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Let’s talk consent: how to make nightlife safe from harassment

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

consentissexy

Eletronic music as a medium is now interwoven with nightlife culture, even in a lot of the experimental end of the spectrum. So that means for those of us who care about the medium, it’s time to face a reality about night venues: a lot of people, particularly women, don’t feel comfortable and safe.

Talk to regular clubgoers, and you’ll hear an unnerving number of tales about harassment. We’re not talking people just getting a little aggressive — we’re talking being groped repeatedly on the dance floor.

In the midst of lots of discussions about numbers of women and men going into music production, the fact that some are scared away from clubs simply because they can’t relax and have a good time is finally coming to light. Mixmag hit the issue this spring:
We need to talk about sexual harassment in nightclubs

And Thump (VICE) has picked up on the story, too, noting the appearance of consent business cards at festivals, and reporting the movement is spreading to Decibel Festival when it hits Seattle this month. Social media is making stories of assault go viral, that same publication reports.

So, how do you respond? One group is sending a clear message to anyone crossing a line by simply handing them a card. “Consent is sexy” cards, pictured here, set some boundaries in a clear way. And a Portland, Oregon-based group behind them wants to make these cards more commonplace, as well as create environments (in person and online) to have frank discussions about how we relate to one another, and how to make these situations more safe.

Not all electronic music is about clubs. But given that club elements are part of most festivals — even those covering experimental music — it’s now almost impossible to make electronic music without encountering these situations. And let’s be honest, some of us really love nightlife — and hate to hear, say, from our friends that they feel they don’t feel comfortable going out with us.

So I spoke to Cay Horiuchi, one of the organizers of C.A.R.E., about what we they’re doing, and how any of the rest of us might consider contributing. Their organization:

We are C.A.R.E.S., Compassionate And Respectful Engagement Squad. As active members of the electronic dance music community, we promote consent-aware interactions in nightlife settings. C.A.R.E.S. provides tools to address situations where boundaries may be crossed. We hope to foster safe environments and encourage discussion about consent, whether it has to do with flirting, sex, or simply respectful interactions with one another.

http://www.carespdx.co/

They also have a Facebook group, which is expanding this discussion:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/caresquad/

CDM: Can you tell us a little bit about what your organization does? And you’re heading out to Decibel?

Cay: We are a group of friends based in Portland, Oregon. We create and distribute the cards and provide workshops at festivals on the West Coast. Our main objective is to promote consent-aware interactions in nightlife settings. We provide tools — for now, cards and posters — to address situations where boundaries may be crossed. We hope to foster safe environments and encourage discussion about consent. We aim to:

  • Empower partygoers to say no to uncomfortable situations
  • Create a safer environment, especially when intoxicants are involved
  • Offer respectful yet assertive ways to confront aggressors and to protect each other

I’m heading out to Decibel Festival with some of the C.A.R.E.S. members to distribute the cards created in collaboration with Decibel Festival. We are very excited about this opportunity to help the community foster a safer environment.

How did you get started?

Our conversation originally started at a New Year’s Eve party that we threw in 2013. Throughout the evening, we each noticed various incidents of uncomfortable/possibly dangerous encounters on and around the dancefloor. To our collective surprise and alarm, we each discovered that we had all experienced and witnessed such incidents of sexual assault at parties in the past. Sounds like you’ve been having similar conversation in your community in Berlin. I believe that by starting a discourse, we can get creative about how to tackle this issue together.

So, Mixmag ran this article in the spring — and, of course, this is pretty unnerving. We’re talking a really high incidence of people reaching out and groping other people. Is there any way to evaluate how, how frequently, and why this is happening?

This is devastating… It’s upsetting that some are taking advantage of loud, crowded environment to assault others. To your question about actual numbers, it is hard to tell — as we are all familiar with, the survivors tend to dismiss such harassment, while aggressors pretend that it didn’t happen or they simply don’t remember due to intoxication.

Although we don’t have the numbers, we know that various degrees of harassment happen frequently enough that many of our friends do not feel safe or worth it to go out at night to simply enjoy music. This is especially becoming a serious issue in Seattle, as Capitol Hill’s demographic is shifting from LGBTQ-friendly to a higher percentage of heterosexual men who feel entitled to harass others who are different from them.

I would like to believe that many aggressors are not completely ill-hearted, however. By going out, each of us is seeking a good time, a connection, and giving and receiving attraction. We are not there to intentionally cause harm. I think one of the reasons why this is happening is because aggressors have a preconception that a drinking environment gives them a free pass to cross others’ boundaries. They may have a wrong idea that a person dancing on the dancefloor means the person is looking for a specific types of attention. Intoxication in addition helps them become oblivious to social cues or what’s acceptable in general.

Let’s talk about gender and power dynamic — with harassment generally. Obviously, there’s something that disproportionately impacts women — and particularly straight women having to deal with straight guys. That said, is there a sense in the LGBTQ community that this is something that needs addressing? Is it something guys should worry about, too? And, for that matter, can we have those conversations without losing sight of the fact that this does disproportionately impact women?

This is an interesting point. C.A.R.E.S. believes that this is an issue not just among women. We acknowledge that this issue is broader and can apply to any of us, especially knowing some of our friends who actively participate in LGBTQ-friendly events.

At the same time, I agree that this issue disproportionately impacts women having to deal with aggressive straight men. For a long time, as an organization, we have been discussing how to effectively convince these aggressors that what they are doing is not okay, in an inoffensive manner. One of the reasons why it has been a challenge is because it takes a lot of guts for a person to confront an aggressive person who had already violated one’s boundary. Would they get mad if I said something? What’s the outcome? Am I going to get hurt? Would they even listen to me? Intoxication plays a huge role in this. That’s why we came up with cute and friendly cards to hand out to them so that we don’t necessarily have to confront them verbally but can be explicit at the same time.

So, what role can environment have? What can a club do? What’s the impact of your activities? What can individuals do, attending clubs? And is there a role for the people making the music? (We can talk about Berlin separately, but — I’m very curious what makes environments better or worse.)

There are many possibilities. For example, venues can train their employees on site to watch out for possibly dangerous situations. It would be great if venues are explicit at the entrance, stating clearly that they have zero-tolerance policy against harmful behaviors to others. They can also inform their clients that if there was such a case, they should directly seek help from the employees. Hollaback London, an anti-street harassment organization in London is doing a great job getting major venues like fabric and Ministry of Sound involved in their movement. We want to make this happen everywhere, not just in one city or region.

Our original idea was to discover more ideas by starting up a discourse with party goers. We hope to learn what people’s needs are so we can come up with better ideas to create a fun and safer environment.
At a venue, each individual can learn ahead of time that partying in a dark venue with loud music does not give them a permission to cross others’ boundaries. We also believe that getting friends and strangers you meet on the dance floor on board is generally good. We can create an environment where people feel safe to speak up, and people feel safe to support those who speak up.

Producers and DJs can endorse the message prior to the event, on the event page or fan page, to set the vibe. Performers have a great amount of respect from the audience, and I think it is great if they can be a part of the pro-consent movement.

The severity of this issue of course depends on the environment. My friends and I don’t go to certain venues with more frequent harassment. Generally, an event where people are there specifically for specific music seems to be better, while an event that is more ‘party-centric’ or alcohol heavy seems to be worse. There are different ways to handle each issue at each type of event.

What about the role of substances and alcohol? Obviously, making people consider their substance intake is part of the solution. But what do you do when people are altered, is there still some chance to work to keep people safer?

I think alcohol intoxication is especially problematic, but people have to party. I doubt we can have a solid conversation with highly intoxicated people at an event. However, there is a chance to maintain the safety of the venue. We are looking into bystander intervention. I read an article about the research they did and some interesting success stories from college kids. If friends are around, sounds like the best way is to distract them, instead of telling them that they should stop whatever they are doing at the moment.

As for C.A.R.E.S. cards, I have used them with those who won’t leave me alone, and it has been way more effective than trying to talk to them directly which I had to do in the past. I think cards are effective firstly because it prevents two parties from having a possible conflict. I’ve had many frustrating conversations that went too long with an aggressor, whom I’d rather not spend my time with. They would say, “but you like it right?” The thing is that you can’t really argue with a drunk person.

But, many of us felt strongly that we had to say something, do something. This can’t keep going. We want to have fun while feeling safe at events. We can’t just walk away from them. We wanted to feel empowered. We wanted to have a say in this situation in which our boundaries have been violated. So, the second reason for the C.A.R.E.S. cards’ success is that it gives the survivor a power to say no without directly interacting with the aggressor. The act of giving a card either puts the focus on something else or confuses them long enough to forget about what they were about to do. Who knows? They may find a card in the morning after and learn a thing or two.

Okay, so obviously there’s the question of consent, and there’s a lot of stuff we want to make sure stops happening. You also talk about discussing engagement, flirting, sex in general. There are concerns beyond just what not to do, yes?

Sure. I hope that our cards and conversations can direct people into having honest discussion about otherwise uncomfortable subject matters that are too important not to have. We hope that we can encourage people to have such conversations more openly.

We’ve talked mostly about clubs. To what extent does this information and support from a club environment apply beyond that context? Are there other contexts you think the kind of work you’re doing might be useful? Does the message need adjustment for those other situations?

The C.A.R.E.S. message can be applied beyond clubs and festivals. I think one way to do that is by having a panel discussion dedicated to consent awareness. Another way is to have diversity in the event you host whether it is a music conference or tech. By having a diversity of people lead workshops and panels, you suggest that you are in support of different communities and people — creating more inviting environment to all. The cards and posters we provide are form-shifting, and can be catered to different events and demographics, as seen in our collaboration with decibel festival 2015. Ideally, I think it is also good to have this type of discussions largely available outside of clubs/festivals/conferences, to take a more preventative approach. That way, people have a general agreement not to cross boundaries regardless of where they are at.

Lastly, to shift gears entirely — what are you looking forward to at Decibel?

I’m excited to see M.A.N.D.Y. at the boat party on Saturday. It’s gonna be super rad! But, to tell the truth, my soul calling is definitely The Breakfast Club on Sunday morning with our West Coast favorite, the Shameless crew. It’s on a roof top of a beautiful venue, and they throw one of the best, silliest parties with great music. It’s like a nice treat to close out my dancing marathon with fellow ravers. I can hardly wait.

Thanks, Cay. Wish I could be at Decibel — y’all have fun, Americans and touring artists!

And if CDM readers want to chime in, do let us know.

The post Let’s talk consent: how to make nightlife safe from harassment appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Glitchy pop and psycho-surreal videos from Hungary’s RUMEX

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

rumex_1

So, now that summer is over (northern hemisphere), was yours, well, f***ed up? RUMEX understands. Don’t miss the surreal, now award-winning video from this young, now-as-yet-unknown Hungarian artist.

[Some bare butts and four-letter lyrics, if that isn’t safe for work where you work.]

RUMEX is a self-described “girl from nowhere,” otherwise known as Fanni Fazakas. Fanni joined us in the Serbian woods for plusplusplus Festival as the guest of CDM, as well as at our own MusicMakers Hacklab in Berlin at CTM Festival hosted with Leslie García.

This is the kind of emerging talent that can put us old guys (ahem) to shame now and then. It was in Serbia I got to know her musical side — in just 24 hours, she assembled field recordings of the woods into a convincing impromptu Ableton Live set and had people dancing in the grass and dirt.

Fanni, or rather RUMEX, just won best production at the Klipszemle — think of it like Hungary’s VMAs. There, she beat out big local names like Tibor Horváth and Punanny Massif. (Or, at least, knowing nothing about the scene in that country, I’ll take her word for those being big names.)

The slick video is actually just the work of Fanni and one other camerawoman, Szigethy Márton. The two of them, with some help of her family and some models, slapped together this surreal piece of pop cinema as a no-budget, five-day shoot for Fanni’s diploma project. She tells us there was quite a lot of work involved — transforming a thorn bush into a raspberry plant and hauling 120 liters of water into the middle of a field.

The result is a surrealist answer to the usual song of summer, the usual tropes and clichés unraveled into a mad dystopia.

rumex_6

rumex_bodri

Fanni’s other side is a background in media design, with strong interests in generative music and visual programming — much of it more experimental than what you see and here here. But she’s also at ease DJing in clubs from Budapest to the Netherlands, and she’s a regular at music hackathons.

Now, spurred on by collaborations at the CTM Festival, she’s building a full-length live act with neuro- and bio-feedback, plus finishing an EP.

And, judging from this other video she published this month, it’s possible she’s some sort of Ableton Push-owning digital avatar. Too many tech events — it’s possible she’s just crossed over partially into the digital domain. I can relate to that.

From the cymatics challenge at the Music Tech Fest Umeå, there’s also this video:

Give a listen to her other music, which spans club to ambient:

More:
http://www.rumexinaction.com/

The post Glitchy pop and psycho-surreal videos from Hungary’s RUMEX appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Watch a full-length electronic documentary from the 90s, and more free videos

Friday, August 21st, 2015

modulations

America’s on-again, off-again love affair with electronic music — often, with idioms it helped create — is endlessly full of unexpected twists and turns. But all this bears examining. For some, it’s a journey back to the music that first inspired them. For others, it’s a chance to learn, perhaps, how where music has been might help lead to where it’s going. It’s a chance not just to repeat electronic music past, but go beyond it.

And if you’re looking for something to entertain you this weekend, you could do worse than Modulations, a documentary from 1998.

Back then, it was “electronica,” not “EDM.” But then, as now, high culture met festival culture — Karlheinz Stockhausen and Danny Tenaglia get equal screen time. Robert Moog weighs in. Some figures — Carl Cox, Derrick May, Giorgio Moroder — are just at home on today’s lineups. Others are not. As in the 808 film, Arthur Baker gets a starring role, too.

The film is mainly a document about the dance scene, but as such, offers a reminder to what 90s culture was, and how it does and doesn’t mirror the situation today.

And now you can watch the full thing for free on Vimeo or YouTube. Ah, back when electronic music was real electronic music, parties were real parties, and all the women were purple. (Erm, see the cover image.) Um… right. The 90s. Here’s Vimeo:

Modulations — Full Feature Film from Cultures of Resistance Films on Vimeo.

But wait — there’s more.

David Abravanel, friend of the site, has done an extensive electronica nostalgia trip for Network Awesome, full of still more videos to occupy your brain. He writes:

“I vividly remember the first time I became aware of Electronica. I was 11 and a budding music obsessive, I watched MTV religiously. Sitting in the living room, my parents paying attention to other things, the video for The Prodigy’s “Breathe” came on. I still remember Maxim’s tattooed and painted body gliding towards me. It felt like some kind of disneyland horror ride, but with better music. Keith Flint sealed the deal — these were guys to freak out your parents, the popular kids, you name it.

For this article, assume “Electronica” by its American definition — a catch-all for all electronic music that hit mainstream between 1995 — 2000. It did this by positioning certain figures as rock stars (tellingly, The Prodigy’s breakthrough happened after Keith Flint and Maxim emerged as punky frontmen), and playing up its role as the “future of music”. While Electronica encompassed a number of genres — Daft Punk’s French Touch, Sneaker Pimps’ Trip Hop — Big Beat was clearly the leader.

Electronica also coincided with the most lucrative historical period for the recording industry — as such, artists who had just a few months ago been living check-to-check suddenly had high-budget videos commissioned. This is a celebration of those videos — narrowed down to one song per act, because people got things to do.”

– David Abravanel
http://dhla.me/

Actually, I’ll say, part of why I miss the word “electronica” was that it could sometimes serve as catch-all for electronic music — a genre-blurring vagueness that’s perhaps needed even more in 2015 nomenclature than it was in the 90s. (Contrast EDM, which apart from the ‘d’ meaning ‘dance,’ should be completely general but means something sort of painfully specific.)

Don’t miss David’s full post on the topic:

Get Busy Child: Electronica Videos that Broke the US

And then head to Network Awesome to watch all the goodness, and never leave your house the rest of this weekend:

Network Awesome: Live Music Show — ‘Electronica’ (curated by David Abravanel)

Even me, a classical kid completely out of touch with dance music in the 90s — even I get a bit nostalgic for “Trip Like I Do.” (Also, I love that it samples The Dark Crystal in an all-too-rare crossover of dance music and the Muppets.) Oh yeah, that and The Matrix.

In other film news…

Electronic Beats today posted a trailer for this 2008 documentary on techno, which I wish were as easy to come by as the film above:

Oh yeah, and did we mention I Dream of Wires is now on Netflix? (plus digital services far and wide)

Have a great weekend, everyone. Hope you have a good time out listening to music — or at home making music and, of course, curling up in bed with The Internet and its video entertainment.

Another world…

Another time…

In the age of wonder…

Another world…

Another time…

This land was green and good.

The 90s.

Okay, I need to someday be somewhere where someone drops that track at exactly a completely inappropriate moment.

The post Watch a full-length electronic documentary from the 90s, and more free videos appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Long before trippy visualizers and computer animation, before liquid light shows or laser parties, Thomas Wilfred was building organs for visuals. He called the
art they produced Lumia, and the instrument Clavilux — a keyboard for light.

That first instrument was built all the way back in 1919. But unlike a lot of the spectacles of the era, this one is still hypnotic today, even after all the advances of cinema and computing.

Drawing on a tradition that included displays of fire and fireworks, and the ability to place sound “at the command of a skilled player at a piano,” Wilfred found a way to produce a visual instrument, apparently after first toying as a child with prisms.

light_show_0

The actual mechanism is strikingly sophisticated. The Clavilux beams light through lenses and tinted screens to reshape abstract patterns of colored light.

Depending on the variant, the organ included three manuals. Each key can then be set to one of 100 positions — a digital system not unlike MIDI, in fact (with 128). In place of just a note head, the keys would have chords with numbers, with lines on a staff as on a piano.

light_show_1

xlg_light_show_2

The inventor’s predictions were more than a little off, as he imagined this abstract art form would take its place next to music concerts and moviegoing in “a few years.” But now, in 2015, it seems its time is right. The culture is ready. And no, not just through the ingestion of drugs — I heard a talk once by the Joshua Light Show where the creators were quick to say that they stayed sober; they had to in order to perform. These techniques produce optical stimulation without any substance. You just need an audience ready to embrace abstract dances of light.

And a new generation of artists are rediscovering these techniques. I can imagine two motivations. Firstly, if performances are meant to be transporting experiences, away from our everyday world, there’s a clear desire to escape the screens that now dominate that world — computer, tablet, TV, phone, and public displays.

Secondly, visual artists are now so comfortable with computer techniques that augmenting their skills with optical techniques is possible. And with a full understanding of what digital media can and can’t do, one finds a new appreciation of the unique possibilities of the optical. (Just don’t say analog, which in music and visual synthesis means specific manipulation of voltage: optical is its own, separate field providing all the potential of lens and lighting.)

But even more than those motivations to go optical, this stuff is singularly beautiful by any standard. Now, audiences are ready for abstract visual art in motion. Just as sounds that would once have started riots are welcome, that music that breaks entirely from previous tradition is festival fare, we live in a world where we’re ready to process visual stimulation without narrative or figurative function.

See: Birth of Music Visualization (Apr, 1924) [Modern Mechanix, an excellent blog, from way back in 2007]

http://www.clavilux.org

The black-and-white images here come from an April 1924 article on the technique. The videos are from his Lumia series. You can buy DVDs (and even institutional licenses for public performance) from clavilux.org.

The videos are modern restorations.

Wilfred even envisioned a “home” tabletop edition called the Luminar. Yes, please. I want this a lot more than I want a TV.

The post Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Zero-G release Desert Tracks – Exotic Loops and Samples from North Africa and the Middle East

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Zero-G has released Desert Tracks. Desert Tracks is a multi-format sample library that provides 1.75 GB of exotic, traditional and contemporary rhythm, instrument and full music tracks from across [Read More]
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Control MIDI and Ableton from your iPhone, Android for handheld music

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

10

Put control over Ableton Live in the palm of your hand — and control MIDI gadgets even without the aid of a computer.

That’s the vision of LK (the former Livkontrol), out today for both iOS and Android handhelds.

This isn’t the first pocket controller. But it might be the first pocket controller to become truly invaluable. That’s because there’s robust support for more than just sliding some faders on your phone or working with wifi.

Features, all borrowed from the tablet LK:

  • Wireless connections, but also
  • USB connection
  • USB to MIDI interface support, so you can use this as a standalone MIDI controller

And then you get a bunch of really attractive, useful layouts for control:

  • An Ableton controller, for Session View, Devices, mixing, and grid instrumental playback
  • Hands-on composition for clips
  • MPC-style drum pads
  • X/Y pad for tweaking (KAOSS style)
  • A MIDI controller with support for hundreds of parameters, with pads, faders, and knobs

8

Now, of course, a phone is a pretty tiny object. But I can see some use cases for this:

6

1. You want some quick hands-on control of a MIDI gadget. This plus our MeeBlip is pretty insanely compact, and since it has assignable parameters, this also suddenly makes the ultra-tiny black box the Ploytec make some sense, because you could fit both in your pocket. All you need is a proper USB MIDI adapter.

11

2. You’re working on the road. I love producing while traveling. But you tend to have zero space. Even an iPad mini plus a laptop is a little cramped in a bus or on easyJet. But plugging an iPhone into a 13″ laptop, that’s very possible. I may try this tonight on the Polish railroad, in fact.

3. Sound check. Here’s the one and typically only place I prefer wireless to wired. Being able to trigger your Ableton set (or whatever) while you wander around a venue is priceless.

I can also imagine it being useful for collaborating with someone else in the studio, though then I probably would use the tablet version.

nexus5_editingclips

Something else is really interesting about the LK developers’ approach, and that’s that they’re making the app work across Ableton Live, specifically, and generically with MIDI. I think that’s significant because a lot of heavy Ableton users now also want to work with external MIDI gear. (And yes, Ableton, that’s a major problem I have with Push’s inability to function in a useful way when the laptop isn’t on.)

The developers had some comments for CDM on that:

Since we set out to rebuild Livkontrol, our main goal was to provide a real cross platform solution for Ableton Live and MIDI control that could be able to deliver the exact same experience on every device, independently of the user’s personal choice or budget. We believe that, by releasing this phone version, we are one step closer to our goal.
Until future developments, LK for phone devices will be one of the products we will be focusing on, given this version’s versability and capabilities with existent modules. We find it extremely satisfying to have an Ableton Live and MIDI Controller right in our pocket, capable of estabilishing a low-latency connection or being a comprehensive but small sized studio controller, perfect for already busy work environments.

If you’ve already got LK on your tablet gadget, your existing license will immediately work on your phone, so give it a try and let us know what you think.

More:
http://www.imaginando.pt/

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These mics capture sounds from the edge of human hearing – and beyond

Friday, July 31st, 2015

usimic

Here’s how much Slovak label LOM loves field recordings and strange sounds: they didn’t just stop with releasing a few wild experimental ambient albums. They’ve gotten into the boutique mic business. They’re creating new hardware that lovingly captures electro-magnetic fields. They’re printing t-shirts with custom designs to show their passion in illustrated form.

These are people who are really passionate about recording.

And you can get bit by the same addiction. Let’s have a look at what they’re offering.

electrosluch

Perhaps the most interesting offering from Bratislava’s LOM is the Elektrosluch, the electro-magnetic “instrument” from LOM artist and label brain Jonáš Gruska. Now, you’re familiar with interference from electro-magnetic fields — it’s the reason your bandmates get cross with you if you don’t switch your iPhone into flight mode when you start recording. But what if a device didn’t just capture those sounds: what if it were engineered for maximum precision as if they were desirable?

Well, this is what happens thanks to that mentality:

I got a chance to play with the latest model in Brno at the Bastl Instruments-hosted synth fest, and it’s extraordinary — more so than YouTube can really capture. You really feel privy to an invisible, inaudible world os secret auditory codes. Jonáš’ attention to fidelity — the very opposite of what you’d expect from such an instrument — results in glistening glitches and alien-like transmissions from the gadgets around you.

And sure enough, the Elektrosluch 3 features a lot of improvements.

There’s a full-enclosed form factor, better user experience (operate with a single pot).

And the sound has improved: the makers report that higher gain, audiophile-grade WIMA capacitors, highly increased protection of the sensors, and other tweaks have made the sound quality better.

This is what would happen if Neumann had been focused on recording EM fields instead of conventional sound.

The whole unit is portable and boasts 9V battery power plus minijack headphone/line out and line input.

Find out more about the mic and its preorder; we’ll check in again when it ships:

https://zvukolom.org/product/elektrosluch-3-pre-order/

usipro

That’s not all LOM are working on. Their Uši microphones, electret condensers, are calibrated for recording “delicate sounds” — the sounds your ear can easily discern, but that fall below the noise floor of conventional musician-focused microphones.

The 90€ basic model is a pair of twin stereo mics. Connect the minijack to a portable stereo recorder, and you’re ready to go. (Even a DSLR will work.) You get power via the mic jack, so there’s no additional power requirement.

Hurry — the preorder ends tomorrow.

https://zvukolom.org/product/usi-microphones-pre-order/

Alternatively, the Pro model has XLRs and phantom power support:

https://zvukolom.org/product/usi-pro-pre-order/

Take a listen to Jonáš’ creations, exploring these impossibly fragile sounds around his town in binaural format. (Favorite track title: “electricity from an ant’s perspective.”

The hardware is all handmade in the EU.

tshirt

And yes, I do want that t-shirt, with Martina Paukova‘s charming illustration of a field recording of the “very rare white flamingoose.”

Do check out the whole record label:

https://zvukolom.org/

LOM itself is easily a topic for another day, but it includes releases like Jonáš’ own, here:

Site Specific Resonances II by Jonáš Gruska

jonas

As part of their commitment to music that springs from the edge of human hearing — or beyond it — their latest release comes from seismic captures of the vibrations in a cement factory, by Russian-born Jan Ryhalsky.

Iron Skeletons by Jan Ryhalsky

This album was recorded in an old, partially abandoned cement factory close to the borders of Russia and China. Its skeletal metal structures are rich in haunting low-frequency (over)tones, Jan’s highly sensitive geophones (devices used for seismic recording) allow us to hear the earth-shaking sonic worlds of these ghostly locations.
Jan Ryhalsky was born and lives in the far east of Russia. He began to record sounds in 2010, and quickly dove deep into recording theory. The main focus of his research is sounds with low intensity, often beyond the threshold of human hearing.

I’ve been listening a lot to this one lately; it’s just sublime.

I really look forward to giving these mics a go myself — seems sonic wonderlands await. More on the microphones (hopefully also including work by some of you, if you get hold of them), and LOM the label and its artists, soon.

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An interview with Michael Hoover from Cakewalk

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Michael Hoover Cakewalk is one of the original companies in the music recording software market, and this interview been a long time coming. I first approached Greg Hendershott several years [Read More]
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Space Sounds from ESA are Now Free to Use on SoundCloud

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Imhotep_3D

What does it sound like when a comet “sings” into a magnetic field? Or when you rotate a 600-ton deep space observation station? What if you could hear the radar echoes from a probe descending onto Saturn’s moon Titan?

Oh, yeah, and what’s the sound you hear that tells you the International Space Station is on fire and you should get into that docked Soyuz RFN?

Well, the European Space Agency has released those and more, from sonifying the inaudible to letting you hear the voices of the people who are leading some of the human race’s latest exploits into space.

And, by popular demand, they’re now released as Creative Commons-licensed materials. Not only that, but while the licenses are mixed (the ESA has content from a lot of different sources), but many are under a permissive Share Alike license. That means you can sample them, make music with them, and even use that music commercially, so long as you release your results under the same license for others to remix.

Listen:

You should thank the European Space Agency for this — thank you, ESA! But you should also thank yourself. Because the attention you paid to articles like our previous story on NASA, and the chorus of people asking for freely-licensed materials, reached the ears of administrators. Now, this is still mostly MP3 content, not lossless audio, but it actually sounds pretty good — these aren’t necessarily high-fidelity sources.

That story was, without anything else coming close, the most popular story CDM has posted in its decade-plus history.
NASA Posts a Huge Library of Space Sounds, And You’re Free To Use Them

Check out the latest from the ESA — in cooperation with the USA, Russia, and spacefaring contributions from around the planet, they’re doing amazing things, both looking at outer space and our own planet.
http://www.esa.int/

So thanks, Earthlings. Now go make some music — because the vast majority of the universe is comparatively empty and, even generously, has terrible acoustics and not much going on musically speaking. Enjoy the bit of it where we can make some noise.

Glad we all get to share this tiny blue dot together. It’s an honor.

Photo, top, courtesy ESA. A 3D view of the Imhotep region on the large lobe of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Source Copyright ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA. (Space people: their acronyms can kick your acronyms’ a**.)

The post Space Sounds from ESA are Now Free to Use on SoundCloud appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Web MIDI and More Surprises You Didn’t Expect From Yamaha’s Reface

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

refacetop

Yamaha’s Reface synth line are out now, with full details. You can dig through the site rather than have to do it here — but let’s look at what you might find surprising.

It has Web MIDI, not just MIDI. Yamaha promises the line will connect to Google Chrome via Web MIDI. Now, theoretically, that’s possible in the latest Chrome builds with any MIDI keyboard, not just the Yamaha. But it suggests that Yamaha are atypically embracing bleeding edge tech (previously seen only at hackdays and such) and making it a standard feature. And there’s more: “Soundmondo is a free sound sharing community that lets you discover, create and share reface Voices and Set Lists using Google Chrome any place, any time you’re online.” Okay, then.

Those mini keys don’t have a mini action. This is the best news. Yamaha says the action comes from their Motif XF flagship — and those feel great. So this may be the first mini keys that don’t make you say, at best, “meh,” and at worst, “$ #(&*$ .”

refaceback

Each keyboard supports multiple sound models on the engine. 4-operator FM on the DX + 12 algorithms — limited to that (no 6-voice FM, sorry), but you get continuously variable feedback on every operator. The YC has five organ models — “American tonewheel,” British, Italian, and Japanese “transistor organs,” and the Yamaha YC-45D. The CS, which initially didn’t interest me so much, has selectable waves: Multi-saw, Pulse, Oscillator Sync, ring mod, and FM. And the CP (sorry for the acronym) covers everything a gigging keyboardist could want apart from the organs: Rhodes mk I, Rhodes Mk II, Whirly, Clav, CP80 electric gran=d (of course), and even a toy piano. (The tine pianos aren’t called by those names of course, but… well, you do the math.)

You get up to 128-note polyphony. Thank you, digital technology. That’s on the YC; there’s less on the other models.

They fit in a tote bag. Just watch this excellent artist video with Ingrid Michaelson. (I think it’s fine, anyway. YouTube viewers are voting it down, because YouTube commenters are mean. I’d like to put a tote bag over their head so I can’t hear them.)

They run on batteries, too. Six AA’s, so… uh, you probably want to buy rechargeable alkalines, as on the KORG volca series. Fortunately, USB power works, too. But it is great to be wireless.

You can route your iPad through them — and they’ve got speakers. There’s a minijack (3.5 mm) input. Plug in an iPad, an iPhone, or anything else, and the sound passes through the speakers and audio jacks. When it comes time to gig, though, the Reface series still have full-sized dual 1/4″ (unbalanced) mono jacks.

They list for US$ 799. That’s probably about twice what you expected. Two ways to read this: one, fluctuating currencies these days almost demand a higher list. But two, it could be good news: you’re finally getting a mobile product that’s premium. Who says small has to mean worse?

refacebox

The packaging is really pretty. This may seem like a small thing. But this is some of the slickest packaging I’ve seen in our business — and that actually means something. It means Yamaha is breaking some old habits and behaving like a company that makes things that people buy, rather than a musical instruments company repeating what it has always done.

Unsurprising: it’s a relief when the industry stops listening to the same old customers again and again and again. I have no idea what’s going on in this video. But I do know what’s going on in this comment: “Give me five octaves or more of a full sized keyboard, 256 patch memories or more, and a FULL control panel, and you have my money. Polypressure keybeds while you’re at it.”

Um — no. You’ve had your turn. Also: what?! In fact, you can get effectively unlimited patch memories online — and 32 onboard, which ought to cover most gigs. Polypressure keybeds, well, buy a ROLI.

I stand by my prediction. These things are going to get a lot of hate online — and a lot of love in stores, including from people who don’t read any of our dull specialist websites, like this one. Though… please, read CDM. I’ll go skateboarding with you. And that’ll provide some comic relief.

Look, they’ve finally given us Web URLs that make sense, even.

https://yamahasynth.com/

http://yamaha.com/reface

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