In the late 80s when I lived with my mother I learned the craft of making music in the basement. Mostly I just blasted endless loops of kick drums. I don’t know how she put up with it. To this day she says she still hears me down there.
“xkcd is a webcomic created by Randall Munroe. The comic’s tagline describes it as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” It has been recognized in such mainstream media as The Guardian and The New York Times.” – Wikipedia
The XILS Lab XILS 3 is a recreation of the EMS VCS synthesizer. It comes in two flavors. There is a LE version for $37 and a version with more features for $181. There is a demo. All versions including the demo require an iLok. There is an extended review of the XILS 3 in the August issue of Sound on Sound: click here. Basically they say it’s not a spot on emulation but a very interesting plug-in. Hardware lust and purism aside is the XILS 3 in the realm of the TimewARP 2600, UHE ACE and the Korg Legacy Collection?
“Given the DSP power available nowadays, you might think that it would be possible to emulate the VCS3 in software. You could imitate its unstable oscillators, model its unpredictable filter, recreate its loopy envelope generator and all its other facilities, iron out its idiosyncrasies, add a few enhancements, and then stick a pretty GUI on the front that forces players to approach it in the same way as the original. So, what is XILS 3? On the surface, it’s a soft synth designed to look, feel and sound like a VCS3. However, as we delve deeper, we’ll find that it’s much more than that.” – Sound on Sound
Multimedia designer Franz Keller has created an iPad app called Radarhead. It’s a rotary sequencer in which you can control the speed, direction and center point. The sounds are represented by colorful 8-bit alien images. It’s fun and well worth the .99 price: click here The video of the band using it below inspires me. This app reminds me of those 80’s puffy stickers mixed with a bit of synthpunk attitude.
“Kinduv a rotary beat sequencer. Looks weird (but cool) at first, but not hard to make interesting stuff if you play around with it for a bit. My fav thing to do is make several constellations of aliens and move the radar guy between them. You can also reverse or speed up the beams by dragging the arrows–don’t just tap on it!” – Milo Cantos (iTunes Review)
I love the ARP 2600 synthesizer. The mighty Macbeth M5 was a new incarnation (there were differences I know). Software-wise the closest you can get is the TimewARP 2600 from Way Out Ware. To play and hear one in person is to want one.
“The ARP 2600 is a semi-modular analog subtractive audio synthesizer, designed by Alan R. Pearlman (and Dennis Colin), and manufactured by his company, ARP Instruments, Inc. Unlike other modular systems of the time, which required modules to be purchased individually and wired by the user, the 2600 was semi-modular with a fixed selection of basic synthesizer components internally pre-wired. The 2600 was thus ideal for musicians new to synthesis due to its ability to be operated either with or without patchcords, and was, upon its initial release, heavily marketed to high schools, universities, and other educational facilities.” – Wikipedia
The best marriage between a specific synthesizer and artist has to be Vince Clarke and his Sequential Circuits Pro One. You hear layers of the Pro-One on the wonderful sounding Yaz albums. Vince has started what looks to what will be a series of videos called The Analogue Monologues talking about his toys. He starts with the Pro-One of course… I’m looking forward to more.
The Analogue Monologues is a new series of mini video documentaries. In each webisode Vince talks about one his analogue synths and explains where the on/off switch is. This series proves, once and for all, that he really doesn’t know much about anything (a must see!).” – vinceclarkemusic.com
The big upgrade to Propellerheads Reason and Record has just been released. The new Reason has the Kong Drum Designer, Dr. Octo Rex, Live Sampling, Blocks and more. The big new deal in Record is the Neptune pitch corrector and voice synthesizer. I’ve mentioned before I always have Reason ReWired into Ableton Live. There are several things I do with Reason that I really can’t acheive any other way. The best thing about Reason is it’s one of the most fun pieces of software to use.
“The name propellerhead comes from the pejorative term used to deprecate science fiction fans and other technophiles, who are stereotypically drawn wearing propeller beanies.” – Wikipedia
Propellerheads have a great YouTube channel: click here
A lucite and chrome organ. I can’t believe there are five of these. They should put one of these in the glass cube Apple store for the holiday season. It would also look good in a futuristic home situated on a cliff somewhere in California. Just dreaming out loud…
“Phantasmagoric Lucite Organ and Speakers. Words fail to describe the awesomeness of this piece! Made in 1970 by Wersi Electronics, it is one of only 5 ever made. Reportedly its cost in 1970 was over $100,000. The Delta Digital DX500 organ comes replete with all manuals, control panel templates, music stand, amplified speakers, lucite dollies, pedal board, adjustable bench and chromed keys. And it works beautifully!!!” – 1stdibs.com
London based NME Magazine has put together a SoundCloud playlist of what it thinks 50 recent hot bands sound like. There has to be at least a few gems on here right? I’m listening this morning as I print some spreadsheets for work. So far I haven’t got to a song I’d buy but I’m only 4 into it. Let me know if any of these songs bands get your brain going. Here’s the original post on the NME website: click here
“Now we’re over halfway through the year, we thought it was high time we looked back and rounded up the most exciting new acts to surface in 2010. Here, then, are the 50 bands who’ve blown our minds over the past few months. Oh, and if you’re in a new band yourself, make sure you sign up to NME Breakthrough – it’s a great way of sharing your music with others and, just maybe, earning a write-up in the pages of NME.” – nme.com