The Modulator playing Nitzer Ebb

Nitzer Ebb’s early and wonderful EBM track Isn’t it Funny How Your Body Works? reproduced by a DIY modular system. So here’s my proposal to the builder Henrik Nydell… make me some original patterns and I’ll scream for you! Imagine taking that beast live?

“My DIY MFOS modular – the Modulator – playing Isn’t it funny how your body works by Nitzer Ebb. The 16-step sequencer’s gate outputs trigs two ADSRs for bass drum. Clock out is sent to slave 10-step sequencer and to two ARs controlling filter cutoff and VCA. 16 step seq CV out gets patched to both VCOs. The stereo auto panner is used during the last few seconds.” – hnydell

For more info: nydell.se/projects/modulator

Very Early Nitzer Ebb Footage

I’ve listened to Nitzer Ebb’s first two albums That Total Age and Belief countless times. If I ever want to get revenge on someone in their car blasting hiphop I play the track Let Beauty Loose full volume. It’s exciting to see some very early footage of the band. A few years ago I got to meet the lead singer Douglas a few times. Just as when I met Depeche Mode and Front 242 I purposely kept the talking short because I didn’t want anything to get in the way of how much I love their music. To be a great musician you have to be a great fan first.

“Here you go. I put this video together back in ’84 or thereabouts. It features clips from a couple of their early gigs (parts of which have already been uploaded) along with some library footage I had access to at the time.

This was filmed at “The Hermit Club” in Brentwood Essex, sometime in the early 80s. The fight was caused by someone off camera to the left, disconnecting Bon’s mic. He responded in a fairly reserved way by laying into the aforementioned geeza with an iron bar. Fight (off camera I’m afraid) ensues. You can hear Bon’s sister screaming. She was pregnant at the time and had been pushed to the floor. Happy days. They don’t play Crane anymore. Enjoy Folks.” – pipey1512

For more info: nitzer-ebb.de

TDK Three Speaker Boombox

In high school I had a massive Conion boombox. To see a photo of it: click here. It had dual cassette decks, phono inputs and an alarm. I miss people brazenly blasting their sound out to the world. We really don’t scare old people as much as we should these days. This is why I welcome with two wide arms open the smashing new TDK Three Speaker Boombox. It’s very large, has an OLED display, woven carbon fiber speakers (no need for protective grills), USB, 1/4 inch, RCA and minijack inputs. I want one to plug my iPad into and annoy everyone with my music apps. I wouldn’t mind walking through my local mall blasting Nitzer Ebb’s Let Beauty Loose through it. I guess I’d be arrested. How times change.

“But the real show-stopper of TDK’s boombox is the design, which strikes a balance between retro hi-fi, ’80s nostalgia, and a Syd Mead-like futuristic look. We’ve seen the retro, machined knob hi-fi look done before on systems like the Soundfreaq Sound Platform, but the materials were all plastic. We’ve seen ’80’s boombox nostalgia nailed with the Lasonic i931, but again, the materials were plastic and the sonics were awful. Even the whole daring futuristic speaker design has been trudged out before by companies like Altec Lansing and Harman Kardon–but I’m telling you, the TDK box has them beat.” – cnet.com

For more info: cnet.com

Garmin Voice Studio

I’ve been using the TomTom app for iPhone as my GPS. It really does the job and it makes me feel safe especially when I am traveling for my day job. At CES Garmin added a feature to GPS units that I haven’t seen before that allows you to record your own voice for the Nav system. I know you can get celebrity voices on some GPS units already but being a DIY guy when it comes to audio the “Voice Studio” feature looks cool. It’s a novelty I know and I can already imagine being picked up at the airport by a promoter and on the way to an event every time he needs to make a left turn the intro to Nitzer Ebb’s Violent Playground plays (the song starts with Douglas McCarthy screaming “To the Left!”. Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJS847sh9RU. One can dream.

“Basically, it’s a PC-based app that lets you record your own nav instructions (which we’re guessing is going to result in some extraordinarily NC17-rated Nuvis). The company is saying it’ll take about 20 minutes to complete a set of commands.” – engadget.com

For more info: garmin.com

Battle of the bands Google style.

EBM Band Comparison

Ever wonder how popular a band or artist really is? Head over to http://google.com/insights/search/ and find out. Today I have three popularity wars set up (click to enlarge screenshots). First I go old school EBM (of course) and throw VNV Nation into the mix with Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Skinny Puppy. Surprisingly Nitzer Ebb looses big time. Next up on stage is MGMT vs Willie Nelson vs The Prodigy. The surprise to me here is that the Prodigy manages to stay on the chart at all. The final contest I go for some big bands: NIN vs Depeche Mode vs Kraftwerk. I knew DM would win but if you look carefully there were a few moments in time NIN over took them.

MGMT vs Willie Nelson vs The Prodigy

Depeche Mode vs NIN vs Kraftwerk

Of course popularity doesn’t always equal great tunes but this is a fun way to see who’s “the biggest”. Do you think any of these results are surprising?

Related post: Using Google Trends to compare sequencers.

In the studio with Bon Harris from Nitzer Ebb.

The always busy James Bernard from Propellerhead Software went to LA to interview Bon Harris one of the founding members of Nitzer Ebb. It doesn’t surprise me to hear he’s using Reason to create the music for the upcoming all new NE album. Reason seems to be a center piece in a lot of EBM bands today. It was a happy surprise to hear the bassline Mr. Harris let us have a sneak peak of because it had an old school Nitzer Ebb feel to it. If Douglas McCarthy can get angry enough to put proper vocals on this remains to be seen. I for one really hope the magic returns.

Keep up with NE here: www.nitzer-ebb.de and  myspace.com/nitzerebbmusic

Sunday Sounds: Electronic Body Music

In keeping with a new tradition on Wire to the Ear called “Sunday Sounds” where I post a music playlist each week here’s the next installment: Electronic Body Music. This is my personal favorite music genre. EBM is creative, powerful and mostly electronic music. You can find some sophisticated song arrangements and vocals in a lot of EBM. The genre almost disappeared in the early 90s but it’s back with new blood.  Even the old guys are back on the show circuit.

I created this playlist using Imeem. You can find me there at
http://www.imeem.com/thehorrorist

Are you an EBM fan?

An interview with Ionic Vision.


An Interview with Ionic Vision. from thingstocome on Vimeo.

One of the best ways to promote a band on your record label is to create a video interview with them. It really doesn’t take much skill, time or money. In fact, the video above was shot using the video mode on a single point and shoot cheapo camera. I used iMovie08 which uses Core Video so any image adjustments, transitions and titles all happen in real time, no rendering! This makes the entire process actually a lot of fun. Sure the video would be better if I was using a better camera, external mic and some lights but you know what? If I had to lug all that stuff to the club I probably would not have bothered. Showing up and creating something is the most important thing. I actually own quite a lot of video equipment including Final Cut Pro but workflow always wins in my book so I went for the fastest way to the finish line. I mentioned before on this blog I love Creative Commons and here’s why: See the images I cut during the interview? They are all CC licensed so I’m not stealing anyone’s art to create my own.

The style was characterized by hard and often sparse danceable electronic beats, clear undistorted vocals, shouts or growls with reverberation and echo effects, and repetitive sequencer lines. At this time important synthesizers were Korg MS-20, Emulator II, Oberheim Matrix or the Yamaha DX7. Typical EBM rhythms are based on 4/4 beats, mainly with some minor syncopation to suggest a rock music rhythm structure. – wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_body_music

Sven Lauwers and Andy de Decker are great live which is extremely important for an EBM band. Be sure to check out Ionic Vision’s release on Things to Come Records: Beatport, Junodownload, Things to Come Records

For more info about the event they played:
www.myspace.com/crossingtheparallel

Montreal was great. Drove to NYC. Opened boxes.

The first night Festival Kinetik was great. We sound checked at the same time as Ascii Disko (photo above). He forgot his audio interface so I lent him my M-Audio Firewire 410. I have to mention the 410 because that interface has worked flawlessly for my live show over the past several years. Daniel (Ascii) jumped online without leaving the stage, downloaded the drivers and it worked without a glitch. It only takes a minute to set up the 410 to control the on stage monitors using the M-audio control/system preference panel We had dinner and Sake together and had a chance to catch up with Matt (Satronica) who was one of my best friends when I lived in NYC.

The Montreal Mirror interview I did was out around town and it’s also available online now too. You can read it by: clicking here. I also did a video podcast for Vergel Evans great show LX7.ca. Be sure to keep an eye out on his site for that. Lastly, I did a video interview for noisescape.tv based out of San Fransisco. I was in a strange good mood when I did that interview and told some interesting stories. I will be ashamed when I see it!

There will be a plenty of photos and videos from all the live shows. You can already see one from Nitzer Ebb’s set on YouTube: Join in the Chant


I skipped the after party fun and got enough sleep to pick up the rental car at 9:00AM. We ended up with a Kia Sedona. I wanted something with some power but it rained most of the drive back so in the end the Kia was a good choice.

I arrived in NY and happy me the box from Curious Inventor.com was waiting. So far no audio tests but here’s a photo of my new toys…