips crowd-funded their GR-1 grain synth, they made MPE one of the selling points. Connect something like a Seaboard, and you have a granular instrument at your command. (An ultra-mobile, affordable Seaboard BLOCK was there for the demo in Berlin.)

The singular Gaz Williams recently gave this a go:

Audio Damage Quanta. The newest iOS app/desktop plug-in from Audio Damage isn’t ready to use yet, but an early build was already at Superbooth connected to both a Linnstrument and a ROLI Seaboard for control. Set an iPad with your controller, and you have a mobile grain instrument solution.

Expert Sleepers FH-1. The FH-1 is a unique MIDI-to-CV modular interface, with both onboard USB host capabilities and polyphonic support. But what would polyphonic input be if you couldn’t also add polyphonic expression? And sure enough, the FH-1 is adding support for that natively. I’m hopeful that Bastl Instruments will choose to do the same with their own 1983 MIDI module.

Polyend Poly module. Also from Polyend, the Poly is designed around polyphony – note the eight-row matrix of CV out jacks, which makes it a sophisticated gateway from MIDI and USB MIDI to voltage. But this digital-to-analog gateway also has native support for MPE, meaning the moment you connect an MPE-sending controller, you can patch that expression into whatever you like.

Endorphin.es Shuttle Control. Shuttle Control is both a (high res) 12-bit MIDI-to-CV converter and practically a little computer-in-a-module all its own. It’s got MPE support, and was showing off that capability at Superbooth.

Once you have that MIDI bridge to voltage, of course, MPE gives you additional powers over a modular rig, so this opens up a lot more than just the stuff mentioned here.

I even know some people switching from Ableton Live to Bitwig Studio just for the added convenience of native MPE support. (That’s a niche, for sure, but it’s real.) I guess the key here is, it takes just one instrument or one controller you love to get you hooked – and then sophisticated modular and software environments can connect to still more possibilities.

It’s not something you’re going to need for every bassline or use all the time, but for some instruments, it adds another dimension to sound and playability.

Got some MPE-supporting picks of your own, or your own creations? Do let us know.

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MFB have a killer live drum machine + synth in the hybrid Tanzbär-2

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 4 May 2018 12:07 pm

It’s an analog drum machine plus bassline synth. It’s a digital drum machine with sample loading. It’s packed with live features and modulation. The coming MFB box could be … The One.

While big brands have focused on digital machines (or even software/hardware combos), MFB out of Berlin are the little boutique brand who have come out with a steady stream of analog boxes that are nonetheless compact and accessibly priced. And it’s not so much the fact that they have analog circuitry inside them as the fact that they’re different. Those drum timbres will hammer through your music when called upon, just like the Roland classics and whatnot, but they also sound distinctive. And with so much music already made on the well-known machines, different is good.

That said, for all the lovely sounds packed into any of these boxes, they all fell a little short of “must-have” – great-sounding but a bit fiddly and more focused on sound than performance features and sequencing. Then there was the confusing availability of two similar compact boxes, the Tanzmaus and Tanzbär Lite, alongside the Tanzbär flagship which was also … a bit similar to the other two.

Well, forget all that: because even in prototype form, the Tanzbär-2 is a whole new beast. If Roland’s TR-8S and Elektron Digitakt look poised to be the live drum machines for the mainstream, then the MFB might be the best boutique rival.

Or to put it another way – plug this thing in, and you can jam like a crazy person, with bassline and drums all ready to go.

Highlights (there’s no press release so … I’m doing this from memory):

A built-in bass synth that sounds totally brilliant, with internal melodic programming
Analog drum parts, plus digital drum parts (hey, it worked for the 909)
Sample loading, via MIDI dump or over USB, so you can load your own samples
Tons of front panel parameters for hands-on control of both the analog and digital sections’ parts
Dedicated faders for all the parts’ volumes
Two additional parameters for each part (accessed by the screen)
An LFO you can route to absolutely anything
Step sequencer, with per-step parameter automation
Separate outs for each part

And it’s really compact, too – not exactly lightweight (though that’s okay when you’re jamming hard on it), but easily slipped into a bag with a small footprint.

Really the only missing feature is, there aren’t internal effects … but that would complicate the design, and it does have separate outs.

The TB2 is really three instruments in one. There’s a simple analog bassline synth. The analog percussion section houses kicks, toms, congas, and snares. And then a digital section handles hats and additional percussion – or load your own digital samples for more choices. Sounds about perfect.

Faders! Dedicated outs! And it’s all really compact. Those knobs feel great, too, if you had a more fiddly experience with older MFB gear.

There are already a lot of parameters on the front panel, but parts also have additional parameters accessed by the two data knobs, with feedback on this display. (You’ll see some hints as to those features on the silkscreen, too.)

I’m sold. I think the fact that it includes a bassline synth internally is already great. I’ve got lots of questions, but they’re working on finishing this up this summer, so it’ll be better to make a separate trip to MFB after Superbooth. Then we can get some real sound samples without a convention going on behind us, and learn more about the details.

Cost isn’t confirmed, but they’re planning for under a grand (USD/EUR). Given you could pretty much do all your live dance sets on this box alone, that sounds good.

But wait — there’s more! MFB also new modules coming, too. Here’s a sneak peak of that:

More on this soon.

http://mfberlin.de/

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Deadbeat’s secret sauce Reaktor picks for “weirdo” production

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 30 Apr 2018 10:39 am

It’s time for another trip into the strange and wonderful world of artist-created Reaktor ensembles. This time, our guide is dub techno maestro Deadbeat.

The Canadian-born, Berlin-based Scott Monteith is an artist whose chops are at peak maturity, from timbre to rhythm, recording to mix. And Scott’s latest, Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve, is both more personal — pulling from inspirational texts from friends — and more sonically intimate. The entire album sounds open and airy and organic, thanks to using acoustic re-recording of electronic elements. Every percussion hit, every synth line was either recorded in real space in the studio or recorded out of the box and into that open space and then miked.

Scott and I got to spend a pleasurably leisurely interview talking about the record, which I wrote up for Native Instruments’ blog:
Deadbeat on a return to hope, sound in real space

With all this focus on acoustic recording and re-recording, you’d think there wouldn’t be much to say about software – but you’d be wrong. There’s yet more shade and color around these sounds that’s produced by synthetic processing, a whole lot of it in Reaktor.

“There’s tons and tons of extra stuff that you would normally delete in vocal takes or guitar takes or whatever that ended up as sauce for feeding vocoders or feeding [Reaktor ensemble] grainstates,” says Scott, “or even some of the real classic [ensembles].” You’re hearing some of that in the hyperreal, clear color of the arrangements and mix.

“I think it’s nice to treat that stuff completely independently,” Scott says, “and then you end up with this bank of stuff that you know is going to be in key. And it’s somehow relatable, whether it be melodically or aesthetically – because you’ve fed it this stuff from a particular track. And then you go back to arrangement mode, because then I can take off my sound designer’s hat and put on my arrangers’ hat.”

Scott is confident enough in his skills to give that secret sauce away, so here’s a tour. Some of these are some long-lost gems of the library, too, so don’t expect to find them just by sorting for the latest or most popular ensembles. Some of these were used on this particular record, others represent a related techniques but have been used on other productions.

g-Transcoder
Gabriel Mulzer
Spectral vocoder/delay/reverb

“I’m using that just to add color to things. I love vocoders, period.

It’s like taking the vocals of Gudrun talking or Fatima talking, and using that as the modulator and the carrier signal being the chords in the track. Or it could also be the extra recording of the high hats in the room, and vocoding the vocals with that. So, then you have something rhythmic that’s the same, and in the same air, but then can be free as its own track. Or taking the guitar or the bass…”

GRIP Grain Cloud Synth
Uwe G. Hoenig
Polyphonic granular synth

“This is a playable one – this is one you can play with the keyboard. And you can load the oscillator is whatever you load into it.”

MOLEKULAR
Denis Gökdag / zynaptiq, Native Instruments
Modular multi-effects
KOMPLETE effect; available à la carte or in KOMPLETE ULTIMATE

“It’s fantastic. It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful combination of super, super simple granular synth process combined with lovely lush reverb. And it’s just amazing.”

The Swarm
Eduard Telik
Random sound generator

“There goes a few hours of time,” says Scott. “This whole frequency modulation and detune and weird shit that’s going on in these guys is amazing.”

Ultimate Reverb
Guenther Fleischmann
Reverberator

“There’s this preset – ‘Coming Up From Hell.’ I use that a lot – I’ve been using that for years. If you’re rolling along, and you want to create density, it’s like, okay, flip this into the Ultimate Reverb, and all of a sudden you’ve got this underlying loud of ffffoooooosssssh. You’ve made things thick without adding another element.

And that with some sort of distortion, and some sort of sidechain compression to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of anything — all of a sudden, you’ve created raging hell.”

grainstates
Martin Brinkmann
Granular effect processor

Don’t forget the granular Reaktor ensemble that started the craze. Martin’s landmark granular processor has had an influence even outside the Reaktor community on imagining how grain processing effects can be used as instruments.

Hacking together custom ensembles

The biggest advantage of using Reaktor as a modular environment is, you can hack together what you need if a particular tool doesn’t do exactly what you want. Scott long ago made his name as a Reaktor patcher, but don’t feel obligated to achieve mastery — even he doesn’t necessarily go that route now. “The last one that I did … this thing [Deadbeats] 13 years ago.”

The aforementioned Grain Cloud synth, for instance, he used to substitute oscillators inside a drum machine. Or with granular processors, he’s swapped a sample player with a live input, as on The Swarm. These aren’t complicated hacks – you barely need to know how to operate Reaktor to pull them off. But they then open worlds of new performance and sound design possibilities.

In another instance, Scott had a happy accident hacking mmmd1, the “morphing minimal drum machine” by grainstates creator Martin Brinkmann. That ensemble includes a series of assignable X/Y controllers which can modulate the filter, bitcrush, and so on, with step-based sequencing.

Scott tried applying a child ensemble with a crossfader for interpolating between presets – and that’s when he was surprised. “Because this is step-based, morphing between presets on this thing, as you would go across, it would go thththththththththt …. and you would get these totally twisted, glitchy crossfade things.”

Thanks, Scott! Got more favorite Reaktor ensembles, other granular tools, or the like? Let us know in comments.

Deadbeat on a return to hope, sound in real space [NI Blog]

Deadbeat Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve [Review: XLR8R]

https://soundcloud.com/deadbeat

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New Roland SYSTEM-500 analog Eurorack modules spotted in the wild

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 12 Apr 2018 11:39 pm

Roland hasn’t made any announcement about new modular – but it seems a handful of SYSTEM-500 analog modules have just made an appearance in the wild, rounding out an existing range. We’ve got some “spy” shots.

Yes, it seems unannounced Eurorack products from the Japanese maker found their way into a shoe event. These modules will extend Roland’s existing range of SYSTEM-500 modules, made in collaboration with boutique Eurorack manufacturer Malekko Heavy Industry Corporation. Like the other AIRA offerings, Roland is looking to their own past: the SYSTEM-500 line is inspired by the SYSTEM-100M made in the early 80s.

But what’s significant about the SYSTEM-500 is that Roland are working with a smaller maker. And lest you confuse these with the 303, 808, 909 remakes and the like, these are analog, as was the original source material.

All of that’s interesting, even in the crowded Eurorack landscape, because it isn’t just following the mold of the Moog or Buchla modulars. So you might add SYSTEM-500 to your rack to get a distinctive Roland modular sound.

Okay, so how do we know these are new? Well, first, here’s the range of Roland SYSTEM-500 that was available previously:

512 Dual VCO
521 Dual VCF
540 Dual Envelope Generator and LFO
530 Dual VCA
572 Phase Shifter, Delay and LFO

Malekko actually have the best overview:
https://malekkoheavyindustry.com/system-500/

Now, here’s what was spotted in Berlin:

505 Dual VCF
555 LAG / S&H
531 Mix
510 Synth

That mixer looks really useful, alone – mute switches, actual faders, actual panning. Not everything there can be CV-automated, but to me that misses the point: it’s useful to have hands-on mixing when you’re playing.

And then the LAG/S&H gives you a whole bunch in one module – and the Synth looks like it could be a starting point for an entry-level modular rig.

A quick play says these can sound really nice. I expect we’ll know more at Superbooth in Berlin next month. (Roland aren’t showing this at Musikmesse.)

Some poor pictures from me to give you a taste – let us know questions and I suspect we can get answers when these launch:

The post New Roland SYSTEM-500 analog Eurorack modules spotted in the wild appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Urs goes Eurorack: Plug-in maker U-HE is readying hardware modular

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 5 Apr 2018 2:48 pm

Following entries from Eventide to Soundhack, plug-in maker U-HE seems to be next to be bitten by the modular bug. A teaser image reveals new gear is coming at Berlin’s Superbooth.

No clue what it is, other than… it’ll have jacks. But U-HE (the shop run by lead developer Urs Heckmann) is known for lush, feature-laden synths, melding vintage soul with lots of new bells and whistles and modern functionality. They’re also not known for being terribly merciful to older CPUs (though newer machines should be fine) – but that means dedicated hardware has some appeal.

And of course we’re going full circle. Software emulates analog hardware, then software maker starts making new hardware, and even analog hardware. (See also: Arturia, for one.)

We’ll be sure to catch up with Urs and team at Superbooth.

https://www.u-he.com/

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Norient Co-Curates ISM Hexadome

Delivered... norient | Events,Scene | Wed 4 Apr 2018 3:56 pm

The ISM Hexadome is an immersive 360° audiovisual exhibition combining art and technology and features nine audiovisual performances and installations from international artists curated by ISM and Norient. The project is the first step in the Institute for Sound & Music’s initiative to build a museum in recognition of sound, immersive arts, and electronic music culture. Norient curated two artists into the project: Lara Sarkissian and CAO. The events featuring Brian Eno, Thom Yorke, and others, are taking place between March 29 and April 22, 2018, at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Germany.

The ISM Hexadome is comprised of a visual projection architecture designed by Berlin digital media studio, Pfadfinderei, and the «Klangdom», an advanced multi-channel speaker configuration created by ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics Karlsruhe. The Klangdom is controlled by the software Zirkonium developed by ZKM and 3D audio mixing software Panoramix developed by IRCAM’s STMS Research Lab.

Performances and Installations: Schedule

April 13, 20h/22h, Live Performance
Lara Sarkissian & Jemma Woolmore | Frank Bretschneider & Pierce Warnecke

April 14, 16h, Artist Talk
Diasporian Narratives: Archiving, Sampling, and Politics in the Tracks of Lara Sarkission
Moderated by Hannes Liechti, Norient

April 14-15, 10-22h, Installation
Lara Sarkissian & Jemma Woolmore | Frank Bretschneider & Pierce Warnecke

April 20, 20h/22h, Live Performance
Peter van Hoesen & Heleen Blanken | CAO & Michael Tan

April 21-22, 10-(19)22h, Installation
Ben Frost & MFO | Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst | CAO & Michael Tan | Peter van Hoesen & Heleen Blanken

For all dates of the following artists check ISM Hexadome website.

Brian Eno
Tarik Barri & Thom Yorke
Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst
Ben Frost and MFO
Pfadfinderei & René Löwe

Norient Artist Selection for ISM Hexadome

Lara Sarkissian

Lara Sarkissian (left) and Jemma Woolmore (right) (Photos © Promo)

Hexadome Installation Piece with Jemma Woolmore:
Thresholds

Thresholds creates a transsensorial space for storytelling on topics of territory, recognition and memory. Together musician Lara Sarkissian and artist Jemma Woolmore craft an immersive experience from aural and physical architectures; playing with disorientation, stability, unrest, familiarity and recollection.

The piece is an ambient electronic landscape referencing Armenian music, field recordings and churches (both in its sonic and physical form); as the architecture of churches have often been designed with the intentions of acoustic ecology and spatial experiences in mind. The score collages elements of voices, hymns, instruments; holding space for modern day Armenian narratives tied to uprooted ancestral pasts [and present].

The hexadome screens become a landscape to be navigated and divided, creating symbolic borders that are enforced, blurred or dissolved throughout the work. Patterns emerge that appear to both isolate and encompass, generating complex and unfamiliar territories, exploring the fragile boundary between Utopia and Dystopia.

Lara Sarkissian is a sound artist, DJ (FOOZOOL) and filmmaker based in San Francisco, CA. She is co-founder of Club Chai; a music label, radio show, and curatorial project that artistically hybridizes non western sounds and visuals with contemporary western culture. Lara Sarkissian’s electronic music focuses on ambient/experimental productions with Armenian influences and scores films and installations. Follow Sarkissian on her Website, Bandcamp, Facebook, Mixcloud, and SoundCloud.

CAO

CAO and Michael Tan (Photos © Promo)

Hexadome Installation Piece with Michael Tan:
The Burial Theme: Trans-Matter Port and Objects

Inspired by ancient Moche iconography and cosmology, the work explores the dualities of life/death, generation/destruction, and cohesion/dispersion cycles and how they appear as two planes constantly transposed onto one another. The Moche cosmology envisioned certain gates that render the intersections of both planes as a space for events. One of these might be considered the ceremonial or ritual space, a realm in which the distance and division between both worlds would blur.

The work aims to explore the ceremonial object both in its native context and as an «unearthed object», expressing its connection with both ancient narratives and the transience and decay that operate in the natural world. This object, usually presented as a recipient, acts as a gate or a threshold, a geometrical key, and signifies generative space and the readiness preparatory to a transfer between worlds (living/dead, vision/blindness, sacred/profane, etc.).

Constanza Bizraelli aka CAO is a Peruvian electronic music composer and producer, artist, and theorist. She is the director and editor-in-chief of Cyclops Journal, an academic publication dedicated to contemporary theory, theory of religion, and experimental theory. Follow CAO on her Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter.

The Poster

Inside a new immersive AV system, as Brian Eno premieres it in Berlin

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 29 Mar 2018 8:08 pm

“Hexadome,” a new platform for audiovisual performance and installation began a world-hopping tour with its debut today – with Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers the opening act.

I got the chance to go behind the scenes in discussion with the team organizing, as well as some of the artists, to try to understand both how the system works technically and what the artistic intention of launching a new delivery platform.

Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers present the debut work on the system – from earlier today. Photo courtesy ISM.

It’s not that immersive projection and sound is anything new in itself. Even limiting ourselves to the mechanical/electronic age, there’s of course been a long succession of ideas in panoramic projection, spatialized audio, and temporary and permanent architectural constructions. You’ve got your local cineplex, too. But as enhanced 3D sound and image is more accessible from virtual and augmented reality on personal devices, the same enhanced computational horsepower is also scaling to larger contexts. And that means if you fancy a nice date night instead of strapping some ugly helmet on your head, there’s hope.

But if 3D media tech is as ubiquitous and your phone, cultural venues haven’t kept up. Here in Germany, there are a number of big multichannel arrays. But they’ve tended to be limited to institutions – planetariums, academies, and a couple of media centers. So art has remained somewhat frozen in time, to single cinematic projections and stereo sound. The projection can get brighter, the sound can get louder, but very often those parameters stay the same. And that keeps artists from using space in their compositions.

A handful of spaces are beginning to change that around the world. An exhaustive survey I’ll leave for another time, but here in Germany, we’ve already got the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, and the 4DSOUND installation Monom in Berlin, each running public programs. (In 2014, I got to organize an open lab on the 4DSOUND while it was in Amsterdam at ADE, while also making a live performance on the system.)

The Hexadome is the new entry, launching this week. What makes it unique is that it couples visuals and sound in a single installation that will tour. Then it will make a round trip back to Berlin where the long-term plan is to establish a permanent home for this kind of work. It’s the first project of an organization dubbing itself the Institute for Sound and Music, Berlin – with the hope that name will someday grace a permanent museum dedicated to “sound, immersive arts, and electronic music culture.”

For now, ISM just has the Hexadome, so it’s parked in the large atrium of the Martin Gropius Bau, a respected museum in the heart of town.

And it’s launching with a packed program – a selection of installation-style pieces, plus a series of live audiovisual performances. On the live program:

Michael Tan’s design for CAO.

Holly Herndon & Mathew Dryhurst
Tarik Barri
Lara Sarkissian & Jemma Woolmore
Frank Bretschneider & Pierce Warnecke
Ben Frost & MFO
Peter van Hoesen & Heleen Blanken
CAO & Michael Tan
René Löwe & Pfadfinderei

Brian Eno’s installation launches a series of works that simply play back on the system, though the experience is still similar – you wander in and soak in projected images and spatial sound. The other artists all contributed installation versions of their work, plus a collaboration between Tarik Barri and Thom Yorke.

But before we get to the content, let’s consider the system and how it works.

Hexadome technology

The two halves of the Hexadome describe what this is – it’s a hexagonal projection arrangement, plus a dome-shaped sound array.

I spoke to Holger Stenschke, Lead Support Technician, from ZKM Karlsruhe, as well as Toby Götz, director of the Pfadfinderei collective. (Toby doubles up here, as the designer of the visual installation, and as one of the visual artists.) So they filled me in both on technical details and the intention of the whole thing.

Projection. The visuals are the simpler part to describe. You get six square projection screens, arranged in a hexagon, with large gaps in between. These are driven by two new iMacs Pro – that’s the current top-of-range from Apple as we launch – supplemented by still more external GPUs connected via Thunderbolt. MadMapper runs on the iMacs, and then the artists are free to fill all those pixels as needed. (Each screen is a little less than 4K resolution – so multiply that by six. Some shows will actually require both iMacs Pro.)

Jemma Woolmore shares this in-progress image of her visuals, as mapped to those six screens.

Sound. In the hemispherical sound array, there are 52 Meyer Sound speakers, arranged on a frame that looks a bit like a playground jungle gym. Why 52? Well, they’re arranged into a triangular tesselation around the dome. That’s not just to make this look impressive – that means that the sound dispersal from the speakers line up in such a way that you cover the space with sound.

The speakers also vary in size. There are three subwoofers, spaced around the hexagonal periphery, bigger speakers with more bass toward the bottom, and smaller, lighter speakers overhead. In Karlsruhe, where ZKM has a permanent installation, more of the individual speakers are bigger. But the Hexadome is meant to be portable, so weight counts. I can also attest from long hours experimenting on 4DSOUND that for whatever reason, lower frequency sounds seem to make more sense to the ears closer to the ground, and higher frequency sounds overhead. There’s actually no obvious reason for this – researchers I’ve heard who investigated how we localize sound find there’s no significant difference in how well we can localize across frequency range. (Ever heard people claim it doesn’t matter where you put a subwoofer? They’re flat out wrong.) So it’s more an expectation of experience than anything else, presumably. (Any psychoacoustics researchers wanting to chime in on comments, feel free.)

Audio interfaces. MOTU are all over this rig, because of AVB. AVB is the standard (IEEE, no less) for pro audio networking, letting you run sound over Ethernet connections. AVB audio interfaces from MOTU are there to connect to an AVB network that drives all those individual speakers.

Sound spatialization software. Visualists here are pretty much on their own – your job is to fill up those screens. But on the auditory side, there’s actually some powerful and reasonably easy to understand software to guide the process of positioning sound in space.

It’s actually significant that the Hexadome isn’t proprietary. Whereas the 4DSOUND system uses its own bespoke software and various Max patches, the Hexadome is built on some standard tools.

Artists have a choice between IRCAM’s Panoramix and Spat, and ZKM’s Zirkonium.

IRCAM Spat.

ZKM ZIrkonium – here, a screenshot of the work of Lara Sarkissian (in collaboration with Jemma Woolmore). Thanks, Lara, for the picture in progress! (The artists have been in residence at ZKM working away on this.)

On the IRCAM side, there’s not so much one toolchain as a bunch of smaller tools that work in concert. Panoramix is the standalone mixing tool an artist is likely to use, and it works with, for example, JACK (so you can pipe in sound from your software of choice). Then Spat comprises Max/MSP implementation of IRCAM spatialization, perception, and reverb tools. Panoramix is deep software – you can choose per sound source to use various spatialization techniques, and the reverb and other effects are capable of some terrific sonic effects.

Zirkonium is what the artists on the Hexadome seemed to gravitate toward. (Residencies at ZKM offered mentorship on both tools.) It’s got a friendly, single UI, and it’s free and open source. (Its sound engine is actually built in Pure Data.)

Then it’s a matter of whether the works are made for an installation, in which case they’re typically rendered (“freezing” the spatialization information) and played back in Reaper, or if they’re played live. For live performance, artists might choose to control the spatialization engine by sending OSC data, and using some kind of tool as a remote control (an iPad, for example).

I’ve so far only heard Brian Eno’s piece (both the sound check the other day and the installation), but the spatialization is already convincing. Spatialization will always work best when there are limited reflections from the physical space. The more reflected sound reaches your ear, the harder it is to localize the sound source. (The inverse is true, as well: the reason adding reverberation to a part of a mix seems to make it distance in the stereo field is, you already recognize that you hear more direct sound from sources that are close and more reflected sound from sources that are far away.)

Holger tells CDM that the team worked to mediate this effect by precisely positioning speakers in such a way that, once you’re inside the “dome” area, you hear mainly direct sound. In addition, a multichannel reverb like the IRCAM plug-in can be used to tune virtualized early reflections, making reverberation seem to emanate from beyond the dome.

In Eno’s work, at least, you have a sense of being enveloped in gong-like tones that emerge from all directions, across distances. You hear the big reverb tail of the building mixed in with that sound, but there’s a blend of virtual and real space – and there’s still a sense of precise distance between sounds in that hemispherical field.

That’s hard to describe in words, but think about the leap from mono to stereo. While mono music can be satisfying to hear, stereo creates a sense of space and makes individual elements more distinct. There’s a similar leap when you go to these larger immersive systems, and more so than the cartoonish effects you tend to get from cinematic multichannel – or even the wrap-around effects of four-channel.

What does it all mean?

Okay, so that’s all well and good. But everything I’ve described – multi-4K projection, spatial audio across lots of speakers – is readily available, with or without the Hexadome per se. You can actually go download Zirkonium and Panoramix right now. (You’ll need a few hundred euros if you want plug-in versions of all the fancy IRCAM stuff, but the rest is a free downloads, and ZKM’s software is even open source.) You don’t even necessarily need 50 speakers to try it out – Panoramix, for instance, lets you choose a binaural simulation for trying stuff out in headphones, even if it’ll sound a bit primitive by comparison.

The Hexadome for now has two advantages: one, this program, and two, the fact that it’s going mobile. Plus, it is a particular configuration.

The six square screens may at first seem unimpressive, at least in theory. You don’t get the full visual effect that you do from even conventional 180-degree panoramic projection, let alone the ability to fill your visual field as full domes or a big IMAX screen can do. Speaking to the team, though, I understood that part of the vision of the Hexadome was to project what Toby calls “windows.” And because of the brightness and contrast of each, they’re still stunning when you’re there with them in person.

This fits Eno’s work nicely, in that his collaboration with Peter Chilvers projects gallery-style images into the space, like slowly transforming paintings in light.

The gaps between the screens and above mean that you’re also aware of the space you’re in. So this is immersive in a different sense, which fits ISM’s goal of inserting these works in museum environments.

How that’s used in the other works, we’ll get to see. Projection it seems is a game of tradeoffs – domes give you greater coverage and real immersion, but distort images and also create reflections in both sound and light. (On the other hand, domes have also been in architectural use for centuries, as have rectangles, so don’t expect either to go away!)

The question “why” is actually harder to answer. There wasn’t a clear statement of mission from ISM and the Hexadome and its backers – this thing is what it is because they wanted it to be what it is, essentially. There’s no particular curatorial theme to the works. They touted some diversity of established and emerging artists. Though just about anyone may seem like they’re emerging next to Eno, that includes both local Berlin and international artists from Peru and the USA, among others, and a mix of ages and backgrounds.

The overall statement launching the Hexadome was therefore of a blank canvas, which will be approached by a range of people. And Eno/Chilvers made it literally seem a canvas, with brilliantly colored, color field-style images, filling the rectangles with oversized circles and strips of shifting color. Chilvers uses a slightly esoteric C++ raytracing engine, generating those images in realtime, in a digital, generative, modern take on the kind of effects found in Georges Seurat. Eno’s sounds were precisely what you’d expect – neutral chimes and occasional glitchy tune fragments, floating on their own or atop gentle waves of noise that arrive and recede like a tide. Organic if abstract tones resonated across the harmonic series, in groupings of fifths. Both image and sound are, in keeping with Eno’s adherence to stochastic ideas, produced in real-time according to a set of parameters, so that nothing ever exactly repeats. These are not ideas originated by Eno – stochastic processes and chance operations obviously have a long history – but as always, his rendition is tranquil and distinctively his own.

In a press conference this morning, Eno said he’d adjusted that piece until the one we heard was the fifth iteration – presumably an advantage of a system that’s controlled by a set of parameters. (Eno works with a set of software that allows this. You can try similar software, and read up on the history of the developers’ collaboration with the artist, at the Intermorphic site.)

What strikes me about beginning with Eno is that it sets a controlled tone for the installation. Eno/Chilvers’ aesthetic was at home on this system; the arrangement of screens fit the set of pictures, and Eno’s music is organic enough that when it’s projected into space, it seems almost naturally occurring.

And Eno in a press conference found a nice metaphor for justifying the connection of the Hexadome’s “windows” to the gallery experience. He noted that Chilvers’ subtly-shifting, ephemeral color compositions exploded the notion of painting or still image as something that could be consumed as a snapshot. Effectively, their work suggests the raison d’etre that the ISM curators seemed unable to articulate. The Hexadome is a canvas that incorporates time.

But that also raises a question. If spatial audio and immersive visuals have often been confined to institutions, this doesn’t so much liberate them as make a statement as to how museums can capitalize on deploying them. An inward-looking set of square images also seems firmly rooted in the museum frame (literally).

And the very fact that Eno’s work is so comfortable sets the stage for some interesting weeks.

Now we’ll see whether the coming lineup can find any subversive threads with the same setup, and in the longer run, what comes of this latest batch of installations. Will these sorts of setups incubate new ideas – especially as there’s a mix of artists and engineers engaged in the underlying tech? Or will spend-y installations like the Hexadome simply be a showy way to exhibit the tastes of big institutional partners? With some new names on that lineup for the coming weeks, I think we’ll at least get some different answers to where this could go. And looking beyond the Hexadome, the power of today’s devices to drive spatialization and visuals more easily means there’s more to come. Stay tuned.

Institute for Sound and Music, Berlin

Martin Gropius Bau: Program – ISM Hexadome

In coming installments, I’ll look deeper at some of these tools, and talk to some of the up-and-coming artists doing new things with the Hexadome.

The post Inside a new immersive AV system, as Brian Eno premieres it in Berlin appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

At Superbooth, expect new synth news, and grand instrumentalism

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Wed 28 Mar 2018 5:07 pm

From a crowded stand in Frankfurt to a sprawling show in East Berlin, Superbooth has become a modular mecca and the premiere synthesizer summit on the world calendar.

And if you think about it, that’s pretty astonishing. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in California remains the destination for the musical instrument industry at large, and it and a number of other events draw big crowds of synth lovers. But Superbooth has become a kind of extension of synthesizer inventor history, of modular subculture, and of the best parts of the Internet today – the bits that just nerd out about cool toys. One- and two-person shops stand literally shoulder to shoulder with major manufacturers.

In short, it’s the triumph of the weird.

“Normal” trade shows these days are what can seem anachronistic. The “trade-only” moniker at NAMM (or Germany’s Musikmesse) has always been confusing, with tire kickers tangled with industry, and a collision of instrumental segments that seem increasingly distant from one another.

Like the quiet, sprawling metropolis of Berlin itself, Superbooth never feels crowded. People amble and linger and chat and chill – all the verbs you never associate with trade shows. But it doesn’t feel like a local synth meet, either. There are 250 exhibitors this year, with stands from names like Ableton, Akai, Avid, Bitwig, Elektron, Eventide, IK Multimedia, KORG, Mackie, Magix, Moog, MOTU, Native Instruments, Nord, Novation, Propellerhead, RME, Roland, ROLI, Softube, Steinberg, Studio Electronics, Waldorf, and … yes, even mighty Yamaha.

Those join a who’s who of modular makers, with an increasing number of American brands alongside what appear to be all the major European names (including Russia).

So, it’s significant that the morning hours are dedicated to trade and professionals, while the afternoons open to the public. “Will you be at Superbooth?” has become the stock question for the synth and electronic end of the waters. And since this is not just a corner of a show with drums and guitars and trombones, you do actually talk to one another and connect.

So what will actually happen this year?

Last year saw a raft of cool stuff:

Go gear crazy with the best synth gear unveiled at Superbooth

Novation hit it out of the park with both Peak and Circuit Mono Station. Bastl Instruments fed us THYME, DUDE, Kong … and their own line of custom-brewed coffee. Behringer had their infamous Minimooog Model D clone to try. Elektron revealed the Digitakt, as Jomox and MFB unveiled boutique drum machines. And of course there were loads of new modules and other toys … not to mention Yamaha with a robot that plays keys.

Last year, this happened – two new Novation synths.

(Compare the inaugural 2016, when Superbooth was more limited to niche modular and analog creations, and many brands still made waves at Frankfurt Messe. By last year, Messe was mostly silence.)

This year, I think you can expect even more big announcements. Given the attention Novation got, I wouldn’t be surprised if a big manufacturer made a splash – even from Japan’s big three, all of whom are in attendance.

Of course, the charm of Superbooth is, those big manufacturers won’t really have any particular advantage over tiny shops. (Well, apart from if you have deeper pockets, you get the cool room with the Soyuz module …)

And I think you can expect … oh, wait, I can’t tell you. I don’t know anything. Expect nothing.

(Oh, one note – I think we’ll continue to see a cottage industry in 5U modules – that’s the larger format – especially as Moog’s own recreation of its vintage modulars is out of reach of most budgets.)

Superbooth 2016 videos

https://vimeo.com/schneidersbuero

On the music side…

As Superbooth gets deeper in the gear territory – not just for modular geeks, but synths fans in general – it’s also building out its roster of musicians. Those reflect some of the Berlin in-crowd’s refined tastes, but this year they also suggest another line.

Superbooth wants you to think of synths and modular as an instrument, in the classic sense of the word.

So you get Caterina Barbieri, a classical guitarist-turned-modular artist, and Leon Michener on a prepared grand piano. There’s Berlin electronic legend Bernd Kistenmacher on synths, and composer Udo Hanten on 5U modulars.

Stephan Schmitt, founder of Native Instruments and father of Generator/Reaktor, will play on his own unique C 15 keyboard, made by his new hardware venture Nonlinear Labs. Carolina Eyck will play Theremin; famed producer Tobi Neumann will play ambient with Fadi.

The night program is also packed with some big names: think #instantboner, T.Raumschmiere & FucketYbUcKetY, Ströme and Tikiman, Boys Noiz with 2244, ATEQ, and GusGus.

It’s not entirely “underground” in character – these are established, premiere artists, and perhaps associated then with established, premiere modular gear, which while increasingly affordable isn’t exactly cheap. But then I think you can also expect lots of unofficial off events and afterparties to spring up, postcards to spread around – and it’s still Berlin. So be sure manufacturers will organize spontaneous jam sessions, visiting nerds will promote gigs, and lots of sound geekery will be had in the days during and immediately around the event. You might want to clear your calendar, plus some, like, recovery time.

On the workshop/talk side, there are various DIY offerings, as well as a female/non-binary program meant to counter-balance an event that has tended to skew fairly heavily male. Daniel Miller, Uwe Schmidt, and Mark Ernestus are in discussion, plus you can catch Lady Starlight, Andrew Huang, Lady Blacktronika, and Mylar Melodies.

The biggest rival to Superbooth I imagine will be Moogfest back in the U.S. of A. – unlikely to have, say, boutique Russian makers at it, but likely to attract some modular purveyors who won’t make the Transatlantic flight. And Moog of course will figure big at their own event. Moogfest also dwarfs Superbooth as far as festival lineup and talks. I’d also keep an eye on SONAR Festival, whose extended tech program often focuses on the European tech scene, plus Music Tech Fest in September.

But as far as synth makers in one place and synth news, Superbooth is the big bet for new tech. I’ll see you there.

Full event schedule

Exhibitor list for this year

superbooth.com

The post At Superbooth, expect new synth news, and grand instrumentalism appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch an Ableton Loop talk that connects polyrhythms, synesthesia

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 27 Mar 2018 6:16 pm

How are the Harmony of the Spheres, Isaac Newton, and polyhythms connected? Strap in for a journey with musician Adam Neely.

A bass player – educator – composer, Adam has a series of his own called New Horizons in Music. For Ableton Loop in Berlin last November, he got to present one session of those ideas live to an enraptured crowd. Now, Ableton gives you a guest seat to that show.

If you’re a fan of polyrthms, you’ll like where this is going. But it takes an unexpected path, starting with Alexander Scriabin, the Russian composer who experienced a perceptual connection of color to sound, and Isaac Newton’s color science. That basic notion about spectrum links color, perception, and rhythm.

It’s a wild, Wikipedia click-hole saga through music history, psychoacoustics, proportions, and theory. Since proportion can apply to rhythm and pitch alike – and since rhythms eventually are themselves connected to pitch – you eventually get a kind of grand unifying theory of music and polyrhythm. Watch:

(Quite a few of you likely have seen this already, as it seems it’s already a hit!)

This is just the sort of adventurous thinking that filled the best talks at Ableton’s Loop event. In that way, Loop served not just as a gathering around a tool, but that explored the entire ecosystem of ideas around the Live user community. And that seems a great model for what music tech can be.

Of course, all of this required getting to Berlin, and even there attendance was limited. So, fortunately, Ableton have set up a minisite where they’re sharing content you can take in at your leisure. (I was actually in Berlin, and I missed this one, so it’s great having video available for me, too, before you get jealous!)

You can find a collection of resources from Loop at the Loop minisite, with more content added regularly:

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

For instance, you can jump to a selection of talks and Q&A:

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

And for more of Adam Neely’s New Horizons in Music, head to his YouTube channel:

http://bit.ly/2BQBNXq

For instance, here’s more on synesthesia:

I’m looking forward to taking in more.

The post Watch an Ableton Loop talk that connects polyrhythms, synesthesia appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get lost in a Dasha Rush ambience, with hypnotic visuals to match

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 22 Mar 2018 7:23 pm

With all that sound out there, you’d better make your musical statement a strong one. And why not add the kinds of visuals we see when we shut our eyes and listen?

This winter, visualist future error went into the archives of Resident Advisor and pulled out an evocative, dreamy ambient mix by Dasha Rush. Known best for her pounding techno, Dasha is also a producer and purveyor of more experimental music, too. And the combination of trippy monochromatic geometries and textures with this mix is reason enough to kick back on the couch with your iPad or TV or projector or whatever and … chill. (You deserve it!)

RA source, with an interview and track listing:
RA.469 Dasha Rush – An ambient odyssey

Alongside the expected Donato Dozzy, Biosphere, Alva Noto, Monolake, Brian Eno (and Dino Sabatini, with whom Dasha often plays) … there are a couple of rare cuts in there, too.

Moscow’s Mendeleev, for one, you might want to check out:
https://www.facebook.com/mendeleevmusic/

And don’t miss Grzegorz Bojanek, whose music I got to know through Dasha – he’s an electroacoustic musician, a Polish netlabel hero, and a staple of how the ambient/experimental scene is evolving in that country (including producing the Warsaw Electronic Festival – yes, it’s not just Unsound Festival in Poland, folks):

Grzegorz Bojanek at Bandcamp

Grzegorz is worth visiting elsewhere on this site, too, so stay tuned.

While we’re digging into the archives, here’s Dasha playing ambient music live (since the RA mix is a DJ set):

Or, for another AV experience, here’s the music video from her collaboration with Lars Hemmerling, “LOSTBAHNHOF,” which hums and taps along into a nicely weird groove:

And, hey, if you’re going to use Facebook, here’s one pleasant way to do it:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/dasha.rush.music/

If this sort of thing is your taste, you’ll like Dasha’s label, as well:

https://fullpandarecords.bandcamp.com/

Thanks as always, Dasha!

And yeah, we have done this once before:

Voyage into Dasha Rush’s inspiring ambient sonic worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For his site:

dekj.org

And we’ve covered oqko previously:

Transmissions from the magnetic ooze, in new oqko video premiere

How sound takes Lvis Mejía from Mexico to a collective unconscious

Check their site:

oqko.org

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

Bougaïeff & Narciss talk craft, and composing 60-second techno loops

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 19 Feb 2018 8:05 pm

Talk about minimal techno: Nicolas Bougaïeff and Narciss made a selection of 60-second locked grooves. Here’s more on that project and their practice.

If you’re hungry for electronic music that still pushes boundaries and technique, Dr. Nicolas Bougaïeff is a good place to start. (Yes, he’s a real doctor – the Ph.D. is in music composition). And lately, he’s been on a tear. Apart from a fanciful EP for our own Establishment, his recent output has focused on aggressively distorted, dystopian timbres, expertly constructed machines that pound forward like giant robots. He’s gotten deserved attention for that, as well, including the 12″ release of Cognitive Resonance, which relaunched Daniel Miller’s seminal NovaMute label.

There’s no paint-by-number techno here: each rhythm, each sound is considered. (It’s little wonder that Nick is working in offering composition lessons on the side – in a field that has been largely short of expert training.)

Now, you can get a view to that in Principles of Newspeak, his Denkfabrik LP, and take a cinematic journey through these realms.

But I thought we’d take the occasion to explore a unique set of etudes that came at the beginning of this year. It’s called Vocabulary C, and it takes the meticulous construction of techno to an extreme. The whole album is a set of locked grooves, each just one minute in length.

It’s not just a simple DJ “tools” release, though – think of it as tools that are also effective etudes. You can actually listen to each of these as a one-minute, standalone composition. There’s audio material drawn from Principles of Newspeak, but you almost don’t need to know that: these stand on their own. (Miniatures are a topic Nicolas has taken up before, not surprisingly – he’s got a release called 24 Miniatures coming out now, too.)

Nicolas teamed up with Berlin-born artist Narciss for this one – an artist who has literally grown up in the middle of Berlin techno, and has a DJ resume (and more releases upcoming on DRVMS LTD. and Seelen Records) to match.

With the fusion of composition and technology here, of course, we had plenty to talk about with these two.

There are two video documentaries as a starting point. First, there’s a short feature of Principles of Newspeak, visiting Nick in his studio:

From there, there’s a second video in which Nicolas and Narciss talk about the project and their collaboration:

CDM: Nick, from the release for Daniel Miller to your own follow-up on your label to this reusing materials … it feels like you’re making connective tissue now between releases. Is that about your own continuity? Is it about a narrative?

NB: Making a large scale musical work inspired by 1984 has been on my mind for over 20 years. If you dig very, very Once I got started, I owed it to myself to explore every aspect of the topic. I’m happy I found an angle to the novel that hadn’t really been covered by other musicians, so I just kept on going. Vocabulary C gave me a feeling of closure.

And you’ve worked with miniatures before, too, yes?

I’ve done this sort of project before. Back in 2011, I recorded a new sketch every day for nearly the whole year, 20 minutes every day first thing in the morning no thinking allowed. That yielded hundreds of musical fragments. From those I eventually compiled an album by selecting the very best moments, no further whatsoever besides touching the mixdown and trimming the shortest edit possible. It kind of sat on my hard drive for seven years now, which is a nice contrast to how spontaneous the original process was. I feel it really aged well so I’m finally about to release the 24 Miniatures album via Denkfabrik.

All of these projects draw from the well of dystopia and dystopian imagination – what was that inspiration here? (What’s the Orwell connection?)

NB: Vocabulary C is the last release in a thematic series of three records, all of them inspired by the appendix to George Orwell’s 1984. The lead single “Cognitive Resonance” came out as a 12″ on NovaMute; the album Principles of Newspeak came out on my own label Denkfabrik, and finally, Vocabulary C as a collection of locked grooves inspired by the sounds from the album.

The 1984 appendix is focused on the particular way language is distorted in that fictional universe, a mashup of political slogans and the Whorf-Sapir linguistics theory. The idea is that if you destroy words, you destroy the ability to think of that concept. Fortunately, that’s not the way language works in reality. In the book, vocabulary C is a facet of the language that is used strictly to describe technical processes. In parallel, it seemed to me very fitting that a locked groove, historically, is a very technical musical tool.

6. Also to repeat the video a little bit, maybe you can elaborate on those vocabularies? How did you apply them to managing the material here?

NB: Best to directly quote Orwell here.

“The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the business of everyday life — for such things as eating, drinking, working, putting on one’s clothes, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles, gardening, cooking, and the like”

“The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”

See, both of those are interesting, but way too literal to be used for instrumental music. But when you get to Vocabulary C, it’s abstract and detached in a way that seemed to really fit with techno.

“The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms.”

Can you explain what a locked groove is?

NB: A vinyl groove is normally cut in a spiral. A locked groove is a circle, so the needle loops around over and over. You literally have to pick up the needle to choose another loop, you can have lots of different loops on a record. Pioneering techno artists — Jeff Mills, for example — produced and performed with locked groove records, sometimes making it a central part of their process.

Narciss: To me, it’s kind of the most stripped down techno tool in existence. It really is just an endless loop that can, for example, be used to mix two tracks that don’t perfectly mesh together, or to add some spice to your transitions. Instrumentation is pretty interesting, because using the sounds we had, meant, we mainly patched things through different effects.

There’s something a bit cheeky about embracing minimalism in this way, right? This isn’t phases like Steve Reich; it isn’t messing with time like Morton Feldman. You’re into full-on repetition – right into the heart of what many people claim to dislike about techno. What made you go that route? Is there a personal story to this embrace of rigid structure and repetition, intellectual curiosity aside?

NB: There’s a holy grail in techno: that magical moment when the groove is so good that you bliss out and don’t touch the machines anymore. We experience this all the time as music producers working in the studio, and also on the dance floor when everything is just spot. You get the same thing in many improvised musics – searching until you lock in. That’s what I wanted to focus on with this project; I wanted to focus on finding self-standing moments where time stands still.

Timbre is significant here, too, I feel. There’s a real brutality to this, maybe something missing in a lot of drenched-out, effect-pedal, too-much-reverb music trending now. What was the source of those sounds; how did you arrive at them?

Narciss: This can mainly be accredited to the extremely raw-sounding base material that we were working with. Both of the albums that Nicolas made have a very violent, heavy structure to them, so naturally working with sounds from them, you would get something like that out too, although even on the loops where we didn’t use any of that material, it was a pretty natural adaption to what we made before, I guess.

NB: The sound palette was more of a consequence of where I had been with my other projects rather than a conscious conceptual choice. We used a a bunch of Narciss’ favorite drum loops as well as a big chunk of my personal sound library from the past couple years, that was all industrial and electroacoustic sounds derived from electric cello, modular synth and loads of distortion pedals. Looking back, I can now better appreciate the tension between the timeless locked groove format and the sounds that grab your attention.

I want to ask about the element of setting the timer. In order to be that immediate, did you find that there was practice necessary first – on your own, as a duo?

Narciss: I didn’t really see it as practice, we pretty much sat down and recorded everything from the first loop to the last. Obviously, quality improved – generally towards the end of the process, we hit it home more times than in the beginning. But I think a little less than half of the record was made during our first day.

NB: I’ve been an improvising musician for over 15 years – working fast feels very comfortable. Also, quantity was a very important part of this project. Our goal was to make 100 locked grooves, and then we would select the best 20 or 30. Many of them were really bad, silly or just boring, but that didn’t matter, because five minutes later, we had an opportunity to begin again.

Actually, I’m kind of interested now that this has been out in the world for a while … uh, not just to rationalize turning in these questions late. What’s happened in the interim; what has the response been?

NB: I’ve been notified from Bandcamp about who downloads the records. I’ve had some interesting surprises there!

Functionally speaking, how do you expect these tracks to live? Are people DJing with them – are you? How do they work as tools – are they intended as tools? Would these encourage people perhaps even to DJ in a different way

Narciss: I’m certainly playing them out live, yes. Not all of them, of course — “Loop C-02” is a particular favorite. Some are definitely meant more as an exploration of the medium than as an actual “locked groove” in its regular function. I think it does force people who only blend two tracks at a time to play differently, though, yeah – because in that environment, a locked groove doesn’t make much sense. But if you play with three decks or more, then I think the more dancefloor-oriented grooves won’t challenge you that much.

NB: Of course they’re tools! They’re radically minimal not only in their form, but also in their sparseness. I’m always trying to figure out what is the least amount of instruments necessary to get a really banging sound. Now whether they’re played on their own or deep in the mix, that really depends on the musical context.

Does that change the meaning, if they are blended with other tracks?

NB: No, they don’t need to be played as stark naked loops on their own, unprocessed. As a central element, my challenge to DJs would be to try to figure out how long you can keep them going on with the least amount of transformation and mixing.

Narciss: It’s an interesting thought, to be sure. But since this project was more of an exploration of this “Locked Groove” concept, I think that if people play them out, it doesn’t as much change the meaning,as hammer home the functionality of it, even if you get analytical and deconstructive with it.

I know you’ve worked together before. This got you working more closely, though, yes?

Narciss: For sure, for me personally this project has furthered this “Sensei student mentality” with Nicolas just so much more, although I think he hates it when I say that, ha!

NB: Yeah, Narciss contributed a remix for my release on Establishement, and I just did a remix for his new record on DRVMS Ltd. We’ve been friends for a couple years, and with this project it was a really intense five or six sessions actually. The five minute non-stop sprints was pretty exhausting. And we’re still friends now!

Narciss, you’re obviously out there in the trenches, too, in the DJ scene. What was the connection like between this slightly experimental format and that clubland experience?

Narciss: There most definitely was a connection between the two. I mean originally, locked grooves themselves are something that only make sense in the context of a DJ-set. So it actually took me personally quite a while to get away from the “four-to-the-floor-mentality” of the medium.

Also, being born in this city, where do you look for inspiration – are you attracted to new things that are flowing into the city’s cultural life? Is the familiarity of growing up here something significant, or is it that turnover that drives you, or some combination? (I do notice different perspectives of natives and transplant.)

Narciss: I love this question – but there are so many aspects to this subject.

It definitely is a combination. Growing up here, the extremely hedonistic way in which Berlin is perceived from the outside was always very perplexing to me, because this was simply not the way that I saw it. Even when I started DJing, I didn’t actually go out that much because the way I got into it was actually just by discovering the genre in my record store, not by going to the parties. The problem with this is that Techno is, of course, a genre that is inspired by parties and clubs, from the way it sounds to just the overall existence of it. I only really understood this, though, when two British friends of mine moved here, because they had so much unbridled passion for techno, that only through them did I fully understand that these two things cannot exist without each other.

So for me, personally, I do actually like to get my inspiration from the memories that I have of Berlin before it got “un-dangerous” or the corners that people just do not explore enough (like Marzahn, for example). Ed.: Take note of Marzahn, architecture fans. Oh dear; I probably just sent someone down a linkhole. But to be honest, without the turnover of Berlin, and just absolute heaps of people moving here from all over the world, I probably would not be making the music I am making today. That being said, if someone who is thinking about renting an overpriced apartment just to go to Panorama Bar loads, is reading this : please don’t you’re making my rent go up. [laughs]

Will we see these animations live outside of the digital release? Audiovisual show?

NB: Itaru Yasuda — itaru.org — made the Vocabulary C animations, that was the beginning of a new live AV collaboration. Itaru and I just released a new video and that live AV project is moving forward fast.

And lastly, what’s next? I know you both have a bunch of upcoming projects and maybe at least one of you big bookings… will this particular project or collaboration also carry on somehow?

NB: I have a couple big bookings coming up, and I already have 3 solo EPs confirmed for release this year. Narciss and I took one of the locked grooves from Vocabulary C and fleshed it out into a full track, that should be coming out later this year as well.

Narciss: Well, there’s a track of ours on the next Seelen Records Release that was still part of the same sessions in which we made “Vocabulary C”. Other than that time will tell I think, I’d definitely be down to make more stuff together, but the magic about this project was that the process was so different to how we individually usually make our music, so I’m not sure how we would go about just making “normal techno” together.

Thanks! We’ll be listening!

https://bougaieffnarciss.bandcamp.com/album/vocabulary-c

The post Bougaïeff & Narciss talk craft, and composing 60-second techno loops appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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