While digging around for more info on the “found” work of Vivian Meier, I stumbled onto Todd Bieber’s video detailing his discovery of a roll of film in Prospect Park. He shows some of the (well shot) photography and wonders if he’ll ever find the people who took them. While this is an interesting story, I didn’t find it all that poignant until I read Peter Kirn’s take on Create Digital Motion.
Indeed, we are losing touch more and more with physical media. Perhaps this is a good thing for many reasons, but as a musician I struggle with the most meaningful way to release my work. I grew up focusing on the media as a sort of physical manifestation of the art that it contained. Perhaps it was just my childhood fascination with all things printed and ephemeral, but I do feel a definite disconnect now between myself and my –all digital– music collection. I personally like the idea of a physical object to represents an otherwise unsee-able art form.
I realize that we are marching inexorably towards a physical media-free future (and for most of us, we’re already there), but I’d love to see more ideas like IDEO’s C60 Redux concept; an RFID music system that plays on the strengths of physical and digital media. A system like this might not always be as practical as purely digital music, but I for one would love to experience music at home this way.
If you make music or follow artists like Daedelus you’re probably familiar with the Monome, the grid based OSC controller that gave birth to new ways of composing and performing music. The same people that make the Monome are back with a new controller, this time in the form of the Arc, a high-resolution OSC controller with two knobs which double as push buttons. Like the Monome before it, the Arc is beautifully designed, outfitted in the signature walnut/aluminum casing. At $500 I can tell you right now I’m not getting one, but the Arc sure is pretty to look at; that led ring is absolutely stunning.
Whenever I see an elegant interface like this I’m always left to wonder why we don’t have more control surfaces for Photoshop (I know people have found ways to control Photoshop with midi but I’m talking purpose-built controllers). Really, if Adobe were to open up to native osc or even midi support, we’d be off to a running start with all the pre-existing musical devices out there.
Sister Crayon (who I just played with at SEMF, great band, be sure to check them out) put together a mix for Dublab. A bunch of cool stuff going on here and a couple Dusty Brown and Tycho tracks to round it all out. Enjoy.
ISO50 Playlist 10 is up! We hope you enjoy this selection, if you like what you hear, let us know in the comments. List your favorite track on the playlist and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the (sold out) 12″ Vinyl + MP3 of Tycho’s Coastal Brake. Be sure to include a valid email address so we can contact you (email is not publicly visible).
Belle & Sebastian – Didn’t See It Coming
Working For A Nuclear Free City – Quiet Place
Deerhunter – Desire Lines
Tapes ‘n Tapes – Conquest
The Helio Sequence – Back to This
Film School – P.S.
Yo La Tengo – Beach Party Tonight
Minks – Ophelia
Benoit Pioulard – Tower
The Walkmen – Woe Is Me (NPR World Cafe Session)
Junip – Rope and Summit
Kisses – People Can Do The Most Amazing Things
Mark McGuire – Brain Storm (for Erin)
Stewart Walker – Benstrumental
Atlas Sound – Spring Break
Matthew Dear – More Surgery
The Radio Dept. – David (Rice Twins remix)
Lovelock – Pino Grigio
Seams – Hung Markets
Bloc Party – Tulips (Club Version)
Anoraak – Above Your Head
Oriol – Coconut Coast
The Field – Caroline
Games – Everything Is Working
Gonjasufi – Candylane (Bibio Remix)
Soft Powers – just like tropica-L
DJ Shadow – Erase You [Count alt mix]
The Dining Rooms – Costi Ti Amo
Peter Broderick – Pulling the Rain
Pictured above are some shots of the various models in Access Music’s Virus TI2 line. Of all the musical equipment manufacturers out there, I’d have to say that the Recklinghausen, Germany based outfit are making some of the most innovative and powerful sound synthesis tools available today. But aside from that, they’re incredibly beautiful and well-crafted machines. I’ve owned several and have to say I’ve always been amazed at the build quality and attention to detail they put into their equipment. I love how they take subtle cues from the past — the perfectly measured application of wood is a perfect example — while still pushing the design forward. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t get any better than stainless steel and wood, and the TI2 KB features a stainless steel/wood sandwich on the endcaps. Sort of like the amazing Jupiter 6 caps, but with wood (I sold a Jupiter 6 once. Worst mistake ever). But none of this comes cheap, these are also some of the most expensive synthesizers out there (probably the most expensive VA’s). I’d have to say they’re well worth the money though, the sound is unmatched and they’re built to last.
What I really admire about what Access is doing is that they’re doing it all from within the festering pit of mediocrity that is the music technology industry, an industry dominated by bad taste and terrible interface design. I don’t know what it is that drives industrial design in music technology, but you’d swear every new keyboard was designed by the backup drummer from Ratt. So I really admire it when a company steps up and chooses quality design over gimmicky superfluousness and nonsensical hyperbole (Tubes? Really? I bet they’re not even in the signal path). Roland is the saddest example of a once great company committing egregious latter day design sins. This is the company that brought us the iconic 808, 909, MSQ-700, SH-5, and Jupiter 8. Music machines with incredibly well thought out interfaces which were also durable and aesthetically pleasing. The best they can muster now are bloated, plastic, messes that look like a cross between a dvd player and a karaoke machine. And they don’t sound any better than they look. Oh yeah, once in a while try to reclaim their former glory with a cheap knockoff of their own product (to be fair, Korg is just as guilty of this as Roland).
But I digress… If you’ve caught some of my posts on the studio or seen the live show you may have noticed that I’m quite fond of my Virus C synthesizers. Of all the VA (virtual analog) synthesizers out there, I’d say the Virus has the most warm and unique sound. When it comes to VA’s, I think it’s all about the converters. The modeling can be dead-on but if you’re running through some space-age, 24-bit converters, the sound is going to be cold and rigid. That’s the thing that (used to) set the Virus line apart from the rest, the converters. They were warm and gritty, you could really feel the sound, it was authentic. First came the Virus A, which many still consider the best sounding of the Virus line (I wouldn’t know, I’ve only used the C line and on). Then came the B, which I heard had a little cleaner converters (read: worse). And right around the time I became aware of the Virus they came out with the C line. I was sold the first time I played one. They come shipped with the bucket full of useless euro-trance trash patches that are apparently legally required to preload on a new synth, but once you get past those and start digging in and programming, you can make them sing.
A couple years later they came out with the TI line and I got a TI Polar. To tell the truth, I was pretty disappointed by the sound. It was just too sterile, too pristine. They had apparently implemented the new 24-bit converters and you could hear it. I ended up selling the Polar and sticking with my C KB and Indigo Redback. Which was unfortunate, because the TI’s are just so beautiful. And also because Access no longer makes the mainboards for the C models. One bad power setup at a show and my Indigo is toast, for good.
CDM is reporting on a new iOS based Moog product called Filtatron, “an iPhone Filtering, Effects, and Sampling App”, basically Moogerfoogers on your phone. This is looking pretty amazing interface-wise; very true to the signature Moog aesthetic with the Little Phatty style rotary encoders and soft buttons. From a strictly user experience perspective this must have been a lot of fun to design. It will be interesting to see how it actually sounds compared to the real thing though — I’m going to take a wild guess and say it sounds nothing like a MoogerFooger. Software analog modeling is an imperfect art (or perhaps too perfect); it’s best to think of it as it’s own beast entirely than a faithful representation of the sonic characteristics of a true analog circuit. At any rate it’s interesting to see music technology makers pushing the capabilities of mobile devices. Software like this can may never replace analog hardware, but it would be nice to have the portability and power when you’re away from the studio, even if it comes with a healthy dose of compromise. See also: iRig
I’m always geeking out on music hardware and have a soft spot for DIY projects like the one you see above. I came across this custom MIDI controller by William Logo and was pretty impressed by the looks of the thing, especially considering that it was built with off mostly the shelf parts for under $400. I’ve been wanting to build my own custom controller for the Tycho live shows (to control VDMX, which runs the visuals) but I’ve never found the time to get anything started. It’s nice to see someone pulled it off with some aesthetically pleasing results. And I’m really loving the vibe of the photos, great tone.
For all you music geeks out there, I’m just decided to lighten my VDMX MIDI controller load by swapping out the big Akai APC40 and heavy Vestax VCM600 for a Novation Launchpad and a M-Audio X-Session that I’ve had lying around. We’ll see how the new setup works out for the upcoming shows.
The video for Ratatat’s new single Drugs is absolutely horrible, which is exactly what they wanted. Carl Burgess scoured the depths of the Getty Images archives and pieced together this string of painful moments set to music. The recycled mediocrity vibe is strong and there is a fair amount of uglification going down via some video post. I have to imagine someone involved in this project is a big Tim & Eric fan, and perhaps watched one too many Aphex Twin videos.