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


A fresh electronic sound for the Netherlands, and urgent work to fight racism

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 2 Dec 2019 7:33 pm

In the Netherlands, electronic music isn’t just a sound, but a rallying cry. And you can answer that call from all around the world.

Racial discrimination can make people feel like outsiders in their own home, and can stand in the way of displaced people trying to make a new home. This time of year in the Netherlands and Belgium, that reality is as stark as ever, in a country that still celebrates Christmas with blackface and racial caricatures. (See reporting on Zwarte Piet from just last week, if you’re not already familiar with the phenomenon.)

Here’s where music comes in – it’s an expressive response, an organizing tool, a way of bringing people in to learning more and interacting on the issues, and can even support people working to create solutions on the ground. Music can have a role even without being explicitly containing a political text – the musical album around this effort is just a fantastic compilation.

And that seems to open the door not only to directly support our friends and colleagues in Amsterdam here, but also to see a model for music making a tangible difference. Okay, so before moving on, let’s get a soundtrack:

This story starts with that compilation – place: the netherlands is the latest in a series from New York’s Air Texture label, pairing musical compilations with local social causes. The Dutch edition is the work of Axmed Maxamed, self-described “queer diasporic Somali activist, organizer, and music nerd,” and DJ and radio host Jasmin Hoek (“Jasmín”), host of shows on Utrecht’s Stranded FM and Red Light Radio in Amsterdam.

The music already tells some story, but where this goes further is that the music is becoming a jumping-off point to activism. That means tackling twin issues – dealing with the worst aspects of Dutch immigration for its most vulnerable entrants, right as the country ramps up a tradition that mocks people for their skin color.

Axmed and Jasmin talk to CDM about what that means.

Axmed, Teddy, Jasmin – photo by Teddy Lyon, center, co-founder of Open Closet LGBT Netherlands.

CDM: Since this is a club music response – apart from the compilation and this activism, is there interaction now between the club scene and some inbound refugees? Is there a way that there could be more space in the club environment for that interaction?

Axmed/Jasmin: It’s important not to only welcome refugees, but go the extra mile to make sure they feel comfortable being in the space and to have people available at the club who they can approach if necessary. In addition to that, it’s important to make spaces available for refugees or people from other marginalized communities to host their own events. 

Zwarte Piet is a literal face of racism in the NL, and maybe one that’s tough for outsiders to come to terms with, too. What would you want people from the international community to know? What can we do to respond?

Axmed: The Netherlands and Belgium are inherently racist countries, and during this period – which goes on for about two months – it really comes to the surface. It is important to amplify the voices of people who are fighting this racist anti-black tradition called Sinterklaas. Ask your white Dutch and Belgian friends what they are doing to speak up against this racist tradition, especially those that have a platform, whether they be a DJ, label, venue, promoter, etc. Even in a city like Amsterdam, there are still a lot of stores decorated with racist imagery, so it is on white people living in the Netherlands who say that they care about change, to talk to shop owners. White people in the Netherlands and Belgium chose to make this into racist tradition in 1850, so it is now their responsibility to get rid of it. As a Black person, I do not want to be confronted with it anymore. 

Reforming how immigration works could build better and fairer societies; refugees occupy this especially difficult situation where they’re unable to work because of how the law is set up. Is there a way for us in creative industries to find some solutions there and work together? Definitely, reach out to initiatives such as Open Closet [ Open Closet LGBT Netherlands] that are for and by newcomers and set something up together with them, such as workshops, parties, dinners, and so on. Offer structural support and involvement within the work you’re doing, not something that’s just one-off. 

Ed.: This is obviously a deeper issue than we can cover here, as the situations vary country to country and have different organizations for responding, but – now with this out there, I hope we’ll hear from some of those specifics from our international audience.

Check DutchAfro’s music – she’s making amazing noises from deep in the Dutch underground. You heard her here first.

What’s next; what you can do

The easiest thing for readers of this site to do is to go buy the compilation, which supports active work on helping LGBTQIA+ refugees navigate a hostile immigration system – and gets you some great music, too:

https://musicandactivism.bandcamp.com/album/place-the-netherlands?

For the minority of readers in the Netherlands, there’s a launch party running daytime to nighttime on December 21. (Hey, maybe you lucked out and even have a transfer at Schiphol then.)

https://web.facebook.com/events/1885211238290392/

That event is itself a compelling model. Of course, local contributing artists play (Accuraat, Blusher, Cuboid Kiss, Dim Garden, DJ Bone, DutchAfro, Jarlentji, Loradeniz, Global Mind Surveillance, Pasiphae, Raj, Ranie Ribeiro, Rural Juror, and Zohar). But there’s also discourse, film, and food – a chance for interested music lovers to better understand the issues and get involved.

You can attend virtually and lend more support by buying a ticket:

https://thegreyspace.stager.nl/web/tickets/380668

For any criticism of club culture simply criticizing from the sidelines in a filter bubble/echo chamber, here are people getting out and doing something concrete, making a difference in the lives of refugees.

What these challenges can mean: essential reading

Axmed is a great example of how someone can be both a figure in the music scene and in activism, simultaneously. That energy he shares in bringing people together in nightlife he has channeled into rallying people behind making an impact on the larger community. A refugee of the Somali civil war at a young age, he says he’s now connecting with LGBTQIA+ refugees as he works in that community as they go through the asylum procedure.

As with so many people working on immigration worldwide, though, his stories about the system can be infuriating and heartbreaking. As he tells Glamcult:

In my work as an interpreter and translator, I have first-hand knowledge of how refugees in general are treated in the Netherlands, which is mostly from a starting point of not believing refugees. And in addition to that, LGBTQIA+ refugees have a specific burden of proof—together with having to prove that they are from their home country, they also have to prove their sexual and/or gender identity to the interviewer from the IND (Immigration Office). This process has been criticized as being too invasive and lacking important sensitivities needed to ask such personal and sometimes traumatizing questions. 

Yeah, you read that right – for anyone who has dealt with immigration, imagine having to prove who you are sexually or what your gender is. (Heck, it’s unpleasant enough doing that outside an immigration process.) More on this topic:

So much for Dutch tolerance: life as an LGBT asylum seeker in the Netherlands

By connecting with Open Closet, the music scene here supports volunteers dealing with that, but also a great deal more:

Open Closet not only ensures that incoming LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers are properly registered, but also provides help with food, support towards the procedures required, counseling and a family where everybody is welcome. They provide a place to come together and cover for traveling costs if needed. By organising meetings regularly, they create a sense of community and belonging for queer asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Open Closet also ensures that asylum seekers are properly informed of their rights and options.

Axmed Maxamed to Glamcult

This isn’t just another compilation to raise awareness – by connecting to an in-person event, Axmed and Jasmin are also bringing more people in to engage with the organization itself.

But clubland does network people. In the same Glamcult piece, there’s also a checklist for how clubs (and clubgoers) could better include refugees in our community. You should read the whole piece, but here’s a summary of what Axmed advises, for quick reference (to paste on your wall or whatever you like):

  1. Hire and empower the people affected to make decisions about dealing with unsafe spaces and exclusion.
  2. Have an awareness team people can go to directly.
  3. Make gathering spaces outside of clubs, too.

See the full story:

Music is an art built around listening. So we can use that power to listen to queer activists and – well, electronic music is all about amplification, so we can make that sound louder. For a place to start, Axmed keeps a running list of links of great reading:

linktr.ee/axmed

By the way, to look beyond the Netherlands – artists like Meklit are bringing together activism and music practice, both on immigration and even water issues (with some data sonification thrown in so – some of your CDM reader bingo cards just got filled). Meklit has also worked with the excellent Bay Area activist group Women’s Audio Mission.

And just in the past few days, artists have pulled music from Amazon to protest that company’s work with discriminatory US immigration practices.

Local efforts in your area? Questions? We would love to hear them.

The post A fresh electronic sound for the Netherlands, and urgent work to fight racism appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Stock up on underground electronic music and techno for a Bandcamp Black Friday

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 29 Nov 2019 2:33 pm

Black Friday may conjure images of people stampeding at a Wal-Mart – but it’s also turned into a boon for independent labels on Bandcamp. Use these codes to boost your collection and support artists.

This started as part of this year’s Black Friday sale round-up, but it’s growing, so let’s keep a running tally.

So far we have a ton of great underground techno labels – left-field and different-but-danceable goodness. But I’d like to add some more experimental additions, if you’ve got them.

I can meanwhile endorse all these labels; they’re putting out terrific stuff.

Oslated
Seoul, South Korea
70% off: blackfriday

Total Black
Berlin, Germany
70% off: blackfriday

Semantica Records
Madrid, Spain
30% off: blackfriday2019 

Florian Meindl
Berlin, Germany
Full discography for 9EUR (instant discount)

Mord
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
15% off: blackfriday

MANHIGH Recordings [Henning Baer’s label]
Berlin, Germany
50% off: blackfriday19

OMEN Recordings
Los Angeles, California
50% off: OMENTHX50

Archivio 01
Italy
50% off: BLACKFRIDAY

Voitax
Berlin, Germany
35% off: voibf2019

Newrhythmic records
León, Spain
30% :blackfriday2019

Wunderblock Records
Moscow, Russia
50% off: blackfriday

Establishment
Berlin, Germany
70 off: wearblack

Opal Tapes
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
20% off: OFF

The Lab Records
Bucharest, Romania
80% off: BLACKMONTH

Plus, not Black Friday sales, but worth mentioning:

Amsterdam’s wonderful Moving Furniture Records has a crowdfunding sale – which also happens to be a great way to get some lovely physical stuff. (That’s the one non-Bandcamp link here, but they’re also a Bandcamp label!)

place : the netherlands is an absolutely killer compilation, benefiting Open Closet LGBT Netherlands and their work on behalf of queer asylum seekers.

Ovum has released a 25-year anniversary compilation with 25 essential tracks. Pay whatever you like, and you benefit ” Philly Pops – an EITC-Certified Program that enhances music education for approximately 2,500 students in the School District of Philadelphia by embedding Philly POPS Teaching Artists in schools to coach and mentor students.”:

There’s also a two-part compilation for people who lost their vision during the recent riots in Chile – hope to follow up more on this soon:

https://chilenoestaenguerra.bandcamp.com/album/chile-no-est-en-guerra-v-1https://chilenoestaenguerra.bandcamp.com/album/chile-no-est-en-guerra-v-2

Thanks to Chris Kronfeld on the Bandcamp Techno Facebook group for a lot of these tips!

Feature image (CC-BY-SA) Andrew Smith.

The post Stock up on underground electronic music and techno for a Bandcamp Black Friday appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Gays Hate Techno talk non-commercial techno culture, with a killer compilation to match

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 19 Nov 2019 8:34 pm

Their festival has no wristbands. Their lineups aren’t blowing up on socials. But when Gays Hate Techno throws a party or does a compilation – like the one that just dropped – what you get is nothing but musical spirit.

It’s just the kind of subversive attitude that has infused the best electronic music. Since we can’t all make the gathering, Gays Hate Techno compilations can bring you some of that feeling directly through the music. The comps have easily become must-hear events, and version 4.0 is no different.

I spoke with GHT founder Matt Fisher and compilation producer Benjamin B. Orphan Eksouzian to get insight into how it all comes together. They bring a hopeful message for anyone who feels like they’re not finding community in electronic music – and a template for how to work together to get that groove back.

Oh yeah, and – since this is a compilation, we’ve got something to queue up for listening. (Don’t miss the corker of a track by friend-of-the-site David Abravanel, whose music has the perfect wit for the task.) There’s a full megamix of the music (which you can also get by subscribing to their podcast):

Images courtesy GHT, from their gathering.

Peter: I know this is a unique kind of group; can you explain how you imagine this group and how it works?

Matt: Gays Hate Techno isn’t a commercial promoter in the traditional sense. We don’t have a set roster, resident DJs, or a particular agenda. We organize around doing projects like the gathering and compilations that support the online community, not the other way around. In that way, the compilation and the gathering have the same objective — they’re ways we can promote and celebrate relationships that otherwise exist only or mostly online. 

Peter: The people I know who have been to your events say it’s a really special chance to come together. How does the gathering function for the group?

Matt: The format for the gathering is modeled after radical faerie gatherings and Burning Man-style encampments, so it has objectives that are different from, say, a commercial music festival. We’re a low-cost slumber party built around music, but a community-building event first and foremost. What I mean by that is that we rely on participation, volunteering, and spontaneity more than maybe a festival would. We also try to be as low cost as possible, and we maintain a travel fund that defrays costs for our women, trans, nonbinary performers and performers of color. 

Peter: So how does the community work – how do people participate?

Matt: Anybody can and should participate. Our structure is built around facilitating personal interactions as much as it is producing a music lineup. We have an open call for performers, and we leave room around our curated program time for an open program for spontaneous sets and projects. 

People volunteer to cook meals, help park cars and help set up stages. We ask everyone to donate 2 hours of their time. They also bring art, conduct harm reduction training, act as our medical team, give massages, do yoga and meditation. Obviously an event our size doesn’t particularly need 400 volunteers. The objective of the volunteering is much more about shaking people out of spectator mode and giving them an excuse to make new friends while being part of the event, not just part of the audience. 

I think that the social focus leads to better performances, by the way. We set up an environment that makes for relaxed, enthusiastic listening, and people who’ve let their guards down a little bit, and encourage the DJs and musicians to pursue more personal, farther-out ideas than maybe they normally get to explore. There’s a great feedback loop there. We’re all there as music fans, and as a supportive network.

Benjamin: In terms of the compilation process, as Matt stated above, we view these compilations as a creative product of the members of Gays Hate Techno. Our aim is to promote our members’ art and to showcase their original work as expressed through the musical genre of techno. 

To that end, each year (cycle) we announce a call to participate to the current members of the facebook group, email contacts from previous compilations, as well as a Discord group for folks who have decided to leave Facebook, but want to stay connected to the gathering and community. Members create all of the content – music, album artwork, promotional video work, press release copy, and in most years the audio mastering of tracks. 

We encourage volunteer work and participation to create a compilation that reflects our community. We require the artist to declare the work as their own and to confirm that it doesn’t contain samples that could present a licensing issue. Outside of that, we don’t reject works from an aesthetic critique standpoint. This year, for example, we had more artwork submissions for the album artwork than we could use and decided to let the Facebook group vote to determine the final piece to represent Gays Hate Techno IV.

Peter: At the risk of making you explain a joke, I have to ask – what’s the story with the name?

Matt: Gays Hate Techno is a joke name that came out of a conversation I had with friends in NYC back in 2010 or 2011. They were running a party at the Stonewall Inn that featured techno, tech-house, and minimal more than what at the time was typical gay male club music. It was the answer to the question: why’s it so hard to get people to come out to listen to better music? 

Each of the three words was meant sarcastically, of course, with a sort of Kathy Griffin-type ironic dismissiveness. A couple of days later, I put together the Facebook group as a way for us to just toss around and post tracks we liked. People invited friends, and it very, very quickly became an international group. People would comment that they didn’t know any other queer people who liked the music people were posting. So there was a desire to connect with other people this way.

CDM: Thanks to this whole crew – I’m tempted to call this group “Haters”? Do support the compilation and this wonderful community and give it a listen – and buy it if you like it.

GAYS HATE TECHNO IV

Featured artists you should get to know:

Jarvi aka Acid Daddy shares some of the background with us about their track – and it’s an essential and powerful story:

“i am honored to be included in the fourth edition of the Gays Hate Techno compilation! my track, “what they took from me i will never get back”, is a step towards healing. a sonic representation of my state of mind post-trauma, and the strain it has put on my interpersonal relationships because of the inflicted fear and pain. i am a survivor, but the memory is there with me each day i wake up, until the moments laying in bed before i drift to sleep.

since my abuse happened back home
in michigan, it is important for me to give back to the queer & trans folks there without medical help or accessibility. detroit, and michigan in general, have limited resources for LGBTQIA+ family, and there is no facility exclusively for queer and trans survivors of sexual abuse and rape, which is an important factor when you’re navigating this type of trauma. i have decided that i will match the sales of this record until december 18th of this year, and will be donating that on top of my own contribution to the Ruth Ellis Center, an organization in detroit that provides safe living for homeless queer and trans youth, support services, a drop in health center for wayne county residents who are medicaid eligible at no cost, and transition resources for trans youth, just to name a few. therapy is key in the healing process, and giving queer youth access to that is crucial.

i hope y’all enjoy the compilation. thank you for the continued support!…” –Jarvi Guðmundsdóttir aka Acid Daddy (excerpt from FB post)

https://www.facebook.com/synthezmanofficial/  
https://www.facebook.com/Trovarsiofficial/

More details and pictures from the gathering can be found on the official site:

gayshatetechno.com

The post Gays Hate Techno talk non-commercial techno culture, with a killer compilation to match appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How focusing on one tool cured writers block, and made one sharp, chilly, ‘stoic’ EP

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 17 Sep 2019 5:04 pm

Tools and technology are often described as obstacles. But sometimes focusing on a tool can refine musical process and composition – as main(void) reveals.

And yes, the goal here is, as always, to cure writers’ block and finish something that you feel really happy with. Let’s first hear the finished item, as it’s got the kind of deliciously calculated, precise electronics that first drew me to Europe. It feels chilly, but still sensual – foreplay for cyborgs, you know, putting the tech in techno:

Working musicians all have to balance different gigs. An emerging role for us is working out how to take day jobs in designing tools and sound design, and use that experience to help us make our creative musical experience better.

In the case of main(void), aka Jan Ola Korte, it meant parlaying his work in 2018 designing sounds for Native Instruments’ TRK-01 into honing his music making process. He writes:

When I was working on the sound design for Native Instruments TRK-01 in 2018, I saved a few presets to use in my own music. These sounds and patterns ended up becoming the foundation of Stoicism, my first solo EP that was released Aug 21 on Spatial Cues. I had a little bit of a writer’s block situation, so I tried to resolve it by working within very restrictive parameters. All five original tracks on Stoicism use TRK-01 as the only sound source, processed through a number of effect plug-ins. Limiting myself in this way created a nicely coherent sound palette. Since I only used TRK-01’s internal sequencers, I arranged the tracks via automation in Ableton Live, which switched up my routine in an inspiring way. In the end, this workflow not only resolved the writer’s block but led to my most comprehensive release so far.

The basic idea of TRK-01 is to do just that – it puts some focused modules dedicated to dance production in a single place. There’s a kick module, bass, sequencer, and effects – but it’s not preset territory, as each module has a number of different engines. That is, the clever twist here is removing cognitive overhead (by simplifying and integrating the interface), without limiting your creative choices (since there is still a full spectrum of very different sounds you can get out of each module).

Even with that being said, you still might not be certain how to turn this into a completed track. Now, each person will find a different pathway there, but seeing how Jan works – a bit like working with a studio mate – can often give you that “ah ha, I could actually learn from this” feeling.

Jan asked if he should do a full narrated look at his working method. Answer: aber ja.

By the way, of course this also means that by keeping this focused, adapting the release to a live gig is far easier. You’ll be able to catch main(void) live at Griessmuhle, alongside some very special DJ friends like DJ Pete, Alinka, and Qzen, plus some great names, in late October in Berlin.

More music:

Site: http://www.spatialcues.com/

Oh and yeah, go grab the music on Bandcamp! This is the them problem with promo pools, I see some huge names are playing these tracks out but they got the music for free.

The post How focusing on one tool cured writers block, and made one sharp, chilly, ‘stoic’ EP appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Poland’s electronic underground called for support; the world answered with this music

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 20 Aug 2019 5:37 pm

In Poland, as queer groups and allies face a rising threat of violence and hate, the Oramics collective chose to respond with music. The result: a sprawling compilation of 121 tracks and international outpouring of support.

I definitely want to encourage you to grab the compilation, but also want to take this opportunity to give you a tour through some of the music here – including from some lesser-known and underground and Polish artists. So alongside some known international figures, like Peder Mannerfelt, Object Blue, Borusaide, Lee Gamble, Electric Indigo, and Rrose, you’ll get an excellent sampling of artists involved in Poland’s underground and queer communities. We’re fortunate that in dark and challenging times, we have music and emotion and celebratory and powerful sound, and not just, you know, the news.

A hypnotic video for this irresistible track – Bartosz Zaskórski and Rufus (animation) for Mchy i Porosty’s “not many friends.” (One of my favorites!)

This is not an abstract battle or “culture war”: in Poland as in an alarming number of places, basic rights of expression and safety are under assault, backed even by mainstream media and religious and governmental leaders. That’s put artists who I’ve worked with personally under real pressure and danger, among many others. It’s something you feel on a visceral level not only in Poland but in the fabric of the electronic music scene outside of the country, as well.

Out now, the “Total Solidarity” compilation gives sonic, musical form to a growing chorus of solidarity and protest. That network has brought together collectives, artists, curators, press, activist organizations, and concerned friends in a network inside and outside of the country. Total Solidarity demonstrates how deep that network is, and how many people have been touched by the political struggle and by these artists.

Over 100 tracks from the Polish underground and international electronic music scene come together on the digital release, available for fifty bucks on Bandcamp (or individually, by track). Poland’s Oramics collective joins Tilburg, Netherlands’ Drvg Cvltvre, who runs the label New York Haunted. The funds raised go directly to organizations battling homophobia and supporting queer communities.

http://oramicspl.bandcamp.com/album/total-solidarity-benefit-compilation-for-grassroot-lgbtqia-organizations-in-poland

“I think it is very important to show that music scene and culture will never accept hatred,” Justyna from Oramics tells us. “This was one of the main goals of this compilation – to gather people from all over the world and show support,” she says. “This symbolic support, kind of artistic / curatorial gesture of solidarity was the main goal I guess – all this which lies beyond fame, mainstream, underground and genre borders. This is the biggest success.”

Here are some highlights, and places to find more.

Justyna also shared some picks. “It was one of the goals to combine artists from literally everywhere,” she says. “Of course, it is important that we have so many amazing internationally acclaimed artists, because they are giving us all the incredible press — but how amazing it is to give some more visibility to those less known, but also super-talented.” Hell, yeah.

Here are a few of those picks – and I have to second these nominations.

Astma: Duy Gebord: Calum Gunn: Kaltstam: Mchy i Porosty: Ostrowski: Satin de Compostela: Warrego Valles: Wojciech Kurek:

I have listened to the whole compilation and love the whole thing, but to highlight even some more people, particularly those close to this scene, whose tracks really moved me:

Doc Sleep’s work I wrote about recently: ISNT has this dirty, noisy beauty: 3-3-3 is a punk-ish banger from Dyktanto of Brutaz: FOQL’s aptly named “Colony Collapse” is some delicious oddball mayhem from Justyna herself: There’s some genius, futuristic apocalypse going on in the music of Oramics’ Mala Herba: RSS BOYS and Eltron will be familiar to anyone following the Polish scene, but if not – know them! Electric Indigo added a smartly constructed electronic opus that CDM readers shouldn’t miss – Susanne being both a legend in the scene as an artist and founder of female pressure, which has been a template for many female/femme/activist groups since: Isabella’s chimey, crystalline creation sounds a bit like that cover art looks: Dr. Rey mastered over a hundred tracks to make this compilation happen, and their contribution is eerie and beautiful: Oh yeah, and I’m in there, too.

https://oramicspl.bandcamp.com/

Do go buy it whether by individual track or the whole compilation if you can. It reaches people in need:

All proceeds from the digital sales will support Polish queer organizations: Kampania Przeciw Homofobii and Miłość Nie Wyklucza, who monitor homophobia, provide all kind of support for queer people and have agreed to help us redistribute the proceeds throughout LGBTQIA+ organizations in smaller cities and towns of Poland, who need them the most.

We will be in touch with Oramics to hear how these organizing efforts are going, and what else the electronic music community can do there – and worldwide – to support people’s safety. It’s expressive freedom that has brought us to music and music technology, so if that’s not what we’re in the business of supporting, I’m not sure what we are doing.

For those near Berlin – Polish-born Rey for their part will also be leading their project The Womb, with a summer symposium for female-identified, non-binary and queer creatives and entrepreneurs, on 31 August. Kudos to Rey for this epic mastering job; see Uferlos Studios for more.

For more Oramics action, here’s the latest Behind The Stage podcast, with Szkoda:

More reading:

I got to write about Oramics a couple of times before:

And see also my chat with Dyktando, who also contributed to this compilation, from when I got to play with him last summer:

https://oramicspl.bandcamp.com/

The post Poland’s electronic underground called for support; the world answered with this music 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.

Enjoy!

DE:

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.

Enjoy!

DE:

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.

Hands on Erica Synths Techno System, dream industrial modular

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 18 Jun 2019 7:21 pm

The modular world is replete with ideas – but what would a complete modular concept look like? Erica Synths’ Techno System is just that rare kind of concept, a modular made for dancefloors rather than chin scratching, and a total vision instead of just components parts. So we thought it deserved a proper techno test drive.

The modular for techno

We’re one year following the debut of the Techno System at last year’s Superbooth show in Berlin. But with this year’s edition having brought still a fresh avalanche of gear – from Erica, alone – now seems the perfect time to take a step back.

To give Techno System a proper run, I teamed up with producer Jamaica Suk. Apart from running her own label Gradient, Jamaica is a rising star on the techno scene, as well as a resident of the impossibly hot Pornceptual queer party series. (Full disclosure: we also share a studio. Pornceptual for its part is hot enough that its Boiler Room wound up – no joke – on Pornhub after YouTube dropped it.)

The Techno System is a Eurorack modular, so it’s both a complete system you can buy in a case – that’s what we tested – and a set of modules. That is, you may not personally drop four grand on this full rig, but at the same time, the Techno System itself serves as a nice demo for all the individual modules inside.

Making a “Techno System” isn’t just a marketing ploy. Techno – and related industrial and EBM sounds – can be safely said to be a big driver behind the growth of modular. The days of modular just being about noodling and chin scratching are over; these machines pound dance floors and top charts. And while DJs now turn up to gigs with just USB sticks, the pro techno circuit, particularly around Europe, is such that it makes sense at a certain point to graduate to using something that feels like a real instrument.

So, yeah, the elephant in the room – the Techno System definitely isn’t cheap, at about four grand for the full system. That’s a steep ask compared to desktop, though as Jamaica pointed out to me, it compares favorably to the cost of building your own rig – often winding up without something that’s terribly usable. And it is something some artists, at least, will pay off by gigging with the machine.

For Jamaica, that meant even a small skiff full of modules already cost about half the price of Techno System on its own. And Erica’s hardware offers an escape from her previous hardware workflow – doing a lot of menu diving. (Jamaica compared the experience to the menu-oriented work she does on Elektron gear.) The only menu on the Erica rack is on the Drum Sequencer; this rack is bestrewn with knobs. And it’s covered with patch points, meaning you can make sounds that are dynamic and organic and weird and unexpected.

So let’s see if this system can live up to its aspirations – and if there are individual modules you should watch out for onboard, too.

To set the mood, here’s a jam on the system as Jamaica and I were hanging out in the studio with it. (My arms, in case the hair didn’t give that away.) Mayhem and destruction? Oh, yes, indeed. Expect more; I was quickly filling up my drive with song ideas. Maybe I’ll put them out under a psuedonym. “DEATHBL0GG3R?” “D0RKDUSTRIAL?” No?

A complete system

The Techno System is a set of modules for “rhythm based music production” – think techno instrumentation, but of course what you do with it is up to you. On the surface, it seems fairly obvious: you get a bass module, percussion parts (kick drum, snare, toms, clap, hats, cymbals). There are processors (two-in-one effects, two-in-one drive). And there’s stuff to compose and put this all together: a modulator, an expansive sequencer, mixers, and jacks to the outside world.

As you’d expect at this price, you get everything – a handy patch book and user manual, a bunch of nice patch cords, the power supply, and a lovely rugged case. (You have to pay extra for a leather strap; we left that bit out.) The case is solid and surprisingly luggable – you could absolutely take this as a carry on and tour with it. (For the love of God, avoid checked luggage.)

The thing is, that description sounds vanilla – and this beast is the opposite of vanilla. Latvian builder Erica have imbued this with their usual, raunchy, violent post-Soviet sound aesthetic. There’s just a whole lot of engineering detail here that gives this set up of modules its unique character.

And it’s clear straight away. The first time I saw it live, as sweaty Erica associate and Riga-based producer Kodek destroyed a dance floor with it. That’s not just to gush – there’s a specific reason Erica have gotten that sound. Module by module (and to be honest, I wound up looking at this after playing with it – as in “why the heck does it sound this crazy, anyway?):

The heart of the sound: a distinctive, brutal combination of bass and drums.

Bassline. This module to me is the star. The oscillator is a newly remade version of Doug Curtis’ legendary CEM3340 analog oscillator – the sound you know from classic Oberheim, Korg Mono/Poly and Poly- synths, Roland SH-101 and Jupiter-6, and many others. Instead of using someone else’s clone, though, Erica work with Riga’s own Alfa, who have been manufacturing their own version in Latvia.

Erica’s stroke of genius here is combining that three-waveform oscillator with a transitor-based sub-oscillator for more bass, plus their ultra-violent Acidbox-style filter, plus a detune that’s actually not a detune but two bucket brigade delays acting like one. What you get from that potent brew is leads and basslines that can go full spectrum from melody to noise, and a filter/detune combination that makes it absolutely punch people in the gut. And it makes perfect sense in a modular, because all that insanity lends itself to patching, from the frequency modulation input to modulating the filter.

I should, like, talk about the rest of the modules, though.

Bass drum. I briefly mistyped “ass drum.” Freudian slip. Yes, this will give you classic kick sounds. Again, though, Erica worked a ton of magic here – the tune depth and tune controls are immensely satisfying, you get a Drive in case this thing isn’t dirty enough for you, and ample CV.

Snare. The Snare is probably the unsung hero of this rack – Jamaica has taken to using it even for hats. So even though Erica call this “909-inspired,” the fun is really making full use of the Noise Tone and “Snappy” control and patching in CV, which makes this more of an all-purpose percussion module.

Toms, Clap. The Toms and Clap are actually the only particularly vanilla modules here – they’re conventional toms and clap circuits, just with loads of patchability, including on accents. But that’s the advantage here of buying a modular – you don’t have to leave these in their normalled behavior. Both sound great; I just wish the Toms had some more control or variety, maybe more a complaint about analog toms generally. (Decay is 370ms – 955ms, which in practice means you don’t touch that knob much.) As set it and forget it modules, though, they’re great.

Hi-Hats D, Cymbals. These are PCM-based, but they’re run through a voltage-controlled amplifier that again have that snappy, aggressive Erica envelope sound. This time, Erica work again with Latvian maker Alfar for their version of the 3330 VCA chip – and then add their “I’m at a sweaty warehouse rave” envelopes to them. (Maybe I’m projecting.) If you leave these normaled and don’t dig into them, they also could go a little vanilla. But there’s a twist on each. The hats module will loop open hi hats, which can almost sound like a unique decay. The cymbals have ten custom crash and ride samples – and combined with CV patching and decay controls, just as with the snare, you can abuse the cymbals module into stuff that sounds nothing like a ride.

Sample Drum. We actually got our Techno System delivered without the Sample Drum, but it’s a worthy module inside or outside this system – a pretty essential implementation of sample playback in a Eurorack format. There is a hole for it in our system… but more than that, the Sample Drum is a place you can augment the unique Erica sound with additional sounds of your own, obviously.

The sequencer acts as heart of the system – with quick-to-access controls by push encoders and buttons, and lots of patch points.

Sequencing and workflow

So that covers sound – and you could actually just pick your favorite modules and drop them into a rack. But the system part of the Techno System is really about combining the sound engine with modulation, mixing, and sequencing in a coherent way.

The Drum Sequencer is normalled to the percussion parts inside the rack, so while you can re-patch triggers, you can very quickly punch up a drum pattern quickly.

Drum Sequencer. One Erica idea I wish I had thought of – the sequencer uses a numeric keypad that feels like a classic IBM keyboard, with LED indicators behind – instant 4×4 grid. No velocity sensitivity, but that’s not really what this brutal machine is about, anyway. Everything else is select-able via some (mostly) intuitive trigger buttons and two push encoders. Once you squint your way through the included manual, you’ll find working is really quick, with all the expected basic figures – set last step per part for basic polyrhythms, set sequence play modes (back/forwards/pingpong/random), copy, mute, and string together multiple patterns.

So far, that sounds like a conventional sequencer, but the Drum Sequencer’s modular side gives you 16 full dedicated triggers, and 12 accents. The accents are really what it’s about when it comes to making more dynamic productions – enough so that Erica even implore you in the documentation not to forget them.

There’s also a dedicated CV/gate track. You can map pitch to one of a set of fixed scales and modes, then dial in or play melodies with gate. That could serve as a melody for the Bassline, or something else. (Sometimes I found myself using the Modulator for the Bassline CV in, instead.)

Erica have also included two LFOs on this module, which augment the LFO outputs on the Modulator module. These LFOs are optionally tempo-synced, so you can quickly generate rhythmic LFOs directly from the sequencer. It’s hidden in some menus behind the encoders.

Having all those triggers makes sense if that’s what you’re looking for from the Drum Sequencer in a larger modular rig, but it feels a little unbalanced in the context of the Techno System. I would gladly sacrifice a few of those sixteen triggers and twelve accents for even one more CV/gate track or another LFO, for instance.

Overall, though, working in this unit is terrifically fast and enjoyable.

Finally, a numeric keyboard for something useful – doing techno instead of doing accounts.

Erica have done a lot with the hardware since its release, too, adding more musical features (like CV slide, gate tie, song mode, auto copy bars, and more), plus tons of fixes. Check the full changelog:

https://www.ericasynths.lv/news/drum-sequencer-update-changelog/

Modulator. This module is totally essential – otherwise you wouldn’t want a modular system like this in the first place. There are two independent LFOs with morphable shape (including noise waveforms) and phase / rise / envelope controls. You can sync them from an external clock – here, that means probably patching the Drum Sequencer into them – in which case the rate controls divide or multiply the clock signal. Or you can run them free, though I long a bit for a switch to give me different ranges. Cleverly there are both outputs and phase-shifted outputs for each LFO, and you can link LFO2 to LFO1 but still use the rate knob as a divider.

Probably the confusing element of this is the triple-function RISE/PHASE control, which determines envelope fall time, and phase shift, and filter cutoff. (Actually, it’s even quadruple-function, since there’s both a lowpass- and highpass-filter.) But in practice, part of the pleasure of those knobs is to stop worrying and experiment, anyway, so they’ve been arranged in a way to encourage some intuition.

Dual Drive. You want more distortion? You get more distortion – three additional flavors of overdrive, in each of two independent circuits, with really flexible patching. If you haven’t gotten it yet, yes, Erica are all about industrial, distorted, concrete-shaking sounds. “Dual” is right, too – if you don’t patch the second input, the two distortions will operate in series. (Hey, dawg, I heard you like distortion…)

Dual FX. This is a wildly powerful effect, but here I do wish we got a small OLED – its power is largely hidden. A push encoder hides different delays (mono/stereo/high-pass), reverb, still another distortion called Ripper, plus a unique dual pitch shifter. There’s also a save function so you can store parameters with each effect. The effect sounds fantastic, but is also fantastically confusing – Erica’s only feedback is in binary on the LEDs.

The Dual FX’s saving grace is that it sounds like some very expensive effects, even though inside is the fairly conventional Spin FV-1 digital chip. And you do get two patchable CV inputs. But I think this particular module is due for some rethinking. That may be partly my own bias – I think the whole point of hardware modular ought to be giving us intuitive hands-on control, not taking away useful visual feedback from digital hardware and software.

Mixers. Rounding out the Techno System are some terrifically useful mixers – and if Erica show off their approach to aggressive envelopes and raunchy sound on that side, here they show they can also make things functional and practical. At first, it seems a bit odd that you get a stereo mixer, a 7-input Drum Mixer, and a 6-input “Mixer Lite.” But in practice, the arrangement adapts itself to a variety of use cases.

The 7-input Drum Mixer neatly pulls together a percussion grouping, with vactrol-based compressor on each for still more punch. And you can send to mains or aux sends. The Mixer Lite gives you more or less the same idea in a more compact 6-input version.

The Stereo Mixer, as advertised, lets you position across a stereo field but also includes flexible routing and internal limiting.

Multiple modules for mixing and routing help you integrate the Techno System with the rest of your studio or live rig.

The result of all of this is, you can easily compose a mix of percussion both when it comes to live performance and production. Actually, maybe it’s telling even that both Jamaica and I liked it. She had a setup that worked well for her largely outboard, hardware-based setup; I had configurations that worked well for composing in the box in the computer and making stems. And when we wanted to jam live, the separate mixers worked well, too.

Really, the only challenge is working out whether you want to rearrange them in the rack, as the mixing component is where you tend to wind up with a bunch of cable spaghetti. So I do wish here Erica had normaled outputs as they did with the sequencer, and then just let you override that behavior.

But at the very least, if it looks like Erica just filled out a rack with every mixer module they make (which honestly was kind of my kneejerk first impression), that’s not the case at all; this grouping makes loads of sense.

The outside world. I expect a lot of people will use this rack alongside a computer, so it’s worth noting: the Drum Sequencer has a MIDI input, which you can use for clock. That saves you a more expensive arrangement. The Link module also provides convenient full-sized jacks which attenuates outbound signal.

In use

A modular system that already has ideas about how it’s going to be used may sound like an anachronism. But in practice, it’s anything but. There’s a natural workflow here. Punch in rhythms on the Drum Sequencer, reroute some accent tracks and triggers to add some spice. Wire the Modulator into FM on the Bassline and dial in unruly timbres, then tune the filter envelope so it’s banging up against the drums. Add drive and effects to the percussion until it sounds dangerous.

Part of what I think makes Erica special is that they come out of a particular context – both engineering and musical. The engineering has grown out of the legacy left behind in one of the USSR’s former major manufacturing hubs, the city where a lot of Communist-era noisemakers were fashioned. And they’ve connected to the grimy, industrial warehouse-friendly music weirdos of the former east, too and … well, all of those of us with similar natural tendencies. They sit at that essential overlap of engineering and sound practice.

So I do recommend getting to hear a Techno System whether or not you’re even going to buy one. The sum of these parts really is something greater – this thing hums and breathes and growls and bangs around and spits out big bursts of noise like clouds of exhaust. Sometimes we wound up recording random accidents that came out when we stopped the transport. This is one of those pieces that feels alive.

While I focused on sound, Jamaica focused on ergonomics. Trouble with repetitive stress makes it hard to use the computer for long periods of time – and even hardware menus can be painful, literally. She says that the Techno System has helped her work more comfortably, and that means more musical productivity.

Conclusions

The Techno System is a luxury item, without question. I am happy that one has taken up residence in our studio. (Thanks, Jamaica.) If you want a complete vision of percussion, modulation, sequencing, and a killer bass, and this is in your budget, it’s a beautiful choice. And of course we’re not in an outrageous price range for something you plan to make an instrument.

Just as important, the Techno System represents a lens on how a modular rig can be coherent, and can offer some new ideas. And it can apply to a popular genre, not just experimental ones.

I also think it’s worth really endorsing some of the modules inside – which proves the idea that a great way to sell individual modules is to give them a larger context. (That’s something Erica has done in a way few others have – other than those largely echoing historical systems.) I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these in desktop form, too, which knowing Erica may be possible.

The Bassline is simply genius. I’d buy a small skiff just to work with it. The Dual Drive also is a convenient way to add signature Erica distortion. And my gripes about programming Dual FX aside, there really isn’t a single dud in the group.

That said, of course working with modular comes at a cost. I think software and desktop systems should continue to push this kinds of hand-on control, but apply modularity that copies this accessibility without the wires. (Yes, they still get tangled and you still wind up with the wrong lengths.)

So can you use cheaper gear, software, non-modular stuff, battery-powered stuff? Of course! And some of us really should keep going that route. What’s comforting about the Techno System is, it proves the modular route is also staking out sound, personality, and utility all its own. It’s not just gear fetish. Whether you buy this rack or not, anyone who loves sound is likely to appreciate the very fact that it exists. And that’s a good sign for our maturing music tech scene.

More videos…

Still want more? Check these:

A terrific sound demo from Erica that really represents the system nicely:

We didn’t yet get to fully test the Sample Drum module that has now been added to the Techno System – but first impressions are great. Here’s a walkthrough:

And while it’s the earlier revision of the rig, you get a full-on extended jam from Erica’s “garage” streaming:

https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/eurorack-systems/techno-system/

The post Hands on Erica Synths Techno System, dream industrial modular appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Someone built a strangely accurate Berghain in Minecraft

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

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

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

ceiling is quite high

No doubt it is.

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

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

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

The post Someone built a strangely accurate Berghain in Minecraft appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

You need this groovy Noncompliant techno mix in your life now

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

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

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

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

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

More where that came from:

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

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

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

As KALTBLUT puts it in their intro:

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

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

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

And here’s their fantastic promo video:

And you thought everyone in Berlin only wore black.

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

https://wholefestival.com/

Noncompliant’s track listing

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

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

The post You need this groovy Noncompliant techno mix in your life now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Spotify playlist

Details:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Liquide are back.

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

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

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

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

Their favorite machines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIR LIQUIDE

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

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

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

In 1991, they formed Air Liquide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-album techno: 9 years of live sequence data, from Shawn Rudiman

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 15 May 2019 5:45 pm

Here’s techno as it’s lived in the moment – the actual improvised grooves of nine years of live sets, echoed as a flood of glitchy, modem-like sounds from a war-tested Alesis MMT-8 sequencer.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Shawn Rudiman may not be a household name in the age of Instagram dance music, but his live reputation proceeds him everywhere he’s played. Shawn’s the kind of guy who leaves a gig – as does his gear – covered in sweat and grime. He’s someone who can power through bursts of improvised patterns as seamlessly as some people sync USB sticks.

This habit of techno as opus for headphones can be wonderful, but it clashes a bit with that world.

Well, here’s about as geeky and as close to the reality of machines grinding away for the dancers as you can get. The machine in question here, the Alesis MMT-8, is a MIDI warhorse if ever there was one – dismissed by snobs and deep-pocketed artists in its day, but quietly powering a whole lot of music since its late 80s introduction. The box looks like it’s a label printer or something, and doesn’t even bother with fancy extras like, you know, swing. But it sports 96 ppq resolution, is cheap enough for the impoverished, and does its job without question. (You might also know its sibling, the HR-16, which doubles as a drum machine.)

This is the box to horde just in case there’s an apocalypse and we need to figure out how to get through the last raves of the endtimes. It’s the jeep of sequencers.

And Shawn has taken the plunge and dumped years of live performance practice from his backups, in an irrationally specific media archaeology experiment for techno nerds. This beast was the audio dump for Shawn’s live sets, and now he’s dumping it on the rest of us for a few bucks.

You’re not supposed to listen to the audio, which means of course I did – I love that vintage modem-like sound of digital data encoded as sound. You’ll need one of those two Alesis boxes to make use of the data. Or someone can try to be clever enough to decode SysEx from the sound files – I had a brief hack on this and failed, but I know it’s possible. Once you have SysEx, a utility like Pete Kvitek’s will do the trick. (Windows only, but got it running on my latest 64-bit Windows 10 install – bless you, PC.)

Here’s what Shawn wrote:

FINEST QUALITY, BIG TIME DATA” an entire 12 track album of Alesis MMT8 tape dump, audio DATAs.

THIS IS DATA. IF YOU LISTEN TO IT, IT SOUNDS LIKE 90S MODEM CONNECTIONS. I WARN YOU NOW.

this is spanning 9 years of live sets.

i give you all the genetic codes to my live sets from these times. each “track” contains a full mmt8 memory dump. roughly 80+ riff/track/song amount of data for your use *****per track on the album!!!!**** . each is a full mmt8 dump (like 92% memory use) they are named as the original files i used were and dated for your perusal. there are also extra pics and some info for those that purchase it. Ill warn you .. it will take some deciphering!!!!!

all sequences were originally made on an mpc 3000. the mmt8 accepts 96 ppq timing. so there you go. mpc 3000 swing on alot of them.:)

te rest is up to you to figure out.:) merry xmas you freaks.

i talked the shit about doing it… now im walking the walk. 🙂

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – another crowd-pleasing, trend-following CDM linkbait post.

Have at it.

And, hey, if you can’t work out what to do with this data, dig into some great live music vaults deep in the Shawn Bandcamp collection. He’s been dumping some wonderful music, too – like the kind you can hear without decoding or if you’re human and not Alesis drum machine. (Me, I was raised by sequencers, so I speak both languages.)

https://shawnrudimanmusic.bandcamp.com/

If anyone does work out how to translate audio streams back to sysex data, I’d love to hear about it.

The post Post-album techno: 9 years of live sequence data, from Shawn Rudiman appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Automated techno: Eternal Flow generates dance music for you

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Mon 29 Apr 2019 4:52 pm

Techno, without all those pesky human producers? Petr Serkin’s Eternal Flow is a generative radio station – and even a portable device – able to make endless techno and deep house variations automatically.

You can run a simple version of Eternal Flow right in your browser:

https://eternal-flow.ru/

Recorded sessions are available on a SoundCloud account, as well:

But maybe the most interesting way to run this is in a self-contained portable device. It’s like a never-ending iPod of … well, kind of generic-sounding techno and deep house, depending on mode. Here’s a look at how it works; there’s no voiceover, but you can turn on subtitles for additional explanation:

There are real-world applications here: apart from interesting live performance scenarios, think workout dance music that follows you as you run, for example.

I talked to Moscow-based artist Petr about how this works. (And yeah, he has his own deep house-tinged record label, too.)

“I used to make deep and techno for a long period of time,” he tells us, “so I have some production patterns.” Basically, take those existing patterns, add some randomization, and instead of linear playback, you get material generated over a longer duration with additional variation.

There was more work involved, too. While the first version used one-shot snippets, “later I coded my own synth engine,” Petr tells us. That means the synthesized sounds save on sample space in the mobile version.

It’s important to note this isn’t machine learning – it’s good, old-fashioned generative music. And in fact this is something you could apply to your own work: instead of just keeping loads and loads of fixed patterns for a live set, you can use randomization and other rules to create more variation on the fly, freeing you up to play other parts live or make your recorded music less repetitive.

And this also points to a simple fact: machine learning doesn’t always generate the best results. We’ve had generative music algorithms for many years, which simply produce results based on simple rules. Laurie Spiegel’s ground-breaking Magic Mouse, considered by many to be the first-ever software synth, worked on this concept. So, too, did the Brian Eno – Peter Chilvers “Bloom,” which applied the same notion to ambient generative software and became the first major generative/never-ending iPhone music app.

By contrast, the death metal radio station I talked about last week works well partly because its results sound so raunchy and chaotic. But it doesn’t necessarily suit dance music as well. Just because neural network-based machine learning algorithms are in vogue right now doesn’t mean they will generate convincing musical results.

I suspect that generative music will freely mix these approaches, particularly as developers become more familiar with them.

But from the perspective of a human composer, this is an interesting exercise not necessarily because it puts yourself out of a job, but that it helps you to experiment with thinking about the structures and rules of your own musical ideas.

And, hey, if you’re tired of having to stay in the studio or DJ booth and not get to dance, this could solve that, too.

More:

http://eternal-flow.ru/

Now ‘AI’ takes on writing death metal, country music hits, more

Thanks to new media artist and researcher Helena Nikonole for the tip!

The post Automated techno: Eternal Flow generates dance music for you appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Celebrate 303 day by finding old classics, fresh inspiration

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sun 3 Mar 2019 4:20 pm

It’s March the 3rd, which means in both hemispheres, our thoughts inevitably turn to basslines and squelchy resonance. Happy 303 day – here’s some video and reading to get you in the mood.

First, let’s take a step back, and before we idolize the box and transistors, let’s talk about just how immaculately early Detroit and Chicago records were composed and mixed.

1987’s “Acid Tracks” by Phuture (DJ Pierre and Earl Spanky Smith) never fails to floor me. (I’ll guess the same about you, as anyone sick of acid has already left the room.) It sounds at once ancient and futuristic, like it fell from some alien civilization. “Acid Tracks” is slow, elegant, meditative – apparently slowed down to appeal to conservative New York dance floors; check out the fascinating write-up at the top of Discogs:

https://www.discogs.com/Phuture-Acid-Tracks/release/1949

And, oh yeah – it’s a preset bassline. And very little actually happens in this track. You get the sense of that fresh, out-of-box, what the hell is this amazing thing feeling as a result – but whether intentional or not, it also means the duo settle on this fascinating groove and don’t overthink it. There’s an almost ritualistic, mantra-like steadiness to the track as a result. House legend Marshall Jefferson captures all of this with a mix that holds everything together, and weirdly I think gets away with the extreme panning from side to side, a kind of hypnotic incantation.

It may be the only time a preset pattern worked in a track, but… it works.

That same DJ Pierre joins Roland today to celebrate 303 Day – and yeah, he knows how to program patterns now:

I know we’re not supposed to covet gear as the solution to our problems but … there is something beautiful about really wanting a piece of gear to find a particular flavor, right?

It’s also great to hear Pierre talk about the satisfaction of turning a knob, and feeling like an improviser – I think that’s the essence of synth design. (I, uh, disagree with Maestro Pierre that this is the only instrument that did this, but then I don’t run an all-303 blog.)

But you think Japan is going to let us Americans have all the fun, with the gear they invented? Here is “Japanese Techno Girl Love TB-303 & TR-707 & RE-201” to answer that from the ocean. I’m not entirely sure I believe this is part of her bridal practice, but do you need to know whether that’s true or not?

For a good intro to the 303 and how to program it, Tatsuya Takahashi – former chief analog engineer at KORG – did an intro for RBMA. Seeing Tats talk Roland is weird, but on the other hand, I think Tats and his team at KORG built a lot of similar ideas into their instruments – hands-on control, simplified compact design, and a focus on playability. For all the present worship of modular synths and complexity, sometimes a simpler design lets the player explore more.

That skips over a lot of the history to focus on the instrument. So for a deeper look at how the 303 came about, check “Baseline Baseline,” a crude 2005 documentary. It feels a bit like someone is reading you a history of the 303 in monotone, but it’s a nice watch, nonetheless, packed with detail.

Philadelphia’s Akhil Kalepu did a great write-up of that history for DJ Tech Tools a few years back, as well:

History Of The TB-303: Roland’s Accidental Legend

To use the 303 yourself, your first question may be – have I heard that pattern before? (There is this funny quality of the 303, where you’re never certain if a pattern was your own, or a preset, or a classic tune, or the 303 somehow hijacked your brain and an alien consciousness made it for you, or … some combination?)

Let’s just not get too precious about acid house, though.

Part of what I love about the 303 is that it isn’t a classical instrument. You aren’t limited to reproducing half-assed copies of Chicago House just because that beautiful history is there. The 303 can get weird, dirty, trippy, unrecognizable. (Seriously, fight me on this. I love Roland’s TB-03 recreation not because it’s a perfect copy, but because it has some weird digital distortion and delay that you can abuse and warp.)

So, for instance, Germany’s Dr. Walker and Liquid Sky took acid in a different direction, some “acid techno” or make that “afterhour acid techno druggEEE madness.” Oh, sure, you could walk into a Berlin afterhours and someone could play some inoffensive slow tech house track. OR … you could wind up in some dark cave, three days into partying, thick with smoke, unable to find the door, when some end-of-the-world weirdness you can’t follow takes over, or some way-too-fast techno that is slowly speeding up. That’s the sort of 303 you might expect would be part of an unfriendly M-class planet, the kind the one surviving red shirt warned you about, holes burnt in his uniform, after beaming back up.

Playlist of related tracks:

Hold on, though, back up – Sony Music published this? Interesting.

I bring this up just because it’s sort of nicely the opposite of the Phuture track. If the above is the 303 in calm meditation or headed to a wedding, this is a disheveled 303 stumbling out of a bar in Akihabara, its tie in shreds (uh, drunk on alternating current or whatever synthesizers get into):

Acid is getting new leases on life, too, as in the hands of Bloody Mary, the French-born, Berlin-based producer and label boss of acidic dame music. She’s keeping acid alive both as a DJ –

– and as a producer. (Got to talk to her about her love of the 303 and the ability to really focus on this instrument at ADE in the fall.)

So be sure – we love the 303, but its day is not a sacred one. It’s a chance to do what we do every night – make ridiculous sounds with knobs.

And just remember – don’t let anyone convince you synthesis is a game for the rich. The 303 found its way into history thanks to some guys who could only barely afford it, after it had already dropped in value. Speaking as someone who reads tons of press releases from artists bragging about their all-modular setups, this is something worth repeating – and a happy 303 day to you.

The post Celebrate 303 day by finding old classics, fresh inspiration appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Like a studio onstage: Orbital tells us their live rig synth secrets

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 4 Jan 2019 7:57 pm

It’s a dazzling audiovisual show, with eye-popping visuals, plus an overflowing connection of synths. Orbital share their secrets for live performance and jamming with CDM’s David Abravanel.

The timing is perfect: Monsters Exist was a 2018 production highlight. Now we get to hear how all that studio complexity translates to live jamming: -Ed.

Photos: Matthew Bergman for CDM.

Orbital live in New York. Photo: Matthew Bergman

As soon as the two men wearing glasses with headlights on the side come on stage, there’s no question that you’re at an Orbital concert. Even before brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll take the stage, however, they’re preceded by another tell-tale sign: a live set up featuring copious hard- and software at their fingertips.

For decades, the Hartnolls have made a name for themselves defying expectations for live electronic performance – bringing a sizable chunk of their studio on tour and deftly weaving through live sets that allow them the flexibility to jam. It’s only fitting that Orbital have started releasing regular recordings of their live shows since their 2017 reunion.

Orbital’s live US rig:

Arturia Matrixbrute
Roland Jupiter-6
Sequential Prophet-6
Access Virus TI
Novation Bass Station II
Novation Peak
Roland TB-303
iPad x 3 (two for Lemur, one for timekeeping)
Novation Launch Control x 3
Ableton Live 10

Ed.: Got to watch a similar – even slightly larger – rig for Amsterdam Dance Event. This is a truly epic stage show from the kind of veterans with the chops to pull it off. -PK

I caught up with Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll for a walkthrough of their stage setup before a recent show at Brooklyn Steel. It was the group’s first set of American dates in six years (accounting for a lengthy hiatus during which the brothers weren’t in communication), and, despite jetlag, spirits were high.

CDM: Between the Wonky tour and this one, you’ve switched from using Liine Griid on your iPads (now discontinued) and using the original [JazzMutant] Lemur hardware. What are you using now?

Paul: The original replacement for the Alesis MMT-8 [sequencer] was the old-fashioned Lemurs, which – this is better. The touch screens were a bit iffy on those, it was early technology. Then we went on to Griid on the iPad, and now we’re back to Lemur, but on the iPad.

Each track is a Lemur template along the top. The buttons trigger Live – the big buttons are scene changes, and the little buttons are clips.

Paul with Ableton Live.

One of the Lemur templates for “Halcyon”, featuring the infamous Belinda Carlisle/Bon Jovi sample triggers.

And a little more dynamic than the MMT-8s?

Oh yeah. When you look at the Lemur, the big buttons that do the scene changes – that’s like changing a pattern on the MMT-8, but we can also turn things on and off within.

Also, you’ll notice that this [points to three Novation Launch Control XL controllers] pretty much looks like an MMT-8 as well. These are our virtual mixing channels, and each song gets threaded through to these channels. It’s a combination of bringing things in and out on the iPads and the Launch Controls.

What I can do – depending on different parts of the set and how I’m feeling – is go through and mute [the Launch Controls] and do it old-school MMT-8-style as well. You trigger things on the Lemur and obviously they start where you want them to, whereas on the Launch Controls, if you’ve got something muted, you might lose count and bring it in halfway through a riff.

I’ve got the drums broken down here [gestures to Launch Control], to punch them all in and out if I want to, and the “stop all” button which is great.

So you’re mixing on stage with the Launch Controls and the Ableton Live set?

It’s all coming out of here [points to interface] and going to the front of house. We’ve got control of volume of all the channels, so we can ride things – if we know that something’s coming in, we might want to pump that up a bit. And then that happens over the PA, but if it’s too much, [our front of house mixer] can bring it down. Or he can EQ each channel to suit the room. Obviously, front of house is the best place for the overall EQ for each channel because he’s hearing it through the PA and we’re not. We’ve got control of the mix of the balance of things, but then it’s also a safety thing. If I push the drums too much, and it’s too much in the room, [the mixer] can tweak it.

How do you decide which synths come on the road with you internationally? I know you’ve performed with the MacBeth M5, but it’s not in the rig this time around.

I still like the MacBeth – I’d love to bring it! But I’d need to do something do it, because we can’t fly with it. Most of the MacBeth box is empty, it’s just part of Ken [MacBeth]’s thing of, “it’s a performance synth, it needs to stand up and be proud!” So what I want to do is take the case off and put it in a different box, a really thin box. Maybe put a gilt-edged picture frame around it? [Laughs]

This tends to replace the MacBeth – the [Arturia] MatrixBrute. It’s kind of angry, like the MacBeth. It’s got more drive stages and things like that than the MacBeth – it’s probably angrier but kind of thinner, but that’s good because it cuts through in the mix live. Whereas the MacBeth is just – it’s fun, bringing something like that, because it hasn’t got any presets so you’ve got to work on the fly, and I love that. The MacBeth kind of forces you to make each sound tailor-made for each gig. But [the MatrixBrute] is good fun live! And of course, so much control – so much fun to be had.

[Starts playing the beginning of “Tiny Foldable Cities”] Most of the sounds in this track come from the MatrixBrute.

And is that how you did it on the studio version as well?

Yeah. [Cycles through sounds]. Obviously I have to sample some of them live.

Do you have audio backups of all of your hardware synths in case one of them goes before or during a show?

We say we’re gonna do it, but we never do it. [Laughs]

We’ve got a backup computer if that one goes down – but that’s, y’know, “hello everybody, sorry we’ve had a computer failure, we’re just going to be five minutes while we change computers. Talk amongst yourselves, and have a drink at the bar.”

Paul points to the essential crossmod section on Orbital’s Roland Jupiter-6.

So are these the more robust synths that you tour with then – like the Jupiter-6?

This is actually a new one to us. My old one I bought in ‘92, and it’s kind of died now – it still works but it’s a bit flaky. We bought this [new synth] to replace it, because it’s been live with us since ‘92. Is the Jupiter-6 the best synth in the world? No, but it’s got a lot of character, and a lot of our old songs rely on it. I’ve tried to replace with things, but it doesn’t quite work.

Orbital – “Lush 3-1” and “Lush 3-2”, featuring Jupiter-6 on the airy lead sound.

What are some of the Jupiter-6 sounds?

[Starts playing lead sound from “Lush 3”] That! I can never get that out of anything else. Not like that.

Orbital – “Impact” live, with the Jupiter-6 sync/crossmod sound.

The other one that I cannot do without is in “Impact” [Starts playing] when you sync it and then crossmod it stays in tune – it would be a terrible noise if you had it synced the other way. I just had my Jupiter-8 modified to sync the right way; Jupiter-8’s sync in the other direction. In this bit it’s kind of like a wavefolder, you know? Crazy sounds that you can’t get anywhere else – very techno-y, kind of clangy.

Orbital – “Belfast”, featuring ascending bubbly arpeggios from the Jupiter-6.

The last thing is in “Belfast” [starts playing], I always need a Roland synth to get that. That’s three of my big sounds.

Phil Hartnoll’s notes for tweaks to the Novation Peak.

What’s the division of labor like between you and Phil when you’re performing live – do you have defined roles, or are you often reaching over each other?

We do have roles – I arrange. I’m in charge of a lot of the synth manipulation around this end [points to left side of the stand]. We keep this and this [points to Novation Peak and Roland TB-303] exclusively for Phil, he plays with them.

Orbital’s TB-303 – yes, this is the original one from “Chime”.

Is that your original 303?

Yeah [laughs] can you tell? It’s not even silver any more, it’s brown, it’s like a lot of our gear. Our 909 is held together with love and tape.

So Phil does those. I leave him in charge of the drums at this end [points to Launch Control on the right], but I kind of use these here [points to left Launch Control iPads, and synths]. You know this [points to middle Launch Control] is our crossover point.

If I’m busy arranging then Phil might lean over and do some more mixing – [the Launch Controls and middle synths] are the grey area between the two of us.

Orbital live, main table, front-facing view – Paul stands to the left, Phil to the right.

I would like to start bringing the 909, but it’s just a box too far at the minute. I will do it, it’s the only thing I miss live – we use it a lot in the studio.

Instead of using generic 909 samples, I’ve meticulously sampled my own 909. I think they all sound different, 909s – I can spot mine.

They say the same thing about 303s – that’s why no one emulator gets it totally right.

That’s interesting, because I haven’t noticed that with 303s. We’ve got two and I can’t tell them apart – but maybe they’re from the same batch?

With 909s, there’s definitely different batches of them that sound different. I think it’s more like, there’s three different sounds to 909s, and I’ve had two of them in the past. When I sample my 909 – I don’t round robin it, I keep it very simple – but it sounds right, because it’s my 909.

I do notice the difference if I plug a real 909 in. They drop out as well – they do weird shit! They just lose a kick every now and then, and you kind of turn around and it goes “no no, I’m still here!” [laughs]

So you’re playing the Prophet-6 and the Virus TI a fair amount.

It’s weird – it’s a strange old synth, I like it. It tends to thin woolly pads and sharp things quite nicely. I use it in some tracks quite distorted, as well – I really use the distortion on it. It cuts through like a guitar.

The horn sounds on “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha” from Monsters Exist, is that a wavetable from the Virus?

That’s actually samples from a session we did for the 2squared album with Vince Clarke. I just cut tiny bits of it, and made a new riff with it.

[Starts playing “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha”, mixing in parts and effects]. One of the things that I really like is this side chain kind of effect. One of the send effects is a big delay, another is a big reverb. But this [points to knob on Launch Control channels] is a sidechain from the kick, but it isn’t sidechaining any of the instruments, it’s just sidechaining the effects return.

What’s playing the “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha” chords?

That’s a lot of people, actually, that I recorded coming out of the pub. I got them all to go “uh”, “hah”, “huh”, and then I made a round robin kind of thing and processed it in Kontakt to make it sort of a robotic constant-pitch thing. And then played chords on it.

As a musician, you’ve got Orbital, you’ve got your solo albums, you’ve got 8:58, you’ve got soundtracks, and a couple years ago you had the album 2squared with Vince Clarke. Is there a difference in the compositional mindset when you’re working on material for different projects?

I’d like to pretend there was but there isn’t. I just go and do my thing, wherever I’m doing it.

Clarke:Hartnoll – “Do A Bong”

There’s a kind of Paul Hartnoll sound signature – like on “Do A Bong” with Vince Clarke, I thought “oh, it’s got Orbital chords”

[Laughs] Yeah! That’s what I said to Vince when we were doing that. He played with these kind of…for want of a genre, “nu disco” kind of things, and he said “what can you do?” I said “I wanna bring some live, sort of wild synth passes” – what I call “stadium house” – to it. You know, that kind of big rave, big chords – with a lead line that’s kind of simple over the top.

Paul next to the Ableton Live set (visual trigger clips to the right), Arturia Matrixbrute, and Jupiter-6.

How does the live set work visually?

[Points to Ableton Live set] There’s some video triggers here. When I hit certain scene changes, it triggers off a run of a certain visual. So we can set up things perfectly in time, and [our VJ] doesn’t have to worry about when we’re going to do drop downs.

A show like no other

Ultimately, I’m left with the same thought I had when I saw them in 2012 in Berlin, or when watching the DVD of highlights from their 90s/00s Glastonbury sets: Orbital put on an incredible show. The technology might change – and the visuals are certainly more engaging and impressive than ever – but at the core, it’s the same gorgeous stadium-sized emotional melodies that have kept audiences enthralled for nearly three decades.

With the release of the excellent Monsters Exist, Orbital are exiting 2018 on a high note – and 2019 sees 30 years since the release of “Chime”. We’ll certainly be keen to see what happens next!

https://orbitalofficial.com/

The post Like a studio onstage: Orbital tells us their live rig synth secrets appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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