Music. It’s everything to me. It’s very complicated and simple at the same time. Some songs have lyrics and the few minutes they play their story shows itself. Often I relate or even think the story was written specifically for me. Techno however relies on the experience. It’s why some people can’t understand the obsession. Last week in Berlin a few close friends and I went to Golden Gate. It’s a very small club that gets going usually in the morning hours. Although I played four live shows on my recent trip; like after a long day at the beach it’s the sounds from Golden Gate they have me still swaying, pining, wanting to be there on the dance floor again. If you were to hear any single song the DJ played that night on it’s own, say at work at your desk, or driving to the convient store you may appreciate the production or like it but unless you can reference it to a night out like I had your missing the point completely. I stood there somewhat knowing I’m at the peak of my existence. Successful, skinny and with no guilt I watched terrifically beautiful people from Italy, Spain and Germany dance. Like a movement chameleon I picked up the Berlin sashay and joined in. Song after song just got me. Each one clearer than the last. Each one a better bass than the last, a better hook than the last… it just kept on going. When I left in the early afternoon those sweet Berlin birds were singing and the taxi driver told me his story as his smooth Mercedes took me to my rental apartment. Berlin is so beautiful. The trees make incredible shadows on the streets.
“Nestled beneath the Jannowitzbrücke train stop, Golden Gate is one of Berlin’s grittiest clubs. The interior is small, dark and mostly free of decoration. It’s known for having exceptionally long operating hours, even for Berlin—most weeks there’s one party on Thursday night that finishes on Friday afternoon, then a second one that starts on Friday at midnight and lasts until Monday morning. The club consists of one main dance floor, a small sitting area, a bathroom section upstairs and a small garden in the summer.” – RA
One of my favorite city’s streets has been recorded into 55 takes and 10 Ableton scenes. Download the City Traffic set over at Detunized. The set is 4.80€.
“City Traffic brings the daily noise of Berlin to the your library. The Pack contains recordings of main roads during the morning rush hour, when the trolley car rumbles over the rails and the trucks are roaring through the kettles. In between a bunch of honking mopeds and cars with broken exhaust pipes are fighting for their space. Commuter trains are crossing every minute, the omnibus arrives just in time and the long-distance trains pass the station with squeaking brakes. In the evening it is rainy and at least the suburb calms down a little bit.” – detunized.com
I was thinking to myself the other day, “It’s been a while since SoundCloud added new features. I hope they keep innovating.”. Well it seems the Berliners have been busy getting us an iPad app. I think musicians are more keen on design than the regular person and that’s one of the reasons I like the new iPad app. It’s pretty.
“The iPad is a revolutionary device that has changed the way we interact with content of all types. Our amazing iOS and design teams have created a fantastic app to reflect this, enabling you to interact with the sounds shared with you in a very intuitive way.” – Soundcloud.com
Berlin synth and drum machine company MFB announced (or leaked) they are making an under 1500 Euro synth. I think it will be interesting because this Manfred Fricke design will be the full blown real thing with a keyboard and three oscillators. I can’t wait to see and hear it.
“high quality analogue monophonic synth, 3 oktaven weighted keyboard mit aftertouch, pitch/bend & mod rad arpeggiator, sequencer funktion (synchronisierbar), 3 vco mit fm und sync, pwm, saw/trangle mix, 3 lfo (2 als hüllkurve nutzbar) bis in den audiobereich, ringmod & noise multifilter (8-12 typen) eines bekannten berliner filter entwicklers, 2 analoge und schnelle ENVs (voltage controlled), daher gut regelbar bei niedrigen werten high quality VCA, digital delay (tbc), speicherbare sounds, midi und cv/gate steuerbar, midi ausgabe, wertige potis, schalter und knöpfe, stahlgehäuse mit holzseitenteile.” – tripbeat
The nhow is a hotel in the center of Berlin on the Spree river. Why would I be posting information about a hotel on Wire to the Ear? Well this hotel has two recording studios in it available to guests. Not only that Gibson guitars are available to use through room service. Most musicians need really cheap rooms and Berlin is one of the cities where you can find nice hotel rooms for less than a hundred euros. The nhow hotel is going for 174 euro per night so if you stay get your studio time in to make it worth it. I like this idea and there should be hotels for any type of person no? Video game hotels, cat people hotels, etc… Let’s hope this nhow hotel has sound proof rooms, locks on the minibars and paid their insurance bills if they are inviting rock stars to stay with them.
“Located directly on the banks of the river Spree, the Nhow Berlin bills itself as the only hotel in Europe offering two professional music studios. A dedicated music manager is on staff, as is a team drawing heavily from local music colleges. Regular live events and concerts take place in the hotel’s event spaces and terraces, while first-rate DJs are on hand in the bar. The music studios are operated in collaboration with Lautstark Music GmbH/René Rennefeld, which also manage the legendary Berlin Hansa recording studios. The Nhow’s 304 rooms, meanwhile, are kitted out with iPod connections and more than 30 TV and 100 music radio stations integrated in a state-of-the-art entertainment system. Wireless Internet and more than 5,000 videos-on-demand are available in every room; Gibson guitars are even available through room service.” – springwise.com
I like almost all the plug-ins from Berlin based Sugar Bytes. I can see thier new plug-in Consequence being really useful. Sometimes it’s good to have a virtual helper in the room. You know the scenario: You’re in the studio and you hit middle C, next it’s D# and up to G. You can’t seem to hit any new keys. Your melodies are your melodies and you can’t seem to go anywhere else. Consequence can help by having it’s “Sound Generators” spit out sequences, chorus, envelope curves, etc… It can’t hurt right?
“The word Synquencer describes the combination of a powerful synthesizer and complex step sequencer which creates pitch-, modulation-, and trigger data. Consequence uses 16 chords to play them in sequence, extract melodies to trigger a unique sound section with lots of available instrument sounds and intelligent trigger interpretation. The Consequence VST plugin sends MIDI data, so all kinds of MIDI-compatible gear can be controlled by Consequence.” – Sugar Bytes
There is a demo version available. Consequence is $199.
For more info: sugar-bytes.de
Disclosure: The service I am about to recommend is owned by a good friend of mine. Please note that he is a good friend of mine largely because he’s a killer audiologist. He’s recorded music for my own label, remixed my songs and mastered my most important release. Miro Pajic is well known in the electronic music scene. He’s a good genre jumper who once made the most dark hardcore music and today is deep in the Berlin minimal scene. His new online ITB mixing service Manic Mixing just launched. If a release is really important to you don’t master it yourself. It’s ok to bump up the volume on crap heading soley to MySpace but for anything that you want a DJ to spin send it to someone qualified. Miro is easy going and will make sure your happy. For details on his mixing process click here: Manic Mixing Details
The important thing to remember is even if you can follow what Miro does in his examples your missing the key ingredient: A fresh talented ear listening to your music!
“First of all, it is necessary to communicate, to find out what your concept and goal is and which final format it will be for. It will help to receive a reference track or demo/sketch version of the music you want to have mixed in the beginning, so i have an idea of what you mean and what we are talking about. I will then do a first rough mix of the material and send you the results, to see if you are satisfied and to make sure that things are going in the right direction. If you agree I will continue and try my best in completing the mix.” – Miro Pajc, Manic Mixing
Musotalk is an online pro-audio video show based in Berlin. It’s in German and often the host “Non Eric” has the first look at gear coming from the land of VW (and Ableton, and Steinberg, and Neuman, and Waldorf, and…). His most recent show was a live get together featuring the new wonderful Doepfer Dark Energy. Although the audio is typically video camera distorted it’s a nice view to get an idea of the DE’s size.
If you have not already caught the great Sonic State review of the Dark Energy: click here
“Die Spy Cam vom MusoTalk Event in der Zyankali Bar Berlin. Hat viel Spass gemacht ….und wir haben auch schön Krach gemacht!” – www.musotalk.de
Curious Inventor aka Travis from Atlanta, George produces some really interesting gear. Last year I bought a Voice of Saturn Synth and Sequencer from them. You can pick up CI stuff for the price of a plug-in. The Stribe is a LED touch trip you can control with Max/MSP (and other methods I believe). If you want to control your starship the right way be sure to get a Quad Stribe: click here
“Testing my Stribe 1 kit with Ableton Live trought maxmsp. Excuse about skills… stribes needs “a bit” pressure for detecting changes… is not a hardware issue, it is an “operator” (me) one!” – Mudo de Nacimiento
Our journey to Berlin and Barcelona ends here. See you on the next journey!
Flame is a Berlin based company who manufacture’s interesting audio manipulation hardware. They are on Schönhauser Allee (my old Strasse) right near Ableton’s headquarters. I had a chance to play with their Flame Talking Synth and that piece is real joy. Basically it’s a speech synthesizer connected to a joystick and switches. Their new box has some seriously pretty yellow, green and red led glass like buttons and it fits in the Monome/Tenori-on zone. Paired with a Waldorf Blofeld above you can see how this thing can bring you into Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft territory with just a few button pushes.
Here’s a video preview of a new software modular synthesizer from Urs Heckmann called Bazille. He’s the Berliner known for the acclaimed Zebra and Filterscape plug-ins. Bazille definitely adds something new sonically to the software landscape. For an example, take a listen at 1:06 to the when he uses an Oscillator on the Filter Resonance. In case you were wondering Bazille is the German word for bacteria.
“This synth combines FM-Synthesis, Phase Distortion and subtractive in a rack-like appearance. Here are some early examples for unusual patches. Note that the sound quality here is really bad, but I guess you catch the drift. No fx used of course, just raw output of the synth.” – UrsHeckmann
A few more videos of Bazille are on the UrsHeckmann YouTube channel: click here