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


Acid, further out: check Florian with MeeBlip, 303, and Zen Delay

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 14 Apr 2021 7:27 pm

There's some magic and alchemy in coaxing evocative music out of stuff with knobs, and Florian Meindl's Riemann Kollektion keeps showing up how.

The post Acid, further out: check Florian with MeeBlip, 303, and Zen Delay appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Berghain is open again as a cute, cartoony animated AR app

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 5 Apr 2021 6:26 pm

Techno palace Berghain has never been so adorable as in the work of illustrator Virginie Kypriotis. And now you can load it on your iOS device - perfect for anyone deep in third-wave pandemic techno withdrawal.

The post Berghain is open again as a cute, cartoony animated AR app appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Keep the faith: bangers for Bandcamp Friday, even without the dancefloor

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 5 Mar 2021 7:46 pm

For every person cut off from their vocation, their livelihood, their reason to go to work, in any industry - it's been a tough year. But if you need some dancefloor sounds to remind you what those can sound like, today there's a surprising bumper crop of releases.

The post Keep the faith: bangers for Bandcamp Friday, even without the dancefloor appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Tour the Berlin-style Hölle techno club in Hitman 3

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Feb 2021 12:15 pm

Crowds of people, bright lights piercing the darkness, techno bouncing against cavernous industrial concrete – oddly the game Hitman 3 is a refuge for people who miss clubbing. Heh, even the early morning open-air birdsong is familiar. Daniel D has made a loving tour of the place. It’s uncanny valley clubbing therapy for anyone experiencing […]

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You can make your holidays completely techno with Techno Club

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Thu 24 Dec 2020 8:54 pm

One of the best adaptations to this year's adverse conditions - of course - came from the Detroit scene. Techno Club responds to everything wrong with streaming, and if you've got some days off and want to bring quality club music home, here's your shot.

The post You can make your holidays completely techno with Techno Club appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Don’t miss an epic live set from Giant Swan, and more of their rich sound world

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 21 Dec 2020 7:41 pm

Let's put all the gear news aside and consider - people are doing wonderful things with sound live. Consider the duo of Giant Swan, whose intense multi-layered performances seem to fuel the same transcendent energy of their releases.

The post Don’t miss an epic live set from Giant Swan, and more of their rich sound world appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How to make dirty, dark techno basslines and percussion with MeeBlip and Riemann

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 Dec 2020 7:01 pm

This year has brought screen fatigue and club withdrawal alike, so here's our friend Florian Meindl to cure both of them at once. Get ready for hands-on hardware - even on a tight budget.

The post How to make dirty, dark techno basslines and percussion with MeeBlip and Riemann appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

808303.studio is a 303 + 808 pattern visualization come to life in your browser, free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Oct 2020 8:55 pm

Now Roland’s 303 and 808 are just a browser tab away, in a beautiful online recreation – and A Guy Called Gerald is here to teach everyone how to use them. Roland partnered with designer Yuri Suzuki to make 808303.studio as an “educational music creation platform” for The Design Museum in Kensington, London. That institution […]

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Get your acid workout, virus be damned, with Detroit-Berliner DJ T-1000’s “Body Signal”

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 7 Aug 2020 1:50 pm

A lot of the hardest-working DJs and most loving dancers are grounded now in the fight against the pandemic. But don't let that mean you miss your workout. This is the EP we need right now.

The post Get your acid workout, virus be damned, with Detroit-Berliner DJ T-1000’s “Body Signal” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Jace Clayton review of Carl Craig’s art captures the connection between isolation and techno

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 2 Jun 2020 5:56 pm

The themes can all seem like disconnected threads – social isolation, pandemic, the origins of techno, racism – at least in the blur of news cycles and social media. But Jace Clayton aka DJ Rupture makes a portrait that brings it all together – landing at just the right time. At top: Dia:Beacon, photo Eva […]

The post Jace Clayton review of Carl Craig’s art captures the connection between isolation and techno appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Underground techno labels: a Bandcamp guide

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 1 May 2020 6:09 pm

It’s not quite the summer of love, but maybe it can be the summer of underground music downloading. Let’s start with techno.

Bandcamp is the undisputed home of a lot of experimental music. With dance genres, it has more competition – and I plan to revisit offerings like Beatport shortly, so stay tuned.

What you get on Bandcamp, then, is a particular character of music – typically stuff that resists easy categorization, and doesn’t show up as much on charts. For some of these labels, there’s a mix of revenue between Bandcamp and a platform like Beatport (or even Apple, if they’re lucky with charts). For others, Bandcamp is not only the main source of income, but even a way of connecting.

Speaking of Beatport – one piece of evidence that it isn’t only about Bandcamp, I kept thinking for example one of my favorites, Tokyo’s Murasame Industrial Records, was on Bandcamp. They’re Beatport only. More on that label soon.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I wanted to pick out stuff I’ve particularly enjoyed following – which usually means non-commercial, stuff that’s jack-y and groovy, stuff that’s space-y and futuristic and dark and weird. And these labels all have a sense of community, even if it’s a small collective of a few friends unlikely to catch larger attention.

A special shout-out goes to Bandcamp Techno on Facebook, which is a community itself.

This is trending heavily to Berlin and the midwest, with a smattering of Spain and Japan, and techno is more international than that, so — I will definitely have to do a volume II. Nominations gladly accepted.

Valence
New York, NY US
https://valence3.bandcamp.com

The label of Ambivalent (founded in Berlin, now in NYC), aka LA-4A is the high-grade, thinking person’s techno label. Now Kevin McHugh is back with his first solo music in a couple of years, which is not techno but some chilled ambient music to take your mind off the pandemic. And you can get the whole (very techno) catalog for $15.

FLASH Recordings
Berlin, DE
https://thebunkerny.bandcamp.com

FLASH Recordings from Florian Meindl is one of the most prolific techno labels on Bandcamp, with a nonstop firehose of great releases. And they’re 90% off the full catalog today, which means DJs can play a game of “how many FLASH tracks can I play in a row before someone notices.)

Wunderblock Records
Moscow, RU
https://wunderblock.bandcamp.com

I’m on this label mainly because I couldn’t stop listening to all of its releases. Started in 2013, it’s been covering a terrific gamut of productions from Russia, Ukraine, and beyond.

Yes, I have skin in the game:

Avian
Berlin, DE
https://avianstore.bandcamp.com/music

The mighty Avian has an endless, sonically rich catalog.

Edit Select
Glasgow, UK
https://editselect909.bandcamp.com

Some of the best of the Scottish underground.

Snork Enterprises
Hamburg, DE
https://snorkenterprises.bandcamp.com

Little. Yellow. Different. Better. Hamburg’s weird underground imprint I think I convinced (or more like “nagged’) to go on Bandcamp, so now let me urge you to go check out their catalog (not only mine).

EarToGround Records
London UK
https://eartoground.bandcamp.com/music

If London’s underground techno had a tourism board, this might be it – at least for us weirdos.

Ostgut Ton
Berlin, DE
https://ostgut.bandcamp.com

The label resident of Berghain has a Bandcamp store. Actually do believe the hype, generally – they’ve still got it, and jumping-off point to the sublabels is also here, so have at it because I think no one is getting back into the club for a while.

Tripalium Corp
Paris, FR
https://tripalium.bandcamp.com/music

“Braindancers United” with acid and rave and more. Proper Paris warehouse dirt.

Fullpanda records & Hunger to Create
Berlin, Germany
https://fullpandarecords.bandcamp.com

Dasha Rush’s label has some of the finest – and most-overlooked – underground techno out there, and her occasional parties at Tresor also count among the most sonically diverse. Music for cosmonautical moods.

Anode Records
St. Louis, MO US
https://anoderecords1.bandcamp.com

Jack-y, dirty midwest techno, just as you’d expect from Ron S., veteran of that scene, and friends. As thick and delicious as BBQ sauce.

H-Productions
Stockholm, SE
https://h-productions.bandcamp.com

Cari Lekebusch’s label has a deep back catalog from Sweden.

Toktok Records, V-Records
Berlin, DE
https://toktokrecords.bandcamp.com
https://v-records.bandcamp.com

Irreverant, dirty, silly, raunchy – this is the underground side of German techno (and adjacent music) too many people fail to see. Toktok is an outgrowth of the band; V-Records the imprint of band member Nerk (who I’ve gotten to release with). And they’ve found and put out new vinyl on Toktok this week.

Perc Trax
[undisclosed city], UK
https://perctrax.bandcamp.com

When Perc runs a label, wonderful things happen. With a full range of techno to experimental and everything in between, this is a heaven for producer nerds.

hyper master recorders
Fuji, Japan
https://hypermasterrecorders.bandcamp.com

Straight out of Shizuoka – every end of the techno spectrum has been on a hyper master release, holding down a chunk of Japan’s best techno since 1998. You might know them from that circle logo, if that jogs your memory.

Semantica Records
Madrid, ES
https://semanticarecords.bandcamp.com

Svreca to Stanislav Tolkachev, gorgeous releases here.

Mona Records
Murcia, ES
https://monarecords.bandcamp.com

I guess Spain is my next destination post-lockdown, but I just love this crew for their lovely rhythms and sounds. And they’re a pan-Spanish indie – “Madrid, Murcia, Gijón, Salamanca, I, Spain”

Planet Euphorique
Montreal, CA
https://planeteuphorique.bandcamp.com

With major releases from people like D. Tiffany and a stream of unexpected delights, this is a Quebecois gem.

Nachtstrom Schallplatten
Tübingen, DE
https://nachtstromschallplatten.bandcamp.com

Maria Singer to Dave Tarrida, dark and delicious catalog from the place I know everyone thinks of as a music hub, Tübingen, Germany. Possibly there’s an enchanted forest where this happens.

Credo
Munich, Germany
https://credo-rec.bandcamp.com/

Bavaria is back on Germany’s music scene in a big way – Alex Bau’s label pumping out classics being a good example of that.

Pacou
Berlin, DE
https://pacou.bandcamp.com

The former boss of Tresor Records and other projects, Pacou has now put out his own deep collection and it’s all worth navigating (including the Mike Huckaby collab I wrote about on the weekend).

Chicago Jaxxx
Chicago, IL USA
https://chicagojaxxxtechno.bandcamp.com

Banging. “Tracky”? “Ghetto flair?” (Their words, not mine.) Whatever it is, take a virtual trip to a Chicago warehouse.

47
Berlin, DE
https://47×47.bandcamp.com/

Tommy Four Seven’s label is nothing but the finest production work, when you want compilations and releases that trend very dark and goth-futuristic – but that you’ll still dance to.

ARTS
Rotterdam, NL
https://artsrecordings.bandcamp.com/

Maybe one of the larger labels here, but well worth a mention – Emmanuel’s ARTS is the kind of label that will constantly break you out of the notion that techno is just repeating itself, with consistently forward-looking music.

TH ± Tar Hallow
Rotterdam, NL
https://thtarhallow.bandcamp.com

Rotterdam has so much strange techno laboratory stuff going on, though – it’s not just ARTS. Hard, weird, things that sound like the robots took over… Tar Hallow is inhabited by the likes of Rhyw and Thanos Hana and goes the expected places if you know those names.

mord
Rotterdam, NL
https://mord.bandcamp.com/music

Seriously, what is in the water/stroopwaffels over there? Maybe it says something that these labels are so superb that they come before the mention of the city and yes, Rotterdam, I’m aware that us Berlin folks like to ride on the brand of our town.

FORMAT-REC
Chicago, IL USA
https://formatrecordings.bandcamp.com/music

Hey, Berlin. You think only you can be dark? Chicago can be dark. Ever been through a Chicago winter? Beautiful stuff from this insanely prolific label and diverse roster.

Hue Helix
[undisclosed city], JP
https://huehelix.bandcamp.com/

Futuristic adventurous outings from Ryuji Takeuchi and Nil and so on live here.

The Bunker New York
New York, NY USA
https://thebunkerny.bandcamp.com

The Bunker is both a classic party and a perfect conduit between Detroit and NYC (and Berlin) – their label is every bit as vital.

Newrhythmic records
León, ES
https://newrhythmic-records.bandcamp.com

There’s always just beautiful stuff on Joton’s imprint, since 2005.

Hessle Audio
London, UK
https://music.hessleaudio.com

Well, did I mention they’re also on Bandcamp?

Modern Cathedrals
Detroit, MI
https://moderncathedrals.bandcamp.com

Uun and Altstadt Echo and friends are putting out some of the most beautiful, dreamy techno productions today, so don’t miss this imprint.

SUB tl
Madrid, ES
https://subtl1.bandcamp.com

Futuristic, wonderful, almost needs no introduction – the HD Substance and Leandro Gámez project.

Acacia Label
Detroit, MI
https://acacialabel.bandcamp.com

Kelli Hand (K-Hand) has a label. Attention must be paid. (Who? Oh, you need to go there now. Enjoy! Tell me when you’re done.)

Transmat Records
Detroit, MI USA
https://transmatdetroit.bandcamp.com/music

Oh yeah – that Transmat. Derrick May Transmat. Also on Bandcamp.

DJ T-1000
Berlin, DE
https://djt1000.bandcamp.com/music

Speaking of Detroit, while I mostly avoided artists for space – Alan Oldham has been everywhere since the Transmat days, and he’s dumping tons of vintage Pure Sonik, etc. stuff alongside his new latest – so, for instance, you get this gem today from 1993’s Generator:

https://djt1000.bandcamp.com/album/20-hours-to-paradise-ep

Okay, so who did I miss? Everyone from Africa to Latin America to the Balkans to southeast Asia, I … kinda know where I’m starting episode II. But shoot!

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Adam Jay on building live techno sets on Elektron gear – and why you should stay punk

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 15 Apr 2020 10:20 pm

The system has failed us, but not Adam Jay. He’s here to show us how he rigs up his latest live techno sets. And he can make 3 tiny waveforms on a $300 Elektron make you want to dance.

There’s some fantastic music here, so feel free to sit back or get up and let your smartphone’s step counter know you’re still very much alive. But if you’re wondering how anyone plays like this live, he talks us through his setup.

And yeah, if you need any added motivation to work on your chops as stay-at-home producer in isolation, this is like a free cross-training decathlon intensive master class. It’s not about amassing a lot of gear – what the Indianapolis-based artist with a deep Detroit soul has amassed is a ton of skill.

A single-cycle exercise

“The System Has Failed Us” is a live techno track that channels “frustration with our current global predicament”:

…how our leaders have failed us and how we must work together to overcome the reckless choices made by those who have abused their power. I could not sleep last night and had to get this out of my system.

The track was a way to exorcise frustration, but also served as an exercise in minimalism:

[It’s] all single cycle samples. Trying to find out how far I could push the machine with the minimum amount of source material – and it’s only three separate single cycle sample .wavs at that, using them across 6 tracks on the Model Samples.

The rig:

  • Elektron Model:Samples, with 3 single-cycle samples (556 bytes in length!), across six tracks
  • “Heavy” LFO modulation for the kick and bass and hat (so you get them out of the same waveforms)
  • Model:Samples output hits an Alesis Micro Limiter and some light Octatrack effects (EQ/Compressor)
  • Midi Fighter Twister controller controls a bass equalizer (also hosted on the Octatrack).

In a nice instance of Elektron sonic recycling, those 556 bytes x 3 were originally produced by an Elektron Digitone (kick, bass) and Analog Four (hat). The samples were created by Taro, and you can grab them for yourself – they’re free:

https://freewavetables.glideapp.io

https://www.elektronauts.com/t/free-wavetables/121639

A full-length set – and how it’s structured

That’s one track, but here’s an expanded set.

I was really curious about how he puts the pieces together. So Adam details the setup for CDM. The basic idea here is to play the Model:Samples as the main sound source, but use additional Alesis hardware and some clever performance routings on the Octatrack for dynamics processing and (on the Octatrack) messing about with re-sampling loops and adding effects.

The Octatrack is the performance command station, both with additional loops, effects, routing the Model:Samples, and additional control via the MIDI Fighter Twister for hands-on encoder moves. The ingredients:

  • Elektron Octatrack is MIDI clock host, sending clock to the Model:Samples
  • Elektron Model:Samples is the sound source for “all the material”
  • Model:Samples signal chain: Alesis MicroLimiter > Octatrack AB input
  • Octatrack track 3 is a THRU track (Model:Samples with Compressor and EQ in the two effects slots)
  • Track 7 is a FLEX track, “recording/looping/mangling the T3/Model:Samples audio.
  • Track 5 is another FLEX track “with just some other very short loops previously recorded, made on the Model:Samples with heavy EQ filtering and Dark Reverb in the the two FX slots. Re-sequenced on Track 5 on the fly, as needed.”
  • Track 8 Master “has a dark reverb that I tweak during some of the dubbier bits.”

And then there’s control: “The Midi Fighter Twister controller goes through a USB MIDI host box to convert USB-A to 5 PIN DIN MIDI. The Twister controls Octatrack levels, EQs, reverb sends, allowing me to creatively mix between the thru and flex tracks, without any paging around on the Octatrack.”

Now obviously, keeping these tunes together means there’s some pre-programming – but then it’s about the ability to mess with it, thanks to the routing above. He explains:

Ultimately, each tune is a single Model Samples pattern, tweaked and freaked live. And the Octatrack is there to loop it, effect it, and mix the live-looped Model:Samples for transitions.

The conceptual approach is to use the 6-track limitation as an advantage and make sure each sound is a good fit, since there are so few tracks to work with — and to set up the patterns so they can be played live in interesting ways that keep moving and stay dance-y.

Hooks are heavily filter-modulated and the Model:Sample’s Pioneer DJM-style low-pass/high-pass filter is very beneficial in this regard. They often come from small recorded Analog Four synth phrases that have some motion in them already, modulating start point and/or filter brings them to life. Bass lines are often the same samples as the kicks, with the start point shaved to take off the attack, and then pitch/distortion/filter to get them grooving. The latch-able FILL mode often works as seventh track, mostly for pattern variation, as each tune is only a single pattern.

Cramming in as much dance-able content into each pattern was the key to keeping it interesting. The Octatrack just adds a bit of trickery-flair and keeps the transitions seamless. I was a DJ first, so my live sets have always had that mixed element to them.

Keep techno punk

Oh yeah, and Adam has a message for you: stay punk. Play cheap.

Doing all the creation on the Model:Samples is also a big middle finger to those who like to poo-poo low cost instruments to make themselves feel better about their $3,000 synthesizer expenditures – the people who call instruments without a long list of features “cheap plastic toys” and never add anything of substance to the conversation.

Techno should be more punk, more visceral, and more pushing what you have to the limits. Some of the most inspiring stuff I’ve ever heard in my life came from an old friend on his Roland R-8 [drum machine] through an AIWA boombox. I’m all for Elektron and Korg and Roland and Novation pushing out inspiring, capable instruments to the masses. Everyone should have the option to be able to express themselves and get their message across, no matter what their budget is.

This narrative that now that Elektron is more appealing, and more affordable to people who can’t afford the Digi or big boxes… that the “glory days are over”? Oh man, I couldn’t disagree more. The most creative, brilliant, and under-served people I know are the ones who can only afford the $299 instrument. Even before the pandemic, they were struggling, disadvantaged, living life day to day, check to check, working multiple jobs. They are no less deserving of quality tools to express themselves.

I would argue that creating this lower entry point to far more people is when the glory days actually begin. Far more music will be made on these boxes by a greater number of people. And that number will include more young people, and more disadvantaged people than before. This excites me the most. Their voices are equally valid and should be equally valued. If that reach, that influence on the populace is less “glorious” than a metal case with more LFOs, then I think some have lost the plot.

Music is here to connect humans together. The connection I have with someone else I do not know, when I hear and enjoy their music… it’s like nothing else in the world. Why on Earth would anyone want to keep the gates up on that? Why would anyone want to wall themselves in with only the people who can afford more expensive tools?

For some musical evidence of that, Adam has pulled off not one but three exceptional, forward-thinking electro albums on Detroit Underground, including this year’s terrific Inoperable Data (a title that kind of sums up our brains right now, too).

Have a listen. No further witnesses; the defense rests.

You might want to have a look at that one, too, as there are videos for every single track:

https://detund.bandcamp.com/album/maxia-zeta

And for still more Adam Jay action, check the mastering credits for the likes of Mike Parker, Noncompliant, Daniel Troberg, and Kero. (To butcher the 1980s BASF ad, Adam didn’t create some of the music you hear. He’s made some of the music you hear bang harder.)

Thanks, Adam, we may be checking in with you routinely in these strange times!

The post Adam Jay on building live techno sets on Elektron gear – and why you should stay punk appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Holodeck DJ: I played techno on an XR stage – here’s what it was like

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 6 Apr 2020 3:38 pm

There are cameras. There’s video and 3D. What happens when you create a futuristic mixed reality space that combines them, live? I headed to a cavernous northern New Jersey warehouse to find out.

With or without the pandemic crisis, our lives in the digital age straddle physical and imagined, meatspace and electronic worlds. XR represents a collection of current techniques to mediate between these. Cross or mixed is a way to play in the worlds between what’s on screen or video and what exists in physical space.

Now, with all these webcasts and video conferencing that have become the norm, the reality of mixing these media is thrown into relief in the mainstream public imagination. There’s the physical – you’re still a person in a room. Then there’s the virtual – maybe your appearance, and the appearance of your physical room, is actually not the thing you want to express. And between lies a gap – even with a camera, the viewpoint is its own virtual version of your space, different than the way we see when we’re in the same space with another person. XR the buzzword can melt away, and you begin to see it as a toolkit for exploring alternatives to the simple, single optical camera point of view.

To experience first-hand what this might mean for playing music, I decided to get myself physically to Secaucus (earlier in March, when such things were not yet entirely inadvisable). Secaucus itself lies in a liminal space of New Jersey that exists between the distant realities of the Newark International Airport, the New Jersey Turnpike, and Manhattan.

Tucked into a small entrace to a nondescript, low-slung beige building, WorldStage hides one of the biggest event resources on the eastern seaboard. Their facility holds an expert team of AV engineers backed by a gargantuan treasure trove of lighting, video, and theatrical gear. Edgewater-based artist/engineer Ted Pallas and his creative agency Savages have partnered with their uniquely advanced setup to realize new XR possibilities.

“Digital artists collaborating with this new technology pave the road for where xR can go,” says Shelly Sabel, WorldStage’s Director of Design. “Giving content creators like Savages opportunities to play on the xR stage helps us understand the potential and continue in this new direction.”

I was the guinea pig in experimenting with how this might work with a live artist. The mission: get out of a Lyft from the airport, minimizing social contact, unpack my backpack of live gear (VCV Rack and a mic and controller), and try jamming on an XR stage – no rehearsal, no excuses. It really did feel like stepping onto a Holodeck program and playing some techno.

And I do mean stage. The first thing I found was a decent-sized surface, LEDs on the floor, a grid of moving head lights above, and over-sized fine-grade LED tiles as a backdrop on two sides. Count this as a seven-figure array of gear powering a high-end event stage.

The virtual magic is all about transforming that conventional stage with software. It’s nothing if not the latest digital expression of Neo-Baroque aesthetics and illusion – trompe-l’œil projection in real space, blended with a second layer of deception as that real-world LED wall imagery is extended in virtual space on the computer for a seamless, immersive picture.

It’s a very different feeling than being on a green screen or doing chroma key. You look behind you and you see the arches of the architecture Ted and his team have cooked up; the illusion is already real onstage. And that reality pulls the product out of the uncanny valley back into something your brain can process. It’s light years away from the weather reporter / 80s music video cheesiness of keying.

I’m a big believer in hacking together trial runs and proofs of concept, so fortunately, Ted and team were, too – as I was the first to try out this XR setup in this way. He tells CDM:

This was our first time having an artist in one of our xR environments, in a specific performance context – we’d previously had some come visit, but Peter is the first to bring his process into the picture. As such, we decided to keep things mellow – there was a lot of integration getting blessed as “stable” for the first time, and I wanted to minimize the potential for crashing during the performance – my strong preference is to do performances in one take.

The effects you’ll see in the video are pretty simple and subtle by design. Plus I was entirely improvising – I had no idea what I would walk onto in advance, really. But the experience already had my head reeling with possibilities. From here, you can certainly add additional layers of augmentation – mapping motion graphics to the space in three dimensions, for instance – but we kept to the background for this first experiment.

Just as in any layered illusion, there’s some substantial coordination work to be done. The Savages team are roping together a number of tools – tools which are not necessarily engineered to run together in this way.

The basic ingredients:

Stype – camera tracking
disguise gx 2c – media server (optimized for Notch)
Notch – real-time content hosted natively in disguise media software
Unreal Engine – running on a second machine feeding disguise
BOXX hardware for Unreal, running RTX 6000 GPUs from NVIDIA
SideFX Houdini software for visual effects

The view from Notch.

Camera tracking is essential – in order to extend the optically-captured imagery with virtual imagery as if it were in-camera, it’s necessary for each tiny camera move to be tracked in real time. You can see the precision partly in things like camera vibrations – the tiniest quiver has a corresponding move in the virtual video. Your first reaction may actually be that it’s unimpressive, but that’s the point – your eye accepts what it sees as real, even when it isn’t.

Media servers are normally tasked with just spitting out video. Here, disguise is processing data and output mapping at the same time as it is crunching video signal – hiding the seams between Stype camera tracking data and video – and then passing that control data on to Notch and Unreal Engine so they’re calibrated, too. It erases the gap between the physical, optical camera and the simulated computer one.

Those of you who do follow this kind of setup – Ted notes that disguise is instancing Notch directly on its timeline, while Unreal is being hosted on that outboard BOXX server. And the point, he says, is flexibility – because this is virtual, generative architecture. He explains:

All about the parameters.

Apart from the screen surface in the first set, all geometry was instanced and specified inside of the Unreal Engine via studio-built Houdini Digital Assets. HDAs allow Houdini to express itself in other pieces of software via the Houdini Engine – instead of importing finished geometry, we import the concept of finished geometry and specify it within the project, usually looking through the point of view of the [virtual 3d] camera.

This is similar in concept to a composer writing a very specific score for an unknown synthesizer, and then working out a patch with a performer specific to a performance. It’s a very powerful way to think about geometry from the perspective of the studio. Instead of worrying about finishing during the most expensive part of our process time-wise — the part that uses Houdini — we buffer off worrying about finishing until we are considering a render. This is our approach to building out our digital backlot.

The “concept of the geometry” – think a model for what that geometry will be, parameterized. There’s that Holodeck aspect again – you’re free to play around with what appears in virtual space.

Set pieces in Houdini.

There are two set pieces here as demo. I actually quite liked the simple first set, even, to which they mapped a Minimoog picture on the fly – partly because it really looks like I’m on some giant synth conference stage in a world that doesn’t yet exist. Ted describes the set:

The first set is purposefully pedestrian – in as little time as possible, we took a screen layout drawing for an existing show, added a bit of brand-relevant scenic, and chucked it in a Notch block. The name of the game here was speed – start to finish production time was about three hours. On the one hand, it looks it. On the other hand, this is the cheapest possible path to authoring content for xR – treat it like you’re making a stage, and then map it from the media server like it’s a screen. What’s on the screen can even be someone else’s problem, allowing digital media people to masquerade as scenic and lighting designers.

The second piece is more ambitious – and it lets a crew transport an artist to a genuinely new location:

Inside the layers of Savages’ virtual architecture.

The second set design was inspired by architect Ricardo Bofill’s project La Muralla Roja. As the world was gearing up to shutdown, we spent a lot of time discussing community. La Muralla Rojo was built to challenge modern perspectives of public and private spaces. Our Muralla is intended to do the same. We see it as a set for multiple performers, each with their own “staged location” or as a tool to support a single performer.  

Courtesy Ricardo Bofill, architects – see the full project page (and prepare to get lost in photos transporting you to the North African Mediterranean for a while).

And yes, placing an artist (that’ll be me, bear with me here) – that adds an additional layer to the process. Ted says:

[Bofill’s] language for the site is built out of plaster and the profile of a set of stairs, modulated by perpendicularity and level. An artist standing on [our] LED cube is modulating a perpendicular set of surfaces by adding levels of depth to the composition.

This struck me as a good peg for us all to use to hang our hats. Without you [Peter] standing there, the screens are very flat – no matter how much depth is in the image. :ikewise, without the stairs, muralla roja would be very flat. when i was looking for references this is what struck me.

It may not be apparent, but there is a lot still to be explored here. Because the graphics are generative and real-time, we could develop entire AV shows that make the visuals as performative of the sound, or even directly link the two. We could use that to produce a virtual performance (ideal for quarantine times), but also extend what’s possible in a live performance. We could blur the boundary between a game and a stage performance.

It’s basically a special effect as a performance. And that opens up new possibilities for the performer. So here I was pretty occupied just playing live, but now having dipped in these waters the first time, of course I’m eager to re-imagine the performance for this context – since the set I played here is really just conceived as something that fits into a (real world) DJ booth or stage area.

Ted and Savages continue to develop new techniques for combining software, including getting live MIDI control into the environment. So we’ll have more to look at soon.

To me, the pandemic experience is humbling partly in that it reminds us that many audiences can’t physically attend performances. It also reveals how virtual a lot of our connections were even before they were forced to be that way – and reveals some of the weakness of our technologies for communicating with each other in that virtual space. So to sound one hopeful note, I think that doubling down on figuring out how XR technologies work is a way for us to be more aware of our presence and how to make the most of it. Our distance now is necessary to save lives; figuring out how to bridge that distance is an extreme but essential way to develop skills we may need in the future.

Full set:

Artist: Peter Kirn
Designer (Scenography, Lighting, VFX): Ted Pallas, Savages
Director of Photography: Art Jones
Creative Director: Alex Hartman, Savages
Technical Director: Michael Kohler, WorldStage

http://www.savag.es

https://www.worldstage.com

Footnote: If you’re interested in exploring XR, there’s an open call out now for the GAMMA_LAB XR laboratory my friends and partners are running in St. Petersburg, Russia. Fittingly, they have adapted the format to allow virtual presence, allowing the event itself to go on., and it will bring some leading figures in this field It’s another way worlds are coming together – including Russia and the international scene.

Gamma_LAB XR [Facebook event / open call information in Russian and English]

The post Holodeck DJ: I played techno on an XR stage – here’s what it was like appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Exclusive: a gig and a half of finely-crafted Riemann techno sounds, free for 48 hours

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 31 Mar 2020 7:20 pm

It’s hard to get that deep, crowded club feeling right now in isolation. So here from our friend Florian Meindl and Riemann Kollektion is a big boost – and a master class in techno craft.

Honestly, I’ve said this to folks before, but I’ll say it again – it really says something to me about Riemann and Florian that these demo songs bang harder than most released music. It’s almost worth just browsing this 1.4GB collection of 24-bit sounds just to understand a bit about how his heard works. (I’ve been browsing through.)

So, for 48 hours, just for CDM, Florian has swapped over the price of one of his best sound packs – Best of Riemann 2019 Techno (24bit WAV – Loops & Oneshots). (Ah, I remember 2019 … so … fondly now …)

There’s now really no reason not to get started. Ableton has a free 90-day trial of Live Suite, just announced, which even includes Max for Live. (It’s normally 30 days.)

https://www.ableton.com/en/trial/

Then you can read the free guides I wrote for Riemann Kollektion to get going:

Tutorial: Unlock hidden sound tricks in Ableton Live 10’s effects

Tutorial: Super Fast Arrangement in Ableton Live 10

Max for Live: the techno producers’ guide

Plus if you have some hardware – even some stompboxes will do – you should also check out Florian’s approach to analog effect chains in that tutorial.

Then stock up on the samples with the free Best of Riemann pack. And sorted.

For some more inspiration, here’s a bit of how Florian works live – very hardware focused, but something you could apply to other setups, as well, in terms of raw musicianship and sound:

The post Exclusive: a gig and a half of finely-crafted Riemann techno sounds, free for 48 hours appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Add these Max for Live devices for inspiration in Ableton Live – or learn to make your own

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Mar 2020 6:43 pm

A surprising number of Ableton Live users haven’t discovered the power of Max for Live inside. Here’s how to get started – but, oh, you’ve seen it all before? Okay, smarty-pants, learn how to make your own devices, too.

Beginners and those needing some fresh ideas…

Anxious times can be a big barrier to inspiration. And that’s why this guide is useful now. Max for Live add-ons can be particularly useful not just for solving problems, but pushing you in a different direction or getting you back in a state of play. That’s been useful even for me – I was feeling stuck, and wound up finding some new tools that got me going again, just while writing this.

As long as you’ve got a copy of Ableton Live Suite, Max for Live is waiting for you. If not, it’s also a pretty major reason to upgrade.

I’m thrilled to again partner with Riemann Kollection to make a complete guide:

Read up, get started.

Max for Live: the techno producers’ guide

It starts at the beginning; no previous knowledge – what Max for Live is, how to use it, and how to get started with a lot of useful devices in a host of different categories.

Max for Live has an impassioned following, but I suspect a lot of users of Live are afraid to go there. Here’s the thing: you really don’t need to know how to use Max. The fact that Ableton baked in one the most mature and most powerful toolkits for making music production and live visual inventions means you can use the tools everybody else is making.

As it happens, ELPHNT also produced a two-part list of their favorite devices on maxforlive.com. I purposely ignored this list, and still imagined we would overlap. Speaking to the depth of the M4L world, not one device is on both lists. (I even plugged ELPHNT on my list, but it’s not in the Ableton.com story!) Read: [ Part 1 | Part 2 ]

… and those ready to make your own stuff

Okay, maybe you are curious to dig into Max and Max for Live and try customizing devices or creating your own from scratch? And, uh, maybe for some reason you find you have a bit of time on your hands? Well, you’re in luck.

Ableton has an official page with resources. Pay particular note to this line – “Access the Max for Live built-in lessons by clicking on the Help menu–>Help View.” That’s really where you most likely want to begin.

Max for Live tutorials and learning resources [Ableton]

Probably the best comprehensive resource is this Kadenze course from the imimitable expert Matt Wright; it’s a full course equivalent to serious college instruction, and it’s free:

Programming Max: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts

But for a single video intro, try this:

or this –

or this –

More recently, Cycling ’74 also shared best practices in making devices, which would be useful if, uh, you want to share with others. (I mean, for yourself, be as horrible as you like!)

Multichannel audio is what is really useful in the most recent major upgrade:

Finally, because of the current crisis, you can shadow a college course in Max here. I once taught this course for CUNY. I would not be able to do it now – Max has changed radically since I did it, and I have forgotten a bunch – so I’ll be checking it out! There are some sharp tips in there. (and if you know Max a bit, crank up the speed and pretend you’re Data from Star Trek as you go rapid-fire through the parts you know.)

Overwhelmed?

Well, this is about play. So as I said, it’s totally valid to just grab a fun device or two and … try something.

So I still recommend my guide – as a break from dev work, or if you realize your brain is more tired than you thought and you got over-ambitious (never happens to me – I’m lying):

https://riemannkollektion.com/blogs/techno-producer-knowledge-hub/max-for-live-the-techno-producers-guide

See the complete Riemann techno producer knowledge hub for lots of advice.

Images courtesy Ableton.

The post Add these Max for Live devices for inspiration in Ableton Live – or learn to make your own appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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