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

Blistering driving acid and searing glitches in Vee – Litha music video (CDM premieres)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Tue 24 Mar 2020 12:37 pm

It’s a feverish, pounding acid nightmare – in a kathartic way. Get knocked back in your chair for Vee’s “Litha” on Failed Units, as we meet the artists.

“Litha” is the latest release from the aggressive, underground up-and-comer label Failed Units, a collaboration between musician Vee and visual artist ZOR.

This is perhaps even unintentionally on-zeitgeist; the music video combines moshed-to-death, AI-mangled hyperactive disintegrating visuals with relentless acid madness. It’s a digitally dying flow of imagery with echoes of a 2020 update to Emergency Broadcast Network. (see below to see what I’m talking about)

Watch. Crank up the volume. Obviously.

ZOR, short for Zion of Rudeness, sends along a statement and some idea of how this video came together. ZOR shares with us:

STATEMENT. Destroyed by overstimulation. The over-stimulation of the media propaganda machine. The system of enslavement in which we all play our part. The mainstream masses are kept going by torrents of fear and see-through fake happiness, like lab rats in an experiment.

PROCESS. In order to represent the everyday sensory overload, a rough cut was created for the first level, matching the music of Vee. This first level was then gradually cut or additional cut-outs and animated 3D objects were added so that the story played out on many different image levels at the same time.

The various levels were partially processed using data-moshing. I also worked with pixel sorting and other digital glitch processes. In one setting, the Google DeepDream AI [background] was used, for example, and alienated in the further process. After the files were destroyed, they were digitally cut out again and inserted into the overall picture. Finally, I digitally destroyed the work in several rounds in order to regain a certain consistency.

ZOR’s artist page: https://www.facebook.com/ZionOfRudeness/

And the release, from September – the label is centered between Manchester and Berlin, with the secretive Vee coming out of Manchester.

☨: This one’s come out wrong too
Ϟ: FUCK! This is not looking good…
☨: Who knows about all of this?
Ϟ: The directors will be expecting our report.

Ϟ: But what is going on?
☨: I don’t know. We’ve been following the protocol. I’ve run through the data again, there’s been no deviation…
Ϟ: … My head hurts.

☨: So what do we do now?
Ϟ: Put it with the other one.

Ϟ: We can’t let any of this filter out. I hope you understand?
☨: All clear. What do we tell them?


Failed Units makes these releases in a sort of sequential narrative, if you want to follow along.

We too often watch new media without any sense of history. Just as appropriate for the pandemic information meltdown is Emergency Broadcast Network’s “Channel Zero.” This early 90s group out of Providence, Rhode Island looks pioneering in its deconstruction of propaganda through audiovisual mayhem. And yeah, it seems the time is right for just this kind of resonance across the decades – EBN to Vee.

Of course, now we have AI and streaming alongside satellite dishes and television. Well, and no more channels.



Oh yeah, we actually have to do that now. Hey, as they say, there’s nothing wrong with that.

On that note, here’s the video ZOR produced last year for the ear-catching Duane Reade outing that debuted the label:

Failed Units lives exclusively on Bandcamp – and yes, should continue purchasing downloads there if you have the money; it still makes a big difference for artists and labels even minus Bandcamp’s own (minor) take:


Addedum, if it’s more glitch-y eye candy you’re after, the USA-based label Detroit Underground has a full channel crammed with nonstop music and visuals, running right in-browser, much of it also in a similar aesthetic musical and optical vein:


The post Blistering driving acid and searing glitches in Vee – Litha music video (CDM premieres) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

German music tech events encounter COVID-19; Musikmesse postponed

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Mar 2020 10:54 pm

Novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, meet the musical instruments and music tech business. Events in Germany are threatened, and more could be in store worldwide.

It’s too tempting to use the virus image instead of Messe, since, well, while they’re deadly, viruses look amazing – thanks, science and nature, mostly.

This isn’t really about spreading fear about the disease itself. It makes sense to keep connected with health authorities and heed their advice to reduce our own exposure and help prevent infecting others.

But the other power of epidemics is to disrupt other activities – not just by making us sick, but by making us adapt as the world around us changes.

In Germany, documented cases are growing, and travel is being curtailed. It’s possible that simply the economics of trade fairs can break down – if there aren’t enough flights, or workers supporting the airport system, the travel infrastructure itself starts to devolve.

For now, Messe finds themselves in the part of Germany with more cases, and therefore more restrictions. And on top of it, not all exhibitors will be able to travel. In a press release from today:

The ongoing spread of Covid-19 in Europe called for a reassessment of the situation in close cooperation with the public-health authorities in Frankfurt who require that steps be taken to prevent event participants from high-risk regions coming to Frankfurt and visiting the fair when ill. Given that these participants could also be infected by Covid-19, it is necessary to conduct a health check to prevent the infection spreading even further. This is an important part of the infectiological risk assessment. Messe Frankfurt is not able to implement such measures. Additional factors behind the decision include the growing number of travel restrictions, which will make it difficult for many potential visitors and exhibitors to get to Frankfurt.

This should also make it clear why it’s not just “panic” closing events – at least, not in areas with greater infection. These sort of precautions at large scale events help prevent those gatherings from turning into hubs for spreading disease.

At least in the case of Messe, these are science-based precautions, made in consultation with people who study infectious disease.

Musikmesse runs 1-4 April. The organizers say they’re looking for other dates and tickets will remain valid.

Photo: Pietro Sutera, Musikmesse.

For now, part of the event remains on schedule – a local marketplace of instruments and gear and a festival of events across Frankfurt:

The ‘Musikmesse Plaza’ pop-up market (3 and 4 April) and the ‘Musikmesse Festival’ (31 March to 4 April 2020) can take place as planned. These events are aimed primarily at a regional audience from the greater Frankfurt area.

See: www.messefrankfurt.com

Musikmesse is one of three major music instrument/tech manufacturing events in April, all of them in Germany. Superbooth and Ableton’s Loop could also be impacted.

For now, both Ableton and Superbooth say they’re pressing on. Berlin currently has more limited cases than the western part of Germany, which might help, though travel restrictions elsewhere or the continued expansion of the disease in Germany could change that.

Synthtopia has some coverage of the news this week:

Ableton Loop Going Ahead As Planned

Coronavirus Not Stopping Superbooth 2020, Say Organizers

Superbooth’s statement:

With SUPERBOOTH20 starting in about 8 weeks from now, we prefer to rely on facts rather than speculations about the future. Please check Robert Koch Institute in Berlin for further information (German/English).

Without any carelessness about health or risks, we basically are very careful with the daily news spreading and panic producing sensational reports. We are observing the development, but can not say how the situation will change in the coming weeks. If we have the impression that we should act in any way, we will do so. By now we can only say, the situation in Berlin is safe and we do not want to be part of any speculations.

As long as there is no official ban by the authorities, we have decided to keep on working on the finalization of this year’s Superbooth.

Musikmesse is not alone. Leipzig Book Fair, ITB Berlin (a tourist fair), Berlin Tourism Festival, and the Hannover Messe tech fair have all postponed.

The good news for Germany is elsewhere; despite some closures, Germany for now is not resorting to quarantines or shutting its borders, at least for now. Trade fairs are an especially difficult case because of their complexity and dependence by nature on lots of travel.

The larger impact in music tech may come from the supply chain. Whether they’re Chinese-made or not, the vast majority of music hardware is dependent on China for a lot of their components. And manufacturing in China is off – way, way off. As the country has struggled to find workers and move goods, its capacity is dramatically reduced. (See the BBC on their just-released manufacturing numbers.)

It might sound callous to talk about economics when a potentially deadly virus is around, but the reality is, both could impact lives. Jobs in Asia and internationally in music gear face some new challenges. An overstressed health care system can put both lives and livelihoods at risk, too. That hits especially hard for people lacking access to good health care or absent health insurance and job security.

And artists face hardships, too, as travel is diminished, economies weaken, and large-scale events like festivals and clubs cancel.

Of course, the one place we can go is online. I have real belief in the resiliency of the music, immersive visual, and musical instrument communities and industries. I wish everyone strong health and easy travel and – even if we’re stuck in one place, hope we keep talking about ideas so we keep exchanging music and supporting ourselves. Watch this space. (I, uh, just hope I’m not quarantined or down with a virus with extra time as a result!)


NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), U.S. NIH – https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/novel-coronavirus-sarscov2-images

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

The post German music tech events encounter COVID-19; Musikmesse postponed appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Down the Cosmic Hole: are Berlin’s 56-hour party people facing their last dance?

Delivered... Alexis Petridis in Berlin | Scene | Tue 3 Mar 2020 7:00 am

Nowhere beats the German capital for hedonism – which is one reason the price of real estate is rocketing. Can the club scene survive? As its home venue is closed down, we hit legendary party Cocktail d’Amore

It is 1am on a Saturday and the crowd outside Berlin LGBTQ+ club night Cocktail d’Amore stretches from the door of its venue, Griessmuehle, along the side of the Neukölln Ship Canal and out on to the road. It takes the best part of five minutes to walk from one end of the queue to the other, and these are just the early birds: Cocktail d’Amore opened its doors an hour ago, and will go on continuously for the next 56 hours, ending at 8am on Monday.

You can see why Cocktail d’Amore is such a draw. From a distance, Griessmuehle looks more like a wonderland than you might expect a converted grain mill to look: a haze of multicoloured lights glowing on the canal. Inside, Cocktail d’Amore feels like a Platonic ideal of what a club night should be. The sound system is immaculate, the music fantastic. While I’m there, at least, it leans towards the kind of sinuous mid-tempo sound that Andy Weatherall jokingly described as “drug-chug”; the late DJ was so enamoured of playing the room at Cocktail d’Amore dubbed the Cosmic Hole that he wrote a track inspired by the experience, Into the Cosmic Hole.

It gives you surreal moments. You lose your sense of the world in these industrial spaces

The city invested €1m in soundproofing clubs to avoid neighbour complaints about noise

Continue reading...

Gaze into the geometric sound and visual world of Alva Noto, with UNIEQAV

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 28 Feb 2020 8:46 pm

German music and media master Alva Noto, aka Carsten Nicolai, has released his full UNIEQAV audiovisual show online. In other words – get your sine wave on, ears and eyeballs, from the comfort of your own home.

As you’d expect from the Noton founder, the world of UNIEQAV is digital in its purest sense – mathematics and code on full display, raw single-cycle wavetables, minimal graphics celebrating color and line.

The full playlist is on YouTube. Some of these clips are not advisable if you have epilepsy. (Oddly, the things that trigger epilepsy victims make me really calm, which I presume says something about the brain, and makes me wish I better-understood neurology and perception.)

Some pleasing moments:

All sound and conception/design is Carsten Nicolai/Alva Noto, with visuals programmed by NIBO FX of Mohali, India. (Also on YouTube.)

The 2018 album is available direct (including lossless, physical) on the Noton site:


For higher quality movies, check Apple Music. (Hey, “would you like to watch some Alva Noto on my giant flat panel in high res” would probably get me to come home with you, so I guess I’m a digital media nerd.)


Carsten once told us in a talk I moderated at SONAR, alongside Raster founder and friend/collaborator Olaf Bender, that these abstractions were a way of resisting audiovisual propaganda. It’s programming, then, not to serve a pre-defined narrative, but for programming’s sake – mathematical philosophy and objectivism.

I suspect it’s also possible Carsten really, really likes Japan. This piece references Tokyo’s UNIT nightclub, third in a series there. I suppose one personal attraction for me to both Germany and Japan is that they both contemplate tools as art – whether it’s Berlin and software code, or traditional Japan and the careful study and trade of even utensils of tea preparation. I don’t even mean that by analogy – I think many of us who care about sound and visuals also consider time spent contemplating their tools to be part of the process. I can easily imagine that also is part of the connection for Alva Noto artworks.

At least in modern Japan, strict rules governing dancing may also have produced a particular environment for audiovisual work. A 67-year dancing ban has meant that a nightclub is not synonymous with a dancefloor. Even with those laws loosened, it’s not uncommon today to see people stand in contemplation of a show, presumably as a remnant of this history. But for the club-artwork mix of classic Alva Noto, it fits.

I haven’t gotten to speak with Carsten about this and whether it’s connected, but Japanese aesthetics and a history playing there have been part of the whole (former) Raster-Noton crew. Oh, plus Noton will sell you a very attractive Japanese calendar. I also like their logo. Can’t put my finger on why, exactly.

If you’re in Berlin rather than Japan, you can catch Carsten and his brother go up against Robert Lippok and his brother in a back to back to back to back DJ pairing at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. (Seriously, that is the full name of the museum. When German can’t make really long single words, it can still compensate by making really long names for things with multiple words!)

It’s a DJ battle for the ages, and true to form for Carsten’s art world savvy, it also makes the museum the showcase for music. I cannot report for certain whether this “battle” is also a contest for the honor of the two labels Noton and Raster, but it at least makes a fine show of fraternity and love of music. Enjoy that tomorrow night; I’m in Montreal.

Here is that talk, maybe one of the last to put Olaf and Carsten together onstage as Raster-Noton, though – it’s all still in the family, even as each label and platform now focuses elegantly on their own direction.

(That’s of course Olaf, not Carsten in the thumbnail, but you get all of us in black or whatever.)

For a review of an earlier show, Inverted Audio has some thoughtful words on Alva Noto & Anne-James Chaton live at The Barbican.

Image at top: SONAR Istanbul 2018 performance of this show, photo Feli Gutiérres.

The post Gaze into the geometric sound and visual world of Alva Noto, with UNIEQAV appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From their statements –

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

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

More, plus job applications:


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Cubase 10.5: what do you get for the DAW that has everything?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 19 Nov 2019 1:18 pm

The software has always been feature packed. But in addition to serious workflow tools, the latest release might add some inspiration, too.

Even as we’re spoiled for choice in production tools, Cubase stands out as one of a few tools that does it all. If you’re looking for a cross-platform production environment that never says “I can’t do that,” it makes it fairly hard to go wrong. So – how do you add more to that?

Let’s break that down into an overview. This update has some different additions for different audiences.

Oh yeah, and another thing – Cubase has quietly turned 30 years old with this release. That says something about Steinberg’s dedication, and also the endurance of specialized, mature tools for the unique demands of producing music and sound.

The new multi-tap delay puts Steinberg again head to head with its old rival from across Hamburg, Apple Logic (nee Emagic). But Steinberg runs their software cross-platform, and they’ve got something else in store – a powerful granular instrument.

Creative inspiration

There’s a new MultiTap Delay, adding to Cubase’s creative tools. (Pro/Artist)

Padshop 2 upgrades this unique granular instrument, which is also out on iPad. I’ll write about that separately, because, well, it’s granular. Also, while Logic has its own wild delays, here Steinberg has the edge. Oh, and it runs on Windows, too. (Pro/Artist)

Plus the Elements version now has the Stereo Delay, De-esser and Roomworks processors, which makes it actually a very fine entry level DAW investment.

Lately, all the DAWs seem to be adding a feature for recording ideas before you hit record. Steinberg calls is “Retrospective MIDI Record” which sounds better than “oh I forgot to hit — £$&* it!” Or “why do my ideas always suck when the recording is on; that was great and what did I even just play I forgot it already?!”

Match EQ visually by spectrum.
Sometimes it’s the little things – like channel strip color coding.

Mixing and editing

You can now colorize mixer channels. (Pro/Artist/Elements)

There’s a new Pro-only Spectral Comparison EQ. That’s an interesting new approach doing equalization and precise mixing; I’m curious how it’ll be received (especially by people whose ears already do this pretty well – and those who struggle, too).

A serious tool for production

There’s a bunch of other stuff:

  • Import tracks individually from a project (Pro)
  • Export video as H.264 with 16-bit stereo audio (Pro/Artist/Elements)
  • Combine Select Tools Mode for precise selection (Pro/Artist)
  • Optional dBFS Max normalization (Pro)

And the Score Editor, Macro creation window, and other areas see improvements, among lots of other improvements.

Maybe best of all – you can run in Safe Mode without plug-ins for easier troubleshooting, which all DAWs really ought to make easier. Word is also that Steinberg is finishing Catalina compatibility, though part of the appeal of Cubase – unlike Logic – is that you don’t need a Mac to run it.

More information:


It’s also worth saying that Steinberg isn’t employing a one-size-fits-all-approach – unlike, for example, their German neighbors at Ableton (or Pro Tools, for that matter). So in addition to editions, there are differentiated tools.

There’s Cubase, but there’s also Nuendo for heavy-duty production work, as favored by a lot of broadcast and film users.

And maybe most interesting is that Steinberg is one of the few companies left really developing the idea of dedicated wave editing, which is crucial to a lot of pro workflows and mastering and other engineers.

While WaveLab has long been a stalwart in this category, they’ve added something rather new with SpectralLayers, a new visual approach to editing. So you’ve got your choice of ways of working.

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White Privilege and the Electronic Music Artist – BELP shares one European take

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 7 Nov 2019 8:30 pm

Don’t go offline yet – there’s an opportunity to discuss deeper issues around race, politics, power, and electronic music. Guest writer BELP delves into the core of the challenges in those issues – and invites more discussion.

To anyone who wants to question whether this conversation belongs here, let me answer that directly – I see this as fundamentally and obviously in tune with the mission of exploring ideas for futuristic music. Apart from being an ethical responsibility and the right thing to do, for any of us who love music, here’s a chance to learn and expand music making and remove some very ugly obstacles that many of us otherwise will help perpetuate.

(See last week’s discussion for why the issue of race in electronic music blew up at that particular moment on social media. I’d also argue that Twitter in 2019 counts as relevant music tech as much as the production tools, for better and for worse.)

BELP responded via Twitter that he was working on a text to deal with some of the more nuanced dimensions of these questions.

BELP’s production and curation is a stand-out of an up-and-coming scene in Munich. He’s a self-described “DJ / Producer from Munich, Europe, having released several albums with electronic music, focussing on broken beats, ambient & noise. Involved with running the JAHMONI Music / Schamoni Musik label and as an artist member of the SVS Records collective.” (Seriously, check out the diverse Munich musical scene at the moment – and “stick to the music” crowd, uh, yeah, go listen to BELP and other Munich cats and don’t waste time trolling our comments.)

So that gives us a musical soundtrack, not just words (more links at the bottom of this story):

There is an open invitation to develop this text over time, not just from BELP’s own perspective. And my favorite phrase: “you can still be a genuine human being acting normally.” (Yes, please do that.)

Let’s read.

By BELP, November 2019

White Privilege and the (Electronic) Music Artist

As seen from a european perspective


I would like to share my thoughts on the recent debates on white privilege and the electronic music scene, especially in Europe. This is not intended to lecture you. I am simply documenting my (current) position and thoughts. By doing so I am not implying I have more knowledge than you or anybody else. Nor do I think it will make me immune to criticism. It might appear self-centered, and maybe it even is – at the same time, the debates around white supremacy, structural racism, inherent white privelege, western dominance and collective colonial responsibility will not go away. I believe they will even intensify further. This is why I believe being silent and ignoring all this is not going to help. So here is what I, as someone from the electronic music scene in Europe, currently believe is worth pointing out.

Reducing yourself to being just a single individual saying you treat every person as equal (regardless of race/origin/ethnicity/etc.) is simply not enough.

As a white person and a member of a western society, you cannot simply opt-out and reduce everything to yourself. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings. You do have some collective responsibility. We profit from past and current colonialism, as well as structural mechanisms in place that ensure western dominance and wealth. Even if that wealth is not with you personally on your bank account you still very much profit from all this indirectly.

Multiculturalism is great, but its only great when every culture is coming from a more or less equal position.

And this is very often not the case. As a (white) member of a western society, when you engage in multicultural artistic work, even if you have people of other ethnicities involved directly within your work or even if the work itself is a mixed-race effort to begin with, you as a member of a (white) western society have inherently more power and responsibility associated with yourself (your options, your behaviours, your ability to express and distribute yourself) than members from an oppressed group, a member from a different ethnicity and/or part of the world with less access to resources, wealth, power and rights. You must be aware of that, and not pretend everything is okay, even if you meet (and work) in real-life with these people as human beings and show respect. You must not be over-apologetic or excuse yourself and do weird things, you can still be a genuine human being acting normally, but when you see an opportunity to counter-balance this imbalance of power you should rather try and make it happen than rather not try to make it happen. This means understanding other perspectives and making room for non-eurocentristic voices and individuals in your (musical) work with the consent of those, if you can and it is appropriate.

If you are not directly involved with individuals from a different cultural background in the work you are doing (which is totally fine), you can split things up, while still being honest about references and giving credits where stuff comes from in your work (knowing where you profited e.g. from black culture as an influence and being honest about that), on a personal/private level you try to understand those perspectives, you have those debates and try to help, within your circles, where you possibly can, to reduce these inequalities, acknowledging that this tension is generated by the imbalance of power, and not dismissing it.

Nuanced criticism vs. Defensiveness.

Having said the above, things are still incredibly complex here. One of the issues I found is that people (of all backgrounds) are coming from very different places in this construct called the Western World pretending to be able to apply the same principles and supposedly commonly shared values and background knowledge in debates on The Internet. The so-called West is a somewhat artificial construct that is very much linked to american (cultural) imperialism. On the other hand, it becomes very real with military / economic power structures (e.g. NATO) and a shared cultural domain (Netflix / Pop Culture), while non-US-western nations often do a poor job differentiating / distancing themselves when necessary.

But at the same time it should be said, many of these debates are coming from a US-domestic background, with specific (segregated) racial situations happening in the US, and are being extrapolated 1:1 from there on to everything that is remotely associated with The West or even just “white”. While many things can be applied and linked, some cannot. Those distinctions are unfortunately currently not really being made. There is for instance a specific european version of collective colonial responsibility that is slightly different than the US-version. There is a specific real-life mixed-race day-by-day practice being lived in a city like London that is slightly different than in some other metropolitan area in North America (e.g. Brooklyn). And German colourblindness is slightly different than American colourblindness (due to different historical backgrounds), etc., etc. I am not saying anything is better or worse by-the-way, just different, without us even really knowing about those differences well enough when those debates happen. This is just one of the reasons why there can be such really big misunderstandings / shitstorms on the internet, currently (apart from a definitive level of ignorance, unawareness and defensiveness electronic music  artists certainly have).

But this last point especially brings me to why I believe it is so important to get involved, to try to understand and follow those debates, to reflect, to question yourself – because for instance, copying US black activism debates 1:1 onto your local (european) community will not really work and not really help. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have similar issues and problems over here in Europe as well we really need to discuss and fix. You should be able to understand those issues better and be able to engage in those debates with our own, nuanced position and perspective, instead of remaining completely silent or being defensive.

Most producers I personally know actually have good mechanisms, ideas, views how to navigate within a multi-ethnic / multicultural artistic space, but they lack the terminology, buzzwords and background knowledge that would currently be necessary to engage in these debates on a global (US-dominated) internet scale. I encourage you as a fellow artist and musician to not be too afraid here. Speaking up is important, learning is important. Only through communication we can slowly make this a more fruitful debate for everyone (and bring positive change), instead of remaining silent and waiting for the next shitstorm in this US-style callout / cancel culture to happen and then just go duck and cover.

Disecting what was not meant to be disected: What is the goal – Inclusion or exclusion?

Personally, I believe segregation is never ideal, should not be the goal. I realise that sometimes things go so bad, that separation remains the only option. Just like in personal relationships, there can be a point of no return where ending contact and communication becomes the only way out. But this is then the last option, and very sad. A lot of things went wrong before that.

White supremacy far-right groups want racial purity and segregation. As a result and consequence, communities of other ethnicities and cultural backgrounds living in these western societies where white supremacy ideologies are particularly dominant (e.g. the US under Trump, but not only) want to largely distance themselves, be left alone and peacefully do their own thing, as far as this is possible within that particular western society. I have total sympathy for this. It must be possible in a democracy “to leave” and be left alone, for self-defense and self-healing reasons.

But is this the case everywhere in the so-called West? I don’t even really know, and I am of course not entitled to make a qualified judgement about this here since I do not belong to a marginalized group, nor do I have enough knowledge about how things are in each and every western society. But must we now a priori assume this new bottom line of de facto segregation – regardless, for a moment, whether one group agressively called for this initially or its the other group‘s reaction being under attack – as the default setting behind every white privilege / white supremacy / cultural appropriation debate on The Internet? Can we still believe in integration (as opposed to assimilation, segregation or marginalization)? Is the mixing of cultures always by default harmful – a “sell-out” of a “weaker” / oppressed culture towards a dominant (white / western) culture?

It is complicated. Personally, when you want segregation in principle, I would like to respectfully disagree. If you want segregation only as a (temporary) consequence of past and current oppression and harm, I fully agree. So to me, the intention, the end goal, is the important thing. I am okay to be called out for cultural appropriation I may have done, for my white privilege, etc. as an intermediate, temporary step to overcome inequalities (by pointing them out, so we learn) and to even perhaps take a step back from all this mixing and integration (multiculturalism) for healing, self-reflection and adjustment for a while, as long as this is not meant to be the ideal situation forever and later we can perhaps mix again (culture-wise), when we as the (white) dominant western society have learned how to do this in a less (and hopefully zero) aggressive way.

If we assume for a moment, that throughout the so-called Western World, we have different distributions / ratios of whether you believe in inclusion or exclusion, whether you believe segregation is the way to go in the long run, or not, and different views and lived practices of exactly what level of (cultural / racial) mixing / integration is good and where to draw the line, what happens when you say, publish or post something reflecting one background setting from some part of the so-called West, without any geographical delimiter or mention of any scope, to all other parts?

Lets try and go further towards specifically the (Electronic) Music Artist in Europe, while not questioning that some basic, broad argumentation lines (intentionally kept a bit vague here) do indeed apply everywhere in the so-called West, e.g. western dominance / imperialism, eurocentrism, colonial damage & responsibilities (+ reparations) and inherent white privilege, but not pretending that the so-called West is a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural, monolithic bloc where everything is the same everywhere just because The Internet might imply that.

Easy to assemble, hard to take apart.

Before we go there, we need some background. This entire debate is very important, it is an opportunity to finally bring some very important issues on to the table. After centuries of colonialism, Europe & North America – The West – are under serious attack, and very rightfully so. Rarely has any western culture taken full collective responsibility for anything. In fact, Germany’s understanding of its responsibility for the Holocaust, albeit this not being enough and past achievements being currently reversed, is one of the few exceptions. But even Germany is completely ignoring the genocide of the Herero and Nama in its former colony Namibia, unwilling to make a connection between extra-territorial white terror & genocide as a predecessor, a “prototype”, for european domestic genocide at a much larger scale later on, unwilling to officially accept this earlier genocide on african territory and pay real reparations, instead of half-heartedly “foreign aid” as merely a form of White Saviour Complex.

The list of colonial aggressions and violence is endless. The ignorance and defensiveness to at least mention and remember those within western societies is immense, without even mentioning the possibility of reparations. A rise of (far-)right governments in western countries over the last decade, making this principle of ignoring past failures and aggressions even a state doctrine, made things even worse.

So there is a lot to unpack here, for generations to come. In the meanwhile, what can an ethnic group, a minority, living within The West, knowing all this, suffering from all this to this very day, having direct links thru its ancestry to past colonial oppression, even perhaps having been displaced by colonialism and stripped of its original culture by colonisers and now additionally (still) suffering from structural racism, actually do? For one thing, keeping, upholding, re-establishing and rebuilding their unique cultural identity and not giving it up to a general (white) culture surrounding them being associated with their oppressors, the colonisers.

This is the reason why multiculturalism is being attacked. Multiculturalism, from this perspective, is a violent “Mixing Machine”, it consumes all other cultures and integrates them into a single, bigger, more powerful, white / western culture. In fact it is the mixing of cultures, the assimilation of everything you throw at The West from elsewhere, that makes The West powerful. You can even make the picture look like: The West sucks everything else in, without asking for permission, like a black hole, not giving anything back. This is one of the aspects of modern colonialism, to many marginalised groups, today. First The West took resources and labour (slaves), now its culture.

At the same time, attacking multiculturalism is a very powerful sword indeed. The West would basically stop to exist if it ended multiculturalism. There is actually not much it really owns, not much it can truly rely on, in terms of any attractive pieces of truly own culture. Everything was mixed, or stolen, depending on how you look at it.

This entire idea of course depends on the model of Social Capital – the idea that cultures or cultural assets are owned by specific social and / or ethnic groups. You can dismiss this idea entirely, saying no-one owns anything, but doing so is only possible from a dominant perspective where there is little truly own culture people really want and more culture from elsewhere integrated you actually depend on to make yourself (also economically) attractive (apart from maybe Oktoberfest). If you are an oppressed and marginalised group with limited access, suffering from structural racism but with some attractive cultural assets you call your own, then of course you will want to protect that, and not give it away for nothing.

Has this something to do with copyright? Yes, also. Has this something to do with respect? Of course, always, but not only. The issue is, in the days of neoliberalism white western individuals do exactly what they are told to do within neoliberalism – act as individuals, only. It is precisely the musician, the artist, who often is reluctant to see these bigger connections and collective responsibilities and chooses to act on a personal consumer-level only: the consumption of cultures. Things tend to get even more ironic when those artists consider themselves as outsiders of society, believing it makes them automatically allies with truly oppressed groups.

It is nearly impossible for artists to escape their role, as this is a really fundamental, intrinsic mechanism to western societies – artists as scientists exploring ever new forms of mixtures of cultures for the advancement of western culture. When a (white) western artist or musician is for instance attacked for some form of cultural appropriation, this goes deep. It goes beyond not having understood inherent white privilege, it goes beyond not realising structural racism or not understanding western dominance or colonial collective responsibilities – it essentially questions himself entirely, his role within The West and The West in itself (and this is not meant to be any excuse in terms of white tears or white fragility, just the way it is).

Is this a good thing?

Not in terms of individual feelings, but as a system-wide end result when we think this further: Has The West f*cked up so entirely, that the only option is to dismantle it completely (or to at least slow down its machinery of cultural progression by limiting the possibilities for some key protagonists, the artists)?

Perhaps, yes. However, I find this to be too fatalistic and dark. Essentially, this is just a continuation / redistribution of already conducted (and ongoing) oppression and violence, even if its very legitimate to do so and probably hitting the right people when you come from a marginalised group. However, this cycle should be stopped (at some point in time). We ought to do better, as humans, not because we are supposedly nice people, but the entire business of applying limitations to humanity is fundamentally rather undesirable (for marginalised groups in the first place and key actors within western societies such as artists as a counter-measure and consequence in the second place), even if there might be really good reasons for doing so. It can only be the second best option, after we ran out of any better options, for everyone (and maybe, for the time being in this age of Trump, Brexit and the rise of far-right / nationalist movements, we did run out of better options).

I personally do understand that relaying / distributing the pressure a marginalised group experiences to a more privileged group through callout / cancel culture and sanctions will probably make that privileged group start to think and re-think for the very first time, which could well be the only reason why I am writing these words now, having seen this happening. That said, not questioning this form of resistance, not trying to end this process too quickly, not saying marginalised groups don‘t have really good reasons for being loud and making their pain under white supremacy, structural racism and colonialism visible by making other groups closer to the power structures of their oppressors feel that pain thru the few mechanisms they can actually use (within the domain of culture and this actually being a effective strategy), we shall respectfully try and move forward.

More on BELP: [because you should always be digging new music]



Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. More information on this image.

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Faderfox EC4 gives you the encoders your hardware, software are missing

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 6 Nov 2019 5:05 pm

Boutique German maker Faderfox has long been a go-to for controllers. The latest compact box looks like the encoder box to end all encoder boxes.

Hands-on control is everything, of course. You’ve got some particular parameter in your Ableton Live set, or your VCV Rack or Reaktor patch, or your favorite plug-in. Or there’s some particular gear parameters that are hidden behind menus and don’t have dedicated controls. So normally begins the dance of juggling a bunch of cheap, plastic controllers that too often break, or are meant for a particular piece of software, or feel flimsy and unsatisfying when you touch them, or just don’t have the layout you need.

Video performance can be even worse – and even less forgiving of low-resolution standard MIDI mapping, as stuff jitters across giant projection and LED walls because your crap MIDI controller has only 127 values.

The generic layout of the Faderfoxes has been a salve for this wound. Developer Matthias has been slowly evolving his “box full of stuff you can turn” concept. There were knobs, then there were encoders. Then there were push-button encoders, then ones that let you map the push function.

The EC4 is the latest evolution, and it puts everything in one place – and adds a screen, solving the problem of having to remember your mappings. (Though, hey, uh, happy accidents make you creative? No?)

There are encoders that can work as high-resolution encoders, too (14-bit) for more detailed precision.

But it’s really the display that makes this interesting. It’s a 4×20 character OLED, so small but still clear enough that you can see what you’re doing.

And you can customize the labels directly. You can do that on the device – Matthias has cleverly mapped the grid of 4×4 encoders to the old T9 layout used on cell phones, so think rapid-fire SMS rather than scrolllllllling through letters like on old arcade machines. That means this works without a computer handy. If you do happen to have a computer nearby, there’s an EC4 editor you can run directly from your browser in Chrome/Chromium.

Oh yeah, that editor is even open source.


The EC4 is pricier than other Faderfox options, at 251EUR before VAT (about $278) or EUR 299 if you’re in Europe. (If you’re on a budget, check for models right before they’re retired, as they tend to get discounted.)

But with all these advanced features in a compact size, I think it’s really appealing. There are plenty of low-resolution boxes with knobs and pots, but when you need some nuance and flexibility, this looks hard to beat – and essential for those of us in love with software like VCV Rack.


  • Universal controller for all kinds of midi controllable hard- and software
  • iPad compatible
  • Control surface script for Ableton Live is shipped with the controller
  • USB interface – class compliant / bus powered / no driver necessary (consumption < 500mW)
  • MIDI in and out ports by 3.5mm minijack sockets type B with routing and merge functionality
  • 16 gridless push encoders – resolution = 36 pulses per revolution
  • Encoder push buttons can send separate commands
  • 4 x 20 character OLED-display to show control values (numeric/bar), names and programming data
  • Names for encoders, groups and setups are editable (4 characters per name)
  • 14 bit high resolution encoder mode for sensitive parameters
  • Programmable value ranges with min/max values
  • Data feedback avoid value jumps
  • All encoders fully programmable in the device by channel, type, number, mode, name etc.
  • Different command types like control change (CC), pitch bend, NRPN, program change and notes
  • Advanced programming functions like copy, paste and fill
  • 16 independent groups per setup for 16 encoders (256 commands per setup)
  • Learn function for fast assignment to incoming MIDI commands
  • 16 setups with backup/restore function contain all controller settings incl. names
  • Very compact design in a black casing (180x105x70 mm, 350 g)

I’m definitely saving some cash for one. The Faderfox stuff I own endures like nothing else.


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Now is your last chance to register for Ableton Loop, coming to Berlin, April 2020

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Sun 3 Nov 2019 3:46 pm

After an edition in LA and a half-year break, the music-making summit hosted by Ableton is coming home to Berlin. Monday is your last chance to register if you want a chance to join.

After Live and Push, Loop has become a kind of third major product from Ableton. It isn’t an event about Live – Ableton’s software and hardware have seemed almost subdued in their role as the event has grown. It has instead become Ableton’s own contribution to bringing together the community of makers around their tools, with a strong emphasis on the diversity of that community – both in the people and how they work. (I’ve been at each edition.)

This year’s edition seems more than any before to promise to bring that full range of diversity back to the Berlin home base. So they’ve added Sylvia Massy, the experienced engineer who worked with the likes of Johnny Cash, REM, and Tool. But there’s also Mexican Sotomayor, continuing Loop’s interest in mixing electronic production with live instrumentation. There’s vocalist Colin Self, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and the quartet Ex-Easter Island Head.

Very pleased Antenes is on the artist roster for this year – she embodies the spirit of creative production and DIY in her work, so CDM readers, take note.

That’s not to say tech or electronic music is getting short shrift. I’m really looking forward to seeing Antenes and Eric Pitra, who build their own instruments. Antenes, aka Lori Napoleon, is a singular personality who is both able to hold down epic techno sets around the world, and construct wild new experimental DIY instruments from telephone switchboards.

And we’re getting folks like the wondeful Deena Abdelwahed and Georgia Anne Muldrow, as well. It looks like a killer lineup, and clearly the Loop team continue to build on what is resonating with their audiences.

So, now is your chance. Monday the 4th is the deadline. A full pass is 275 EUR (or 375 EUR with one of the valuable workshops and studio sessions), but there are student and youth passes available (for 18-26 year olds), plus crucially subsidized passes for just 50 EUR which still include a studio session and workshop. (Details on who get subsidized are at the site.)

Ableton didn’t put me up to this – this isn’t an advert. I can’t think of anyone else in our industry doing anything like this. And the team at Loop have made an extraordinary commitment to removing boundaries based on gender, genre, age, and cultural background, as well as employing a strict code of conduct to make their spaces safe.

Of course, the one barrier to entry is, you do have to get yourself to Berlin and there are limited passes available.

And time remains a barrier. (Sorry, nothing we can do about that!) So you need submit by tomorrow Monday November 4, and then best of luck – I hope some CDM readers luck out in the drawing (or even with youth passes or subsidies).

You can do that here:



And here are some 2018 highlights, to either inspire you to register or, if you can’t, to let you sit back and make a little virtual Loop for youself in the comfort of your own home. (Now that’s also a nice way to spend a Sunday!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can track the project here:


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

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

All photos courtesy Liquid Sky.

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Barker, Berghain resident, has found his voice – and meaning – in electronic sound

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 27 Sep 2019 8:32 pm

Barker’s Utility is a tour-de-force – economical but sensual, precise compositions that nonetheless sound immediate and personal. And there’s deeper thought behind those sounds, too.

The LP is out since early in September on digital and vinyl with Ostgut Ton, house label at Berghain. Sam continues to helm his long-running series and label Leisure System.

We don’t talk enough about maturity or depth in dance music – let alone about reading lists or footnotes or ideas. But that’s odd, in a way, because having spent a lot of time with the sorts of people who will go to regular 8- (or 26-) hour marathons in nightclubs, I hear a genuine search for a deeper well.

It’s reassuring, then, that Sam Barker is someone willing to reflect openly on the meaning – and sometimes the futility – of dance music. And he can encode those ideas in the music, not just with clever track titles, but in the musical messages themselves.

I certainly feel that in Utility. Talk about a late bloomer – it’s easy to forget this is the “debut LP” from Sam, because he’s put out such wonderful music, both on his own and as part of Barker/Baumecker with nd_baumecker. But Utility has the earnestness of a debut, with the precision and efficiency and technical expertise of someone who’s, well, clocked as many hours as Sam has in the studio and club.

I spoke to Sam on the afternoon before one of his Leisure System parties at Berghain. We were not so much in the shadow of the infamous power station as basking in sun, as the club that exemplifies darkness was cheerily glowing in the late summer vitamin D. So what better setting than to break loose of some of Berlin techno’s cliches?

Berghain: bring the sunscreen, because it’ll get you tan.

It’s interesting to me to know how music making works in regards to time, generally. I wonder if there could be a separate series where you watch people agonize over details, in real time – like the opposite of FACT‘s Against the Clock. What’s that flow like for you now?

I used to have more fun with the details, doing things like very precise edits – cutting things up quite meticulously. But I’m not that patient anymore. And I’m not so into the aesthetic – when something sounds like it took days or months of work, it isn’t so exciting to my ears.

If something that did take a long time can still sound effortless, then that’s different. I think Objekt is a good example of somebody who spends a lot of time on each track and every little detail, but in the end, it sounds very off the cuff. He’s like a magician – every movement is so fluid that you don’t realize the work involved to make it look that effortless.

I try and make recordings in a way that I have to do as little editing as possible afterwards. I know myself now, and I just don’t have the time or the patience to be drastically changing something from the original recording, like I might have in the past.

What’s your working setup like; I’ve seen a bit of your instrumentation in the past, but what’s it like now?

I have two sort of working zones. There’s the studio I share with Andi and Nick, which is mostly drum machines, poly and mono synths, effects, mixing desk, patch bay, all hooked up to a Cirklon sequencer. It’s all about hardware and synthesis and maybe the more classic kind of sounds, with also some newer things like a Prophet 12 and Tempest. That’s the kind of studio we have there. It’s super fun to work in, especially together with other people. And, yeah, it’s nice to call up a preset on a Roland JD-800 and find something familiar. It’s like hearing a well-sampled rum loop pop out of the song it came from.

At home, it’s basically my modular system, Elektron Digitone, Octatrack, Nord Drum and some MIDI controls.

Sam’s home setup: modular, Faderfox controller, Elektron gear, Arturia KeyStep. Photo courtesy Barker.

That’s a pretty broad palette, though. What I hear – the sound is really focused, and it feels to me like an arrival. It seems like the path you were on from Debiasing [EP] to this release, that now this feels like this clear, mature sound.

I’m glad you think so. [laughs] I definitely feel like I’m answering a lot of questions that have that have bugged me for a while in music making. I feel like I’m reaching a downhill stretch of my journey —

— downhill in a nice way.

— definitely in a nice way. I’ve spent a long time with the frontier being technology, learning new skills, learning new techniques — training, really. I would set myself challenges that would be to do with learning a process. Getting deeper into certain parts of the modular, or ways of sequencing, using Euclidean pattern generators, building generative Max patches. This would be the inspiration or starting point for a track in the past.

Now, I feel I’m at a point where technically, I don’t really yearn for any new skills. Not to be a technical show off or anything, but I think at some point, you master the techniques you need to make the ideas you’re having materialise. In the end it’s just a craft. The fun of these technical challenges wears off. So it’s like, what’s the new challenge, the new thing to bump my head against?

Right – you have some chops that you’re applying. You’re out of school.

At this point, either music becomes a boring, repetitive task, or you find things outside of the process to inspire you instead.

Sam’s homemade spring reverb. Photo: Barker.

Was it repetitive in that way?

Working with other people gives a different purpose, but on my own I was struggling to come up with new ideas or finish things. I was here in the studio with the 16-step Cirklon sequencer, and there’s so much potential with that, but it’s like — why do I end up putting this sound in the place you’d expect to hear it, rather than somewhere else?

And so Debiasing was an attempt to understand and get past the biases I had when it came to making music, particularly with rhythmic or percussive formulas.

The main rule of dance music is the kick drum in a way. It’s always there across all forms of dance music. Other things can drop out without much drama -for example the last Dopplereffekt record had no hi-hats, and nobody drew attention to that.

It’s a kind of tyranny.

We discussed this before. [see for instance, “Listen to a mix of music that’s techno, but not four on the floor.” -Ed.]

But then I remember, this first live show I heard you play at Saule [in Berghain], there was a patching error, and something accidentally wasn’t patched into the kick. [Leisure System.32, November 2017, when Sam brought back his live set for the first solo in eight years.]

Oh yeah, that was funny.

That was after you’d gone on this tirade about kicks. So you must have been driven by your subconscious to patch that wrong.

[laughs] Well, the set was already kind of without a real kick, just a bass line that had two trigger patterns, one gate for the sustain, and another for a ‘punch’ to the pitch envelope. Basically, a tuned kick that doubled up as a bassline. I was playing and thinking to myself, ‘wow I really programmed a weird set here’, and right at the end I realized the triggers were reversed. I was getting lots of bass line and very little punch.

But it worked, actually. And people were dancing to that whole set. So whatever you did that you didn’t intend, right? You shifted your intention. It seems like people responded.

It was encouraging for sure. I remember Par Grindvik was behind the stage before I started. And he was like, ‘hey good luck, man.’ I said ‘I’m fucking nervous’ and he tried to reassure me, ‘aw, you shouldn’t be nervous, anyway in the end, just stick a 4/4 kick down and everyone’s happy.’ And I said ‘but… I don’t have a 4/4 kick’. He wished me good luck.

Sam’s live rig. Photo: Barker.
Photo: Elena Panouli. Courtesy Ostgut Ton.

So yeah, what does that mean to you?

The techno formula looks very boring on paper. And objectively, it is boring, but somehow, it works. It has high instrumental value in making people dance. You can rely on it to do the job. I came to the conclusion that this has a lot to do with cognitive biases. There’s a confirmation bias – when it happens, the hi hat comes in, we’re like, yep, see, I expected that. And there’s the illusion of truth effect, where something is repeated so much that it just becomes true. Or the mere-exposure effect, which is a preference for the familiar. Our relationship with music is full of these kinds of cognitive biases.

There’s a book by Abraham Kaplan called The Conduct of Inquiry, which is about how scientists can be more successful in their approach to scientific experimentation. I read it, and in my mind I was replacing the word “science” with “music”. And so many things were just perfectly applicable to this musical problem.

One thing in particular that he calls the law of the instrument – a tendency to rely too much on one methodology to solve problems. He said, ‘give a small boy a hammer, and he will find everything needs a pounding’. I’ve definitely felt like a nail being pounded into the dancefloor before. So the solution might be to use the tools differently, take away the hammer and try something else, perhaps then you stop seeing people as nails. These ideas, from a scientist’s approach to doing research in the lab was a sort of eureka moment.

Do you think if this repetition is about confirming bias, does that influence other thought patterns?

I always think of cue cards – like a TV audience, when somebody holds one up and it says “applause”, and people clap. And it’s like the kick is the cue card that says “dance”, and when it comes in, everybody’s supposed to dance. There’s a behaviorism aspect of dance music that I find a bit pushy, like Skinner’s experiments in the 50s and 60s, where he’s teaching rats to behave in certain ways through manipulating punishment and reward schedules. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber]

And you feel like that as a DJ.

I think it’s good to be aware of this dynamic. DJ’s as operators of a Skinner box, controlling the punishment and reward schedule… in a way that keeps people on the dance floor as long as possible – ultimately, in the club, drinking. But some of the best parties I’ve had were short and to the point. You would go and see in three hours, like, six grind core bands, just smashing out 30-second songs. After three hours, you’re exhausted, satisfied, and you go home.

Perhaps this is also a case of styles developing around time restraints – venues in the UK had strict licensing laws keeping opening times short. Anyway I think the length of a night out isn’t an accurate measure of how good it was.

So you’re finding some ways to solve this in your own productions, to break some of these biases – even if you still play longer sets with consecutive kick drums in them. I wonder what you’d call this; it seems like suddenly some of your music is labeled “trance” for some reason.

I don’t mind references to trance. I was never influenced in any special way by trance as a genre. Trance was like a dirty word for me for a long time, so it’s interesting that people hear that. Perhaps I was living in denial of my trance callings this whole time.

If you had to choose a genre label, what would you call it?

I’ve heard a few excellent genre names from people. Minimal bass. Minimal drum. Hard chord. Chris Ssg says big room ambient. Then there’s vegan techno, techno lite..

Lite – ooh, not that one.

Happy hard chord?

Well, there is a strong harmonic element – that was in the Barker/Baumecker stuff too. Andi [Baumecker] likes this, too, I know.

I think there was a phase in techno that was very dry and functional, without anything contentious. I feel like things are changing though. There’s always a lot of unconventional music being made, but I feel people are more curious about it these days, and there’s more support for things that sound different.

Berlin, I mean, there’s some conservatism to the culture here in general?

When I arrived in 2007 it was quite narrow. The tempo was just much lower, and people were very sensitive about things like that. Rhythms diverging from straight 4/4 were really a challenge to play. So with Leisure System, a lot of things that were just part of UK party culture didn’t translate.

Is it any different – Leisure System, tonight, than doing it in the past?

People know what to expect now. It took a few years for people to not be expecting techno. Still we had to find new formulas that worked. In this place [Berghain], the acoustics can be quite restrictive, because it’s very loose in there, and part of the appeal is this cathedral effect that you get on the music that you play. It enhances some things, and it has the opposite effect on other things.

Right, Berghain has impact on the music.

It’s got this classic shoe box concert hall shape, which gives it a pretty nice even acoustic response, but it’s just a very long and very prominent reverb. If you you’re doing a sound check in there and you just play a click through it, it hangs in the air a long time. You have to work with it. And it’s kind of glorious in a way, and it taps into very deep historical response to acoustics. David Byrne talks about how caves were spiritual places for early humans, because they represented shelter and safety, and this feeling was then exploited in how churches and cathedrals were designed.. So this response to reverb is deeply programmed into our DNA.

Yeah, when you hear this reverberation, you hear the room speak back to the music – and there’s something kind of spiritual about that.

There is a call and response in the space. And sometimes great music that I really love falls totally flat in there, and sounds like a mess.

..then I suppose now you hear some producers trying to replicate that sound – knowingly or unknowingly in the track – which of course then won’t work, if you play that track in the club.

Yeah, like layering reverb on reverb..

But it has a sound, right? It’s not neutral – this room says something.

It definitely has an opinion. It can restrict the complexity and the pace. If you’re changing key a lot, or there’s a bassline with lots of notes, things that might be musically interesting, the room can have a problem with it. And so, you’re sort of trying to get close to that edge, with respect for the acoustic conditions. There’s so much music outside of the techno framework that’s enhanced by the room.




Cover photo, top: Elena Panouli. Courtesy Ostgut Ton.

Let’s close with Sam’s recent mix for FACT:


The post Barker, Berghain resident, has found his voice – and meaning – in electronic sound appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Native Instruments cuts 20% of workforce, moves to ‘platform’ strategy

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 12:15 am

Native Instruments last week cut 20% of their workforce, as part of a “One Native” strategy that is leaving some customers and media uncertain about the direction of the company and its products.

Here in Germany, news of the layoffs spread quickly. On top of a handful of layoffs over the past couple of years, roughly 100 staff were cut in a single-day reorganization. Over the course of Thursday, those employees learned the news, most in the Berlin headquarters. With cuts this deep, news spread to social media, but in absence of a public statement, there was little to report.

Native Instruments delivered a statement to CDM on Monday, included unedited below.

It’s murky on details about products, however. I am in touch with NI about the reorganization, and requested more clarification from NI and its executive team. I haven’t yet received that information.

The summary, as we wait:

Revenues continued to grow for NI through 2019, so any snap analysis you may have read online that this is in response to financial trouble are likely misguided. NI says they made these cuts as part of a refocused emphasis on a “new, unified, and fully integrated platform” coming next year, and what it terms their “One Native” strategy.

So, NI has silos and divisions in their organizational chart that don’t fit their future product plans. This has happened in NI’s portfolio before, for those of us who have followed the company for many years.

The challenge is, the current cuts NI is making – across Sales & Distribution, Marketing & Product Management, Administration, and Engineering, according to the statement – reduce some of the talent inside the company. They have an ambitious plan, in other words, and now with fewer people remaining, all reorganized into new teams. I expect that will raise some questions among both customers and partners in their third-party ecosystem about their ability to deliver.

It’s also unclear what this platform will be. It’s not sounds.com, exactly – the press statement says it will “include” elements of that. It may also include technology or elements related to recent acquisition Metapop, a collaborative online space for sharing tracks and holding competitions. The statement says this online service will connect the company’s “existing ecosystem of … software and hardware” to some kind of “centralized online platform.” For those invested in current products, though, that doesn’t provide a lot of clarity – least of all when some of the people developing those products you use were just laid off.

To state the obvious, this has come as a blow to many in the tight-knit community around music production technology. These are partners and friends to basically anyone working closely with this industry. The tools in question are an intimate part of music making for many of you.

I will keep asking questions in the hope that we get a clearer picture of where Native Instruments, the organization, and NI’s product lines are headed in the future.

I’ll share answers as soon as I have them, as accurately as I can.

Here is NI’s initial statement:

Native Instruments centralizes organization and reduces global headcount to focus on platform strategy

Berlin, August 29, 2019 – Native Instruments, the world’s leading provider of software and hardware for computer-based music production, announced today a plan to centralize their global business operations, which includes a headcount reduction of 20% across all locations. The key reason for this difficult decision is to create the right organizational setup to focus on the development of a new, unified and fully integrated platform on which the company’s entire portfolio of products and services will be available next year. This change comes despite growing revenues in 2018 and the first half of 2019, but as a response to an increasing cost structure due to the company’s previous divisional setup and multi-brand approach.

“Today is a very emotional day for the Native community. We’ve been driving innovation in music creation since the 1990s. First through software instruments, then by expanding to an integrated ecosystem with complementing hardware and now by creating a unified platform experience for the modern music producer,” said Daniel Haver, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “To make this transformation successful, we needed to adapt our strategy, including a centralized functional setup that can support our vision of ‘One Native’. Unfortunately, this also means we had to make some tough decisions and part ways with a number of employees. This has been the hardest part of this transformation,“ he added.

Global headcount reduction of 20%

As a consequence of the company’s newly centralized organization to focus on its future strategy, Native Instruments had to make the difficult decision to reduce its workforce by around 100 employees across all sites. With most of the affected employees located at the company’s headquarters in Berlin, the departments that were impacted by the consolidation include Sales & Distribution, Marketing & Product Management, Administration and Engineering. All employees were informed about these changes on Thursday, August 29, 2019. The company regrets the impact this has on their employees, their families and the community. In addition to severance packages and outplacement services, Native Instruments has also established contacts with other Berlin-based companies that are currently looking for highly qualified personnel.

“This was the most difficult decision we had to make in our entire history, as our past successes have been enabled by the work of some of the best and most passionate people in the music industry. We thank all employees for their commitment, hard work, and their high degree of loyalty to Native Instruments. We are fully committed to doing all we can to take care of our employees impacted during this difficult time,” said Daniel Haver.

New platform starting in 2020

Recognizing changing customer behaviors worldwide, the aim of focusing on a unified platform strategy is to create an expandable commercial and technological basis for future growth in the digital music production area. For that, a new platform is currently being developed with the goal of offering new ways of accessing the company’s core products and services, as well as complementary ones from third-parties. The centralized platform will also include the company’s expanded portfolio of loops and samples, which is currently part of sounds.com, and will launch in 2020. The company’s previous divisional structure, functional and brand silos, did not allow for a successful implementation of this strategy up until this point.

“Customers today are expecting a seamlessly integrated experience when consuming and accessing creative goods and services. We are confident that we can offer music producers worldwide a unique and premium experience by connecting our existing ecosystem of award-winning software and hardware to a centralized online service,” said Mate Galic, Native Instruments’ Chief Innovation Officer and President. “In the past, we expanded in different product lines, which was also reflected in our organizational structure. Our platform vision, however, requires a much more collaborative approach, having all parts of the company work together towards one common goal.”

The post Native Instruments cuts 20% of workforce, moves to ‘platform’ strategy appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Give yourself an onscreen acid trip with Air Liquide

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 7 Aug 2019 9:53 pm

Some things are labeled in misleading ways. Some people will lie to you about who or what they are. Air Liquide’s “This Is A Mind Trip” is … a mind trip. That is all.

“You can’t really understand music / xxx if you haven’t had drugs” always struck me as one of the most annoying and narrow-minded things people say. But you know, if your day is overly normal, and all you have is your computer here or computational device – which I can presume from the fact that you’re reading this – I give you this video:

It’s a music video for Air Liquide, which is to say there’s tons of stacked, chemical-seared chaos melting into your screen. the29nov films, the Berlin-based outlet specializing in music videos, provide the visuals, but under the influence of Air Liquide go somewhere way trippier than usual. Mind trip, not a body trip. (Poet Mary S Applegate, ongoing collaborator, provides the voiceover and poetry.)

There’s a whole wonderful EP to go along with this. “Die Singende Saege” is a chilled out eye of the storm in the center, a dubby interlude that stutters and melts. Then “Zeitgeber 3” powers through at the end.

Liquid Sky have been up to other visual mayhem in its new undisclosed outpost in Portugal (having fled Germany). Acid more of the 303 variety gets densely packed with 90s-ish video layers, in an artist special with guest Sascha Mueller:

And then if you keep scrolling, you get to opera singers overdubbed with modem sounds. You’ve scrolled here, too, so I think you’ve earned this. Bravo.


If you missed what was going on with Air Liquide before, here’s your explanation:

The post Give yourself an onscreen acid trip with Air Liquide appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 3:38 pm

Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne … try Dresden. Rauschen im Tal, a documentary of the emergence of Dresden electronic music, struck a nerve and sold out theaters. And now it’s free to watch (in German, with English subtitles).

Here’s the original trailer for the film, though you get mainly disembodied male voices there:

From the producers’ description:

The noise of a city opens up only to those who are completely immersed. In the early 90s, a new sound appeared. It was an uncompromising electrical noise. Someone said, “This is techno!” At that time, a multitude of people – around this new sound – discovered a new cosmos. The city’s eclectic party life made Dresden a Techno stronghold in the East. Since then, an active music scene developed, an almost 30-year-old culture of electronic music in Saxony’s capital with more than 20 record labels and about two dozen dance clubs.

A new cosmos, indeed.

Also nice – the music takes long breaks to just play tracks, with track IDs – plus some nice interpretive dancing. It’s ideal chill-out watching, a documentary on music that has actual music in it. (The lineup is pretty boy heavy; I’m curious to get feedback from my German neighbors on that and other elements. But it’s still a great introduction.)

This quote: “The best parties I ever played, as far as Europe is concerned, is in Dresden – because I never had to … conform myself to a certain style.” -Melvin Oliphant III. Cough, Berlin, cough. Something to consider.

The full documentary makes a nice watch for exploring the darker corners of Germany’s electronic underground. And of course, as usual, the answer to where “techno” as we now know it came from – Germany or Detroit (or Latin America, or wherever you like) is – yes. All of that. Pairing that often wild and disconnected German identity with the far-off pioneers of America’s scene (and progenitors of ‘techno’ as genre) makes that experience richer. Now as many of those Detroit legends haunt the streets of Berlin, perhaps it’s the perfect time to understand the world of Germany’s own fringe culture, and the unprecedented big bang as a nation was put back together from two pieces, against the collapse of an entire political-economic regime and the global ripples it caused. It says something about Americans that the people pushed out of our own culture were able to find new opportunities and kindred spirits on the other side of the world.

And, actually, maybe the best way to escape techno as history museum is to actually learn the history.

The film, from creators Roman Schlaack, Denis Wrobel, and Thamash Kestawitz, runs just over an hour and a half.



Das Rauschen einer Stadt erschließt sich nur demjenigen der ganz eintaucht. Anfang der 90er Jahre tauchte ein neues Geräusch auf. Es war ein kompromissloses elektrisches Geräusch. Irgendjemand sagte: „Das ist Techno!“ Damals eröffnete sich für eine Vielzahl von Menschen – um diesen neuen Klang herum – ein eigener Kosmos. Der vielseitige Partyalltag ließ Dresden zu einer Techno-Hochburg im Osten avancieren. Seitdem entwickelte sich eine aktive Musikszene, eine fast 30 Jahre existierende Kultur der elektronischen Musik in der Sächsischen Hauptstadt mit über 20 Plattenlabels und gut zwei dutzend Tanzklubs.

The post A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 3:38 pm

Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne … try Dresden. Rauschen im Tal, a documentary of the emergence of Dresden electronic music, struck a nerve and sold out theaters. And now it’s free to watch (in German, with English subtitles).

Here’s the original trailer for the film, though you get mainly disembodied male voices there:

From the producers’ description:

The noise of a city opens up only to those who are completely immersed. In the early 90s, a new sound appeared. It was an uncompromising electrical noise. Someone said, “This is techno!” At that time, a multitude of people – around this new sound – discovered a new cosmos. The city’s eclectic party life made Dresden a Techno stronghold in the East. Since then, an active music scene developed, an almost 30-year-old culture of electronic music in Saxony’s capital with more than 20 record labels and about two dozen dance clubs.

A new cosmos, indeed.

Also nice – the music takes long breaks to just play tracks, with track IDs – plus some nice interpretive dancing. It’s ideal chill-out watching, a documentary on music that has actual music in it. (The lineup is pretty boy heavy; I’m curious to get feedback from my German neighbors on that and other elements. But it’s still a great introduction.)

This quote: “The best parties I ever played, as far as Europe is concerned, is in Dresden – because I never had to … conform myself to a certain style.” -Melvin Oliphant III. Cough, Berlin, cough. Something to consider.

The full documentary makes a nice watch for exploring the darker corners of Germany’s electronic underground. And of course, as usual, the answer to where “techno” as we now know it came from – Germany or Detroit (or Latin America, or wherever you like) is – yes. All of that. Pairing that often wild and disconnected German identity with the far-off pioneers of America’s scene (and progenitors of ‘techno’ as genre) makes that experience richer. Now as many of those Detroit legends haunt the streets of Berlin, perhaps it’s the perfect time to understand the world of Germany’s own fringe culture, and the unprecedented big bang as a nation was put back together from two pieces, against the collapse of an entire political-economic regime and the global ripples it caused. It says something about Americans that the people pushed out of our own culture were able to find new opportunities and kindred spirits on the other side of the world.

And, actually, maybe the best way to escape techno as history museum is to actually learn the history.

The film, from creators Roman Schlaack, Denis Wrobel, and Thamash Kestawitz, runs just over an hour and a half.



Das Rauschen einer Stadt erschließt sich nur demjenigen der ganz eintaucht. Anfang der 90er Jahre tauchte ein neues Geräusch auf. Es war ein kompromissloses elektrisches Geräusch. Irgendjemand sagte: „Das ist Techno!“ Damals eröffnete sich für eine Vielzahl von Menschen – um diesen neuen Klang herum – ein eigener Kosmos. Der vielseitige Partyalltag ließ Dresden zu einer Techno-Hochburg im Osten avancieren. Seitdem entwickelte sich eine aktive Musikszene, eine fast 30 Jahre existierende Kultur der elektronischen Musik in der Sächsischen Hauptstadt mit über 20 Plattenlabels und gut zwei dutzend Tanzklubs.

The post A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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