Monday, January 28, 2008

What could a scratch DJ do with a home organ ribbon controller?

The answer is in this bonkers video of Japanese DJ Tucker, king of the SL-1210 and the Yamaha YC-45 who also sets the whole thing on fire with lighter fluid, Hendrix style. There's a lot of crazy organ action in Japan, as various clips of really intense children playing Electone organs proves. (Thanks, Gareth)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wii Remote as 3D looper/Kaoss Pad

Yes, yes, it's a video featuring someone with a Wii Remote, a mac and a bunch of DIY software, just like all those other videos on YouTube. BUT, this one is actually quite good, and doesn't feature any theremin impressions. There's plenty more on Yann's Blog, if you can put up with posts like: "I’m currently in Paris with my brother Cory doing original music and sound design for a play written and directed by our cousin Fabrice. It takes place on the grounds of a 13th century abbey..."

Ask a Linux user to play some records, and he'll start coding a cross-fader

This post by Brazilian blogger Nicolau Werneck seems to illustrate everything that is right and wrong and right about folks who use Linux for music (in this case, DJing at his brother's birthday party). Here's the bit where he reinvents the crossfader: "I couldn't find a proper simple JACK mixer program, so first I made my own. It has a scrollbar to select the mixing level, and a bunch of radiobuttons to change the mixing style between linear, fixed-then-linear, sudden and quadratic. The jack part just outputs the weighted sum of the two inputs."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nice NAMM 2008 roundup from Wire To The Ear

The splendid and stylish new gear blog Wire To The Ear have a nice roundup of NAMM bits, including Akai's bizarre preset MPC, the XR20 and Alesis' SR-18, an upgrade - 18 years on - to the ubiquitous SR-16, every busker's favourite drum machine.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Roland C-30 Digital Harpsichord comes with stained glass end panels

The new C-30 Digital Harpsichord comes with all the expected bells and whistles (various baroque tunings, meantone temprament), plus MIDI out (would make a great master keyboard, if you got used to the clicky action), and a really over-the top collection of optional extras ("decoration panel" and "picture board"). However, it can't really match the late '90s chic of the C-80 Digital Harpsichord with it's reverse keyboard and three legs.
However, out-cooling all of these by a very long way is eBay item #110215197038 - an RMI electric harpsichord from the early '70s, which has no soundboard, but electric pickups. It must sound great through a good guitar amp...

Akai MPC5000 - the big, black, $3,500 groovebox

So here's the new thing from Akai - the MPC5000 (That's the official site). It's the usual MPC sample/sequencer stuff, with a built in VA synth & arpeggiator, lots of effects and outs. Meanwhile, JJ, the mysterious programmer re-writing the operating system for the bottom-of-the-range MPC1000 - is going from strength to strength. Having refined and finessed the normal MPC functions as far as he could, he's announced JJOS2, a completely new system adding endless bonkers new features. I read the JJ forum every day and I can't keep up.

The Anarchy Cowbwell for really angry drummers whose mums just don't understand

Pearl have a small range of extreme percussion, presumably for early-teen drummers in metal bands who are worried that traditional percussion is a bit gay. Above is the Avril Lavigne inspired Anarchy Cowbell: "Power flange for saving your sticks, metal spikes, and the blood red Anarchy symbol completes the ferocity of this eye-catching and ear splitting percussion instrument." At Namm, they're launching the Anarchy Block: "an all black, spike-riddled, ear-splitting synthetic wood block". I'm looking forward to the Anarchy Chromatic Windchimes next.

The Fucking Fucker: Metasonix's insane $5,000 guitar amp

Metasonix' Eric Barbour is one of the cleverest, most original people I've come across since starting Music Thing. He knows everything there is to know about tubes. Now, finally, instead of making absurd things like four-voice polyphonic all-tube synths, he's made the Fucking Fucker, a two-channel guitar amp stuffed with things like "remote-cutoff pentodes". It's hideous, it's yellow, it will be pixellated every time a rich rockstar puts one in his video, and I'm sure it sounds incredible. Now that most tube amps are built on Chinese production lines, this is a truly wonderful thing.

Moog Voyager OS - the retro synth to end all retro synths

This is (if the rumours are to be believed) the new Moog Voyager OS, with OS presumably standing for Old School. It's an all analog synth with no patch storage, no MIDI and no display - essentially a refreshed version of the 37 year-old Minimoog design. Presumably it will be cheaper than a Voyager, more expensive than a Little Phatty. I like the idea of a synth as a simple instrument like an electric guitar, something you plug in, tweak a bit and play. This could be perfect for (well-off) keyboard players in guitar bands who want to look cool and make cool noises, but are never going to need to connnect it to anything else. Also, if every single person who's ever gone onto a synth forum and said "yeah, I don't want all that modern crap, I just want a totally pure analog synth" buys one, then Moog will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.
UPDATE: Here's the official page , with a price: $2595 - $500 less than the full Voyager, $1,200 more than the Phatty...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Free sample set of an 808 on a cassette

New Zealand-based Goldbaby have quietly become the coolest sample factory in the world. They get vintage gear, play it through more vintage gear, then sample it in super high resolution. Their commercial products include Tape 808 and Tape 909 (Vintage drum machine into valve Ampex 1/2" tape machine, into 24bit samples), a range of old Roland drum machines sampled onto a MPC60, then re-sampled) and Vintage Home Keyboard Breaks which is classic breakbeats replayed on old casio keyboards. In the exceptionally fine Free Stuff section, you'll find a 606 which has been through the Ampex treatment, an 808 recorded on cassette and various impulse responses (including an MPC60)...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Belkin iPod XLR recording system looks phenomenally hot

I love the 'UA does a multimeter' look of this Belkin Podcast Studio, supposedly just $100 with build in mic, built in speaker, dual XLR (no word on phantom power). Not clear whether it has a built in d/a and just records data on the iPod, or whether it uses the iPod's own recording system. Don't hold your breath for this, because Belkin like to announce early and release late (they announced the Tune Studio a year ago, and it only appeared for sale in June). (via Boing Boing Gadgets)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ebay of the Day: Magnetic Record Player / Recorder

Wow this looks kind of crazy, it's quite expensive with a starting bid of $750.00 but intriguing all the same. The seller says "YOU CAN USE AGAIN ALL TIMES IF YOU WISH , BECAUSE WORKS LIKE A TAPE". The pics clearly show the disks labelled 'Magnetton-Platte' so yeah I'm assuming its a magnetic disk recorder, which, I have to admit, I previously didn't know exsisted. Theres another one detailed on this site with some info and I assume that the device on ebay is based on the same principle. Via Mangalore at the new Human Shield blog.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Legendary producers

I just found myself writing the words "legendary producer", and stopped myself. According to the first 100 results in Google, the following people are 'legendary producers': Dave Bascombe, Clive Chin, Youth, J Rawls, Rick Rubin, Phil Spector, J Dilla, George Martin, Tony Visconti, Arif Mardin, Joe Boyd, Steve Lillywhite, Frank Filipetti, Ski, Phil Ramone, Dr Dre, Stephen Street, Nile Rodgers, Rhythm Masters, Jim Dickinson, Kramer, King Jammy, Tom Dowd, Joel Dorn, Jack Clement, Clive Davis, Larry Smith, Trevor Horn, Jerry Wexler, Junior Vasquez, Orrin Keepnews, Flemming Rasmussen, Jimmy Jam, Owen Morris, Steve Levine, Leif Mases, Quincy Jones, Chris Tsangarides, Tony Platt, Brian Eno and John Beltran. I decided to just write "producer".

There are 146,000 references to "legendary producer", 184,000 references to "legendary hero", 96,300 to "legendary guitarist", 7,400 to "legendary engineer", 1,500 for "legendary blogger" and just 11 for "legendary guitar tech".

French C64 Vocal Synth

Tom has kindly handed me the keys to Musicthing again so I'm back after a rather extended absence to post some more crap. I'll start with an appeal for help from Stamba over at the CBS forums. He's found a rare French speech synth cart for the C64. In his words: 'Conclusion ? IT BLASTS ALMOST all other c64 vocal synths of this period.. Commodore Magic Voice is maybe the worst.. Currah Sound Speech is average.. but this Techni Musique one reach modern (2007! vocal synthesis) !' Yeah I think I want one aswell. The demo sounds a bit like the speech in the arcade version of Gauntlet with that garbled digital rasp we all know and love. As with most of these things, info is hard to come across so if anyone knows anything please leave a comment.
UPDATE: Theres more c64 music stuff over at Stamba's other site. Check it out

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Make an album in 12 hours using only $12 worth of gear...

That's the challenge of the Crate Digger Death Match. Actually, you can record the thing on gold-plated 2" tape, but the sound sources can't cost more than $12. Thats your Casio VL-Tone out, then.

Ever heard a recording and thought it was a live band?

In his book White Bicycles, Joe Boyd writes: "I have seen people enter pubs and bars where the Buena Vista Social Club CD is playing and look around for the source of the music; they seem startled to be entering a 3-dimensional acoustic space..." Is this really possible? I've often walked into rooms, thought there was a band playing and been right. I don't know if I've ever heard a CD and thought it was a real band. So what signals am I picking up? What makes live music sound live, and recorded music sound recorded? I wish my ears were better...
(Pic: Egrem Studios, where BVSC was recorded, via Indriani)