Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Identify the strange 'music device'

This wonderful thread on EM411 starts with a simple question: "At exactly 2:52 you see the female member of XiuXiu triggering some sort of electronic spoon in a bowl. What is that thing?". After a bit of guesswork, they get the right answer, which might come as a surprise.

Monday, August 28, 2006

These loudspeakers can defy gravity

Here is a great YouTube video of Dr David Deak's 'Acoustic Levitation Chamber'. Using three loudspeakers in a plexiglass cube, he can make little paper cups fly around and control them in three dimensions. He did the project while working for NASA in 1987, and is now an artist. On a similar subject, If you enjoyed the resonance videos mentioned here, you'll probably enjoy this. (thanks, Bryon)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The MPC1000's hacked OS now plays Pong

This isn't - as far as I can work out - a hoax, but a real screenshot from the next version of the unnoficial MPC1000 operating system, which appeared in June 2006. It's been created by an anonymous collective of Japanese hackers who post updates every week or so here. The MPC community have obviously been delighted: "This group of coders has been given the name JJ - short for Japanese Jenius. Of course, we now know that there is more than one Jenius at work here, and the group itself may or may not be 100% japanese, but the name JJ stuck. The JJ has breathed new life into the mpc1000. it has turned this little sampler into something faaaar beyond what we ever thought possible when we purchased it. Since the first beta, the JJ has released something like 20 updates. Bit by bit, this thing just keeps getting stronger, sturdier, and more loveable." The unnoficial OS has given the MPC1000 most of the functions of the more expensive MPC2500, and more. JJ are planning to sell a finalised version for $35, which will - apparently - include this version of Pong... (Thanks, MG)

First Cubase SX4 screenshots

Thanks to Kirke for passing along this set of early/leaked images from Cubase SX4, showing a distinctly Ableton LIve - inspired look, a useful-looking 'Control Room' routing matrix, and various new plugins. The ever-loyal official forums already has 11 pages of people saying how much it's going to suck... UPDATE: Here are the images without any hosting BS: 'Mystic' plugin, 'Control Room' patching, something boring, 'Prologue' plugin, 'Spector' plugin, a channel strip, main screen.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Vocoder's 'What Happens Now': Truth funnier than fiction

I'm always suspicious of excessively funny YouTube clips, like this, which purports to be a music video by a band called Vocoder. It features a gang of the kind of bearded guys who might have trouble flying from Malaga, miming in a supermarket with an SH-101. It's all far too perfect - right down to the misspelt 'Waht Happens Now' subtitle and the way the guy who looks like Borat starts rapping in the second half, so I assumed it was a trail for a new BBC2 series, like this and most famously this. However, it seems to be real. Vocoder were a Spanish band whose other hits included 'Love of Robot', 'Mindanao' and something which roughly translates as "My girl has a mess with satan". They're also featured in this history of Spanish electronic music. (via Matrix and nelcast)

Bob Dylan: New records 'have sound all over them'

I don't know if he's been secretly listening to the contents of my hard drive, but Bob Dylan quite rightly says here that "the quality of modern recordings is 'atrocious'": "I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," ... "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static." Anyway, Bob, what's up with that synth covered in silver foil?

Harmox Matrax - Crazy looking atomic guitar

Looking like the offspring of a Gittler and the Atomium, this is the Harmos Matrax, a $1,575+ guitar which will certainly get people pointing and laughing. The body is carbon fibre struts with wooden joints, which they claim gives it a much brighter sound than a normal guitar. Based near Minnetonka, the company started out building equally incredible looking steel guitars used by people like Joe Perry from Aerosmith. (Thanks Matt)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fender Rhodes Suitcase, going at goodwill for $13

Sincere apologies if you've been sitting tight in Indianapolis, hoping that nobody will notice this - what seems to be a mid '70s Fender Rhodes with matching amp, currently standing at $13. The description doesn't mention 'piano' or 'Fender', it just says: "These items are in used condition, have not been tested and will be SOLD AS IS. These auction items must be PICKED UP at our Indianapolis location. The Keyboard is marked Rhodes Seriel # 737407. The Amp is marked Rhodes Model FR 7710. The age of the pair is unknown. They weigh at least 150lbs each." (Thanks, Nestor)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Super-hot Moog Source pron shots

I don't normally post the straight-up synth pron, because Matrix does it so well, but this Flickr set of Gentle Bakemono's Moog Source is super-duper-hot.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dude in Berlin dresses in surround sound

BenoƮt Maubrey is a Berlin-based, Washington DC born artist who makes 'Audio Clothes'. Here is his, wearing his 'Audio Peacock': "These wearable electronic instruments are constructed from polycarbonat plexigalss material shaped into a peacock's fan-like plumage. The plexiglass surface is equipped with 16 loudspeakers (150 watts power), amplifiers, and rechargeable 12 volt batteries. The "audio-plumage" is highly directional and functions like an electroacoustic radar dish -- esthetically it has much in common with the way a peacock parades itself in front of the pea-hen (the audience). An Audio Peacock can either amplify its own electronic instrument and voice or receive sounds from outside sources via transmitter/receiver and disseminate them in a space by orienting his high-tech "plumage". Four Audio Peacock units can be acoustically choreographed as a mobile quadrophonic loudspeaker system." (Thanks, FMass)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Are you geek enough to wear...

... the analog synth belt buckle? MT reader Matt bought a similar one yesterday and says "I don’t know if this is tres super-cool, or very super-dork". Got to love that crazy 9-knob filter setup... This one is eBay item #180016402814 for $18.99, but search for 'synthesizer belt' and there seem to be a few around.

eBay of the day: Strange DIY Electric Drums, $10,000

eBay trawler extraordinaire Kaden writes to point us towards item #300016399572. Billed as "Worlds only Electric Drums never seen before ,patented"(sic), it's a bunch of loudspeakers put inside a drum kit with triggers. As Kaden says: "This is either the most brilliant freakin' idea EVER, or a colossal load of balloon juice. Personally, I'm leaning towards balloon juice."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fantastic early Mellotron promo film

Mellotron. We know it as an endlessly cool rock'n'roll instrument, all Led Zep, The Beatles, Radiohead, Tommy Saxondale, Chemical Brothers, Pink Floyd, etc. That's why this video is so wonderful. It's an early promo video for the Mellotron, presented by the instrument's UK promoters, "bandleader, radio celebrity and entrepreneur Eric Robinson" and his son-in-law, "magician David Nixon", revealing the the true face of the Mellotron Mk II as a home-entertainment auto-rhythm monster. Also, be sure not to miss the shot at the end of a woman sitting on an enormous gold cock. More here and here. (Thanks, Ricky)

How songs look

Martin Wattenberg built some software to analyse MIDI files and turn them into diagrams showing repetition. Above is Madonna's 'Like a Prayer.' (via Neoformix)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

10 greatest beat-making videos ever*

Also: 10 MORE greatest beat making videos ever | Hip Hop producers on YouTube | All MPC coverage

1) Here is Masaaki (aka Anchorsong) from Tokyo, playing live with an MPC2000 and a Triton keyboard, building the tracks as he goes along. More great clips here and here.

2) Here is Daltron from Melbourne, playing an incredible live drum solo on the MPC4000 (it's a MySpace video. I'd say it's worth typing in your password, but not worth registering specially...)

3) Here is Pete Rock sampling, remixing and singing along with 'Love is a Battlefield'

4) In this report on an Atlanta beat battle, there's no live MPC action, but it provides several answers to the age-old question: 'What the hell kind of face am I supposed to pull when my music is playing on big speakers, people are listening, and I don't have any gear to fiddle with?'

5) Here is the old-school version - making beats on an Emu SP-1200. Love the sliders.

6) Here is DJ Shadow talking about his ancient MPC60, the machine he made 'Endtroducing' on. The clip has cruddy sound and Shadow always comes across as pretty irritating, but it's history.

7) Here, speaking the international language of Akai, is French producer 20Syl, with a step-by-step guide to making laid-back MPC/Rhodes/Loops hip hop for expensive Parisian bars.

8) Here is Just Blaze putting together a big horn sample and some beats. It's nice to see that even big name producers spend most of their time stroking their chin thinking: 'Hmm... This sounds OK, but what am I going to do next?'

9) Here, DJ Quik talks eloquently and at great length about his custom MPC3000.

10) If you've actually read all the way to the bottom of this list, then here is a treat to say thanks.
(via 16pads and everyone else who posted these in forums...)

*Or, you know, today.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Two kids make the same beat, 6,000 miles apart

Two kids, sitting in bedrooms making beats with an MPC1000. Jaisu is in Edinburgh and noBru is in Brazil. Notice any other similarities? There's something quite wonderful about this, I think. (via 16 Pads Music Producers Cinema)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fantastic Moog + Beer TV advertisment

Here is a great old TV ad (which also appeared in the 'Moog' movie) featuring Edd Kalehoff, the man who composed the theme tune for 'The Price is Right'... (Thanks Jeremy)

Grey box writes its own cheesy dance tracks

This is Infinite Horizon, the new product from Mungo Enterprises, who also invented my favourite thing at Messe. It's an autonomous trance track generator: "The basic concept behind it is that most "classic" dance music is so formulaic it should be easy for a computer to generate. Generating all patterns and sequences from a small set of rules the unit is able to deliver new and original tracks in realtime." Obviously this is easy enough to do in software, but Mungo has actually made a hardware box. (via the excellent new Sendling blog)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Prank call + Kaoss Pad = Funny

Justin McGrath Some dude Longmont Potion Castle makes these prank calls using (probably) possibly a Korg Kaoss Pad. They're very funny. (via KSS Forum)

Sound Control is the place for a bargain

Sound Control is a big chain of bland music gear shops in the UK. While looking for an MPC1000, I found this spectacular offer...

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Strange touch-panel bass/speech synth

Unfortunately I have no idea what's going on in this YouTube clip. But it's cool. (via MatrixSynth and Atomic Afro)

Music Thing Gear Sale

One of the consequences of writing Music Thing is that I seem to acquire a great deal of stuff, which fills up the room a bit. Time for a clear out. Here’s what I’m selling:


Waldorf Pulse 3 osc analog rack monosynth. Loud, bassy and tweakable. Has cool 'random patch' function. Like new. It's the bassline on this remix. £140

D&R Spring Reverb Gnarly stereo rackmount reverb. Noisy but effective, with a parametric mid boost/cut on each channel. Hear it here and here. £70.

Crumar Bit One: Huge Italian 'analog' 6-voice poly synth from 1984. Two grimy DCOs per voice. The same SSM filters found in a Fairlight II. Velocity-sensitive keyboard. MIDI. Lots of buttons. Fully working, with factory presets. Lots of pics here. £160 (Pickup Only)

Roland TR-505 The least sexy of all the Roland XOX boxes. Good through a bunch of effects. Easy to program. Comes with the original box. A couple of elements of the LCD don't work, and it's in 5/10 cosmetic state. £40.

Yamaha Rex-50 Lofi digital effects box. Hear it and read more here. Volume pot is very crackly. £21

Akai S2000 Sampler I've had this a whole week, and if you can deal with loading the OS from a floppy every time you turn it on, and pressing a lot of buttons, then it really does sound great. £25 donation to the charity of your choice (Pickup only)

Make me an offer. Pickup only items are very heavy and must be collected from SE London. I'll post anything else at cost. Paypal only. If you're interested or have questions, please email me. Finally, if you're selling an Akai MPC1000, I might be interested in buying it. (I found one on Gumtree, the nearest equivalent London has to Craigslist)

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Dumb students burn piano

Here are my fucktards of the week: A bunch of students in Aberystwyth got a piano from freecycle, then set fire to it. Then made a blog and wrote "we stand by our actions. This is art" (via Zanf)

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Incredible footage of TONTO and Stevie Wonder

I know I say this all the time, but this footage of Stevie Wonder playing 'Living for the City' with TONTO really is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. TONTO was two guys, one British and one American, with a vast polyphonic analog synth built out of Moog, Serge and Arp components. So here's Stevie jamming with Robert and Malcolm tweaking the machine in the background looking like a biker gang made up of mad scientists. And they're doing it in Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady studios. Wow. If that's not enough, there's also this extraordinary clip, which I won't even try to describe.

Meanwhile, in what could be a slight anti-climax, TONTO are performing this weekend at the splendid Big Chill Festival in Herefordshire. Malcolm Cecil is "creating a 'Virtual TONTO' and will play live over pre recorded backing tracks." Mr Wonder is not expected to appear. (via MatrixSynth here and here)

Honesty in advertising: Zvex Panties

Yet another reason to love Zvex pedals. In their small merchandise range is a pair of "Rasberry chick hot panties w/ Z.Vex logo" bearing the slogan "Crazy pedals for rich people".

Hardcore Kaoss Pad video pron

Here is a great clip of Radiohead playing 'Everything in it's right place' with plenty of live Kaoss Pad action. Alternatively, here is the dude from Muse playing his guitar with a built-in Kaoss Pad. For slightly less rock'n'roll viewing, here is some guy demonstrating the Manson Kaoss pad guitar. It's not pretty.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Tommy Saxondale's Mellotron Story

At 8:13 in this clip, Tommy tells his Mellotron story, which made my toes curl with embarrassment. (Readers outside Britain might wish to read this to catch up). Of course, if Tommy was a real roadie, not Steve Coogan in a wig, he would know that 10CC's seminal 'I'm Not In Love' was actually recorded with one twelve foot long 16-track tape loop, and not a Mellotron in sight.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Anonymous reader's cool DIY touch-screen interface

In the comments for this post about multi-touch interfaces, an anonymous poster tells this story: "I got my hands on a [mono] touch screen and use it as a second monitor on my music PC. I wrote a drum grid editor thing (inspired by those little LED-button-covered boxes you reported on [the Monome?] that syncs with a midi device. Anyhow, it's very cool to use." Slightly bigger picture here. UPDATE: He says "It's totally free if anybody else has a touch screen and wants it (it'll work on a non-touch screen too, of course)." I'll post a link as soon as he sends one.

eBay of the day: Evil baby head theremin

You'll probably be glad to know that eBay item #200013050036 will have sold by the time you're reading this, for at least $44.95. There's not much else to say, it's a light-cell not-quite Theremin in a scary baby's head. Oh, hang on, there are plenty more still on sale...

Great demo of multi-touch interfaces

This talk at TED from Jeff Han, research scientist at New York University's Media Research Lab, is an incredible demo of multi-touch interfaces. Jeff's demos go way beyond what the Lemur can do, and suggest a load of exciting musical possibilities. (via Boing Boing, with Jeff previously featured on CDM)
UPDATE: All your multi-touch news desires can be satisfied by Chris at Pixel Sumo.

Kaoss Pad 3 now official, and sexy

So, after Lukatoyboy's leak, Korg have released full details of the Kaoss Pad 3. Good things: It looks great, with a pixellated pad, a black body and crazy-ass gold mecha-style knobs. As promised, there are four sample pads, Recycle-style beat slicing, SD card/USB connections and messages scrolling across the pad. Bad things: Still only phono plugs out the back. Assuming Luka is right, price should be €400.