See the new cover art for Lady Gaga’s upcoming sixth LP ‘Chromatica’

See the new cover art for Lady Gaga’s upcoming sixth LP ‘Chromatica’Petrusich Gaga Super Bowl 1200

All of Lady Gaga‘s little monsters were met with dismay recently when the era-defining pop singer announced the release of her upcoming sixth album, Chromatica, would be delayed as a result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

The LP was originally set for an April 10, 2020 release, however currently there is not an officially rescheduled release date. In Gaga’s message to fans via social media, she projected Chromatica will still be out in 2020 but offered little other information.

After putting out the albums fiery lead single, “Stupid Love,” Lady Gaga is keeping mindful of her fans, sharing Chromatica‘s album artwork to tide over appetites for more Gaga.

Similar to the aesthetic of the LP’s Tchami-produced lead single, the cover of Chromatica sees Gaga ready to face warriors in a futuristic wasteland. Shot by photographer Norbert Schoerner, the album’s artwork points to an overarching futuristic cyber-punk theme across the record. In addition to the main artwork, Gaga also shared the individual designs for the physical copies of the album including both vinyl and cassette tapes.

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#Chromatica ⚔💓 2020

A post shared by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on Apr 5, 2020 at 2:00pm PDT

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Maribou State opens up the vault for latest ‘fabric presents’ mixtape [Stream]

Maribou State opens up the vault for latest ‘fabric presents’ mixtape [Stream]MaribouState Credit AleandraWaespi 2018 14 1

Maribou State teams up with the iconic London club and tastemaker, fabric, for their newest release, painting a vibrant picture of the duo’s expansive musical knowledge all while showing the restraint of a group who’s been in the game long enough to know that sometimes, less is more.

“In this mix we wanted to create a world of music that in its entirety you wouldn’t expect to hear within the walls of fabric, but would reflect the hours spent before heading to the club; drinks at a friend’s house, the journey into London, traveling on the underground and the anticipation in the build-up beforehand,” says the duo.

And with that approach, the English production outfit brings a menu of funk, soul, and disco jams to the party, aggregating a charming flow that’s ideal for either morning or night. Like any enticing mix should be, Maribou State’s latest work is full of under-appreciated cuts, crafty edits, and unreleased material, all of which falls near and dear to the group’s artistic approach.

Dancing Astronaut teamed up with Maribou State to get a bit more insight into the unique licks that make their latest fabric mix so soft to the touch.

Nu Guinea – “Je Vulesse”

“This was a song that essentially became the theme to our last live tour in America last October. It was the first track we put on in the bus when we arrived at the venue in Vancouver (the first date of the tour). We then started the fabric mix a few days later during the tour so it felt important for it to be weaved into the narrative.”

North Downs – “Settle Down”

“This is a track we wrote with our good friend Jack Sibley a few years back that has just recently been released on our own label ‘Dama Dama’. It’s a personal favourite of the music we’ve made together and came together fairly effortlessly compared to some of the other material we’d worked on. It’s about an Australian family I’d [Chris] met on a small island in the Philippines who sailed round the world with their son after he’d suffered from some serious mental health problems and had to leave school. They eventually settled on this island and created a new life for themselves, setting up a surf shop, once their son recovered.”

Hailu Mergia – “Yefkir Engurguro”

A stunning track taken from one our favourite Ethiopian artist’s Hailu Mergia’s last record ‘lala belu’. As far as we’re aware this is his first original release in decades (that hasn’t been a re-issue), so as soon as we spotted it online we went out and bought it. He’s now a taxi driver in Washington and writes his music in between taxi pick-ups using a battery-powered keyboard in the boot of his car. The story of his life all adds to the charm of the music.” jitwam – desires Long Island Sound – I Still Love You “The above two tracks were songs shown to us by members of the live band whilst on tour. It felt important to use these ear worms to connect the two worlds (Live and DJ).”

Maribou State – Strange Habits

“This was a song that was originally written for the last album but didn’t quite fit the palate. It was then revisited when the opportunity came up to do this mix and it felt like the vibe. The drums almost have a ‘jungle’ feel to them and the piano reminded us of early hospital records stuff, giving the mix a fairly euphoric moment that connected back to fabric.”

Maribou State – “Mother

“Usually when we’re writing we are often tied to the parameters of what would work within the context of an album, shaping tracks to fit the vision and sound of the would-be record, whereas when we wrote this track we were gifted the freedom of being able to create something that was very removed from our normal tendencies.

The song was initially started in early autumn last year, out in the leafy suburbs of Hertfordshire. As mentioned, it was made with the intention of it working in fabric room one, giving our interpretation of some of the sounds we’ve heard in the club over the years whilst also being heavily inspired by the Chemical Brothers live show after seeing them perform at Glastonbury a few months prior. The track was then finished up together back in our London studio in late November, becoming the very first piece of the puzzle and the road map to the rest of the fabric mix.”

fabric presents Maribou State is out now. Listen to the full mix below.

Multiple sources reporting Tomorrowland 2020 will be cancelled by local authorities

Multiple sources reporting Tomorrowland 2020 will be cancelled by local authorities67666033 10156870334899177 5641950949346902016 O

Another disappointing cancellation appears to be looming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it appears Belgium’s Tomorrowland is heading towards an imminent cancellation. Various Belgian news outlets have reported the mayors of the Werchter and Aarstelaar municipalities have cancelled events and festivals this summer. These municipalities are next to Boom and Rumst where Tomorrowland is hosted.

In a statement provided to Belgian media outlet RTBF a Tomorrowland representative stated, “Tomorrowland is in close consultation with the local government and we are awaiting instructions from the national government that we will follow closely at that time,” though Minister of the Interior, Pieter De Crem told reporters he believes the cancellation is likely.

The mayor of the town of Boom, where the festival is taking place, called to cancel the the festival a few days ago, although, this was not an official decision. An official decision is expected to land in the coming days, and with no real word from Tomorrowland organizers as of yet, the festival’s commencement later this summer seems highly unlikely.


Music streaming subscriptions skyrocketed 32 percent in 2019

Music streaming subscriptions skyrocketed 32 percent in 2019Streaming Services

Global online music streaming subscriptions grew 32 percent in 2019, amassing a total of 358 million paid subscriptions industrywide. The surge in number undoubtedly reflected Spotify and Apple Music‘s continued growth, but also falls in line with exclusive content, such as podcasts being offered to subscribers to sweeten the deal.

Spotify led the pack in earnings last year, netting 31 percent of the industry’s total revenue, with Apple Music closely trailing with 24 percent. On the Swedish streaming company’s paramount success, Research Analyst Abhilash Kumar comments,

“Spotify maintained its top spot with the help of promotional activities like free Spotify Premium for three months, price cuts, customized campaigns like Spotify and a focus on exclusive content. Tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google have started focusing on music streaming and have sufficient cash at their disposal to give stiff competition to Spotify. Apple Music is making improvements in its app like the introduction of night mode, curated playlists to target a group, etc. Similarly, Amazon Music has been trying lossless music and is creating its own niche where it competes with Tidal.”

As staggering as those numbers may be, it seems like the growth is far from over, as the industry anticipates almost 100 million new subscribers in 2020.

Via: Counterpoint Research

AMTRAC thrills with long-awaited sophomore LP, ‘Oddyssey’ [Stream]

AMTRAC thrills with long-awaited sophomore LP, ‘Oddyssey’ [Stream]AMTRAC Photo Credit Grant Spanier

It’s been nearly nine years since the release of AMTRAC‘s Came Along LP. Patiently waiting fans have been thrilled in recent months, though, as the artist revealed a long-awaited follow-up LP, Oddyssey, was on the horizon. The artist teased the album by gradually releasing singles leading up to its full reveal, building anticipation with tracks like “Between The Lines, “Radical,” “Accountable,” and more.

On April 3, AMTRAC unveiled the full canvas on which he’s been painting: a 14-track soundscape of rich sonic colors and thought-provoking instrumentation. He’s tapped artists like Alex Metric, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Saint Kenaire, and Lali Puna to lend their talents to the collection of tracks, and their contribution make the pieces shine all the more.

Oddyssey is out now via Openers/RCA Records.

Photo credit: Grant Spanier

Holodeck DJ: I played techno on an XR stage – here’s what it was like

There are cameras. There’s video and 3D. What happens when you create a futuristic mixed reality space that combines them, live? I headed to a cavernous northern New Jersey warehouse to find out.

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With or without the pandemic crisis, our lives in the digital age straddle physical and imagined, meatspace and electronic worlds. XR represents a collection of current techniques to mediate between these. Cross or mixed is a way to play in the worlds between what’s on screen or video and what exists in physical space.

Now, with all these webcasts and video conferencing that have become the norm, the reality of mixing these media is thrown into relief in the mainstream public imagination. There’s the physical – you’re still a person in a room. Then there’s the virtual – maybe your appearance, and the appearance of your physical room, is actually not the thing you want to express. And between lies a gap – even with a camera, the viewpoint is its own virtual version of your space, different than the way we see when we’re in the same space with another person. XR the buzzword can melt away, and you begin to see it as a toolkit for exploring alternatives to the simple, single optical camera point of view.

To experience first-hand what this might mean for playing music, I decided to get myself physically to Secaucus (earlier in March, when such things were not yet entirely inadvisable). Secaucus itself lies in a liminal space of New Jersey that exists between the distant realities of the Newark International Airport, the New Jersey Turnpike, and Manhattan.

Tucked into a small entrace to a nondescript, low-slung beige building, WorldStage hides one of the biggest event resources on the eastern seaboard. Their facility holds an expert team of AV engineers backed by a gargantuan treasure trove of lighting, video, and theatrical gear. Edgewater-based artist/engineer Ted Pallas and his creative agency Savages have partnered with their uniquely advanced setup to realize new XR possibilities.

“Digital artists collaborating with this new technology pave the road for where xR can go,” says Shelly Sabel, WorldStage’s Director of Design. “Giving content creators like Savages opportunities to play on the xR stage helps us understand the potential and continue in this new direction.”

I was the guinea pig in experimenting with how this might work with a live artist. The mission: get out of a Lyft from the airport, minimizing social contact, unpack my backpack of live gear (VCV Rack and a mic and controller), and try jamming on an XR stage – no rehearsal, no excuses. It really did feel like stepping onto a Holodeck program and playing some techno.

And I do mean stage. The first thing I found was a decent-sized surface, LEDs on the floor, a grid of moving head lights above, and over-sized fine-grade LED tiles as a backdrop on two sides. Count this as a seven-figure array of gear powering a high-end event stage.

The virtual magic is all about transforming that conventional stage with software. It’s nothing if not the latest digital expression of Neo-Baroque aesthetics and illusion – trompe-l’œil projection in real space, blended with a second layer of deception as that real-world LED wall imagery is extended in virtual space on the computer for a seamless, immersive picture.

It’s a very different feeling than being on a green screen or doing chroma key. You look behind you and you see the arches of the architecture Ted and his team have cooked up; the illusion is already real onstage. And that reality pulls the product out of the uncanny valley back into something your brain can process. It’s light years away from the weather reporter / 80s music video cheesiness of keying.

I’m a big believer in hacking together trial runs and proofs of concept, so fortunately, Ted and team were, too – as I was the first to try out this XR setup in this way. He tells CDM:

This was our first time having an artist in one of our xR environments, in a specific performance context – we’d previously had some come visit, but Peter is the first to bring his process into the picture. As such, we decided to keep things mellow – there was a lot of integration getting blessed as “stable” for the first time, and I wanted to minimize the potential for crashing during the performance – my strong preference is to do performances in one take.

The effects you’ll see in the video are pretty simple and subtle by design. Plus I was entirely improvising – I had no idea what I would walk onto in advance, really. But the experience already had my head reeling with possibilities. From here, you can certainly add additional layers of augmentation – mapping motion graphics to the space in three dimensions, for instance – but we kept to the background for this first experiment.

Just as in any layered illusion, there’s some substantial coordination work to be done. The Savages team are roping together a number of tools – tools which are not necessarily engineered to run together in this way.

The basic ingredients:

Stype – camera tracking
disguise gx 2c – media server (optimized for Notch)
Notch – real-time content hosted natively in disguise media software
Unreal Engine – running on a second machine feeding disguise
BOXX hardware for Unreal, running RTX 6000 GPUs from NVIDIA
SideFX Houdini software for visual effects

The view from Notch.

Camera tracking is essential – in order to extend the optically-captured imagery with virtual imagery as if it were in-camera, it’s necessary for each tiny camera move to be tracked in real time. You can see the precision partly in things like camera vibrations – the tiniest quiver has a corresponding move in the virtual video. Your first reaction may actually be that it’s unimpressive, but that’s the point – your eye accepts what it sees as real, even when it isn’t.

Media servers are normally tasked with just spitting out video. Here, disguise is processing data and output mapping at the same time as it is crunching video signal – hiding the seams between Stype camera tracking data and video – and then passing that control data on to Notch and Unreal Engine so they’re calibrated, too. It erases the gap between the physical, optical camera and the simulated computer one.

Those of you who do follow this kind of setup – Ted notes that disguise is instancing Notch directly on its timeline, while Unreal is being hosted on that outboard BOXX server. And the point, he says, is flexibility – because this is virtual, generative architecture. He explains:

All about the parameters.

Apart from the screen surface in the first set, all geometry was instanced and specified inside of the Unreal Engine via studio-built Houdini Digital Assets. HDAs allow Houdini to express itself in other pieces of software via the Houdini Engine – instead of importing finished geometry, we import the concept of finished geometry and specify it within the project, usually looking through the point of view of the [virtual 3d] camera.

This is similar in concept to a composer writing a very specific score for an unknown synthesizer, and then working out a patch with a performer specific to a performance. It’s a very powerful way to think about geometry from the perspective of the studio. Instead of worrying about finishing during the most expensive part of our process time-wise — the part that uses Houdini — we buffer off worrying about finishing until we are considering a render. This is our approach to building out our digital backlot.

The “concept of the geometry” – think a model for what that geometry will be, parameterized. There’s that Holodeck aspect again – you’re free to play around with what appears in virtual space.

Set pieces in Houdini.

There are two set pieces here as demo. I actually quite liked the simple first set, even, to which they mapped a Minimoog picture on the fly – partly because it really looks like I’m on some giant synth conference stage in a world that doesn’t yet exist. Ted describes the set:

The first set is purposefully pedestrian – in as little time as possible, we took a screen layout drawing for an existing show, added a bit of brand-relevant scenic, and chucked it in a Notch block. The name of the game here was speed – start to finish production time was about three hours. On the one hand, it looks it. On the other hand, this is the cheapest possible path to authoring content for xR – treat it like you’re making a stage, and then map it from the media server like it’s a screen. What’s on the screen can even be someone else’s problem, allowing digital media people to masquerade as scenic and lighting designers.

The second piece is more ambitious – and it lets a crew transport an artist to a genuinely new location:

Inside the layers of Savages’ virtual architecture.

The second set design was inspired by architect Ricardo Bofill’s project La Muralla Roja. As the world was gearing up to shutdown, we spent a lot of time discussing community. La Muralla Rojo was built to challenge modern perspectives of public and private spaces. Our Muralla is intended to do the same. We see it as a set for multiple performers, each with their own “staged location” or as a tool to support a single performer.  

Courtesy Ricardo Bofill, architects – see the full project page (and prepare to get lost in photos transporting you to the North African Mediterranean for a while).

And yes, placing an artist (that’ll be me, bear with me here) – that adds an additional layer to the process. Ted says:

[Bofill’s] language for the site is built out of plaster and the profile of a set of stairs, modulated by perpendicularity and level. An artist standing on [our] LED cube is modulating a perpendicular set of surfaces by adding levels of depth to the composition.

This struck me as a good peg for us all to use to hang our hats. Without you [Peter] standing there, the screens are very flat – no matter how much depth is in the image. :ikewise, without the stairs, muralla roja would be very flat. when i was looking for references this is what struck me.

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It may not be apparent, but there is a lot still to be explored here. Because the graphics are generative and real-time, we could develop entire AV shows that make the visuals as performative of the sound, or even directly link the two. We could use that to produce a virtual performance (ideal for quarantine times), but also extend what’s possible in a live performance. We could blur the boundary between a game and a stage performance.

It’s basically a special effect as a performance. And that opens up new possibilities for the performer. So here I was pretty occupied just playing live, but now having dipped in these waters the first time, of course I’m eager to re-imagine the performance for this context – since the set I played here is really just conceived as something that fits into a (real world) DJ booth or stage area.

Ted and Savages continue to develop new techniques for combining software, including getting live MIDI control into the environment. So we’ll have more to look at soon.

To me, the pandemic experience is humbling partly in that it reminds us that many audiences can’t physically attend performances. It also reveals how virtual a lot of our connections were even before they were forced to be that way – and reveals some of the weakness of our technologies for communicating with each other in that virtual space. So to sound one hopeful note, I think that doubling down on figuring out how XR technologies work is a way for us to be more aware of our presence and how to make the most of it. Our distance now is necessary to save lives; figuring out how to bridge that distance is an extreme but essential way to develop skills we may need in the future.

Full set:

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Artist: Peter Kirn
Designer (Scenography, Lighting, VFX): Ted Pallas, Savages
Director of Photography: Art Jones
Creative Director: Alex Hartman, Savages
Technical Director: Michael Kohler, WorldStage

Footnote: If you’re interested in exploring XR, there’s an open call out now for the GAMMA_LAB XR laboratory my friends and partners are running in St. Petersburg, Russia. Fittingly, they have adapted the format to allow virtual presence, allowing the event itself to go on., and it will bring some leading figures in this field It’s another way worlds are coming together – including Russia and the international scene.

Gamma_LAB XR [Facebook event / open call information in Russian and English] [full project page / open call]

Summer arrives early via Thomas Gold’s new single, ‘Live A Little Louder’

Summer arrives early via Thomas Gold’s new single, ‘Live A Little Louder’Thomas Gold Photo Credit Rukes

Veteran producer Thomas Gold has returned to Nicky Romero‘s Protocol Recordings for his fifth and newest release on the imprint, “Live A Little Louder.” Protocol releases are typically a blend of upbeat and euphoric, and Gold’s newest output is no exception.

“Live A Little Louder” weaves vibrant melodies with soulful vocals and an uplifting progressive drop, creating the perfect sonic mixture for an upbeat melody on a warm day. Romero debuted the track on his Protocol Radio, and Gold proves yet again that he has nailed the formula for a feel-good summer hit.

Gold spoke to Dancing Astronaut about the release, revealing, “For me, ‘Live A Little Louder’ is the perfect song for the upcoming summer! It has a lot of positive and uplifting vibes but also carries a  message. When I heard the rough vocal idea for the first time, I could instantly connect to the lyrics and the emotional vibe.”

He continues, “Also, I loved how the vocal develops from a pretty calm start into a highly energetic chorus section. I love that kind of vocals. They are super inspiring to me, so it did not take much time for me to get the production done, and I was absolutely enjoying the process of making it.”

Gold has released an extended edit to the single in addition to the original, which layers in addition electronic layers making the single a club-ready melody.

Photo credit: Rukes

Claude VonStroke releases fitting new single, ‘I’m Solo’

Claude VonStroke releases fitting new single, ‘I’m Solo’Claude Vonstroke Aaron Glassman

Claude VonStroke may have released his sixth full length album less than two months ago, but that hasn’t stopped the producer from putting out new music. VonStroke is out with a smooth new single, “I’m Solo,” featuring Barry Drift. While thematically in line with the current COVID-19 isolation mandates, the single was indeed created and ready for release before the global pandemic.

“I’m Solo” showcases the best of VonStroke’s tech house prowess through dancing piano notes, humming synths, and Drift’s smooth vocals in the introduction. The production backdrop builds into a thumping bassline that ebs and flows until a hectic synth progression takes over the release.

“I’m Solo” is the perfect accompaniment for a virtual house party needing a subtle yet energizing backdrop. The release is out now via VonStroke’s own DirtyBird.

Photo credit: Aaron Glassman

Alison Wonderland taps into her dark side on ‘Tiger King’-inspired ‘WWCBD?’

Alison Wonderland taps into her dark side on ‘Tiger King’-inspired ‘WWCBD?’Alison Wonderland Lose My Mind Tour 3

As we dive deeper into social isolation. the internet is collectively taking part in a digital book club. Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries has reigned supreme of late—with one of its exotic subjects serves as the inspiration for Alison Wonderland’s new collaboration with phem, “WWCBD?”

“WWCBD?”—short for “What Would Carole Baskin Do?”—masquerades as a lighthearted track before diving into a dark trap tune led by phem’s haunting lyrics. The provocative lyrics of the track suggests an unfortunate ending for the protagonist’s love is spared due to restrictions created by COVID-19.

While “WWCBD?” is most likely not going to be Grammy-nominated next year, the duo’s collaboration is nonetheless impressive for being crafted remotely in only two days.

Photo credit: Chris Stack

The Knocks ‘Get Happy’ on collaboration with Mat Zo [Stream]

The Knocks ‘Get Happy’ on collaboration with Mat Zo [Stream]The Knocks Press 2020 Credit Joe Perri

No matter what subgenre they aim the produce, The Knocks routinely find themselves making house music with some of the biggest and most unexpected artists. Mat Zo joins the likes of Sofi Tukker, Foster the People, and Wyclef Jean as he teams up with the New York duo on “Get Happy.”

The uplifting tech-house anthem is a one-off from the dup, finally deciding to release the track they have been playing out on tour. The catchy funk of the breakdown is sure to become a dance floor staple.

This isn’t the first time this pairing has produced a house jam, as Mat Zo remixed The Knocks’s “Collect My Love” featuring Alex Newell in 2015. They also created “Get Down 2 Get Up” together in 2014.

Photo credit: Joe Perri